7 Mistakes That Can Kill Your Job Search in 2020 – And How To Overcome Them

January 4, 2020

If securing a new job or a promotion is your #1 career goal for 2020, you’ll want to know about the 7 job search mistakes to avoid this year. 

While these are very common, knowing how to avoid them and how to overcome them can make your dream job and career a reality this year. 

Let’s dive in! 

1- Using a Generic Resume

What do I mean by “generic” resume? It’s a resume that looks like the majority of resumes that come across my desk. They look good but do nothing to help a job candidate standout on paper from their peers. 

A generic resume spells out job titles, companies and list of duties and tasks performed. They may have an accomplishment listed here and there but this type of resume does nothing to SHOWCASE the results you’ve generated for past employers. 

It doesn’t matter what level of position you’re currently in or vying for. Creating a resume that spells out RESULTS for any job you’ve held will position you differently vs other candidates. 

It demonstrates that you not only care about delivering results but that you can effectively do so. 

That’s what an employer cares about when they’re scanning resumes from the pile of applications. 

In addition to making sure your resume is full of on-the-job accomplishments, it should also be 100% tailored to the role you’re applying for. 

You shouldn’t use the same resume for a Financial Services Manager as you would for a Business Analytics Manager. 

Even though some skills and experiences might overlap, the results and KPI’s for these two roles would be different. 

Your resume needs to position you as the perfect fit for each one of these roles.

2- Not using cover letters or, using the wrong type of cover letter

This is a huge yet very common mistake. 

I often hear people complain that cover letters don’t even get read and they take so long to write so why write them at all? 

The reality is that most cover letters are also generic and in turn don’t inspire the hiring official to read it! 

A properly crafted, strategic and targeted cover letter can make all the difference in getting you an interview. 

I’ve seen this time and time again with my clients. They go from zero interviews to several when they start writing unique and compelling cover letters. 

Once you learn the skill of writing such a cover letter, it opens doors and serves as a marketing document that entices the hiring manager not only to read it but to clearly see that you’re someone worth interviewing. 

It takes know-how, finesse and time but the right cover letter will open doors for you. 

Check my video here on how you can start to write such a cover letter the next time you pursue a job opening. 

3- Focusing on your skills

This sounds counter-intuitive- we’ve all heard we need to showcase our skills on a resume and in job interviews.

But focusing solely on your skills, in isolation is a definite mistake.

The skills you should focus on when writing your resume and in interviews should be the ones that position you strategically.

They’re the ones that demonstrate you have the skills that will solve problems for your dream employer.

When you combine the two, you will be seen as that perfect candidate that they must interview and ultimately hire.

By turning the focus away from yourself and over to your dream employer and what their needs and problems are and how you can help solve these, you will start to attract more interviews and job offers.

4- Failing to “sell” yourself

Most people hate to sell and I don’t blame them. 

We’ve all been on the other side of being sold to in a way that’s come across as pushy or even sleazy. 

It’s no wonder selling is an aversion for so many of us!

The reality is that when you’re looking for a new role or a promotion, if you’re not “selling” yourself, who is? 

If you’re lucky, you may have a supportive manager or someone at your target company who may put in a good word for you. 

Ultimately, the best person to sell you is: YOU. 

By not being open to learning how to do this effectively, you’re opening the door for other, potentially less qualified candidates to snatch a role away from you.

There is a way to “sell yourself” in the workplace and in job interviews that is not sleazy and can come across as genuine and confident that you can excel in a role. 

You start doing this by focusing on:

  • Your value
  • Your skills and experiences that are a match for the role
  • The results you’ve delivered for past employers
  • The results you can deliver for a prospective employer 
 Thinking of your value in those terms does not make you pushy or “salesy”. 

It makes you appear confident and competent which is very attractive to any employer.  

5- Applying to hundreds of jobs online

It’s become very easy to apply to hundreds of job openings through the power of technology and online job boards.

Unfortunately, the way most people approach this is with the “spray and pray” mentality. 

They think it’s a numbers game and that by applying to more and more jobs online that it will increase the odds of securing an interview and a job offer. 

That’s simply not the case!

Technology has created a situation where many companies and hiring managers will post a role online only to be faced with sifting through hundreds of resumes, mostly from unqualified candidates. 

What do they do when this occurs? 

They may trash all of the resumes received and go back to the old fashioned route: seek out candidates from their network!

I’m not saying you should not apply to jobs online. 

I’m saying you should be strategic about it. 

And you should also leverage other means of standing out and getting your application to the top of the pile – yes, by leveraging your network


6- Being “yourself” in a job interview

I had a chat about this recently with someone who had been on some job interviews and felt like he needed to make sure he was being “himself”.

The problem is that he was not getting second interviews or job offers.

Being “yourself” has many layers and I’m certainly not suggesting that you should be deceitful or lie in any way in any job interviews.

What I’m strongly recommending however is that a job interview is a situation where you want to be prepared, bring your best self out to the interview and put your best foot forward.

First impressions absolutely matter.

They matter in a job interview and they matter in every day life.

The best analogy here is with a first date.

Would you show up in your sweats, eat with your mouth open and bash your last boyfriend or girlfriend endlessly?

Probably not, especially if you want there to be a second date.

It’s the same with a job interview.

Yes, it’s a two way street and you want to make sure not only that you’re a good fit for them but also that they’re a good fit for what you’re looking for as well.

In order to even have the opportunity to explore this deeply, you need to make a good first impression and allow for them to see all of your most favourable qualities first.

Wow them, make them want to get to know you better.

We all have flaws and weaknesses that we’re working on but leading with them by thinking you need to be yourself can backfire and will not serve you with reaching your career goals in 2020.

7- Underestimating the power of LinkedIn

If you’re serious about your career growth this year, you need to get serious about learning how to use LinkedIn.

Most people in professional roles have a LinkedIn profile. 

But most people severely underestimate how much LinkedIn can boost their career.

The platform is designed to help us build and nurture our network. Help people find new roles. Help recruiters and hiring managers find job candidates.

Learning how use LinkedIn strategically vs slapping a profile together in a few minutes can completely change the course of your career.

I’ve seen the power of it for myself, and for my clients time and time again.

It’s a must if you want to grow your career in 2020.