Fishing in the Swimming Pool and Other Job Search Mistakes

May 19th, 2011

Fishing in the Swimming PoolAn ex-military professional posted a question on LinkedIn: Why do employers on Linkedin say they have a hard time finding good qualify [sic] people to hire/employees? When in the mean time I have a hard time getting hired?

I had a look at his LinkedIn profile and quickly identified some deadly mistakes that were making him invisible to employers.

Mistake #1: Military-Jargon Rich, Keyword Poor

If you want to be found by recruiters (corporate or third party), you have to understand how they think and work. If they think they need a Manager of Corporate Training, then they will use boolean search strings that include “Corporate Training” or “Corporate Trainer”. Education Management Professional won’t show up. If they think they need a Supply Chain Specialist, they will use boolean search strings that includes “supply chain”. Supply Sargent won’t show up. Jobseekers need to review job ads that interest them (and they are qualified for), and then incorporate the keywords in their online profile and resume. Military-to-civilian jobseekers need to translate military vocabulary and acronyms into words that are relevant in the civilian work world.

Mistake #2: Career Story – There’s No “There” There

From the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, I could tell a little bit about where he’d been, but not what he did or whether he was any good at it. Job search is marketing, and marketing is story telling. Jobseekers need to use their resume, their LinkedIn profile, their networking time, their contributions in online discussions,  and their interview answers to tell a compelling story about what they are good at, the kinds of problems they are good at solving, the kinds of situations they are good at managing, the kinds of goals they are good at achieving. And they need to use examples from their career to prove it.

Mistake #3: “I Don’t Know What I Want To Do Next” Syndrome

When I looked at the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, I had no idea what kind of position he was looking for. So even if a recruiter happened to stumble across his profile, there wasn’t enough information to determine whether the candidate was the kind of person the recruiter was looking for. Some jobseekers are afraid to be specific in their career goals, or to name a target position, for fear that they will miss some opportunities. What happens instead is that they miss all opportunities. Jobseekers need to be as specific as they can be about what they are looking for.

Mistake #4: Fishing In The Swimming Pool

If you want to find the right job, then you need to fish where the fish are at, and not stand in a swimming pool and hope that the fish will show up. One of the possible career goals for this candidate may be Early Childhood Educator (hard to tell for sure, because of mistake #3).  There are thousands of positions for which LinkedIn is an ideal place for self-promotion. But for some kinds of positions, LinkedIn (and other social media platforms) are a waste of e-space.  Organizations that hire ECE specialists don’t use LinkedIn for recruitment. The largest ECE-themed group on LinkedIn has only 1500 members worldwide.   Jobseekers need to find the right niche job boards, discussion forums and professionals associations if they want to be found for highly specialized positions, and LinkedIn may not be it.


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Meet Karen Siwak

An award-winning Certified Résumé Strategist, Karen has crafted top calibre career transition packages for thousands of clients. Her specialty is helping people identify and articulate their unique brands and value propositions, and she is passionate about empowering clients with the tools, strategies and confidence to take control of their career search. Read more...

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