Michael Sterling

A Job Hunter’s To-Don’t List for Today & Beyond

This Isn’t Your Father’s Job Search


Today’s job hunt is complex. It takes a strategic plan designed for the nuances of our fast-paced, electronic lifestyle. Most likely you have an action plan and a to-do list. Excellent! But have you thought about what you shouldn’t do?  In short –  a Job Hunter’s To-Don’t List.


Job candidates are often so intensely focused on their to-do list that they inadvertently do things that shouldn’t be done – those with a negative impact on their effort to finding a job.


Job Hunter’s To-Don’t List


Don’t Rely Only On Your Resume. The human attention span is now 8 seconds. Hiring managers will skim a resume, not read it in depth. You have just seconds to grab their interest. Keep your resume short and compelling. One page is ideal. Insert a hyperlink to your LinkedIn profile or to a specially-designed web page, where your professional story can be told at greater length. For more details see:  Can You Ride the Bull? Accountant Career Tips.


Don’t Use One Resume/Cover Letter. Customization is key. You should be crafting a cover letter and resume for each application based upon advance research of the firm. The age of information has made it easy to research potential employers. Not using that information to position yourself to meet a specific firm’s needs can and will eliminate you from the candidate list. For simple steps to create a killer accountant resume see: Your Resume Has One Job. Do it Right!


Don’t Forget to Review Your Resume on a Mobile Device. Resumes are often viewed on a mobile device. Review your resume on a tablet or smartphone to insure the formatting and font is easy to read.


Don’t Overlook Your On-Line Image. Update your profile on professional sites to showcase your most recent accomplishments. Also edit/remove any inappropriate photos/comments from social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Don’t think a seemingly silly, even innocent, social media post can hurt you? Wrong. Check out: Could an Internet Meme Ruin Your Career?


Don’t Bank On Job Boards. Think beyond the traditional job boards. Network. Investigate if you know someone at your targeted firm. Contact professional associations or engage a recruiter. Partnering with a recruiter is a cost-free way to get an inside-track on positions which way not be advertised.


Don’t Tell Your Co-Workers.  Keep your job search to yourself.  Thanks to social media, information travels fast! Even your most-trusted co-worker could let your intentions to leave slip – and in a nano-second the news will be everywhere.


Don’t Bring the Search to Your Office. Never create or file documents on your work computer. Use only your personal email address. Job search related phones calls should be made outside the office and never have a potential employer call you at work. However, thanks to cell phones, we can be reached anywhere. If a potential employer does reach you at the office on your cell phone, politely offer to return their call at a more appropriate time.


Don’t Apply Everywhere. Sure, it’s important not to pigeon-hole yourself. But using a buckshot approach, rather than targeting your applications, is going to work against you. Spreading the net too wide dilutes your ability to position your strengths and secure a job which will allow for upward career growth in the direction of your goals.


Don’t Ignore Follow-Up. Send a post-interview thank you note which, when appropriate, can be an email. A thank you is not only proper protocol, but it provides another chance to get your name in front of the hiring partner(s) and another chance to impress.


Don’t Be Careless with References. Take time to consider who will be the best reference for each job opportunity. Cite only professional contacts unless you’re relatively new to the work world. In that case, use individuals such as professors, counselors and organization/club leaders. Ask individuals in advance if you may use them as a reference. Furthermore, do the leg work to insure the contact’s info is up to date. Check that your reference’s job title is correct as well as verify their phone number. Additionally, don’t forget to include their email address. Who doesn’t hate phone tag? And who is easily reached by phone these days? Providing an email address will allow a hiring partner to reach out via email to set a phone appointment with your reference.


The Final To-Don’t


Don’t Wing It. Landing a prime position doesn’t happen by chance. Securing a job that matches your values and goals takes effort and requires strategy. It’s a careful balance of checking off the To-Dos and the To-Don’ts.


As a career coach and recruiter working exclusively with public accountants, I provide guidance on these issues daily. Connect with me on LinkedIn.


For more job search tips and overall Career Wellness visit sterlingfreeman.com.




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