How is your job search going? Rarely is the move from one job to another a straight line. A job search can often feel tedious, frustrating, and sometimes like you’re running in circles. All of this can have a negative effect on your psyche. Unfortunately, formal education provides little preparation for the real world skill of job-seeking – leaving many to only get better at searching for jobs through trial and error, experience, and the dubious advice of job seekers relating their personal experience. Meaning job search mistakes are a common occurrence. The good news is you can improve your job search skills.

Below are five common job search mistakes women make and how you can improve your job search skills.

#1 Your job search resume lists functions and responsibilities, not results

Does your resume read like a laundry list of positional duties? That’s a common job search mistake. While the resume describes what you did in your previous roles, it does nothing to inform prospective employers of how well you performed in those positions. You need to show prospective employers and recruiters that you moved the needle in your previous positions. What impact did you make for the team, department, and organization? This is a good opportunity to brag about what you accomplished at your previous roles. Show prospective employers the positive impact achieved as a direct result of your effort and expertise. The more specific you can be with your examples and data, the better.

For example, every business development manager develops prospects and converts them into clients. Instead, you could focus on how you led new client acquisitions for three straight months, and how your efforts led the company to recording its highest revenue gain in five years. This shows not only what you did, but how well you did it and the positive effect for your employer.

#2 You rely on job postings and recruiters to find a new position

Most experts agree 70% of new jobs are never advertised. A common job search mistake is relying on job postings and recruiters to find the right opportunity for you. Doing so means you won’t be aware of most new job opportunities. That means most new jobs are filled through person-to-person connections. In other words, networking.

To avoid this common job search mistake, try visualizing your network. Make a list of family, friends, colleagues, clients, vendors, partners, association and club members, and LinkedIn acquaintances. Include anyone you have had regular rapport. Take that list and make concentric rings with you at the center. Place people from your list on the rings depending on how close you are with them.

Create a concise, clear, and specific examples of the position, work, and industry that are your targets. At the end, include what you want the person to do. Be as specific as possible. An example might be forwarding you relevant connections or opportunities they may know. Then start having conversations with your network, working from the center outwards. Make sure to follow up with people and thank them for their time and assistance.

#3 You don’t do research before communicating with a prospective employer

Did you apply for a position with a company in an industry you know nothing about? Prospective employers will realize quickly if you’re knowledgeable or not. Not doing any research before speaking with a prospective employer is a job search mistake on the fast track to getting your resume lost in the mix.

Take the initiative and research before communicating with a prospective employer. Scour the company’s website to learn about the company, but also to see what language they use and the way they speak. For better insight look through the company’s social media accounts, especially less formal platforms like Facebook and Instagram. It’s a good way to see the company’s values and atmosphere. Check the company’s latest press releases and see if they’ve been mentioned in the news recently.

Familiarize yourself with their competition and discover what sets your prospective employer apart, what makes them unique. You should also investigate online reviews for the company and research your prospective position and compensation on sites like Glassdoor. This information will prepare you by giving you a better overall idea of the company, your prospective position, and how to speak with confidence during your interviews.

#4 You don’t prepare stories that highlight your success and the unique benefits you offer

How do you answer when an interviewer asks you to detail a time in which you overcame a challenge? Do you have an answer prepared that not only highlights your strengths but is relevant to the position you’re interviewing? Preparing two or three key stories about your past successes that are relevant will help show you are confident, prepared, and successful. The sort of person people want working for them.

To avoid this job search mistake, build your success stories by pulling achievements from your resume and applicable value opportunities from point three. Use this information to create stories of your past experience that highlight your success and the unique benefits you offer a prospective employer. Make sure your stories show off your unique skills, a situation relevant to the prospective position, and that made a big, positive impact for the company.

#5 You negotiate poorly or not at all

You’re not alone. Not negotiating a job offer is possibly the most common job search mistake. According to one survey, only 34% of women asked for more money at their last job offer (Robert Half, 2018). Many people avoid negotiation due to fear. They may feel unqualified for the position or fear they will force the job offer off the table. However, employers expect job seekers to negotiate a job offer.

Whether you need to start negotiating or improve your negotiating skills, the first step is to research. If you followed the advice of number three above, you should have an idea of what the typical salary range is for the position, company, and industry you’re seeking. That gives you a good baseline to start your negotiation preparation. Also, consider the following:

Be Likable 

The person across the table from you isn’t likely to fight to get you a better deal if you’re not personable.

Justify Your Worth

Remind the prospective employer of the unique qualities, skills, and experiences you bring to the table they won’t find in other candidates and why you would be a great benefit for them.

Be Interested

Make sure there is no question in the prospective employer’s mind that you are ready to shake hands and sign papers. A prospective employer is going to be less motivated to work with you in negotiations if they feel you’re window shopping.

Consider the Whole Package

Your job offer is more than a salary. This is especially notable when the person across the table has a salary cap you are up against. Other things to consider in your negotiation include title, duties, location, flexible hours, signing bonus, opportunities for growth and promotion, continuing education support, paid time off, travel, and perks.

Negotiate Holistically

Negotiate the whole package of the job offer at the same time, not by line item. This reduces the amount of time negotiations will take and gives your prospective employer a more comprehensive understanding of your negotiating position. Request all the details of the job offer upfront so you have the information to fully negotiate.

Avoid Job Search Mistakes with EWF International

EWF International supports women in business at every career stage. Programs like our Emerging Leaders curriculum offer career advancement education and training for early- and mid-career women. We also offer Personalized Career Coaching, one-on-one coaching that can help your prepare, stand out, and succeed in your job search. If you are ready to avoid job search mistakes and find your next opportunity, Contact EWF.