3 New Job Mistakes to Avoid

In a perfect world, your new job would be challenging but not overwhelming and you would move forward with no obstacles during the first 6 months to a year. Unfortunately you probably don’t live in a perfect world. At least no one I know does!

Challenges undoubtedly will occur on your new job, and some of them might be daunting, to say the least–especially if they’re situations you had no way to anticipate and prepare for. However, although you can’t plan for every possible eventuality, you can avoid at least a few, major new job mistakes by taking some smart preventive action.

3 New Job Mistakes People Often Make

One of these mistakes actually precedes the start of your new job. The others relate more to things you might do (or not do) once you’ve officially begun your new position.

  1. Forget–or don’t bother–to perform due diligence regarding the company and position you’re about to interview for. You don’t need to (and probably can’t) find out absolutely everything, but smart job seekers make the effort to gather good intelligence beforehand.
  2. Arrive for day one of your new job without doing as thorough preparation as you could and should have. In other words, show up without a sound plan of action for the start of the job.
  3. Lead off at a fast pace to make changes and pursue ambitious goals without scoping out the situation first. Rarely is rapid-fire emergency action really required, and it can all too easily backfire.

Mistake Prevention Steps

Here are just a few steps you can take to prevent the new job mistakes mentioned above; feel free to explore further and add your own to these:

  1. Consult reliable sources–both online and offline–that can give you some useful information about the company’s current situation, future prospects, etc. Online sources would include LinkedIn and Google searches for information both about the company and about its management. Offline should include anyone you know or can connect with who has current or fairly recent knowledge about the company.
  2. Put together a 30-60-90-day plan (if you didn’t do this earlier) before you show up for work the first day. Include in that plan items such as the people who will report to you, the person you report to and anyone else within the company who might be essential to carrying out your charter. Refresh your memory regarding information shared with you during your interviews and at other times that indicates expectations for your performance and might suggest potential roadblocks you will need to take into account.
  3. Review any crises or potential crisis situations you know you will need to deal with and balance that with useful, related information and knowledge about the people you will need to interact with in order to move forward. Determine which actions do need to occur quickly and how best to execute them for maximum effectiveness; mark the others for less expeditious action.

No one can guarantee that everything will work out in your new job; but by taking care to avoid the new job mistakes mentioned above, you will increase the odds of your success.


Your Online Brand & Reputation Management

By now, I think most people realize that they have a brand, whether or not they pay much attention it. However, since so much information is available about you online these days, ignoring your online brand and reputation is risky at best.

How Do You Manage Your Personal Brand Online?

William Arruda is widely recognized as the guru of personal branding. A recent post by Tara Kachaturoff in Arruda’s online publication, The Personal Branding Blog, addresses the above question with some practical steps. In a nutshell (read the blog post for details), they are:

  1. Assessment: Create a benchmark from which you can measure progress.
  2. Determine what you want to change.
  3. What’s working for you?
  4. Draft a strategy that works for you!
  5. Rinse and repeat – do what works and more of it!

Think You Don’t Need to Manage Your Brand?

Think again! Whether you’re a job seeker, just managing your ongoing career or a business owner like me, you really can’t afford to ignore the need for personal brand management. The days when you could stick your head in the sand and pretend this issue doesn’t exist are long gone.

Try Googling yourself by first and last name (or your business name if you own a business) and see what comes up. Or what doesn’t, as the case might be.

At times, I’ve found references to myself in as many as 6 or 7 of the top 10 on page one of results and maybe a few more on page two. (There are several Georgia Adamsons, so I’m usually not the only listing.) Most recently, I found just 2 or 3 on the first page and 1 or 2 on the second page. Obviously, I have some work to do! (Of course, if I Google “Georgia Adamson resume writer,” I’m 10 out of 10 on page one!)

By the way, one of the references you might find when you search for yourself is your LinkedIn profile–especially if you’ve updated it recently (even a small tweak now and then will help the profile to come up high on the list). That’s just one of many reasons to make sure your LI profile is current and updated fairly often; LinkedIn does get a lot of exposure. If you want potential employers to find you and to be favorably impressed by what they find, give your LinkedIn presence the attention it deserves.

You don’t need to spend hours every day on managing your online brand and reputation, but consistent attention over time is likely to pay dividends. You’ll be more easily found and better able to make the kind of impression you want to make on the people (i.e., employers) who do find you. That’s well worth some thoughtful effort.

Privacy and Your Job Search

Privacy is a huge topic these days, including with regard to job searching. One of the big questions seems to be whether it’s even possible for you to have privacy when conducting a job search.

Of course, this is a larger issue than just when an active job search is involved. However, some of the articles and news items I’ve been reading indicate that its application to job searching is becoming more troublesome–even challenging–all the time.

Is there privacy in a job search?

Perhaps a better question would be, how close to job search privacy can you get? I’ve had executive clients who were conducting a highly confidential job search, and at least a few of them avoided doing much, if anything, on LinkedIn because of fear that the wrong people might become aware of what they were engaged in.

That might be a very valid fear, and I certainly don’t want to seem as if I’m treating it too lightly. If you’re in that kind of situation, you have to do what your thoughtful assessment of the circumstances tells you is wise.

At the same time, the more you restrict your job search visibility (or try to), the bigger the challenge you face in getting the word out to the “right” people. In other words, you’ve made more work for yourself by excluding certain tools and have to step-up to that task with determination if you hope to succeed.

Forfeiting privacy in a job search–or elsewhere

It’s no secret that we live in an age when floods of information are available at the click of a computer mouse. Whether data is legitimately available about you or is released unintentionally or maliciously, the result is the same. Determined people can find out a lot about you that you might prefer they not know, and the problem seems to keep growing.

To some extent, we’ve given up our “right” to privacy by opting in to the information age, with all its whiz-bang technology and other aspects. What used to take real determination to find (if it could be found at all) has now become disturbingly easy for many people. Unless you somehow manage to stay “off the grid” by some miracle (I don’t know anyone who has), you’re going to encounter this challenge.

What should you do about your privacy?

There’s no easy or completely satisfying answer. I suspect that the closest you can come to a solution is to act in a way that’s as sensible as possible–for instance, not putting information online about yourself that might be misused or misinterpreted. Use the Internet–LinkedIn, etc.–but not in a reckless fashion.

Assume that someone you don’t know or don’t want to make aware of your present activities might see the material you post online; then proceed with appropriate caution. If you’re in a confidential job search, do as much as possible offline and conduct your online involvement carefully. If your search isn’t so confidential or you’re not even currently in an active job search, adjust your participation accordingly.

Job Search Expectations–Are You for Real?

As someone who’s basically an optimist, I believe that expecting good things to happen is a healthy attitude to take. However, having seriously unrealistic expectations for your job search is another matter altogether.

5 Common but Unreal Job Search Expectations

  1. If I put my resume out there in enough places, it will get me a job.
  2. Free help can get me where I want to go–people should want to help me if I’m having a tough time but have years of good experience to offer.
  3. All I need to do to my 3-year-old resume is add my latest job.
  4. After I upload my resume to my LinkedIn profile, I’ll start getting job-lead contacts within days because I have a large network.
  5. I don’t match all the major requirements for a particular job posting, but if I use the right keywords, I should still get calls.

What’s Wrong with Those Job Search Expectations?

  1. Quantity versus quality as a job search technique could seriously extend the length of your job search. Also, a resume doesn’t get you “a job”; it’s a tool to help you open the door and land interviews.
  2. Free help isn’t necessarily bad, but it needs to come from good-quality resources. Also, the likelihood that someone will want to help you just because you need/deserve it doesn’t translate into reality. Finally, actively pursuing free support presents you as more of a taker than a giver, which doesn’t inspire people to help you.
  3. Times change. So does the impact of trends and technology on your resume and your job search in general. The way we did resumes a few years ago has changed substantially since then–largely due to factors such as Applicant Tracking System (ATS) screening and LinkedIn. If your resume isn’t up to date in more ways than just its chronology, you’re missing something critical.
  4. LinkedIn is a powerful tool for business/professional networking, and you should definitely have a strong presence there. However, just uploading your resume isn’t a substitute for building a robust profile and is highly unlikely to flood your inbox with great job leads. Sorry, but you have to work at it.
  5. You can certainly apply for jobs where you don’t meet all the major requirements, but just packing your resume with relevant keywords isn’t going to plug that gap. Keywords are important, but they’re not a “fix every problem” solution to your job search. If you’re a savvy job seeker (and you should be), you already know that.

How Can I Have Realistic Job Search Expectations?

To start with, create a plan that might be ambitious but isn’t ridiculously over the top. Then work that plan consistently. In addition:

  • Put your time and energy into the actions most likely to yield potentially beneficial results for your job search.
  • Use technology to your advantage as much as possible but recognize the need to work with what is, not what you’d like it to be.
  • Create a professional resume that represents you as effectively and accurately as it can, but don’t expect it to do all the heavy lifting for you.
  • If you’re looking for help from other people, try to put yourself in their shoes. Would you appreciate an in-your-face, what-can-you-do-for-me approach if it were directed at you? No? Then don’t use it on them.
  • Give yourself a reality check every now and then. If what you’re doing isn’t working, is there something else that might be more productive?

Network Your Way to Job Interviews and Offers

To some job seekers, “networking” is almost a dirty word–something they want to avoid like the plague. This isn’t a new thought; we’ve been around this track a few times before. However, in the unpredictable times we live in now, seemingly old methods can become new again, at least in terms of their importance to a successful job search.

Networking: Not Just a Numbers Game

I’ve seen various statistics and pieces of advice that suggest, for instance, that one of the steps you need to take to have successful participation in a networking event is to determine how many people you need or want to meet. If you hustle, you could conceivably meet quite a few people at such an event; but quantity alone won’t win you any prizes in the job search challenge.

To put it another way, you probably don’t want to paper your walls with the business cards you collect at a networking event. The people you meet and the business cards they share with you must have a stronger potential value than the quantity you rack up. By the same token, if your expanded LinkedIn network now numbers in the millions (or even hundreds of thousands), those that are of the greatest probable value to your job search and career success would only represent a miniscule portion of that total.

Networking Skills and Jobs

An article titled “No Networking Skills, No Job,” by Brian O’Connell makes some points well worth considering. To start with, he says that “connecting the dots between trusted contacts and future job opportunities is a big deal for job hunters. Failing that could be a real deal-breaker for career professionals looking for a landing spot….”

O’Connell goes on to quote a 2011 study by Right Management that gives the following statistics: “41% of all job applicants found new positions through networking, and only 2% through a job advertisement, either online or offline.” In addition, he references a 2012 report from ABC News that states “80% of all jobs are found through networking and networking events.”

Networking is Not a Quick Fix

Important as it is to your job search, networking will rarely, if ever, bring you an amazingly wonderful and rapid payoff. As with other job search tools (such as working with recruiters), networking usually only pays off over a longer term and often with incremental results that might not seem wildly impressive at first glance but can produce substantial benefits in the end.

Among other things, that means the sooner you begin a well-thought-out networking plan and the more consistently you work on that plan, the more likely you are to gain the outcome you’re seeking–a new/better job, a more fulfilling career, and so on.

Avoid LinkedIn Goofs

As you probably know, LinkedIn keeps changing–sometimes it seems as if that happens every time you turn around. However, that’s no excuse for letting yourself get so far behind the curve that your profile brands you as hopelessly out of touch.

10 Amateurish LinkedIn Blunders

According to a Forbes.com article by personal branding guru William Arruda, there are “10 LinkedIn Blunders That Make You Look Like an Amateur.” The first 5 have to do with content, and the remaining 5 concern your contacts.

1. No photo. Bad photo. Wrong photo.
2. Me-Too headline (using your current job title as your headline).
3. Using LinkedIn as a resume. (Create a summary that’s compelling and rich with relevant keywords.)
4. Only using words. (Embed appropriate images and videos into your profile).
5. Making it hard for people to learn more. (Make sure your Contact Info section is complete.)
6. Using the default “I’d like to add you to…” connection request. (Customize the message at least a bit.)
7. Having 499 or fewer contacts.
8. Sending mass LinkedIn mail that starts with “Hello… ”
9. Not using tags. (Organize your contacts by adding tags.)
10. Leaving fingerprints. (If doing confidential research, change your privacy setting to anonymous and then revert to your previous setting once you’re finished.)

The whole article is worth reading–and it’s not all that long.

What LinkedIn Blunders Are You Committing?

Take a good look at yourself and your involvement with LinkedIn. If you’re honest, you’ll probably find at least one of Arruda’s 10 on your list and maybe more.

As a resume writing/career coaching business owner, I know I’m guilty of #4 (very few graphics and no videos). The same with #7, although I’m getting close at this point. My challenge with increasing the number of contacts is that I prefer to balance quantity with quality–I don’t want to say that I’ll invite or accept invitations from anyone who’s breathing! I also haven’t tackled #9 yet, so that’s on my to-do list.

One goof that Arruda doesn’t mention but that occurred to me is this: If you open a LinkedIn account and settle for the default in everything or basically stop with the “bare bones skeleton” information, you’ve really done next-to-nothing. You certainly haven’t enhanced your online presence. In fact, leaving your profile in that shape is almost worse than not being there at all, because it indicates that you don’t take your professional visibility or online presence seriously.

Another point to mention is that if you build and maintain a robust LinkedIn profile over time–rather than just when you’re actively job searching–your current or future employers are less likely to think that you’re in a job search at any given moment. In other words, if they hire you when you have a strong profile, they shouldn’t suspect that you’re looking again if you keep it that way afterward. That’s much better than feeling on edge every time you update your profile.

Of course, you can and should turn off your activity notification feature when you update, whether or not you’re actively searching, especially if you do tweaks fairly often. That way you don’t annoy your network by blasting them with update notices every few days.

Like any other good career-building tool, your LinkedIn profile should be working for you 24×7, and it’s up to you to make sure that happens.

LinkedIn & Your Confidential Job Search

Heads up, confidential job seekers! Your search might have become a lot less confidential than you thought, if you unintentionally selected having a “Job Seeker Badge” (briefcase icon) as part of your LinkedIn profile.

What is a Job Seeker Badge?

According to LinkedIn’s Help feature, here’s the basic answer:

How do I show that I am looking for a job?
A Job Seeker Badge (briefcase) can be displayed next to your name on your profile and in search results and helps you get noticed by hiring managers. Once you have a Job Seeker Premium account, the Job Seeker badge can be turned on and off from the Premium Badge section of your Settings page.
If you don’t see the Premium Badge section, click Show more items under the InMails and Introductions sections.
Your connections will be notified of changes to your badge settings.

Who Needs the Job Seeker Badge?

Frankly, I’m not sure anyone does. Maybe I’m overly skeptical, but it sounds to me more like something LinkedIn has added to suggest value that no one was actually looking for. Certainly if you’re conducting a confidential job search, one of the last things you would ever want to do is to advertise that fact in your LinkedIn profile. That’s especially true since adding the Job Seeker Badge to your profile will be announced to all your contacts, some of whom might be co-workers at your current company. Of course, you could turn off your activity notification before adding the badge, but it would still show up on your profile if someone from your company paid a visit to the profile.

Even for a non-confidential job search, I question the value of this feature. To me, it smacks of something like this: “Hey, Mr./Ms. Employer, I’m kind of desperate here and wanted to let you know that I’m available.” If you have a strong LinkedIn profile, tailored to present your value to potential employers when they find you online, that should be sufficient. Whether or not you specifically indicate that you’re open to new opportunities, those employers will probably check you out anyway.

Caution in a Confidential Job Search

As I’ve said before, it’s nearly impossible to assure yourself of a totally confidential job search, given the amount of information and methods of access to it that exist in today’s electronically connected world. The best you can probably hope to do is to exercise caution and make prudent choices about what you publish, where you publish it and who you grant direct access to it.

Also, with specific regard to LinkedIn profiles, I always recommend treating it as an ongoing part of maintaining a healthy online presence and not trying too hard to keep your employer from knowing that you have such a presence. If the company knows all along that you have a robust profile and you turn off your activity notification when you make a sensitive adjustment to it, I think you’ve done the best you can to safeguard your situation.