The latest trends for securing a new job

Looking for a new job? Here's how to avoid creating the wrong impression.

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The chances of securing an interview for that “dream job” will be much higher if the right first impression is created. Nevertheless, my experience as a recruiter suggests many job seekers risk giving the wrong impression in their eagerness to secure new employment. So what are the latest trends and how can such barriers to success be avoided?​

Misguided self-promotion

Self-marketing is important if job seekers want to stand out from the crowd. However, the fine balance between achieving positive impact and creating the wrong impression is becoming increasingly unclear. “I’m sure if he cannot follow instructions relative to whom he should apply to, he definitely cannot meet the demands of that role.” This was a comment of a senior level colleague who had received yet another direct approach from a candidate who had chosen to ignore the correct application protocol specified clearly within the job advertisement.

Yes, the desire to be ahead of the competition tempts some to ignore normal procedure, identify the most senior person(s) within the organisation and approach them directly. Alternatively, the application is channelled through a known internal contact in the hope of a gesture of support or recommendation. In their single-minded determination, these job seekers overlook the likely consequences of submitting applications outside established channels. If not simply ignored, their approaches will inconvenience, and may even annoy the real decision- makers as well as recruiters who must take the time and trouble to ensure redirection of these applications.

Some applicants frequently engage in another form of self-promotion. Following a job application submission, they proceed to bombard busy recruiters with email and telephone follow-ups. Yes, they succeed in creating an impact, but not necessarily a good one. Still on the subject of emails, an emerging theme are messages along the lines of: “I’ve seen there are a lot of candidates for this vacancy so I’m reaching out to you personally”. Yes, such initiative may be applauded, but these approaches can also nurture an impression of seeking an unfair advantage, possibly prompting questions of personal integrity.

Inappropriate use of LinkedIn

Similarly, another common practice is to perceive an accepted LinkedIn invitation as the signal to engage in direct contact, usually along the lines of: “I have applied via the advertisement but want to meet you directly to stress my suitability”. Others think showering the recruiter with LinkedIn endorsements will enhance their chances of success. Yes, it’s all very flattering but what impression of professional credibility is being created by someone endorsing the knowledge and skills of a person completely unknown to them?

Untargeted job seeking

Others feel their chances of success will be increased by applying for as many jobs as possible, but this indiscriminate approach results in recipients experiencing the inconvenience of having to trawl through high volumes of applications displaying little relevance to job requirements. When I recently advertised 10 very varied new positions – ranging from junior engineer to senior manager – some applicants applied for every job. Even if an individual demonstrated suitability for one role, their apparent lack of motivation and focus towards that particular appointment could jeopardise the chances of interview.

So what is my advice?

All of these pitfalls can be overcome quite easily once their unintended consequences have been recognised and accepted. Modifying your approach to become a more “employer friendly” applicant will definitely increase the likelihood of an interview.

Unquestionably, success is attained by highly selective job seekers applying only for those roles where they achieve a very close match with the exact candidate requirements. In turn, they follow the documented recruitment protocol precisely while also ensuring all evidence – CV, cover letter, LinkedIn profile – emphasises suitability to the point where there is absolutely no alternative for the recruiter but to extend an invitation to interview.

Terry Galvin is a Dubai-based human resources executive and a business psychologist with wide-ranging experience gained in both organisational and consultancy roles