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14 Oct 2016 Austin Belcak

4 Job Search Mistakes That Are Stopping You From Getting Hired

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10 applications sent, time to call it a day. I've got to rest up for all these interviews I'm going to be landing!

That was me when I started my job search a few years ago.

I was applying to at least 10 companies every day hoping to land a new career that would set me on a straight path to the land of recognition, high salaries and a corner office.

How many of those companies did I hear back from? None. I was pissed.

I couldn't figure out why no one was interested. I mean they didn't even give me the courtesy of a conversation!

It wasn't until several years later, after I landed offers at Google, Uber & Twitter, that I realized what I was doing wrong. It wasn't just me either. After teaching hundreds of people how to accelerate their careers I noticed that they were making the same mistakes!

In this post I'm going to lay out the 4 most common mistakes people make so that you can avoid them during your job search:

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My free Job Referral Toolkit covers all of the tools and steps you need to make connections and land a referral at your dream company.

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1. You're Limiting Your Job Search To The Digital World

The internet is an awesome tool when it comes to finding a new career. You can learn about new companies, make new connections, build your personal brand – the possibilities are endless. However, the awesome is only good until the research phase is over. Once you cross the line between researching and applying, it's time to make things personal.

On average, an open role at a well known company gets ~250 resumes. 75% of these resumes came from some sort of online portal (the company's online application, a career aggregator site like Indeed.com, etc.). Once submitted, these applications are screened by Applicant Tracking software that scans them for keywords. At the end of the process, 10-20 resumes make it into the hands of a recruiter. That's 8% at best!

Additionally, according to Payscale, 80% of job openings aren't posted online. That means that 75% of people applying for jobs are all competing for 20% of total available positions! Bet you didn't see that one coming.

If you're only applying for jobs online, you're getting lost in a sea of applicants with no hope of differentiating yourself. That's like showing up at the the most popular club in New York at 11:30pm with your 3 best guy friends and expecting to stroll right in. It ain't gunna happen!

But what if you knew the bouncer at the club and he could hold that velvet rope aside while you walked right past the 400 people waiting in line? That's what referrals are all about.

On average, referrals only make up 7% of total applicants for a position but they account for 40% of the hires! Additionally, companies love referrals. According to a McQuaig study done last year, 39% of employers said that referrals provided the top candidate for a role – more than double the next channel (which was recruiting agencies). The only way you're going to get a referral for your dream job is by building those relationships in person.

4 Job Search Mistakes That Are Stopping You From Getting Hired - Referrals Are Preferred

It's pretty clear that companies love to hire referrals (courtesy of Undercover Recruiter)

When I say “in person,” I'm not talking about massive job fairs or meet ups. I mean one-one-one, intimate relationship building with influential people. If you need some help, I create a massive step-by-step guide on how to get a job referral even if you don't know anyone at the company. You can find it by clicking here.

2. You're Worried About Reaching Out To Strangers

If you don't have any connections at your dream company, the only way to get your foot in the door is to make them. That means reaching out to people you've never met before. Many of the people I've coach are terrified of doing this – and I totally get it. There are a lot of doubts that creep into our head!

  • What if they don't respond?
  • What if they flat out reject me?
  • What if I annoy them and then somehow they hear that I'm applying for the job and tell the recruiter to not hire me?


The good news is that I've gone through this process and, based on my data, 80% of the people I reached out to offered to help me. Even if that number is far lower, who cares if no one responds to you or says “no?” It's like dating, there are plenty of other fish in the sea. Finally, I can promise you that no one has ever been denied a job because they reached out to someone at the company and asked for help.

To help you get started, here is the email template I used that got me that 80% response rate:

Subject: Quick Question

Hi Tim,

My name is Austin and I currently work at Cultivated Culture. I was browsing through LinkedIn and came across your information – I hope you don’t mind me reaching out of the blue here.

I saw that you have extensive experience in Google’s Technology B2B vertical and I’m very interested in learning more about that space. I would love to have the opportunity to run some questions by you, as well as tap into any advice you may have given your knowledge of the industry.

I know that your time is extremely valuable so please don’t feel to need to respond in depth. If you do have 5 minutes to chat, I would really appreciate it.



3. You're Only Applying For Jobs You're “Qualified” For

When was the last time you looked at the job description for a job you really wanted and said, “Wow. I am totally qualified for this role.”

Probably never!

Raise your hand if you've found a job yo're pumped about only to find that it:

A) Required 3 more years of experience than you currently have

B) Required an advanced degree that requires 2-4 more years of school

C) Required super specific, technical-sounding skills that you probably haven't learned at your current job

It's enough to drive you nuts! Or at least enough to drive you away from applying for that role.

4 Job Search Mistakes That Are Stopping You From Getting Hired - Experience Meme

Can I let you in on a little secret? Most of the candidates who get hired for those roles would probably be deemed as “unqualified” on paper.

Let's take a step back and think about why companies hire.

Want To Land A Job Referral In The Next 14 Days?

My free Job Referral Toolkit covers all of the tools and steps you need to make connections and land a referral at your dream company.

Click here to get the Job Referral Toolkit totally free!

Why Do Companies Hire In The First Place?

The main goal of a company is to make money. As much of it as possible. The best way to ensure that this happens to do two things:

1) Focus on activities that bring in the most money

2) Cut down on expenses as much as possible to increase profit margin

Did you know that payroll is usually the #1 expense for almost any company out there? However, those same employees are the ones who single-handedly drive all of the revenue. This means that, from the company's perspective, they want to hire an employee who excels at bringing in money while also accepting the smallest salary possible.

We can trace the root of this problem back to the period right after the dot com bubble burst, when startups (the behemoths we know today – Google, Apple, etc.) began to take hold. They had awesome cultures (unlimited snacks and vacation!) and cool products. Everyone wanted to work for them.

That meant that the companies could be picky about who they hired. Why hired someone with 2 years of experience and a degree from a small school when you could hire someone with 4 years who went to Harvard for the same salary? It was a no-brainer.

As startups became sexier and sexier in the early 2000s, more and more companies adopted the same policy. This inflated the required credentials across the industry to the point where it simply became “the standard.”

So How Do I Get Hired If I'm Under Qualified?

As a job applicant, you need to focus on one thing: proving value.

You need to be able to show the company that you know exactly to efficiently succeed at whatever role you are applying for. One of my favorite ways to do this is by reaching out to people who currently work at the company and talking to them about the challenges they currently face. Then I'll do some research on my own, brainstorm several potential solutions, turn them into a proposal and send back to the people I spoke to.

When I was hired for my dream job I was the youngest person on the team by 6 years. The role required at least 5 years of experience and I barely had 3. It also required a degree in marketing or business – mine was in biology.

Don't let “qualifications” stop you from pursuing a job you truly want and love!

4. You're Taking The Conventional Route

In a recent LinkedIn survey on talent trends, 1 in 3 employees said that they were actively looking for new work. In September of 2016, the population of employed people in the US was 124 million. That means that, at any given time, 41 MILLION people are actively searching for a job in the US.

Let's take it one step further. As mentioned earlier, 75% of job candidates apply online. However, only 20% of total jobs are listed online. That means that if you're applying for a job online you are competing against 30 million people for 20% of the jobs that are out there.

And people wonder why it's so hard to get a job.

Everyone uses the same cookie-cutter formula and expect companies to kiss the ground they walk on. It's tough to blame them too, after all, it's what our parents, our friends and so-called “career sites” have all taught us to do. That's how they have gone about it for the last 50 years, why change now?

Albert Einstein once said, “you can't solve problems from the same level of thinking that created them.”

Job searching has become a problem. But if you want excel in your career, stand out from the crowd and land your dream job, you need to take the road less traveled. The road where 10 million people are competing for 80% of the unlisted jobs.

This starts with:

  • Targeting specific companies
  • Identifying influential contact within those companies
  • Building a relationship
  • Providing massive amounts of value to that person

You don't need connections, you don't need the “required” years of experience or relevant degree. You simply need to demonstrate that you will bring more value to the company than the other candidates who are applying. If you can do that, you can land any job you want.

To help get you started, check out my comprehensive guide on How To Get A Job Anywhere With No Connections.

Want To Land A Job Referral In The Next 14 Days?

My free Job Referral Toolkit covers all of the tools and steps you need to make connections and land a referral at your dream company.

Click here to get the Job Referral Toolkit totally free!

Austin Belcak

Austin is the founder of Cultivated Culture where he helps people land jobs without connections, without traditional experience, and without applying online. His strategies have been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, & Fast Company and has helped people just like you land jobs at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, & more.



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