3 Big Career Mistakes I Regret Making

Lessons to learn from today that will help you avoid the career complications of tomorrow

As the world reaches a standstill because of COVID-19, many fresh graduates are thrown into a hectic job market. Getting started on a career amid a pandemic seems like an impossible task, especially when you have to compete with other professionals who are looking for new jobs as well.

If you’re feeling like you’re floating aimlessly in the rough waters of unemployment, allow me to throw you a lifeline. I want to share with you the mistakes I’ve made early in my career in hopes that you will avoid them.

1. I did not make use of LinkedIn

Tell me if you’ve been in this situation before: You hear people raving about LinkedIn as this great platform to find opportunities. One day, sign up. After you’ve finished setting up your profile, you look through the site and think, “Now what?”

So then you leave the site and forget about it.

A few years ago, I signed up on LinkedIn because peers were doing it. I used to be one of those who thought, “I don’t know what to use LinkedIn for.” The only thing I knew about the platform was that I could use it to find a job.

But when the Movement Control Order was issued in Malaysia, I decided to log in to my long-abandoned profile. I was curious to see what the fuss is all about. I just never got it! But after a good half an hour of scrolling through my feed, I started to regret not taking LinkedIn seriously in the past.

There is so much value to be found on the platform, aside from being able to network with people and find jobs. Many thought leaders and companies share their resources and knowledge for free. Plus, you can get live updates on industry trends that can help you shape your career or business.

Even if you’re not an active member on LinkedIn, be sure to log in every few months or so to update your profile and accomplishments. Engage with posts, or even better, upload your own! Believe me. You will never regret investing time on polishing your LinkedIn profile and engaging with people on the platform.

2. I did not bother learning how to apply for jobs

I’ve always been lucky. Every job I got was through people who found me on Twitter. I never had to go through the hassle of writing a cover letter or a resume, and I don’t know why I was so confident to think that I never need to.

I always thought that making a resume or cover letter was something that I will only have to do when the time required me to do so.

In the past few weeks, I had friends who approached me, asking for tips on how to get a job during the pandemic. So, I decided to learn the ropes to job applications so I could help those who are struggling. I mean, how difficult could it be, right?

Boy, was I wrong!

Did you know that most employers spend less than 11 seconds on a resume before they choose to shortlist it or reject it? Did you also know that it takes more than just your qualifications to be a good candidate? In fact, many employers have started hiring for personality over experience!

Writing an effective cover letter or resume is more than just knowing the right format and keywords to use. It is learning how to resonate with people and emotionally connect with those who have never met you.

3. I did not take my personal brand seriously

Whenever I tell people the importance of a strong personal brand, some would say, “But I don’t know who I am.”

I used to be like that. But I’d be lying if I said I have never changed throughout the years. My priorities, interests, and ambitions continue to evolve until now. Your personal brand is a continuous work in progress.

For a long time, I was known as an activist or that feminist. It didn’t bother me, but I was more than that. I want to be known as a writer. So how can I reflect this side of me?

Remember that your brand is what people think of you. So, when you’re building your brand, think to yourself, what do you want people to feel when they think of you? What do you want their first impression to be?

It is okay to experiment to find your niche. It took me a long time to find mine. But there is no right time to build your personal brand. Start now. Allow your personal brand to evolve with you.

Here are 3 questions that can help you get started:

  • What are your interests?
  • How can you help others with what you do?
  • Who is your target audience?

It’s also worth noting that now, many employers look for job applicants online to research them. A CareerBuilder survey in 2017 showed that 57% of employers are less likely to interview a candidate they can’t find online while 54% have decided not to hire based on the candidate’s social media profiles.

Now that’s a reason to start taking care of your virtual first impression!

By learning from my mistakes, I hope you embark on a smooth-sailing transition into your own career! Even if you’re in the middle of your career, it’s never too late to start working on yourself.

I will leave you with the words of Warren Buffet:

“Ultimately, there’s one investment that supersedes all others: Invest in yourself. Nobody can take away what you’ve got in yourself, and everybody has potential they haven’t used yet.”

Warren Buffet

This article was originally published on Writer’s Blokke.


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