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10 common networking mistakes to avoid
Career Resources, Job Search, Networking

10 Networking Mistakes That Make You Look Unprofessional

If done right, networking is proved to be the best investment of every professional’s time and effort. It helps establish meaningful business connections and advance careers. And best of all, it helps you the most on a personal level. Here are 10 networking mistakes that make you look unprofessional.

But it seems like every networking event comes with a few bewildering moments. One might fret over what to wear, get tensed that he wouldn’t know what to say.

Some sweaty handshakes can give you a cringe-worthy experience but here are 10 networking mistakes that can hinder your efforts to meet likeminded people and advance your career.

1. A is for Absence.

The biggest networking mistake an unprofessional can make is simply being absent, whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or part of a large company, it’s important to be visible and get noticed. One of the best ways to do this is by regularly attending professional and social events. By continually contributing information and tips to people who need it, you’ll quickly establish a reputation as being a knowledgeable and reliable contact in your industry sector.

2. B is for being unprepared.

Sometime a networking event might catch you off guard. Perhaps you received the last-minute invitation to the event, or perhaps you had committed to it months ago and didn’t remember until the day it was scheduled to, the best advice for avoiding this mistake is to make a polished appearance a part of your routine. Keep your resume up to date, always carry your business card and dress professionally every time.
But preparing for events, conferences, and meetings doesn’t mean coming with a freshly printed stack of business cards if you know certain people who are attending or speaking at the event, which might be in your interest, then you should do your homework on them ahead of time. This will help you skip the small talk and get right into a meaningful conversation.

3. Putting on a front.

Never pretend to know someone you don’t or fabricate details in your job history. Although it is actually a common networking practice no matter how eager you might be to ingratiate yourself with someone, lying is not the way to make that happen. Be truthful about what you do and why you are there.

4. Overselling yourself!

Don’t do it! If you don’t really have specialized training in a specific department or if your “second language” is a few semesters of French in college, don’t try to sell them as valuable skills or use them in your resume.

5. Asking the same question as everyone else.

Be Unique, Come up with new ideas, if you want to be good at networking you have to stand out from the crowd and to that you have to avoid asking the same old, predictable questions everyone else is asking? The best way to make a positive impression on someone is to ask questions that unleash that person’s passion or require them to tell personal stories.

6. Not being helpful to others.

Focus on being helpful to others rather than focusing on what benefits you can get out of the networking relationship. When you rethink how you network in this way, you’ll see the quality of your interactions go way up.

Burke suggests starting with the goal of helping ten people per month in a meaningful way. Start with a list from your immediate network, and “once you’ve warmed up your shockingly helpful muscles, expand your network each week.” Trust me, this will pay off over time.

Remember: What goes around comes back around. 

7. Not asking for anything or asking too much.

It’s helpful to come to a networking event or conversation with a specific goal in mind. Maybe you’re looking for a job and want to get advice on how to build your resume — or even get a referral. Or perhaps you already have a job and you’re looking for feedback on your project, or you want to spread the word about your company’s work.

Once you have a goal in mind, the hard part is letting the other person know about your goal without coming off like you’re using them. When you’re networking, it’s okay — even encouraged — to have an “ask.” Not only can it help move the conversation and the relationship along, but it can also provide some welcome context to your follow-up.

However, there are two mistakes people often make here: Either they don’t make their “ask” clear enough, or they overdo it and ask too much of someone.

You shouldn’t ask for too much from someone you barely know. There’s a huge difference between asking someone for advice on your next career move and asking them to be your mentor forever and ever. The same goes for asking for a quote for a piece you’re writing, versus asking them to review the entire piece and give you in-depth feedback.

8. Treating anyone as unimportant

Dismantling people who don’t meet the criteria of big names and A-listers is a mistake. A single discouraging comment can embarrass and discredit you for years to come. Treat everyone you meet like they could make a real difference in your life. Be respectful and present, even if the connection is brief.

9. Saying too much

If you are hitting it off with a new connection, you might get so comfortable that you actually say too much. Be warm and be friendly, but avoid oversharing about your personal life and never, never talk poorly about your past or present employer.

Even if you left your last job due to conflict, that doesn’t need to be the focus of your networking event. Instead, if questions about your past work come up, work hard to bring the conversation back to the positive, such as what you liked or what you learned from that job.

10. Avoiding being the one to end the conversation.

Ah, the art of gracefully ending a conversation at a networking event. It’s a tricky skill to master, but it’ll save you from ending up feeling trapped. 

Do not commit the mistake to let people dominate your time because you will end up only talking to a few people for long periods, and wasting the opportunity to connect with more people and share more ideas.

Although there is no need for you to hand out your resume at a networking event but it would still make sense to have an updated resume on you just in case you need it. How about getting a free resume review from our experts to make sure you resume is updated and ready to give out.

ATS friendly resume writing service
Resumes & Cover Letters

How to Write an ATS-Friendly Resume?

Here is all you need to know about applicant tracking systems and how to get the better of them. 

We have all suffered from applicant tracking systems, particularly the notorious six-second resume review test. You prepare and polish your resume, find your dream job, send your application and hope that it will pass the six-second review test. 

However, unfortunately, the actual events are far from your expectations and your resume ends up somewhere in the system. With your resume lost in the space of time, you might start to wonder why the employer hasn’t got back to you. 

Unfortunately, most of us are unaware of the fact that over 70% of job applications never reach humans for review because A.I. software rejects them based on the algorithmic probabilities. 

What you need to remember is that before human eyes can see your resume, it must successfully pass through the ATS or the applicant tracking system. 

Details of precisely what is an applicant tracking system and how it works are provided below so you could beat not only the algorithms of this software but also improve your resume per the bot requirements. 

What is an applicant tracking system?

Employers are recruiters across the globe use the applicant tracking system, also known as ATS, as part of their recruitment process. The ATS enables recruiters to gather, sort, screen, and prioritize the job applications received against any given job opening. 

Applicant tracking systems were initially developed for large multinational firms that received thousands of job applications daily. Still, over time, small and medium-sized enterprises have also found a way to make use of ATS to find recruitment solutions. 

It is not surprising that today, the majority of the Fortune 500 companies, heavily rely on application tracking systems to optimize their hiring processes. 

How do applicant tracking systems (ATS) work?

In many ways, ATS for organizations acts as an online doorkeeper. ATS is a genius and artificially intelligent software that scans resumes for specific keywords to determine whether or not a job application should be passed on to the employer. 

Essentially, the purpose of an applicant tracking system is to identify and remove applications that do not match the recruitment criteria. 

This gives recruiters the opportunity to spend their time evaluating qualified applicants that match the requirements of the available position. Likewise, the software weeds out unqualified candidates, who appear to be unfit for the job. 

So what does this mean for candidates who wish to apply for a specific job position? If your resume is not good enough to beat the ATS, it is unlikely to be seen by human eyes. So to ensure your resume gets passed on to the employer, you must keep the ATS in mind when writing and formatting your resume. 

How to write an ATS-friendly resume?

At ResumeCroc.Com, we reviewed resumes of 1000s of US-based professionals with at least ten years of experience to determine the most common errors that triggered the application tracking system to disqualify an application. 

Here are the results of the test that we performed in the form of an infographic that shows the most common mistakes made by applicants, so you can improve your resume to make it fully compatible with the ATS – the first hurdle that you must get over first. 

Here are some tips for you to follow if you wish to optimize your resume to make it fully compatible with the applicant tracking systems. 

Choosing the right file type for your resume

Selecting the correct file type for a resume can help you dodge application tracking systems. Our research showed that most US-based professionals considered a PDF to be the most appropriate and ATS-friendly file type. 

However, in reality, a PDF file is the most inappropriate and least ATS friendly file type out there. Adobe PDF files indeed are the best at keeping the original format and design, but they are incompatible with most types of application tracking tools. 

If the ATS you are uploading your resume onto gives you the option to upload a PDF resume file, by all means, upload the PDF version of your resume. 

On the contrary, if the application tracking system does not specify; a) which file type you must upload and b) what types are incompatible with the system, then it would be best to stick to the Microsoft Word version of your resume. 

While plain text file types are the most ATS friendly, they can present the various design and formatting challenges. 

Ideally, you would want to create your resume with two audiences in consideration – a) humans – who will review your resume and mark it against the requirements of the position you have applied for and b) the robots that scan your application and banish it according to the algorithmic probabilities. At Resume Croc, we recommend our clients to build their resume in Microsoft word, which is not only ATS friendly but also lets you impress the recruitment officer with your creativity and designing skills.

Keywords in a resume are critical 

What most people don’t realize is the fact that applicant tracking systems love “keywords”. This means that you can improve the visibility of your resume by optimizing it with keywords. 

Including relevant keywords in your resume will certainly make it more compatible with applicant tracking systems. However, it is equally important to recognize the difference between “buzzwords” and “keywords”. 

If you stuff your resume with typical buzzwords like “energetic” and “self-motivated” which usually represent the soft skills you may not be able to get through the ATS. 

On the other hand, including “keywords” in your resume, which embody your skills directly relevant to the job you are applying for can undoubtedly improve your prospects. 

Finding the right keywords is perhaps the key to beating an ATS. You can find suitable keywords by carefully studying the job description of the vacancy you are pursuing. At Resume Croc, we suggest applicants to use word cloud generator tools such as Wordle to scan the job description and identify the words most frequently used by the recruiter. Make sure to fit in keywords that directly related to your skills and qualifications that are also desirable to the employer. 

Simply incorporating keywords into your resume is not enough because you will also need to think about the frequency and placement of these keywords. 

It is a well-known fact that an ATS identifies the strength of your skills depending on the number of times a specific term appears on your resume. If you possess an expertise that is desired by the employer, then you should consider adding that at least two to three times in your resume. 

However, some applicant tracking systems evaluate your suitability based on the number of years of experience you indicate for a particular skill. So this is another aspect you should be mindful of when making your resume. 

Don’t forget to list your key hard skills and soft skills under an independent section which can be named “Areas of Expertise” or “Core Competencies”. 

In some cases, there could be more than one term through which a particular skill can be recognized. For example, a common abbreviation for social media optimization is “SMO”. Make sure to include both versions in your resume. 

How about sprinkling these terms onto the “Education” and “Professional Experience” sections of your resume to exhibit where you acquired the skill. 

“Some applicant tracking systems will associate the length of experience for a skill, based on how long you held the job where that skill was leveraged.” 

For example, if you held your previous job for three years and you indicated social media optimization as your core skill under the “Professional Experience” section of your resume then the applicant tracking system will assume that you have 3 years of experience in SMO. 

On the other hand, if you mentioned the skill in the “Areas of Expertise” section in a bullet point format or the “Professional Summary” section, then some ATS will automatically assign a one year experience to that particular skill. 

So in short, it is crucial to include relevant “keywords” in your resume and repeat them throughout the document to ensure they get recognized by an ATS. 

Less is more when designing a resume

Keep your resume design clean and simple. Most applicant tracking systems are unable to understand complex designs and intricate formats, and so a sensible approach would be to keep your resume in an ATS friendly format. 

Over designing can divert the focus from your skills and may even annoy the employers who are used to skimming through a resume to find skills they expect the applicant to have mentioned under a specific area of the resume. 

Simple bullet points still work

Bull points are the most ATS friendly style of presenting the information. Not only do they enable you to highlight your achievements and qualification but also keep things focused and simple. 

However, avoid using complicated and cool symbols for your bullets because the ATS may not be able to read them, and the vital information that you wanted to highlight for the recruiter could get lost. Our studies have shown that it is always better to stick to the simplest bullet options that are available in Microsoft Word such as a square, open circle, solid circle, and tick mark. 

Avoid using graphs, charts, and images

While your resume should be appealing to the human eyes, you should avoid stuffing it with graphs, charts, and images because a) they will turn your resume into a distorted mess and b) they can’t be read by the applicant tracking systems. This leads to your application, not passing the screening checks. 

Avoid including essential details in the header or footer

Many applicants make the mistake of including essential information in the header and footer areas of their resume without realizing that not all applicant tracking systems can read the information provided in these two parts of a Microsoft Word or PDF document. 

Studies have revealed that applicant tracking systems are unable to read data located in the header and footer as much as twenty-five percent of the time. So it is vitally important to ensure that you place contact details such as the email address, phone number, name, date of birth and more in the main body of the resume.

How to create an ATS-friendly resume format

So what is an ATS friendly resume format? Experts are of the view that applicants should stick to the standard resume format if they want their resume to be compatible with the applicant tracking systems. 

A hybrid resume format is considered as the most effective in this regard. This resume format allows the applicant to provide a professional summary at the top of the resume document before demonstrating academic qualification, professional experience and core competencies (in chronological order). 

Because application tracking systems use chronological information to evaluate your resume, they are generally really good at understanding and interpreting a hybrid resume format. 

As a result, it’s in your best interest to avoid a functional resume format at all costs — where the focus is placed on your abilities, rather than chronological work history.

Testing your resume for ATS-Compliance

Here is how you can determine whether or not your resume complies with an ATS. 

Convert your resume to a plain-text file

The simplest and easiest way to find out whether or not your resume is fully compatible with applicant tracking systems is to copy its content and paste it into a plain-text document. 

If the layout of the resume is scrambled (for example, if text from the “Professional Summary” section appears somewhere under the “Core Competencies” section), important information is missing and special characters (such as the bullets) are saved incorrectly then consider revising your resume before submitting your application. 

Resume Croc offers a free ATS resume scan

Here at Resume Croc, we provide a free ATS resume scan as part of our free resume review. When you request a free resume review from TopResume, our experts will thoroughly review your resume and provide detailed feedback not only on ATS compliance but also the content relevance. 

The resume review offered by Resume Croc is split into two halves. The first half provides an insight from a design and information perspective. The second half will showcase how ATS compatible your resume is, which means that it will show what sections are likely to be correctly identified by an ATS and what information it may not be able to comprehend and interpret. 

If the ATS is unable to identify this important information (such as your name, contact information, most recent job title, and most recent employer) or thinks you’re a fit for a job when you’re not, then your resume will need to be further optimized before it passes the ATS-compatibility test.

Secure your dream job by getting an ATS compatible resume from Resume Croc experts. 

Don’t let the bots stop you from landing your dream job. Get an ATS-proof resume today.

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