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How to Fail in Your Job Search

Since I’ve had the privilege of working with many and various job hunters over the past twenty years, I thought I’d share some insights on the downside of the search adventure: how NOT to look for work. I can almost guarantee that following any one of these rules exclusively will increase the likelihood of your catching all the episodes “The View” and “Judge Judy” as well as completing “to-do lists” for everyone on your block!

Are you ready? OK, here we go…

Stick with only one job-search method.

There are a lot of job search techniques out there and I’m frequently asked which one should be used. The answer? Use ALL OF THEM! If you restrict your search activity to any single method (including excellent ones like research interviewing or networking), you severely limit your opportunity for success. For example, the ads in the Sunday News are real jobs. The Internet does list employment opportunities. Some companies do have “NOW HIRING” signs on their front lawns. Talking to friends and relatives about your interests can help identify employment opportunities. Recruiters and agencies, used intelligently, can be helpful. Although I recommend that you invest most of your time in activities that tap into the “hidden market” through research, social networking, etc., an effective job search campaign is probably one that uses all available methods to unearth opportunities.

Apply for anything that isn’t nailed down.

When you reduce job hunting to the lowest common denominator, it’s basically a numbers game, right? So it stands to reason that the more times you apply, the more chances you have for success. Logic then dictates that every time you see any job that you’re even remotely qualified for (e.g., I’m not a brain surgeon, but I have a brain), you should go for it. Well, not really. First of all, you’re likely to experience an even higher level of frustration when you’re not considered for most of these positions, chipping away at your already fragile self esteem. In addition, you’ll probably invest a significant amount of time with little or no results. Finally, sooner or later you’re likely to be labeled in the employer community as someone who would do “anything for a buck.” Would YOU hire someone like that? Neither will they!

Tell everyone, everywhere, all the time, that you need work.

Similar to the above technique, this process will certainly gain you some visibility… as damaged goods! Although the vast majority of people will be willing to help, most of them will quickly tire of your contact as you continually bemoan your lack of a paycheck. OK, we know that’s not what you’re doing, but that’s what your approach will seem like to them. It won’t be long before the word is out for everyone to avoid you at all costs – crossing the street when they see you coming, getting caller ID, spamming your e-mails, turning down your LinkedIn connection, etc. There is nothing wrong with staying in touch with others to assist you in your search, but you should be seeking information, advice and referrals, not pumping innocent bystanders for job leads.

Spend all of your time on your job hunting.

You’ve probably heard that looking for a job is a full-time job. I respectfully disagree. Looking for a job is NOT a full-time job; it’s much more that that! Looking for work is, for most of us, much harder than the most difficult job we’ll ever have. Be sure to schedule some downtime, fun activities and recovery time from the wear and tear of presenting yourself to potential employers. If you don’t, you’ll probably end up as a worn-out interviewee, barely able to sit up straight in a chair, not to mention being totally unable to sell your qualifications to the company. To quote a cartoon in my files, “My name is Bob and I need a job!” Be sure to schedule some relaxation and recreation along with all of your search activities. You’ll be a better candidate for it.

Use a resume that says you can do it all.

Since you don’t know exactly what a company may need to know about you, be sure to include every single experience, class, volunteer activity, project, etc. in your resume so that they’re aware of all of the myriad ways you can contribute to an organization’s bottom line. This gives you the highest potential to connect your skills with the employer’s needs, right? Wrong! This will more likely turn your resume into an unread epic poem destined for the shredder or recycle bin. And if someone decides that he or she needs something to read before dozing off, it will show you to be an unfocused candidate who will happily take the first position offered (and just as likely to move on for something better as soon as the opportunity arises). Resumes need to be targeted, honest and focused to the needs of the industry, the market and the company.

I’m sure you get the point of this article: the sooner you decide NOT to follow these rules, the sooner people will be able to sent you a “Congratulations!” note or email on your new position.

Categories: Job Search
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