Recently I asked a question on a LinkedIn discussion group: what’s the #1 mistake job seekers are making these days?
I was hoping for a few answers but was unprepared for the interest this question generated. I was gratified by the level of response and the amount of feedback I received.
While I cannot include all the responses in this document without overwhelming it, I can discuss the major points. Due to the overwhelming response to my question, I have taken the most common answers and put them into 8 points. I will cover these in several parts over the next few days.
1. Not fully utilizing networking opportunities
They can be as close as your doctor or dentist, the person who checks you out at the supermarket, or your mailman. When we lose our job we talk to our family and close friends, but don’t go much further than that.
Our interactions with those people also need to be maintained. I had a good working relationship with a former supervisor, but failed to keep up the relationship. As a result he moved to a different position, and I didn’t know he was no longer available, or how to find him.
People talk about the elusive world of the hidden job market. Books and articles have been written about how to tap into this mysterious Holy Grail. There is no mystery—jobs are out there that haven’t been advertised yet. Employers want the job seekers to find them—it makes it easier on themselves. They also want to know that the person they are going to hire and train is going to be a positive return on their investment of time and money. They are going to more likely take advantage of the opportunity with a job seeker that has already made a connection and built a relationship with them, whenever possible. Having the network in place that will turn up those silent job postings when they come is the key. Having people in your network that will recommend you is huge too—employers are far more likely to trust the recommendation of peers over a simple resume alone.
Realizing that some employers do not have that choice—large employers such as Boeing and governmental entities have strict policies on recruiting and hiring that cannot be played with. Even then, however, HR personnel say they like to hear from job seekers that follow up on their applications. Nobody likes to just read a piece of paper.
Some people do their networking just online. Some others neglect social media opportunities. A careful balance of networking activities, such as attending job clubs, joining professional associations, having and maintaining a LinkedIn account, making connections, recommendations, joining groups and following targeted companies and other real-time and virtual measures is vital. Don’t put all your job searching eggs in one basket.
One of the comments I hear from my customers is that they have been networking but haven’t received any job offers yet. Two things that they miss is the formulation of proper relationships and time. I compare this with being in a large conference room full of people, mulling around in groups and talking. I walk in to one of those groups and say, “Hi, my name is Kim! Anybody got a job for me today?” I need to make some connections, share valuable information, and show them that I am competent, capable, and driven.
2. Not making the best use of your time
I work with the long-term unemployed, those who have been out of work for around 18 months or more and are about to exhaust their unemployment benefits, if they haven’t already. When I review their resumes, I ask them how they fill in that job gap. Many have no idea. I probe a little bit into what they have been doing with their ‘extra’ time since losing their job (besides job searching). I worry when they don’t have any answers.
Volunteering is a huge answer to this problem. It gives several benefits: it keeps your job skills sharp, it provides filler for those ugly job gaps, it broadens your professional network, and occasionally volunteering opportunities can turn into fulltime paid positions for the jobseeker. Unfortunately by the time they learn the value of volunteering, they already have a huge job gap.
Other ways of filling job gaps are taking classes such as computer skills or working toward a degree or certificate. Whatever you do, do something productive, something that can be used to fill gaps on a resume and keep you going– and learning.
*** TO BE CONTINUED!***
- Cracking the New Job Market (monster.typepad.com)
- Going the Distance in Your Job Search (This Is Not a “Pep Talk”!) (monster.typepad.com)
- National Career Coach Offers Job Seekers Valuable Tips on Standing Out from the Crowd (prweb.com)