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.
***CONTINUED FROM PART 3– FINAL INSTALLMENT***
#7. Under-estimating the job search
When many of the population I currently work with lost their jobs, most of them were unprepared for the magnitude of the job search that lay ahead. Most of those people had held jobs for many years. They were from a different world, one in which they walked into a company and walked out with a job. They figured they could probably do so again.
I ask them what strategies they used for their job search. Most simply replied that they used the Internet and maybe a little word of mouth.
This is where a lot of employment specialists say job seekers fall short. They might narrow their job search to just online activities. I liken this to building a house simply using a screwdriver. If I need to cut lumber, attach shingles or install flooring, a screwdriver isn’t going to get the job done.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not downplaying the importance of using the internet. Many activities online can get necessary work done: aside from reviewing online job boards and filling out online applications I can network through LinkedIn and Facebook, research targeted companies and recruiters, explore retraining options, and stay on top of the current labor market. But actively networking in person, through job clubs, hiring events, etc., are far more effective than anything that can be done through the impersonal medium of the Internet. Many good jobs won’t even be found online, and it takes a different set of tools to find them. Just as building a house requires a diversified tool belt, so does an effective job search.
Many do not have a job search plan. Most only spend enough time on their job search to send out a couple of applications a day. Now I realize that job searching is in itself a daunting process, even for professionals. But using the above example, I would not be very successful building a house if I did not have a blueprint, a plan on how to go about construction. Previous planning is important.
Some things to keep in mind about a job search plan are:
- Prepare yourself that searching for a full-time job IS a full-time job. Just as you’d set up your work day with a schedule, to-do lists, meetings and planned activities, so do you for a job search. Plan on this being your work day. Don’t underestimate the value of time.
- Just as you’d set up your work day, plan for breaks, including lunch. Walk away from your job search at the end of the work day; it’ll still be there tomorrow.
- Schedule time in your day for things like updating resumes, interview preparation, researching targeted companies, networking outreach activities, etc. Give yourself sufficient time for these activities.
- Remember also that it is not only the quantity of time invested in your job search that pays the dividends, it is also the quality of activity engaged in. Many jobseekers, feeling they have to be doing something, invest their time in empty activities that yield no benefits. Track your activities—employers contacted, positions applied for, job boards used—and if what you have been doing is not bearing fruit, try something different.
#8. Not Following Up on Applications
Recently I asked some recruiters what advice they would give to the jobseekers that contact their company looking for a job. Remarkably, their answer was often that they see or hear no follow up from jobseekers on their job applications. This surprised me since most of those companies whom I contacted have online application processes.
Recruiters and employers of course want qualified individuals for their jobs, but they also want candidates with drive and ambition. An employer is more likely to seriously consider the candidate with passion and enthusiasm for the work they do. One way to show that enthusiasm is to at least follow up on the job application.
I have learned a lot from my colleagues out there in the workforce development field and I want to thank them all for their input. I believe I have benefitted as much as I hope to benefit my own jobseekers.