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March 30, 2009

Current Mistakes Job Seekers Are Making

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Current Mistakes Job Seekers Are Making

By Daryl Piga, Career Consultant with Robert Half International

Here are six key mistakes that job seekers keep making during this down economy:

1. Sticking to a job search routine that isn't working.

Often, job seekers will spend all of their time looking at job boards for listings and e-mailing resumes in response. Then, when they don't find anything, they give up. This strategy typically doesn't bring positives results by itself. While it's important to search all the top job boards, you also should be spending your time networking and staying up to date on your industry trends. Just remember, if your current strategy isn't working, it's probably time to retool your approach.

If you're in a highly competitive field, for example, you may be one of hundreds of applicants for a job that's posted on a prominent site. You can reduce the competition by posting your resume on niche job boards and searching business journals for companies that are expanding and contacting them directly. Or perhaps you can sign up with a recruiting firm to learn about jobs that aren't necessarily advertised.

It may be that you need to look for a different type of job, or in a different industry or city, as well. Don't pigeonhole yourself in your search. Be as open-minded as possible.

2. Appearing defeated or desperate during the interview.

Sometimes there can be a fine line between someone who is aggressive in their job search, and someone who is desperate.

It's smart to be somewhat aggressive and go a bit out on a limb. That could mean following up with potential employers after you've sent a resume, asking your contacts for help (politely, of course) or even offering to work for someone on a trial or temporary basis while you both evaluate whether it's a fit.

Desperation consists more of attitude than actions. Try to maintain a sense of self-confidence and remind yourself of your self-worth. An extended job-hunt can take a toll on your self-esteem, but you want to project a positive image during an interview. Try not to be too hard on yourself and keep as positive of an attitude as you can.

3. Being inflexible in your job search targets.

Creativity is essential in a job search, and often that entails being able to envision yourself in new roles. This might include targeting jobs in other cities where your industry is more active, looking for project work, or considering jobs that aren't ideal but you think you would be good at.

4. Not following up with potential employers.

While you don't want to be a pest, it's often wise to follow up with employers who you don't hear from after submitting a resume.

Whether communicating in writing or over the telephone, job seekers should demonstrate their knowledge of the company while reinforcing their qualifications and sincere interest in the position. This extra step can give professionals a significant advantage over less-proactive candidates

5. Having an unflattering digital footprint.

Think your friends are the only people who viewed those less-than-professional vacation photos you posted online? Think again. With a few mouse clicks, potential employers can dig up information about you on blogs, personal websites and networking site profiles. Make sure you do a thorough self-search and take any necessary corrective action.

6. Being caught without networking business cards and an updated resume.

Make it a point to never leave your office or home without business cards and an updated resume. It doesn't matter whether you will be in a business or personal setting. You never know who you will meet and when you will need to give your business card and resume to someone.

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