Let’s get one thing straight: a job search isn’t easy — especially if it’s done the right way. The number of weeks a job seeker remains unemployed averaged around 33.9 as of October 2010 and doesn’t look to be letting up anytime soon.
What’s worse? Many 99er’s — or those who have received unemployment benefits for 99 weeks — have now exhausted their government help and are on desperately seeking employment in an already-tight labor market.
If your one of the thousands of unemployed Americans, you’re probably wondering what you can do to increase your chances of landing an interview and eventually a job. We talked to career expert Kris Parfitt of Career Coaching Leadership for her job search advice. Parfitt drew on her twenty years of coaching, training and leadership experience to give some of her best advice.
What are the biggest mistakes job seekers make when searching?
Parfitt: The biggest mistake is that many are not networking face-to-face. With over 80 percent of new hires coming into the organization through a personal/professional connection, I’m still surprised so many people “hide” behind their computers expecting to connect with hiring managers, recruiters or those connected to employment opportunities.
One of the best tactics for finding a job is networking and using the computer as one of your communication tools such as to follow up on email, research a company or person, and to connect with them on Linkedin, etc. Don’t use it as one-stop-shop for job hunting. Your personality, networking skills and background are your best tools.
When using the internet to find job leads, many people seem to focus on the larger known job board postings. Avoid limiting your job lead searches to Monster, CareerBuilder, Craigslist, etc. There are other resources within your own network, along with LinkedIn groups, Biznik, postings on any career specific groups in your geographical area and your college career center, to name a few.
Another mistake job searchers make is not following the directions on how to submit a resume via an online job posting nor knowing proper email etiquette when communicating with a hiring manager or recruiter.
How can job seekers sift through job postings online to find which jobs are legitimate and which ones aren’t?
Parfitt: If it’s too good to be true, then it is. If it’s too vague and has you asking yourself basic questions like “what is the name of the company? What are the requirements for the position? What is the compensation and where is the position located?” then the job posters are hiding something. If they are this adept at ambiguity at the level of the job posting, you can only imagine what it would be like working with them!
I recommend that that you only reply to posting that have the name of the company in the job posting so you can do your own homework before applying. Don’t be at the mercy of the invisible recruiter or hiring manager — only apply to postings with the name of the company listed in the posting so you can research whether or not this is a company you want to work for, before submitting your resume.
How do you recommend job seekers start off their search in this economy?
Parfitt: Network, network, network. Tell the people in your personal and professional lives what you are up to and ask if they can support your efforts to find a position. You can also attend events, lead a group, speak, write, blog. Get yourself known at an engaged, interested/ing and participative person worth hiring or referring. You should also sign up on sites that provide generous amounts of job finding tips, training and info — One of the best online is Career Realism Club.
Should job seekers of different career levels (entry-level, mid-career) approach their job searches differently in this economy?
Parfitt: No. It’s all about networking and engaging in your search.
Anything else job seekers should know when searching for jobs both online and off?
Parfitt: I recommend Investing the time and money in getting your resume polished along with your online professional profiles like LinkedIn. Line up your top references beforehand (more than three!) and solicit referrals on any of your online social sites. Also, make sure your cover letter clearly explains how your background and experience fulfills the job description and then some!
Finally — and I can’t stress this enough –scrub all social media sites for anything negative about you, your reputation or your work ethic.
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