I’m entering a difficult, overcrowded job market, and I’d like to avoid the worst mistakes job hunters make. What are they?
Here are 12 mistakes that really stall a job search:
- Having a bad attitude. Interviewing while still angry at a former employer. Being, acting, or thinking negative. The problem with negative people is that they seldom realize how terribly negative they really are. They may have good business skills, but they stay unemployed a long time and can’t figure out why.
- Thinking “something will come along.” Waiting for something to happen. As a rule, good things don’t “just happen.” Successful people make them happen. Effort usually equals results. As a rule, the harder you work at a job search, the sooner it ends.
- Thinking someone else will find me a job: a recruiter, a counselor, my neighbor, my employer, my spouse, my pastor–anyone. Even with counseling and support, this is really a “do-it-yourself” project.
- Thinking they’re more marketable than they are. Declining job offers that pay less than the last job or are somehow inferior. It’s often best to accept a weaker offer and leverage up from there. I call it “kicking a career field goal.”
- Taking rejection personally. The best way to cope with rejection is to have so many balls in the air that one loss doesn’t matter much. Having your entire future riding on one potential offer is clearly a red flag.
- Acting desperate. You may feel desperate. Just don’t let them see you sweat.
- Shooting too high (or too low). It’s essential to know where you’re marketable. You learn that through networking, and by asking others where they think you’re competitive. Ask college professors, experts in the field, and especially those in jobs similar to the ones you want.
- Looking for “a job” rather than for a good fit where you’ll be happy. Sometimes it’s necessary to take the first job that comes along. Most of the time, it’s not. Whenever possible, hold out for the right fit.
- Launching a job campaign before you know who you are and what you want to do. (The cart before the horse.) This is like building a custom home without a blueprint. Usually, the result is a short-term fix. Then you’re back in the job market.
- Asking for “a job” instead of asking for advice, ideas, and referrals. Business contacts-especially strangers–are generally willing to point you in the right direction, but they dislike being asked directly for a job, because they’re uncomfortable turning you down.
- Not preparing for interviews. Your competitors will be prepared. They will have rehearsed the answers to difficult interview questions–sometimes even on videotape. Why shouldn’t you? Also, don’t interview half-heartedly. Go for the job offer. You can always turn it down later.
- Hard-selling. Coming on too strong. Pushing people to give you names. Sometimes called NFL networking. Hard selling creates bad feelings about you and is actually counter-productive.