Useless Job Hunting Methods

By Kevin M

Maybe you or someone you know isn?t having much success in finding employment, and while the poor state of both the economy and the job market are primarily to blame, use of ineffective search methods may be contributing to the frustration.

Yahoo! HotJobs ran an article on Monday, Deceptive Targets in the Job Hunt:
5 Methods That Waste Your Time
. In the article, Caroline M.L. Potter zeros in on five common job hunting strategies which are either outdated, completely ineffective or even counterproductive.

The Don?t?s

Unfortunately the methods listed are pretty common in most job searches?

Spray and pray, blindly sending your resume unsolicited, electronically or otherwise, to any company without first making verbal contact.

Stand in line for a job fair, at huge cattle call-type job fairs where zillions of employers have booths, yet no one is taking resumes.

Earn certifications nobody wants, additional training you’re not certain will yield improved results.

Pay a headhunter, doling out money to any kind of recruiter. Real search professionals won’t take a dime from their candidates.

Sign up with a resume fax-blast service, services that send out hundreds or thousands of your (unsolicited) resumes.

Though on first glimpse, someone who is unemployed might engage in some of these practices under the ?it couldn?t hurt? doctrine, in truth firing off your resume to any potential employer in your location can have some downsides. As Potter says, such tactics ?smack of desperation?; employers tend to be wary of hiring desperate candidates.

But I?d add that another consideration is proper management of emotional resources. Contacting hundreds of employers and getting no positive response can be damaging to the ego. You can only handle so much rejection, less still if you?re already reeling from a job loss. Moreover, once you?ve approached every organization and agency in town, what?s left to do?

Potter advises, ?a focused search using tried and true methods, especially networking, will lead to your next job??

Alternative Strategies

While I generally agree that the methods listed above are unlikely to provide much return on the time and effort invested, I prefer to take the sunny side up view and focus on alternative strategies that might improve your chances, a step the article doesn?t take beyond the single recommendation of networking, itself a mixed bag in this market.

This is a tougher job market than most of us have ever known, so it stands to reason that what may have worked in the past is unlikely to do so now. With the unemployment rate in double digits in many markets, it?s become a matter of getting noticed in an environment filled with unusually heavy traffic.

Some alternative job hunting strategies with a better chance of success in the current job market:

Network outside your career orbit. For many people the networking game isn?t working anymore, because of the common practice of networking in groups of people employed in the same field. While it may have been a solid place to find jobs a couple of years back when we were at full employment and people within the group might actually be using the network to find candidates to fill jobs within their companies or departments, now they tend to be heavy with people competing for the same small pool of jobs. In Network Outside Your Career Orbit. I covered the many advantages of networking through groups of people engaged either in parallel or completely unrelated career fields as a way either of finding job leads in your field?in a group where members would be likely to know of jobs in your field but unlikely to apply for the same jobs?or as a way of finding work in a completely different field. Examples would be an IT person networking among accountants, or an executive assistant among managers. Look for networks that offer opportunity without competition. You should be able to do this locally or on the web.

Customize your resume and cover letter to match the jobs available. One size fits all isn?t working anymore, which should also put a limit on the number of companies you can apply to at any one time. Keep a long list of your skills and experiences, and be prepared to list them in your resume and cover letter if they?re relevant either to the job posted or to the specific business the company is engaged in. This is a slower way to get the word out of course, but it?s also a far better way of making yourself relevant to a prospective employer. Better to make a small number of targeted contacts than to broadcast yourself to hundreds at a time in the mere hope that someone will notice. There are too many candidates out there right now for that to work.

Obtain skills that will enable you to enter a new career. Sometimes you have to take a step back to go forward. The reality of the current job market is that some jobs aren?t coming back. You may need to prepare yourself for entry into a new field. Start by inventorying your skills to determine if you have any crossover skills for a new field you?re interested in, then take courses or programs where you can learn the ones you don?t. Preparing for a new career may be the most productive approach you can take.

Learn to ask ?who do you know who??? This was a question I learned of in a sales motivation course back in the 1990s. Basically, you ask that question of anyone you meet, and periodically of anyone you already know. Who do you know who?s?hiring marketing people?needs a web administrator?is looking for clerical help? In sales, it?s called asking for the order. Don?t assume people know you?re looking, ask!

Be prepared to give a short verbal summary of what you can do Think of it as a concise verbal resume, one which you can recite off the cuff, should it become necessary. You should be able to explain what it is you do (or can do) in 50 words or less. Anything much longer than that will probably be forgotten. This will provide you with a marketing tool on short notice, such as when you meet a stranger, or if you?re sending an email to person who may not be entirely familiar with your work. Always be prepared to market yourself in some way, even without a resume in hand.

Consider working for free (temporarily). This is a radical step, but one I?ve taken myself, and I can testify that it can work. This isn?t something you?d propose on a job you?re utterly unqualified for, but one in which you generally fit the requirements, but the employer has doubts. It can accomplish two things: in and of itself, offering to work for free on a trial basis is a bold statement that bespeaks confidence; second, it gives you a stage on which to display your abilities. The employer may find that while you don?t have one or more specific qualifications, you show strength in other areas that compensate for what you don?t have. Make the trial period long enough that you can adequately show what you can do, but not so long that it becomes open ended charity. THAT smacks of desperation too.

What are you doing, or know others to be doing successfully to find employment in this market? Have you tired any of the methods above? What?s working, what?s not?

2 Responses to Useless Job Hunting Methods

  1. One tip that has always gotten me at least an interview: drop off your resume in person.

    Usually, the type of customer service/retail jobs I apply for on Craigslist attract 100+ applicants. So I send in a cover letter and resume via email, and if I can deduce the physical location of the company, I follow up by dropping off another copy of my cover letter and resume in person. When the gatekeeper brings it in to the hiring manager, I?m automatically on top of the pile. So I benefit from using a less-clogged channel, and it generally impresses them that I?ve taken the time and effort to do it, so it lets them know I?m conscientious and serious about the job.
    comment by Christina Gremore
    Wednesday, August 05, 2009 @ 3:18:25 PM

  2. Christina–That’s an excellent point. There have been some reports that sending a resume and cover letter by old fashioned mail has become a better way of getting noticed. This ironically is because email has become so common that it’s virtually ordinary.

    It’s important that whatever we do get’s us noticed at least in some small way.
    comment by Kevin (admin)
    Wednesday, August 05, 2009 @ 7:17:56 PM

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