Articles from TheCareerAdvisor
Job-hunting Errors to Avoid
  Rejection is a killer. No matter how many times you tell yourself it's not going to hurt, it does. Turndowns take many forms, but in the job-hunter's mind they all say, "We don't want you. You're no good." Here are 10 common mistakes job-hunters make and ways to avoid them:
  1. Your goals are unclear

    You haven't examined yourself carefully. You're drifting, floating, and your resume says, "Seeking a challenging and rewarding position in which my background, training and abilities can be fully and effectively utilized." What is that? Are you hoping the employer will figure out where you belong? They can't and won't.

    You must figure out what you want to do and tell employers clearly and precisely. Begin with structured testing and assessment like the Birkman Method®, and with time-tested paper-and-pencil exercises.

  2. You're pretending

    You're getting rejection everywhere you go. Nothing works. Perhaps you're trying to go somewhere you really don't belong or don't want to go. You know it, and employers know it instinctively. You're not listening to your insides. You're trying to do what's "practical or realistic" rather than what's right for you. When you listen to your intuition and go in the right direction, doors open.

  3. You don't "appeal" to anyone

    Your resume tells the employer what you "have done" and where you "have been," but that's not enough. They are interested in themselves, and you need to appeal to their situation and self-interest.

    Recently, I noticed billboards for fast-food restaurants that said, "Buses Welcome." (Buses were welcome because each bus holds 60 customers!) The sign "Buses Welcome" repeated until finally one sign really grabbed me. It said, "BUS DRIVERS EAT FREE!"

    Give employers 75 reasons to hire you. Make a list. Tell them in clear and simple language what you're going to do for them.

  4. You're taking, not giving

    You're coming across as a taker, not a giver. You're acting needy, explaining when you can't work and what you can't do. The biggest word in job-hunting is "Help," that's why it's called "Help Wanted," and you need to come across as energetic and enthusiastic. Your prospective boss may be tired, stressed and buried under a mountain of paperwork. They probably need help badly, and they will hire the person they think will help them the most, the fastest, with the least amount of hassle. The second they think you're helping them, you're on the way to being hired.

  5. You take "no" too easily

    You make a phone call or send a letter and no one answers. So you turn on the tape that says, "I'm Worthless." Don't give up. "No" doesn't mean "never." It means "not now, maybe later." If the job, the company, or the person interests you, stay in touch.

    Once you find someone you like, make them a friend. Send him an occasional letter and something helpful. A clipping. An idea. A piece of your work. Send it with warmth and enthusiasm. Why do this? Because one day your friend may tell you a new job has opened up—your job.

  6. You're "shopping" from a distance

    Rejection letters are coming in by the hundreds. What's wrong? Perhaps you're too impersonal, too distant. The Director of Marketing doesn't like a letter addressed to "Director of Marketing." Would you like a love letter addressed to "Occupant?" Get personal. Find out who you are addressing.

    A recent letter to me said, "Your article has directed and stimulated me and I'm following your directions..." AHA! She was talking about my favorite subject: me. Your prospective employer might like you to talk about his or her favorite subject too.

  7. You're waiting

    The interview was fantastic! You can feel it in your bones - you've got the job. Might as well go play tennis and wait. And wait and wait and wait. Until suddenly the bad news, "We've hired someone else." As salesmen say, you don't have the order (the job) until you have a check "in the hand" and then, not until you have cashed it. Then you have a job (temporarily). The solution is to stay busy. Keep a lot of balls in the air so that no one "rejection" will stop you.

  8. You lack support

    There are several kinds of people in the world. Positive people tend to know positive people, negative people seem to know negative people. Be sure you stay in a positive network. When someone is especially warm or kind, ask if they know any other really friendly people who might help. Chances are, they will. When you meet a negative or rejecting person, go somewhere else.

  9. You've found a jerk

    Sometimes you do everything right and still get rejected. A client recently wrote a letter that said, "Jim Taylor's my name...Transportation's my game." The hiring executive wrote back, "We find your introduction somewhat interesting in that you say, 'Transportation is your game.' Transportation is not a game to us - it is serious business. Your brief rundown of experience indicate specialization in areas where we are adequately staffed with competent professionals."

    This seems cold and unfeeling. What can Jim do? "Judo" the rejection! For example, he could write back, "Thank you for your letter of... Yes, you do seem to take your work seriously—perhaps too seriously! I'm sending along a couple of transportation cartoons to help lighten your mood (include them). I do take my work seriously. Here are examples (include them). You will find me a very helpful employee as so-and-so did (include a one-line testimonial). Thank you for your attention. Let's talk again."

    Take your power and use it. Don't let others have the last word. Often you can have the last work if you apply a little creativity.

  10. You're rejecting yourself

    You're telling yourself all the things you can't do, itemizing your failures. Why not make a list of "Neat Things About Me"—and don't be modest. Or keep a "win file." If someone says something nice about you, ask them to write it down. They most surely will.

Finally, remember how very special you are. Know that your background—everything you've done, both positive and negative—has a reason and purpose. It all fits together like a puzzle—and makes sense—if assembled properly.

Zig Ziglar said: "Most people...refuse to go out on a limb because they don't understand that the fruit is always out on the limb." Go out on the limb, even if it occasionally means risking rejection.

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