If your job search has been going on longer than it should, there's one common denominator: you. You might be getting in your own way, if you're doing any of the following.
1. You're too picky. If you've decided that you will accept nothing less than a job as a marketing manager at Company X making $75,000 a year, you're setting yourself up for failure. Expand your options instead. Look at other industries, and other roles. And yes, while you should have an idea of the salary you want, consider that some companies might pay less than your ideal number, while offering other perks like working from home or great health insurance.
2. You only look when you're desperate. If you have a history of not looking for a job until you get laid off or quit, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage. By keeping your LinkedIn profile updated, recruiters can contact you to keep you apprised of jobs for which you'd be a good fit. At the very least, you'll build your contacts so that when you are ready to quit, you have people who can help you find your next job.
3. You ignore the art of formality. Yes, we're an email society, but that doesn't mean a thank-you note after an interview can't get you bonus points with the human resources manager. In fact, it will do just that, because snail mail is a forgotten art form.
4. You only want full-time and permanent. Temporary and contract positions are also a great way to get your foot in the door at a company. And while you're not guaranteed you'll be kept after your contract, it gives you the opportunity to network and prove your worth.
5. Your résumé is a book. There's no need to include every job you've ever had, back to scooping ice cream in college. If you're brand new in the job market, include as much as you can, but if you've been in the workforce a while, focus on 10 years worth of experience, then weed out anything not relevant to the work you want.
6. You drive hiring managers crazy. There's following up, and then there's, well, annoyance. You should ask when the hiring manager expects to make a decision, then wait until at least then to ask about the job. Do not call every day. If you got the job, they'll let you know.
7. Your online profile is a turn off. Yes, employers do Google you. So to be safe, Google yourself too to find out what comes up. If it's an embarrassing tweet or photo on Facebook, change your privacy settings immediately so that your details don't come up in search. Better yet, don't post anything that would turn off a potential employer.
8. You bring up money too soon. There's a delicate dance in an interview. You're itching to know what the company is willing to pay and if it will fit your salary requirements, but this isn't a conversation for the preliminary interview. Showing your hand too soon could take dollars out of your pocket.
9. You bash your last company. If you walk into an interview complaining about your current or past employer, it makes you look bad. How does this potential employer know you won't do the same to them once you leave? Always be professional when talking about companies you've worked for, despite your feelings.
10. You're self-centered. In looking for a job, you start to feel sorry for yourself. You walk into any interview with the idea that this is about you finding a job and have a "what's in it for me" mentality. Instead, shift your mind set to see things from the employer's point of view: The company wants to find the best fit for a given role to help it succeed. If you can prove that you're that person, you'll get the job.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.
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