John Doe: Still Unemployed (for a reason)
On Fridays, I usually feature a job seeker who is doing something innovative in his or her job search. I try to highlight a new idea, and keep it positive and encouraging. This week I’m doing something a little different. This week’s featured job seeker is “John Doe,” who hasn’t landed a job yet because, well . . . he’s doing everything he shouldn’t, and not enough of what he should.
This week I’ve been bombarded with examples of job seekers who are making some serious strategic and tactical errors. I feel the need to call it out – to shout to the world “DO NOT DO THIS!” I warn you that what you are about to read is harsh; it is intended to be. This message needs to be delivered bluntly with no sugar coating or it will lose its impact. Are you ready?
WHY ARE YOU STILL UNEMPLOYED?
- You are passive. You sit back and wait for Monster.com or CareerBuilder to alert you when a job opens, and then you apply. Furthermore, you apply for jobs for which you are clearly unqualified. This annoys the recruiter, wastes your time, and gets your “unqualified” resume into the company’s Applicant Tracking System. So, in another three months when they have a job you ARE qualified for, the recruiter sees the previous application, and realizes you are desperate and that you don’t respect his time enough to apply only for jobs that match your skills. Then promptly screens you out. Only 20-25% of jobs are filled from job boards. Budget your job search time and efforts accordingly.
- Your resume sucks. I mean really, really sucks. And you have no idea. Why does it suck? First, it looks like thousands of other resumes. Put yours and the next 100 applicants side-by-side and 95 will look just like yours. You either used a Microsoft resume wizard, or you just followed the “Objective, Experience, Education” formula that they taught you in school. I know some of you are thinking “No, mine is good. I did my research online and worked hours on it. I even found a great sample from a pro and used some of it…” [cue the exaggerated Jim Carey voice] Oh…REEEEAALY? Well, not only are you plagiarizing and breaking copyright laws, but you are failing to differentiate yourself from the 300 other people who copied the same sample. If you have doubts, I challenge you to Google a few phrases from the summary. How many LinkedIn profile hits did you get? “Well, no one will know anyway, who will Google my resume?” The answer is every Recruiter or HR professional who notices that the writing style from the parts you copied does not match what you wrote yourself (or who has seen that same sentence four times this week). It’s that obvious.
- You have digital dirt. Recruiters regularly look for digital dirt before contacting a candidate for an interview This is not news. Most of you know this. You may even think you have nothing to hide. Well, think again. Everything you post can and will be used against you in a job search. I have seen the following examples of digital dirt recently: a job seeker’s public Facebook profile that was 90% political rants; a Twitter user who was openly criticizing recruiters during a chat; a foursquare user who tweeted they are now “Mayor” at a bar; and a job seeker blog where the author openly insulted Human Resources professionals, the hiring process in general, complained about waking up before 9 AM for an interview, and exhibited a prolific proficiency in profanity. All of these examples came from people who were openly seeking employment. You certainly have a right to your political views and social life. But always, always, always consider how this post will look to an employer. Is this what you want to be known for?
- You are not networking. Live and online networking are essential to your search. Even 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn can make a tremendous difference in your visibility to recruiters. Expand your network to include members of similar industry groups, recruiters at your target companies, and LinkedIn Open Networkers (LIONs). Help recruiters fill their jobs by referring others from your network when you notice a fit. Share your expertise and knowledge by answering at least one discussion post or LinkedIn Question each day. Build credibility. Then, get out and meet people in real life or pick up the phone to make a personal connection.
- You do not seek the RIGHT help. There is plenty of good, free advice available online, and also at many local career centers and universities. There are even great books you can find at your local library. If it is from a professional in the job search industry (and it is recent – a book written 15 years ago was good then, but may not be relevant now) – use it, absolutely! Just because it is free does not mean it is worthless. But beware you will also get a lot of BAD free advice, sometimes online, but more often from well meaning friends and family who are NOT professionals in this area. If you get conflicting advice from a professional and your sister-in-law, do yourself a favor and listen to the job search professional!
If you’ve gotten to the point where you think you have followed all the free advice you’ve found, and you are still hitting a wall, it is time to invest in yourself. If you’ve invested thousands of dollars in your education, and more in specialized training to enhance your qualifications, why wouldn’t you be willing to invest a little more in marketing yourself effectively? You lose hundreds of dollars each week that you remain unemployed. If spending a few hundred dollars for a coach or resume writer will get you employed even one week faster, you’ll see a return on your investment!
- If you get lots of interviews, but no offers, hire an interview coach.
- If you send out hundreds of resumes, and never get a call-back, hire a resume writer.
- If you have no idea what the problem is, contact a career coach.
My point is, getting the RIGHT help from the RIGHT resource can make the difference between you and the next guy. I could be that resource for you, but it doesn’t have to be me. To find a qualified professional resume writer or career coach, search the Career Directors International website. CDI members are truly the cream of the crop in the career services industry and I am proud to be associated with this organization. There you will find honest, professional advice that help you get back on track.