Trapped in the Bermuda Triangle of Job Search?

by | March 10, 2009

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Navigating the rocky seas of job search can feel as treacherous as being caught in a raging storm in the Bermuda Triangle. You don't have to let your job search sink into an abyss if you avoid these three major job search pitfalls:

1. Lack of focus
The first step in a successful job search begins with identifying your goals. Clarify specifically what you want in your next job or career. This includes identifying your next job title. I've heard countless job seekers say, "I'll take anything" or "I'm open," when asked what kind of job they're seeking. The candidate who'll take anything, ends up with nothing.

Look at your resume for starters. What is your objective? Many job seekers either fail to state their objective on their resume, or they list several objectives. Either extreme can work against you as you'll appear unfocused, uncommitted or unqualified.

Gaining clarity will lead to identification of your next job or career. If you're having trouble focusing, look online for free career assessment tests for help. Or seek the services of a career coach. These professionals specialize in helping people to clarify their goals and identify their passions, life's purpose and transferable skills. Check online for a list of career coaches. Be sure to screen them with a list of questions about their experience, fees, coaching methods, etc.

2. Not understanding the bigger picture
Avoid focusing on your own needs. When you are clear on what type of job or career to pursue, your next step is to understand how to market yourself competitively. You bring to a potential employer a unique set of work experience, skills, aptitudes, abilities and personality traits. Yet none of these assets has any meaning unless you understand that your focus must now shift to the employer.

Try to imagine yourself seated in the hiring manager's chair. Role-play as both the applicant and the hiring manager. What does the hiring manager want to know about you? What message does that individual want to hear from you? What are they looking for in an employee?

Your challenge now is to package your work experience, transferable skills and other assets into a consistent, winning message that answers the hiring manager's critical question, "If I hire you, what's in it for me?" Communicate your USP (unique selling proposition), that is, your value to the employer as a potential employee who can either make money or save money for the company.

Once you understand the bigger picture of a corporate balance sheet, you can more easily sell yourself as a potential asset to any company. Make a comprehensive list of your activities and responsibilities. Which ones help to save money, make money or save time for the company? Once you start thinking in this manner, you can more easily develop several examples to use. Put them on your resume. Talk about these examples as benefits to your next employer in your interview and phone screen. Once you start doing this, you'll notice a difference in your results. You'll also steer clear of a major obstacle that's capsizing many of your competitors.

3. Too much Internet
Avoid hitting job search icebergs. Most job searchers post their resumes on Monster, Yahoo!, LinkedIn and even MySpace these days. The trouble is, so is everyone else. Unfortunately, this represents about 20 percent of the actual hires being made. Like an iceberg, where the majority of ice is hidden under the surface of the water, 80 percent of job opportunities are likewise hidden. Even with the advent of the Internet, only a small percentage of jobs are advertised. When you limit yourself to the 20 percent of total advertised and accessible job openings, you throw your job prospects to the whims of the open marketplace. You increase your competition for those jobs because everyone else has access to those same publicly listed job opportunities.

Only when you decide to separate yourself from the pack will you increase your chances of getting hired. To begin with, there are fewer applicants for these hidden jobs. You also maximize your chances of getting a better quality job because often the best job opportunities are quietly passed along by word-of-mouth and are not privy to the general public. Researching the hidden job market is hard work. You'll need to network with as many friends, colleagues and family members as you can.

Look into social networking sites for names of people you might contact. Go beyond the herd to develop a list of companies you'd like to work for. Don't forget your local library as it has great resources including Hoovers, EBSCO and Reference USA, to name a few that you can use for free. Check out LinkedIn, Spoke and ZoomInfo for names of people who work at these companies. Contact these people and introduce yourself. When you can talk in terms of the benefits you bring to an employer, you separate yourself from your competitors. You'll also get better leads and more interviews when you begin navigating the uncharted waters of the hidden job market.

You can avoid the three major pitfalls that can sink most job searches by: 1) sharpening your focus, 2) talking about the benefits you bring to an employer, and, 3) moving beyond the Internet to look for unadvertised jobs. It will be hard work, but if you put these three actions together, you'll have more control during your job search journey. You will then steer clear of three huge obstacles.

As a recruiter, Joe Turner has spent the past 15 years finding and placing top candidates in some of the best jobs of their careers. Author of Job Search Secrets Unlocked, Joe has interviewed on radio talk shows and offers free insider job search secrets at

Filed Under: Job Search

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