Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The 4 Killer Job Search Mistakes - Mistake #4

Mistake #4 is a must read for all people - employed and unemployed.

This is a very tough job market. Many highly skilled, extremely professional job seekers are taking an unprecedented amount of time to find a job. There are, though, four killer mistakes that job seekers are making that turn a long job search into an even longer one. This multiple part series will cover these mistakes and give the job seeker (you) tools to overcome them.

In the first part of this series, we covered Mistake 1: conducting the search with a bad attitude. We learned the realities about the new job market so we can successfully navigate in it. We learned what it takes to process the loss, we have a way to deal with pressure points and we have chosen to look for the opportunity

In part two, we covered mistake 2: Not Knowing Your Product and Your Target Market. Job seekers must understand the product they are selling and the market they are targeting before they update their resume and begin their search.

Mistake 3 was searching the wrong way. The majority of job seekers apply for jobs on-line yet only 10% or less of job seekers get their jobs that way. The right way to search for a job is through networking.

Mistake 4: Stopping When You are Employed

Your next job is not your last; that is one of the realities of the new job market. You will be on the job market again. Don’t try to do the minimum to get this next job. In fact you should use this time to get good at the job search.

Some of the practices you have put into place and the pains you went through are lessons for what you should continue to do the rest of your life even and especially while you are employed.

Of course when you land that job you will want to notify your contacts but it doesn’t stop there with them. Maintain these contacts. Don’t let the only time you call Uncle Fred be when you are out of a job. We do have caller id and if you only call when you need something, he’ll know it is you calling again and be less likely to answer or at a minimum feel used.

Develop new contacts. As the title of Harvey MacKay’s book, Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, illustrates, you want to develop your network before you need them. Develop contacts in your new department and in other departments in that company. Be intentional about continuing your participation in industry networking meetings and develop new contacts there.

Increase your marketability. If your company offers employee training, take it. If they don’t, take it anyway; invest in yourself by paying for your own training to keep your skills on the top of the market.

At a conference I attended in 2008, Jim Collins the author of Good to Great, gave the following as a word of advice to a recent graduate,” Do not spend 5 years getting 2 years worth of experience”. Baby Boomers and generations before thought they owed it to a company to work there as long as possible even if, as an employee, they were not growing new skills. With the reality of the new job market being that your next job is not your last, you need to continually grow your skills. After 2 years if you realize you are not still growing your skills, ask for new responsibilities that will develop new skills for you. If the current department can’t offer you that, look elsewhere in the company. If the company does not have a place for you to grow, then you need to go.

Maintain your marketing materials especially your accomplishment list, a list of training you have taken, and your list of new technical skills. Remember what it took to recall this information when you did your inventory. Make it easier for yourself by recording these as you go. You can even give your list of accomplishments to your manager before he has written your annual review stating that you are capturing this information for yourself but if it helps him at review time, great, if not, that’s okay too; you are doing it for yourself.

Keep up on the industry. If your industry is about to fold, get out. If your industry is getting into something new, be one of the first to learn it and then come back and offer to share that knowledge with your peers and managers. That will set you up as the Subject Matter Expert.

Save aside the equivalent of 8 to 12 months of salary for your next transition.

Assist others. Think back to the people you encountered during your job search. Some would not give you the time of day and others went out of their way to help. What reputation do you want?

Do not let your engine seize up by lack of use. Keep your job search engines warmed up to make the next transition shorter and easier.

Learn from your mistakes or that of other jobs seekers. When you have a positive attitude, when you know your product and target market, when you use the right search strategy, and when you do what you need to while employed to make that next transition easier, you will ace navigating this new job market.


  1. Mistake #4 lesson is a really practical checklist of things not to forget when one is employed. This should be read by all working people as a reminder to not get lax about their current situation. Thanks Judi!

  2. When I found my LAST opportunity after nearly a year being unemployed, my "good intentions" to keep my network alive and assist others quickly faded into "right after I get this project done".

    Well, I'm back...another position eliminated. So, I whole-heartedly agree with you Judi! And, this time, my resolve to learn from this lesson is unwavering.

    Thanks for reminding us of these truths!

  3. Wise reminder to stay updated and "visible". Even if one's employed, being on the market may bring a new and better opportunity. We never know who's looking. Thanks