This is a two-part series on the mistakes people make relative to job hunting. Today we’ll discuss the first two. Later we’ll deal with the other three.

Having spent over 30 years in the employment marketplace, and coached thousands of people through job searches, I’ve seen a lot of mistakes made, and made quite a few of my own. But these mistakes can generally be boiled down to five categories.

Nobody I’ve ever met enjoys looking for a job. Most people would rather lick sand than conduct a job search. Depending on which study you want to believe, as much as 80% of the people who work don’t like their jobs. But only a very small percentage of that number will actually do anything about it, because job hunting is so distasteful.

Which leads us to our first mistake:

1. I don’t need to get a job yet, so why bother looking now? It’s too much trouble.

So, you’re quite comfortable in that cozy little nest you call your office, or worse, your cubicle? Well, if you don’t believe that your employer is staying up late at night, and is also, at this very moment, trying to find a way to do business without you, I have some oceanfront property in Arizona I’d be willing to sell to you at a steep discount. If there is software, a machine, or a contract employee capable of doing your job, your employer is looking for it. Or it could be as simple as, “We have made a decision to stop doing what your job involves, so you may go. Thank you for your service." 

Or maybe you have been let go with a nice package. I am constantly amazed at the number of people who have been let go from a job with six months’ severance, and have waited five months and two weeks to start the search. 

There is no worse time to look for a job than when you need one. While it is understandable that you don’t enjoy looking, in a fast-changing, global economy in which lines of business start up one week and close down the next, companies are bought or sold or go under, jobs are outsourced offshore, and technologies are made obsolete overnight, it is NOT understandable that people just hunker down, trying to become invisible, hoping that change won’t sneak up behind them and whack them on the back of the head!

You MUST have a specific career plan and be consciously working toward your next job if you are to succeed in today’s marketplace. It is a common thread among my successful clients that they came to realize that they, not their employer, were responsible for their success, and with my help, charted a course that ensured that success.

On to mistake number two:

2.   It’s Monday and there was nothing on the Internet. I guess I’m through for the day.

For most people looking for a job, the search is a passive process. By this I mean that the search consists of spending the day filling out on-line applications and sending out resumes, responding to the few classified ads they can find, praying for a headhunter to call, and asking all their friends to sponsor them for a job; then waiting for somebody—anybody—to call.

To conduct a successful job search you must have a detailed, proactive, specific plan with unambiguous steps and milestones. The vast majority of people don’t make a plan, because, beyond reacting to web sites, they don’t know what to do.

In depending on the Internet and headhunters, you are missing out on a huge number of possibilities, because these two sources represent only the jobs that have been published (headhunters frequently deal with needs that are unpublished, but as a percentage of total jobs, it’s pretty small). Moreover, asking your friends to put their reputations at risk by sponsoring you for a job is a good way to lose friends, but not a very effective way to find employment!

In Part 2 of the series, we’ll deal with the other three major mistakes people make when it comes to looking for a job.

Read Mistakes 3 - 5 HERE
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