Let’s face it. Being unemployed is depressing. You can’t help becoming a little discouraged after your fourth or fifth interview in one week has produced no results, or worse yet, when you can’t even seem to land an interview at all. Some job seekers are making easily corrected mistakes that may be keeping them from landing that desperately needed job. Take a look, and see if one of them might not be your problem.
1. The Mistake of failing to get the word out that you are looking for work.
There is no shame in being unemployed-especially in today’s economy. You need to let people know you are looking for work. Studies show that a large majority of jobs are found through word of mouth. People who have a jobless friend will let that friend know when an opening occurs in their place of employment. I once knew a man who was actually out of work for 3 months before he shared the news with us. We knew of several opportunities that we could have recommended him for if we had known that he needed work, but it was too late by the time we found out.
So swallow that false pride, and spread the news that you need a job. Tell your closest friends; tell friends and acquaintances at church; tell club members; tell your favorite waitress at McDonalds and even passing strangers if they will listen. Well, maybe you don’t need to go quite that far, but the point is, get the word out. Post a brief resume on appropriate bulletin boards around town, including your city library and the local community college if you have one.
2. The mistake of limiting yourself to seeking only one type of job.
A second mistake job seekers make is that of assuming they can only do one type of job; the type of job they had before. Most of us have several talents and abilities that could serve us well in other types of employment if we gave it a little thought or put some effort into developing them..
Make a list of some things you can do that may be totally unrelated to your old job. Include abilities your friends may have commented on such as detailing your own car, or working with teenagers at your church. How about being the best chili cook at your club’s annual picnic? Are you a good organizer? Do you work out physically? Can you show other people how to do things? Are you a computer nerd? These are all things that might qualify you for a completely different type of job.
3. The mistake of dressing for or behaving inappropriately during an interview.
Once you finally do land an interview, are you blowing it by appearance or behavior? I know-I know. This is America, and we are supposed to be able to express ourselves freely, but the truth is, more jobs are lost because of the way the applicant is dressed or how he or she behaves, than for lack of ability to do the job.
Maybe you like your pants hanging at half-mast, but your employer may not, so opt for a conservative look-unless the interview you are seeking happens to be for a band noted for such attire or a teen shop that always employs clerks with droopy pants. Maybe you love body piercings, but most employers do not, and even though they will probably not list your nose ring as the reason for turning you down for a job, you can bet it probably played a big part.
Sit up straight, answer questions honestly, and avoid aimless babbling. The interviewer doesn’t really want to know your girlfriend’s name or what movie you went to last week-end. Stick to the subject.
Explain your previous experience and things you know how to do that might be helpful in this particular job. Try to be as flexible as possible about the hours you will be available to work. When you sense that the interview is coming to an end, ask any further questions you have, including how soon they think they may be making a decision. Then thank them for their time, shake hands, and make your exit.
4. The mistake of failing to follow up on an interview.
Many people send a short thank you note to the person who interviewed them for a job. If you do this, send it right away while you and the interview are still fresh in their mind. Say something like, “I enjoyed meeting you yesterday and wanted to thank you again for taking time to interview me for the position of xxxxx If you have any other questions about my qualifications for the job, please give me a call. Sincerely, xxxxx.
If the time the interviewer gave you for making a decision about the job passes and you still haven’t heard from them, give that person a call. Identify yourself and the job opening you interviewed for and say you were wondering whether or not the job had been filled. Even if they say they have hired someone else, ask if they will keep your name on file for any future openings. This will let them know that you are still available and still interested in working for them.
5. The mistake of refusing to retrain when necessary.
Times have changed. Gone are the days when you went to work for a company straight out of high school and worked there until you retired more than 40 years later. Most of us now work at a number of jobs during our lifetimes and often, whether we like it or not, have to do some retraining in order to stay up with current job openings.
Don’t shy away from retraining or additional education. If you are lucky enough to have a local community college near you, make an appointment with one of their career counselors. Take some surveys and tests that will point out types of employment you may never have considered before. Depending on your circumstances, pick one of these areas and get the necessary training to work in it. If you have to work as a janitor or flip hamburgers at a fast food place evenings while you get the training, do it.
A friend of ours ran a city street sweeper and was devastated when his job was out-sourced. I suggested that he visit the community college about 18 miles from our town. He did, and ended up becoming a lab technician. His remaining working years were spent in the lab of the small hospital in our town and he loved every minute of it.
If you spotted yourself making one of the mistakes listed above, fix it to increase your chances of finding a job in this uncertain economy. Don’t sit back and wait for a job to find you. Instead, do all you can to make yourself as employable as possible, and then go out and find that job!