Four Glaring Signs Your Job Search Is Not Working and 19 Ways to Improve It

Ignoring these warning signs will result in painful, protracted job searches.

By Lynne Sarikas
Thu, March 06, 2008

CIO — Too often, job seekers ignore the warning signs indicating that their search tactics aren't getting them anywhere. Ignorance is bliss, right? Wrong. The longer you wait to take corrective action, the longer you'll be unemployed or stuck in a job you hate. So fess up to the fact that your job search is failing and commit yourself to starting fresh. By establishing a defined job search strategy and spending more time networking, you'll stop spinning your wheels and you'll come much closer to landing your dream job much faster. It'll be a better use of your time and also more fun.

Sign 1: You spend your time at your computer searching job sites.

1. Mine your network for opportunities. More than 70 percent of jobs filled last year were filled through networking, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Be sure everyone you know is aware that you are looking for a new job and understands the position you're seeking so they are better able to help you. Ask your networking contacts for referrals. (For more information on networking, see Effective Networking Is Easier Than You Think and Networking Tips for Shy People.)

2. Use your alumni database to identify contacts at the companies on your target list. Talk to those people about the culture of the company and its hiring process.

3. Join professional associations to make new contacts and learn about job opportunities. Seek out people who are doing work that interests you or those who work in companies you are targeting.

Sign 2: You apply for whatever catches your eye.

1. You need a defined job search strategy. Take the time to write down what you want to achieve: the position you're seeking, the skills required for the position, the industry you're targeting and ideal locations. Give some thought to the companies that are most likely to offer the work you want and that best fit your style. See if you know anyone in those companies. If not, ask people in your network. Also list the skills you possess that qualify you for the position you're seeking and note if there is a discrepancy between the expertise you have and the experience you need. Taking the time to create this documented job search strategy will help you focus and direct your efforts. You can't get where you want to be without a plan.

2. Focus your energies on specific jobs you are interested in, for which you are qualified and with companies you want to join. Applying for jobs willy-nilly is a waste of time.

3. Make sure you're being realistic. Don't apply to positions for which you're not truly qualified. Be honest with yourself about your qualifications and your past experience. If you do not qualify today for the job of your dreams, identify the skills you need to develop and create a plan to address those needs.

Sign 3: You send out a lot of résumés but don't get called for interviews.

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