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3 Deadly Job Search Mistakes and How to Fix Them

By David Perry

It may surprise you to know how many of the job hunters we meet every week make these three mistakes.

Do any of those apply to you?

  1. No clear job goals in mind.
  2. Put off essential activities until it's too late.
  3. Fail to prepare adequately for job interviews.

If so, you're likely making some of the most common -- and damaging -- mistakes you can make in your job search.

But fear not, Guerrilla. Here's how you can fix them fast!

Mistake # 1: Fuzzy Goals

To wage an effective Guerrilla Job Search campaign, you must identify your most-marketable skills and the best employers to "sell" yourself to.

Starting a job search any other way, before knowing what job you want and exactly where you want to work, is a recipe for frustration. Because employers expect you to be able to tell them how you can contribute. They don't have the time or inclination to think for you and figure out your specific value.

If you're going to expend the time and effort to find a new job, you might as well do it right. Target your efforts toward a specific job and employer … or you'll likely be job hunting again very soon.

How to Clarify Fuzzy Goals

The solution is to know thyself, through self-assessment.

Take the time to find the answers to the following questions. What are your:

• likes and dislikes?
• unique, marketable skills?
• transferable skills you most enjoy?
• most prominent personality traits?
• working conditions and people environments you most value?

If you're going to do this on your own, I suggest you read, Claiming Your Place At the Fire: Living the Second Half of Your Life on Purpose, by Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro.

If you want help with this, find a good career counselor. They will help you identify your ideal job based on a series of formal tests, which determine what you're good at, what you're passionate about, and what salary you can command in the job market.

Mistake # 2: Procrastination

David worked with a colleague 20 years ago who lived to reorganize his office. He had the most meticulously clean desk and working area in the history of business. Daily he would regale his co-workers with descriptions of the elaborate tracking systems he built to log how many people he interviewed.

David felt inferior. His office looked like a post-Katrina disaster area by comparison. It was only when he left the firm to start out on his own that he discovered an astonishing fact -- from his shabby office, he had billed $758,000 in services, while the neat freak had billed a grand total of $5,000.

It turns out that, deep down, David's colleague was simply trying to avoid making cold calls on prospects.

The point here is that, while you need to be organized and able to find your files, you should never let the process of job hunting get in the way of the results you seek, which is landing your dream job. Remember: There's a huge difference between activity and productivity. In David's case, that difference was $753,000.

How to Stop Procrastinating

Go ahead, admit that you're terrified at the prospect of failing to find work. You have lots of company! And recognizing this fear is the first step toward eliminating its negative effects.

Because fear of failure and fear of rejection cause many people to spend hours, days and weeks building the perfect resume and cover letter … while never sending it.

Our ebook, Guerrilla Resumes, can show you how to create resumes and cover letters that get you interviews. That part is fairly straightforward.

But no matter what shape your marketing materials are in, you're the one who has to complete the process by sending them to employers and following up by phone to make sure they were opened and read. Nobody else can do this for you.

To motivate you toward taking more effective action, consider these two truisms the next time you find yourself procrastinating:

  • Your results will improve in direct proportion to how carefully you target your Guerrilla Marketing campaign;
  • If you increase both the quality (how you target employers) and quantity (sending resumes and calling to schedule interviews) of your efforts, you'll experience explosive results;

Here are some more facts to consider:

  • 25 million people change jobs in America every year, which represents
  • 68,681 successful job hunters every day,
  • 2861 per hour,
  • 47.6 every second!

All of which means that 364 days per year, while you're poring over the latest revisions to your resume, thousands of lesser qualified people are getting hired ahead of you.

The successful Guerrilla Job Search, like any good marketing campaign, is a game of numbers. The more prospective employers you can put in your "sales funnel," and the more often you can contact them with a relevant marketing message, the faster you will get hired. Period. Every time.

Mistake # 3: Lack of Interview Preparation

In the eyes of most employers, nothing is more offensive than a candidate who shows up at an interview unprepared. If you don't take the time to research the company, its industry, competitors, problems and opportunities, you will come off as a tourist when you interview -- not a competent person worth hiring.

Unfortunately, we see it all the time -- job seekers who blow the interview when the hiring manager asks a simple question like, "So what do you know about our company?" In the end, employers always hire job seekers who are "switched on" and sincerely interested in their organization.

How to Prepare for Interviews

Look at the hiring process from the employer's perspective. Put yourself in their shoes. Employers don't want to hear about your career aspirations. They want you to demonstrate that you know their industry and understand where they're going.

The three keys to this are: research, research and research.

Ask yourself questions like the following:

• What problems do they want to solve by hiring someone for this position?
• What opportunities can I help them take advantage of, based on my skills, experience and the needs of their marketplace?
• What's the one thing they most want a new employee to do in this position?

Then practice answering typical questions like, "Why should we hire you?" with answers that show you've thought about how your skills and experience will solve the employer's problems.

As a Guerrilla job hunter, you now know what three mistakes you should avoid making. The solutions offered here are common sense and easy to implement, so don't procrastinate.

Until next time, here's to your success, Guerrilla!

About this author...

Job-Hunt's Guerrilla Job Search Expert David Perry is a recruiter, co-author of the book "Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters" and managing partner of Perry-Martel International. Find David on LinkedIn.

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