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6 job search mistakes in a recession

By Paul Powers,
Don't take rejection personally while hunting for a job, expert says.
Don't take rejection personally while hunting for a job, expert says.
  • There are several mistakes to avoid in a bad economy
  • You're not entitled, despite fancy degree, great track record, fantastic references
  • Don't take rejection personally; if you're not getting rejected, you're not trying hard
  • Use every technique, every avenue to find a job -- online, cold calls etc

( -- In any economic climate, job hunting is nobody's idea of fun. And with the growing number of folks hitting the bricks these days, it seems the task is getting even harder.

But that's not precisely true, because the actual job-hunting strategies and techniques remain the same in any climate. What is bothersome, however, is that the process is likely to take longer. This leads to increased stress: financial stress, physical stress, emotional stress and family stress.

Most people do not perform at their best in stressful situations. They get tired more quickly, they get frustrated and run out of patience, and they make mistakes. Here are six job-hunting mistakes frequently made during a recession.

Mistake No. 1: Feeling entitled

In the new economy, your stellar background, great track record, prestigious degree and glowing references guarantee you nothing. The new employment paradigm is, "What have you done for me lately?" You must be constantly developing your skills and talents, broadening your interests and driving your career development. If you don't, you may well be left behind.

Mistake No. 2: Focusing on yourself, not the employer

Spend your time finding out which of a potential employer's needs are unmet instead of touting your brilliance. Saying, "I need a job" is irrelevant and depressing; that's your problem and has nothing to do with why this organization is hiring. Uncovering an employer's problem areas demonstrates your bona-fide interest, and offering your solutions demonstrates your critical thinking, creativity and approach to problem solving. This is how to get hired.

Mistake No. 3: Taking rejection personally

Face it; there are a lot of jobs you are not going to land. Use rejection as an opportunity to assess and build your job-hunting skills. Evaluate what you could have done better in your research or interview or with your follow-up.

If you aren't getting rejected regularly, then you either aren't working hard enough to get your foot in the door or you're applying for jobs beneath your capabilities. No employer makes a decision not to hire you; they make a decision to hire someone else who did a better job of selling himself or herself into the position.

Mistake No. 4: Focusing on your age

It is human nature to focus more on one's perceived weaknesses as opposed to one's strengths. This is especially true for people in the job hunt. Younger folks worry about not having enough experience; older folks worry about looking overqualified.

If you don't want a potential employer to focus on your age, make sure you focus on what strengths you bring to the party: energy, track record, endurance, patience, technology skills, people skills, creativity and work ethic. Sell yourself based on what you have.

Mistake No. 5: Looking for a silver bullet

Some job hunters swear by recruiters; others by online job postings. The latest buzz is that social networking sites are making all other job-hunting techniques obsolete. There is no one best way to job hunt.

If you want to increase the effectiveness of your job search, you must spend more time on it and use every technique in the book. This means answering print ads, responding to online job postings, contacting recruiters, cold-contacting potential employers, networking your brains out and using social networking sites to pursue all of these strategies. Sorry, there are no silver bullets or genies in a bottle.

Mistake No. 6: Absorbing too much news

Yes, there's a recession. Yes, a lot of folks are out of work. And, yes, finding a job is a hard job in and of itself. But, no, the sky is not falling. And yes, if you work hard and long enough at it, you will land a good job.

A regular diet of bad news will convince you that no one is hiring (untrue), that you should avoid employers that have had layoffs (bad strategy) or that maybe you should just move to China (bad idea unless you speak Mandarin). Get out, have some fun, work at keeping your energy and spirits up, and network with optimistic people.

Eventually this recession -- like all recessions -- will really be over and you'll be better prepared for (gulp) the next one.

Paul Powers, psychologist, executive coach, career expert, and noted conference speaker is the author of "Winning Job Interviews" and "Love Your Job!"

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