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My lunch date about a week ago said I should write this. It sounded like a very helpful piece to write, so I thought, “Why not?”, gathered my thoughts and here we are: The Ten Job Hunting Blunders Many People Make

1. Making a recruiter the epicenter of your job search.

Recruiting has changed. It’s not the way it was five years ago. Companies are now less interested than they ever were in paying recruiting fees. They figure they no longer have to. They have Linked in now, and Facebook now, and Twitter now. They think that a name is all they need. It will change back in about five years when companies realize that recruiters did a lot more than just forward names. But for now, this is the reality. Additionally, many companies have set up in-house recruiting departments. The gate-keepers as it were.

What this means for you, is that if you’re relying on a recruiter to ‘find you a job’ (something they never did btw), then you could be waiting an awfully long time. Because recruiters today know about less jobs than they did five years ago, and even if they do know about a job, the company would rather hire someone through their in-house recruiter (no fee) than through ‘your’ recruiter who is promising you they will find you a job.

It means you have to take the matter of finding your own job into your own hands.

You have to take responsibility for the job hunting outcome, you can’t blame the recruiter if nothing happens anymore, and you have to do your damnedest to stand out from your competition.

I hope these next 9 points will light the way if you’re embarking on your first job hunt solo.

2. Calling before you’ve had a good sleep.

I know it’s tempting, but if you’ve just been laid off or fired, don’t pick up that phone. Don’t call anyone. Instead go home. And think. And make a plan. And decide what your next steps are going to be. And how you’re going to execute them. And what you’re going to say. And how powerfully and strongly you want to go to the market. And how prepared you want to be, before you do.

3. Calling before you’ve done what needs doing.

Get yourself ready. Execute that plan. Get all your ducks in a row. THEN, make the calls that are on the list you made of people you’re going to call, and why you’re going to call them. People who are possible leads for jobs. What are you going to say? What is the message you are going to leave. People who are your friends. Different story. But hold your head – don’t lower yourself and start carping about your last boss and your last job and your last company and what d*ckheads they all were. It creates energy around you that isn’t going to help you right now.

If you need to, go to Value Village, buy some old plates for $2 and throw them at your garage. Far more effective, and less embarrassing in six months. No one needs to know. (Also, I’ve learned the hard way, usually more effective than hiring a lawyer to do anything.)

4. Sending your website with an explanation of why it isn’t current.

No one cares. (Insert Charlie Brown teacher sound here.) Wait the extra day and get it current before you send it out. Exhibit some business maturity.

5. Rambling.

Stream of consciousness rambling because you didn’t expect anyone to answer the phone is not fun and doesn’t make the crisp first impression you want to make. Believe it or not, some people still do answer the telephone, so be prepared. (By the way, it always surprises me too.) Get to the point, tell why you’re calling, explain what you want, and why the listener should want what you want, make an appointment, then hang up. You can have the full conversation you’re dying to get out when the time you’ve just scheduled arrives.

6. Not writing it ALL down.

If you’ve decided you’re looking for a new job, from now on, take a pen and paper with you everywhere you go. You never know where you will be when someone tells you about a lead, or a new business move, or a piece of news you want to follow up with later. NO you won’t remember. Your mind is full right now. You are in the midst of a full frontal assault to find a new, better job. And full frontal assaults take up a lot of RAM. Trust me.

7. Using this opportunity to only fix a short term problem (you’re out of a job) not the long-term problem that caused it (you don’t have a solid, strategic career plan.)

This is a big opportunity. Believe it or not. You have been forced to think about a problem you’ve been avoiding for quite some time now. Because you’ve been too busy right? Okay, now you’re not too busy. Structure your days to include an hour or two each day writing your goals out, and then writing your plan to achieve them.

Right about now you’re probably thinking I’ve lost my mind. Suggesting that someone write a plan about their future when they’re freaking out? What a stupid thing to do.

Really? Some people call it the audacity of hope. Hope and a plan for the future is precisely what you need right now. Hope is what gets us through times like this. Hope, plus a solid plan. Hope alone won’t cut it. That’s for Cinderella. Hope and a plan will always prevail.

8. Lack of structure.

Structure is not confining. Structure is freeing. When you put structure around the things that need to get done, they become automatic, so you don’t need to think about them. When you’re not thinking about them, your mind is free to think about more creatively oriented pursuits. Like how to get that job you really want. Finding a great job is where structure and creativity meet.

9. Not Admitting that you Hate it.

If the “business” is not what you expected it to be, now is the time to do something about it. You chose this profession, choose another one! Use this time to take the courses you need to take, to meet the people you need to meet, to do the research you need to do to figure out if that ‘other’ thing you’ve thought about for years is something you really should pursue. Or alternately, do the research to figure out that it really isn’t as for you as this industry, then throw yourself fully into grabbing this industry by the horns and knocking the snot out of it.

I think it’s kind of hard to jump in with the two and a half feet required to really be successful at a career in creativity if there’s always something else in the back of your mind.

10. The Biggest and Most Common Career Mis-Management Thing Many People Do.

Not knowing what you want. Not having a dream. Not having a goal. Not having it written down. Not knowing how much money you WANT to make. (Don’t leave it in someone else’s hands to tell you what to ask for.) Not knowing which companies you would kill to work for. Not knowing what work you love. Not being able to answer any of the previous seven questions if you’re asked them in an interview.

It’s true. And it’s common. Most people know what they DON’T want, not what they DO want. They move away from unpleasant, instead of toward fabulous. That’s because one is much clearer than the other.

But it doesn’t have to be. Dare to dream, don’t worry no one will laugh at you. And if they do it’s only their nervousness speaking for them. Nervousness that sounds like “Pffffffffffffffff, you gotta be kidding right?” on the outside but sounds like “Oh no. He’s got his sh*t together, and I don’t. That means he’ll more than likely beat me to it. Better make some discouraging noises to freak him out.”

Pffft. Don’t be freaked out. Go for it. Work on all ten points. Then dazzle the next person you contact when you sound like you have your sh*t together.

Because if you’re doing all ten of these points, you do.

Well done.

~ heidi