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Job search autopilot: How your lazy job search is hurting you
You think you’re doing everything right. You’ve spruced up your resume, you’ve set job alerts and you’ve applied online to as many applicable positions as you can. So why does it seem like it’s taking forever to see any interest?
If your job prospects seem depressingly low despite your frequent activity, it can be easy to blame a recovering economy, fierce competition or simply poor timing. But it might not be that simple. The problem could actually be you!
So many job hunters think they are doing everything in their power to find a job, but in reality, they are actually quite lazy. I’m not saying this applies to everyone and I’m surely not calling people names; it’s human nature to try to get something with as little effort as possible. But when job searching, minimal effort is often not enough.
Sure job alerts are a great start. You get automatic emails sent when a job matches your defined criteria and then you can click to apply within minutes online. It’s likely that hundreds, if not thousands, of people are doing the exact same thing. So how are you standing out from the crowd?
Job hunting is a job in itself, and unfortunately it takes a lot of time and effort. It must be done routinely. Yet many people aren’t taking the important job-searching steps regularly, let alone on a daily basis.
In fact, on an average day an unemployed American is more likely to go shopping than to look for a job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only 18.9 percent spend time doing job-hunting activities each day, while 40.8 percent shop either in a store, by telephone or on the Internet!
The truth of the matter is that a job search isn’t a “set it and forget it” undertaking. Your dream job will not come find you; you must find it, and most likely that process will take a lot of organization and effort. Yes, automate as much of your search as possible, apply online and set job alerts, but you need to take additional steps to rise above the competition.
First, you need to network. As they say, it’s not always what you know, but who you know. Be active on LinkedIn, join industry organizations, and reach out to past colleagues and professors. You may be surprised by who knows who and how each person can assist you in finding a new job. Be sure to be specific when asking your contacts for assistance. Make it easy for them to help you by requesting a referral on a particular position, or to connect you to a specific person. A blanket “will you help me find a job” is lazy and will not be fruitful.
Second, stop sending the same resume to every job for which you apply. It’s never a “one-size-fits-all” situation and recruiters can tell immediately if you’re not customizing your resume for a specific position or company. It doesn’t take long to update a resume for the specific job you are applying for when you make use of targeted keywords and company lingo. It’s definitely worth the effort!
Third, make your cover letter count. Some people argue that the cover letter doesn’t matter, but is submitting a haphazard cover letter for a job you really want a risk you should take? No! Remember, this is your first impression, so don’t make it a lazy one. The cover letter should demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job, your genuine interest in the company and your passion for your career.
In reality, if broken up into daily tasks, job hunting the right way doesn’t have to be very time consuming. It must be done every day, though, and you must be proactive and take the time to do each step correctly. Then and only then will you find a job more quickly than some of the lazier candidates who are still wondering why they are sitting at home waiting.