Now is the time when the rubber hits the road for all those new year's resolutions. If you have promised yourself you'll start a new job search or reeenergize one that has stalled, then the best chance you have for seeing it through to a successful conclusion is to approach it with realistic expectations and honest self-insight.
Here are some common misconceptions. If you can deal with them up-front, you will be more likely to adopt success-bound mental attitudes and job-search strategies.
1. Just because you really need a job, you can find one quickly. Many job seekers have approached their task with glaring desperation. Too often, coaches and career counselors hear statements like: "Yes, I know I should work on the résumé and networking. But I don't have time to do that. I need a job right away."
While unemployment does take a tremendous toll on savings and other family resources and the need for immediate work is real, there are no shortcuts. It is self-destructive to approach job hunting with desperation seeping out of every pore of your skin. People and opportunities will flee before you.
Instead, accept your job search for what it is: a process that is likely to be lengthy and without shortcuts. When you embrace that reality, you can more easily settle down and systematically fashion and carry out a successful job-search strategy.
2. It is obvious to all that your background is unique. No matter how remarkable your professional career has been up to this point, chances are there are many whose skills, accomplishments and career paths mirror your own. When you are applying for any given position, you will never know for sure how much competition you have and how you stack up against it.
Your job is to figure out how to distinguish yourself from others and then to make that case. What one or two features of your professional life truly make you a standout? When you identify these characteristics, you are on your way to establishing your essential personal brand.
3. When you tell people your job title and how long you have done it, they understand what you've done. Job titles mean various things in different companies or contexts. For example, a human resources director at a Fortune 100 company has a different function than someone with the same title in a much smaller or start-up company.
When you introduce yourself as an "HR director with X years experience" you don't necessarily convey what you've done, how you've done it or what accolades you've received for your work. Such a self-description doesn't say anything about whether or not you are current with the latest and greatest knowledge and skills associated with your field.
It is your job to convey through your résumé, networking and interviewing what exactly you've done, how you've done it, your accomplishments and the value you represent to your next employer.
4. Employers are either mistaken or discriminatory when they reject you. When you are passed over for job after job, it is easy to believe either that you were booted by some computer, that the hiring authorities didn't give you the consideration you deserved or that you are being discriminated against for your age, sex, or some other reason. Of course, any of these are possible however, recruiters, HR staffers and hiring managers do have a clear idea of what they want in a successful candidate at the outset and the people they wind up hiring fulfill those criteria.
Almost always, employers have the ability to choose among many highly qualified candidates for a position and that means that you might be one of those excellent candidates who just happens not to get the job you feel you deserve. Rather than playing the role of aggrieved victim, keep focused on the next opportunity.
5. You think that you don't need to prepare for an interview. Never take an interview opportunity for granted, even if you don't think that the job being discussed is ideal for you. You need to demonstrate that you've done your homework about the company and the role you seek to fill. You need to be able to relate your experiences and achievements clearly and succinctly. You need to understand what issues are likely on the mind of the interviewer and more. An interview should never be understood or approached as a casual conversation and nothing can replace diligent preparation for it.
When you approach your job search with a clear understanding of what the process is all about, you will improve your chances of making that process as short and successful as possible.
Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help mid-career job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.