Business column: Stuck in a job search rut? Five common snags to avoid
Ryan Summerlin September 14, 2012
After months of unemployment and a double dose of disappointment, jobseekers can fall into a rut. Take a moment to look at these commonly shared issues. Do any of these sticking points apply to you?
1. The warm shower syndrome. The warm shower syndrome can be covert. The premise is this: When one loses a job, they lose more than just their livelihood. Often they lose a sense of purpose as well. After a term of unemployment they may seek out opportunities to get back that old sense of self. Some take up a hobby or volunteer. Others join a club or take on extra duties at home they normally wouldn’t tackle. This is a fantastic way to stay connected and feel valued, but be careful. Never take your eye off the ball or you could send your job search into a ditch. Like a warm shower, these alternative activities create a feeling of well-being and security. The empty hole created by job loss is temporarily filled. But what’s imperative is that you stay focused on your goal, finding employment. Networking, yes! Socializing, absolutely! But keep in mind; job searching is a full-time job and should be treated as such.
2. “I won’t budge!” Are you boxed into a job ideal? I often hear, “I won’t flip burgers!” or “I’m not willing to accept a wage less than $$$” or “Only the swing shift will do.” Others staunchly insist, “I’ve worked my way up and will not settle.” All of us have life circumstances that dictate what is optimal. However, whenever possible, remain flexible. It’s to your advantage to keep doors open, not slam them shut. Check your ego and consider, “What percentage of the labor market do I eliminate? You may find that unexpected opportunities arise if you reconsider your criteria and lose the rigid approach.
3. “Unemployment insurance pays more.” This flawed strategy is counterproductive. In a tight job market, turning away from a job opportunity is generally a poor choice. You are less employable the longer you remain unemployed and resume gaps can be hard to explain. Recipients of unemployment insurance are required to accept a bona fide offer of suitable work. Suitable work is determined by your work history and a detailed definition of it and how it applies to you can be found in the Benefit Determination Guides at www.edd.ca.gov. Job refusals not reported to EDD will risk false statement and related penalties.
Let’s consider the facts. California pays $450 of taxable income as a maximum weekly benefit. To qualify for maximum, earnings must exceed $11,674.00 in the highest base period quarter. A regular claim, in the absence of federal extensions, is 26 weeks. Other matters with long-term implications deserve consideration. There’s a consistent career path, a strong work ethic and also employer supplied health benefits, not to mention your sense of pride. A less-than-perfect job now increases possibilities for job considerations later. Those who keep themselves in the labor force and display an eager-to-work attitude are the ones employers seek.
4. Mix it up! A discouraged job seeker told me he faxed 100 resumes every week. “I rarely hear back from anyone,” he said. “What other methods do you use to seek work?” I asked. He had no answer. You wouldn’t go fishing using only one kind of bait or golfing toting only your putting iron, so don’t compromise your job search by using only one technique. Never stay on an unproductive course. Mix your methods; try new ones. Look for new job lead sources. Sign up with a variety of employment websites, not just one. A personal trainer would say, “Change up your exercise routine daily!” Why? Because of boredom and burnout. Fresh activities keep your job search energized.
5. Ready, aim, target! A targeted resume is critically important for each potential job, although failing to retool and tweak the resume at hand is commonly overlooked by jobseekers. Did you know that a computer sometimes screens your resume? No key words, no interview. To find key words, use the job description as your guide. If you need additional information, visit www.onetonline.org. This website provides detailed occupational overviews and is a handy resource to reference. Rearrange skills according to priority, add desired skills; delete irrelevant ones. Employ the appropriate resume style, chronological or functional, as applicable to the situation.
– Gloria Sinibaldi is a career professional who has worked in the employment field for more than 20 years. She is a trainer coach and job developer. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.