Seven Ways To Waste Time in a Job Search

job searchTime is money, so they say.

Time you spend in your job search will hopefully result in money (aka, a salary).

Here are seven things I see job seekers doing wrong with their time in their job search:

1. Go to a network event without a purpose or a pitch.

Have you ever gone to a networking event, met someone, and realized you had no reason to contact them, ever? Perhaps you weren't sure why they were even at the event -- just for the food? I've seen plenty of people who seemed to be there to socialize. Go to a networking event with a purpose, and make sure you can communicate succinctly what your wishes, dreams, hopes, needs or desires are. Some call this an elevator pitch, others call it a 30-second commercial. Make sure you leave the other person with an understanding of what you are looking for and perhaps how you can help them. Book recommendations: Brag! and I'm at a Networking Event -- Now What???

2. Draft, redraft, tweak, and fix up your resume.

Your résumé is a tool. Creating and fixing it is not your entire job search. I know job seekers who tweak and tweak. Why? For many people it's a lot more comfortable to tweak a document than it is to send "that"email, or pick up the 500-lb phone and make "that" call. You know the email or call I'm talking about -- the one you've been putting off for weeks or months. Get your resume good enough and focus on other parts of your job search. If you aren't getting interviews, then revisit your resume; but don't spend time on it if you are neglecting other things.

3. Create a tracking system.

I spent hours creating and working on my excel spreadsheet I used to track my job search. I have heard of others, mostly engineers and technical people, spend WEEKS on their spreadsheet. Creating a tracking system will not help you land a job, especially when there are so many other turnkey solutions available. Mine,, has a generous free version and a very moderate upgrade option. There are a half-dozen other websites that came out after JibberJobber that can provide some relief to your job search organization needs, most of them at no cost for the basic level.

4. Forget to follow up.

I was at lunch with a sales veteran yesterday and he told me the key to making a sale is the relationship. He said most amateur sales people flub the follow-up. It's as simple as that. How do you follow up, and how often do you follow up? The same way a salesperson considers a "no" to be a "not yet, come back later," you should realize a "no" might mean "you are asking me the wrong question... shouldn't you be asking me 'who do I know that you should know?'" Focus on developing professional relationships that will last beyond this job search, and your network will be larger, stronger, and more beneficial to you. This is achieved by regularly following up with your contacts.

5. Avoid the phone.

You HAVE TO get on the phone during your job search. One of the best job search systems I've heard of is Michael Webb's system, where he teaches you how to make a targeted calling list and call a portion of it each day. It sounds old-fashioned but there is POWER in the phone calls. There are plenty of things taking priority over making the critical phone calls: laundry, that painting project, honey-do list, browsing CNN or, cleaning your office, matching your socks, watching TV ... don't let those things get in the way of what you need to do: make that phone call!

6. Show up unprepared.

I use the term "show up" loosely to mean how you come, or present yourself -- in an interview, when you make a phone call, or even in an email. Be prepared to communicate concisely and on-message. If you can only tell me 25 words, what words will they be? What do you want me to feel, know or do? Be prepared to communicate that, regardless of the medium. In Jeffrey Fox's book How to Become a Rainmaker he says "you have to maximize time and concentrate on your objective." He tells a story about a salesperson whose cup of coffee ruined a $300,000 sale because of some distractions it caused. Take distractions and noise out of your communication and maximize your time when "showing up."

7. Go it alone.

I was too good to get help at the beginning of my job search. I figured I could read some job search and resume stuff and then land a job fairly quickly. I should have gotten real help. This could be a coach or resume writer that you pay, or someone you meet at a job search club who understands the current strategies and tactics in a job search. Job coaches provide another set of eyeballs and can help you identify where you should spend your time. (It's critical that this person can help you understands current job search issues.) They also provide an element of accountability. Having someone who will help you keep on task with your job search and ensure you are doing what you need to do is also critical.) Job-search professionals agree that your coach should not be your spouse, as they are too emotionally attached to the outcome.

What do you think? Have you seen other ways job seekers waste time in their job search?

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