By David Bakke
Although the economy has shown some recent signs of recovery, the current unemployment rate is still stubbornly high.
Since there are plenty of obstacles standing in your way to a new job, it's imperative to hone your approach. See if you're making any of these job-hunting mistakes, and fix them before it's too late:
1. Not proofreading your resume.The quality of your resume is what forms most potential employers' first impression of you and opens the door to job interviews, so it's important to make sure it's perfect. Whether you create one on your own or have it professionally prepared is up to you; just be sure it is 100 percent error-free.
In addition to making the paper version of your resume perfect, make sure that the one you send via email arrives without any messed-up formatting or funny breaks. To create a version of your resume that can be embedded in the body of an email, remove all current formatting by opening your resume and saving it as a plain text (.txt) file -- and remember to click on the box that says "insert line breaks." Then, reopen it with the Notepad program. Be sure that all of the text is flush with the left-hand side of the document, and ensure that you have used only clear, easy-to-read fonts. Save that version and you're done. Email it to yourself to review what it looks like when it arrives.
2. Becoming discouraged. Searching for a job can be difficult and lonely. You may interview with dozens of companies, never to hear from them again, and you may experience many unreturned phone calls as well. In the midst of all this adversity, it's important to maintain a positive attitude and an upbeat outlook. Becoming discouraged only works against you.
If you're unemployed, you probably have some free time on your hands. Spend a portion of it to keep your attitude and outlook healthy. Stay in shape, stay connected to friends, join networking groups and learn new skills to add to your resume. These types of activities can keep you motivated and reduce the amount of time you have to become discouraged.
3. Telling the whole world you're looking for work. This is especially true if you're employed. If your boss finds out that you're thinking about leaving, he could speed up the process by giving you the boot. The last thing you want is to lose your current position before you've found a new one. Keep your job search to yourself.
4. Using a singular strategy. If you want to find a job quickly, search for leads in every way possible. For instance, 36 million people used social media to find a job in 2011. If you've been ignoring that avenue, start checking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn regularly for job announcements. Checking job boards is also a good idea, but if you're intent on working for a particular company, consider showing up in person. You may not land a job interview, but you'll at least get your face in front of someone, which could lead to an opportunity down the road.
5. Underestimating the power of networking. While some job events and career fairs may seem like a waste of time, you never know where your next key contact will come from. Embrace networking as a major piece of your job-hunting strategy. Join or become more active in professional groups. You may also want to volunteer for functions with your professional networking group. This is a great way to stay involved and get noticed by the movers and shakers in your field.
6. Forgetting to keep all points of contact professional. Whether it's the voice-mail greeting on your cellphone or the appearance of your social media pages, make sure everything looks and sounds immaculately professional. If employers are interested in you, be assured that they will investigate you, and that includes visiting your online profiles. If you have anything that you wouldn't feel comfortable with an employer -- or your mother -- seeing online, either remove it or be sure that your privacy settings on Facebook prohibit an employer from seeing it. That way, you present yourself in the best light possible.
Final thoughts: Remember, many of your job-search expenses are tax-deductible: resume preparation fees, paper supplies and postage, the cost of gas needed to drive to interviews, and more. Consult the IRS website for a complete list of details and restrictions, and hold onto your receipts. Finding work may be your top priority right now, but you'll thank yourself for reducing your tax burden once you're employed.
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