Looking for jobs in all the wrong places…

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Q. What’s wrong with my job search? After identifying a potential employer, I get contact information, do my research and send out my resume and cover letter, requesting an interview for an entry level or human resource position. I am listed with recruiters and staffing agencies and call them every week. I attend local networking events but end up meeting people who are also unsuccessful job-seekers. And I search the Internet bulletin boards, sending my resume and following up a few days later. Help!!!

A. Remember the story about the man who was searching for his keys under the street light? He explained to a passer-by, “I lost my keys in the parking lot – but it’s too dark over there!” Job-seekers need to leave the brightly illuminated paths and delve into the dark corners where treasures are buried.

First, you need to network before you hit the mailbox. I know — that dreaded “N” word. However, if you’re entry level, you’re competing with thousands of other applicants. If you’re senior, you’re expected to arrive through an introduction. At the very least, you must know the name and title of whoever is authorized to hire you.

Second, a vague set of goals will win your resume a one-way ticket to the wastebasket. You need a separate resume and cover letter for each position, carefully targeted to showcase your skills and your unique ability to fill that position.

Third, before I could use your letter, I had to fix ten spelling and grammar errors. If you don’t have a friend who can help, pay an editor.

In some companies, a screener will read each resume and circle each mistake with a big red pen before forwarding your resume to the hiring managers. Do you really want your resume to get the bleeding heart award for “most red ink on the paper?”

Fourth, employers pay online resume services, recruiters and staffing specialists when they need unique, specialized hard-to-find employees. These resources account for only a tiny percentage of placements, even in boom times. Calling once a week may backfire: you come across as needy and pushy. Believe me, their fingers will start punching keys the moment they need you.

Finally, choose a networking group with a leader who knows the score and promises to provide fearless feedback. Consider joining a teleclass — a group that functions like a conference call. Start with http://www.teleclass.com Many career coaches offer low-cost telephone groups through their individual websites.

I am reluctant to suggest hiring a coach or career counselor because one-to-one guidance doesn’t come cheap. But if you keep hitting a wall, your investment may help you save time, money and hassle. And sometimes it’s nice to have someone who can hold a flashlight when you’re groping around in the dark.

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., is an author, speaker and career/business consultant. Your Next Move Ezine: Read one each week and watch your choices grow!

Looking for jobs in all the wrong places…
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