Magazine article Communication World

Beware These Job-Hunting Mistakes

Magazine article Communication World

Beware These Job-Hunting Mistakes

Article excerpt

If you're like me, you don't worry much about developing an aggressive self-marketing plan. You're too busy doing your job, working late hours night after night, your face buried in software manuals the size of "War and Peace," so you can win awards for your lovely publications. Then, the day after you buy a $130,000 condo, your boss says, "Oh by the way, did I mention you're out of a job? Sorry." And you sit, stunned. looking at him, trying not to cry.

It's amazing how savvy you can become about this fickle business when your life (and your house) is at stake. But why do we wait for the ax to fall? even in the best of times, we know companies merge, downsize, and lay off employees. And then there are the lucky few of us with high-salary, high-profile jobs, who nevertheless suffer from Attila-the-Hun bosses or job stagnation.

What can we do beside complain and worry?

We can make mistakes. Learning from our mistakes is good, but learning from someone else's is even better. So, save yourself time and hair loss -- learn something from nine of my mistakes.

Mistake One: Not looking for a job until the ax is at your neck

One of the worst professional mistakes you can make is believing your job is going to be around forever. Even more foolish is thinking you would want the same job forever. Let's suppose there's no room for upward mobility with your current position and your immediate supervisor is Bozo the Clown. Switching companies may not be the only solution. Consider switching departments to gain more experience. Or, consider creating a new job within the company. The secret? Show the company how you'll save it money.

Volunteer your writing, editing, design, photography, public relations, or other business communication skills to your current employer -- even if you're a janitor. Offer to produce the company newsletter, flyers, press releases, bulletins, directories, or help organize a special event, in addition to your present duties. This experience will help parlay your position into a better one, if not there, then somewhere else.

If you're unemployed, or if your portfolio is as exciting as dental floss, consider volunteering your services to a user group, club, association church, or any other organization that interests you. They'll benefit from your expertise, and you'll gain invaluable computer publishing experience. Approach all jobs with equal professionalism and enthusiasm. What doesn't pay now will pay later.

Mistake Two: Spending more time thinking about dinner than your career

Employed or not, happy or not, do yourself a favor. Set up some "informational interviews." Be picky for a change. Rather than always going after whatever job happens to be available, why not find out about jobs that might not be available yet? Schedule at least one informational interview a month (more if you're unemployed).

Informational interviewing is useful even for those not considering a career move. Frankly, the information gathered during these informational interviews can't help but enrich your current position. Informational interviews can help you learn how other people handle jobs similar to your own. Is there something they're doing better? Would they mind offering feedback on one of your publications?

You can also learn about the type of equipment or resources these people are using. What do they like/dislike about their computer hardware or software? Camera? Video equipment? Where did they buy it? For how much? What free-lancers do they use? Users group? Clipping service? This information will be far more valuable than anything sales people will ever tell you about the products they sell.

Besides, like sex, interviewing can be intimidating at first, but gets easier with practice.

Mistake Three: Combing the classifieds more often than you comb your hair

The uninitiated job hunter waits until he or she is out of -- or almost out of work and then hits the classified ad sections of the major city papers. …

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