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WORKING STRATEGIES, A COLUMN BY AMY LINDGREN

Is your process a job search or waste of time?

Saturday, October 6, 2012 - 11:23 am

A lot of what passes for job search these days is really just a waste of time.

A lot of this activity can be filed under “f” for “futility.”

Often, job seekers are following advice from people they trust. When the advice doesn’t work, they assume the fault is theirs and try to do even more of it.

Wondering if you’re involved in job search time-wasters? Check out the following list.

Online job search time-wasters

Completing online applications when you’re missing key qualifications.

Remember: Only a handful of people will be interviewed, so unqualified candidates aren’t likely to make the cut.

Following up on online applications. Anytime you complete an application online (as opposed to simply forwarding a resume), you know you’re entering a system designed for employer efficiency. They may or may not send you a form letter, but they’re not likely to respond personally or directly to your pleas for information.

Creating profiles on job boards and company sites in hopes of being matched. Your chances of being discovered this way are really similar to your odds of winning the lottery.

Targeted job search time-wasters

Repeated attempts to contact recruiters with whom you have no relationship. One email to share your resume makes sense. Weekly calls or letters? Not so much.

Resumes sent to managers without follow-up calls. Sending your letter to a company manager is a smart move; not calling afterward negates that smart move.

Rewriting resumes when contacting managers. If you’re rewriting your resume for each manager, something is wrong with your targeting. You should be able to discern the key data needed by the overall category of managers.

Networking time-wasters

Conducting informational interviews for work you already know how to do. Why present yourself as a novice?

Arranging networking meetings without an agenda or objective. If you don’t have a specific purpose, why meet?

Conducting intensive company research before you have a meeting scheduled. Not everyone will grant a meeting, so why over-research?

Linking randomly on LinkedIn but never contacting anyone directly. Is it really networking if you never speak with anyone?

Time-wasters when seeking advice

Attending support groups that make you feel worse.

Attending your fifth interviewing workshop. If you haven’t figured it out by now, you need individual help.

Most resume critiques – especially from online services selling resume makeovers. It’s not that you won’t get good resume advice from an anonymous person who knows nothing about you, your industry or your region – I just wouldn’t expect it.

If you found some time-wasters in your own process, drop them from your to-do list. This will free you up for more productive activities, including direct contact with employers and better networking practices.

Amy Lindgren owns Prototype Career Service, a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at alindgren@prototypecareerservice.com or at 626 Armstrong Ave., St. Paul, MN 55102.