by Anita Bruzzese
If you have had a long winter of job searching with no luck, you may need to freshen up your job-hunting strategy, career experts say.
Just like spring cleaning, some of the most common mistakes in a job search can be fixed with a little elbow grease and initiative, they say, so you can boost your chances of landing a position by time warm temperatures are here to stay.
Many job seekers make the mistake of looking for jobs instead of focusing on employers, says Miriam Salpeter, career coach at Keppie Careers in Atlanta. She suggests focusing on five to 15 companies then honing in on people you need to meet at those companies.
"Spend time learning about organizations where you'd like to work. You want to know their biggest business concerns. What problems are they trying to solve?" she says. "Then make sure you make a case for why you are the right fit to solve those problems. When you take the research and networking route, you benefit from the opportunity to be referred for a job, which statistically improves your chances to win an interview."
Jane Trnka, career coach and executive director of Rollins College MBA Career Development Center in Winter Park, Fla., agrees that networking is critical to getting a job — even from those who previously may have turned you down for a job.
"Always follow up with a thank-you note even if you didn't get the position," Trnka says. "Tell them that while you regret not being selected, you want to stay in touch."
You usually can tell if you have "chemistry" with a prospective employer, and that should urge you to continue the connection, she says.
"If it's somewhere you really want to work, follow up every six months and let them know where you landed and your new contact information," Trnka says.
She adds that hiring managers and recruiters often know of other positions outside their organization or may be able to refer you to other contacts, so that makes them valuable contacts to have in your network.
Just get up your nerve to do it. Learn to wipe out the person's title in your mind, and think of them as just another person to connect with," she says.
If you can't seem to stay on track and remain motivated during your job search, Career coach Phyllis Mufson in Sarasota, Fla., suggests that you "find an accountability partner or join a job search support group."
"These are great choices when you need a boost of encouragement, brainstorming, and someone to witness your commitment to action," she says, adding that a career coach can be a good option for those who feel stuck in their job-search efforts.
Trnka says those in a job search often feel they're on an emotional roller coaster, which is why you should step back and reassess your strategies. It's important to make sure you're not becoming mired in fruitless strategies or making mistakes that derail career plans.
To make sure you're ready to tackle your job search this spring, the career experts recommend you should:
• Review the basics. Avoid using a "laundry list" resume that notes your jobs and responsibilities but doesn't give the employer an insights "into what the employer wants and what you have to offer," Salpeter says.
"Evaluate job descriptions before writing your resume," she says. "Capture the key details from descriptions and choose the key words from them to include on your resume, and you'll have a better chance to make it through the first step of the selection process."
• Take some classes. Trnka suggests taking a look at course schedules at local colleges or checking into government financial assistance for job-related instruction.
Classes can enhance your skills or teach you new ones, provide a great chance to network "and also demonstrate to potential employers you are not sitting behind the computer all day and night," she says.
• Reach out for support. Mufson says it can be too easy to lapse into inaction as your job search drags on.
That's why you need people in your life who are willing to remind you of exciting opportunities that await you and all the wonderful, unique traits you have to offer.
Anita Bruzzese is author of 45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy ... and How to Avoid Them, www.45things.com. Twitter: @AnitaBruzzese.