If you’ve been unemployed for a while, it’s easy to start feeling desperate.
I have several friends who have struggled with long-term unemployment. It’s not a pretty thing. Self-esteem slips, worries about age discrimination abound and depression creeps in.
There’s usually not a simple answer for why someone faces months without a job, even though they believe they’re doing everything they can to become gainfully employed.
But job seekers can make some common mistakes, experts warn.
Focusing on five key improvement areas often helps, says Jamie Conley, regional manager of the downtown Tampa office of Robert Half, a nationwide staffing services firm.
Apply for the right jobs
Sounds a little crazy, but maybe you’ve lost perspective and simply aren’t targeting your skills to the right job, Conley says.
“We’ll have a bookkeeper position being advertised with CFOs applying for it,” Conley said. “That’s not being realistic, and it’s an uphill battle.”
It’s also a sign of desperation. Something that doesn’t attract employers.
Instead of grasping at straws, Conley suggests reigning in that desire and staying focused on advertised jobs that target your specific skills.
“Highlight how you fit the position, noting where you fit the job description,” Conley said. “You’ll have a much better shot.”
Get out there and network
In these days of social and professional websites and luncheons, mixers and other confabs sponsored by every group imaginable, there’s no excuse to not network effectively.
“Let everybody you know in your network (i.e. church, professional organizations, clubs) you are looking for a job,” Conley said. “Join groups, meet new professionals, get involved in online social media like LinkedIn.”
You might not meet an employer looking to hire directly, but indirectly you can connect to so many people who know others in your field -- and it’s a great way to get your profile out there, he says.
Discover hidden job market
“A lot of employers don’t post job openings,” Conley says. “It’s often word of mouth; some companies can’t afford postings.”
So keeping up with news of the industry you are targeting in your job search is important.
Maybe a news story about a new chief executive officer taking over a company you’ve been following might mean there’s a chance for expansion, or at least a shakeup that could free up some positions.
4. Stay alert, pay attention and your enterprising moves could mean a new job.
If you have specific companies you’d like to work for, make a phone call to talk to the hiring manager, or go to a networking event or connect to people at the company online.
You’ll be able to introduce yourself, send them your profile and hopefully make an impression.
Online impression is key
Don’t leave tacky messages or offcolor comments on LinkedIn or your Facebook page. Lots of employers are doing quick Google searches as part of their hiring process.
Making a professional impression online is just as important as making one in person, Conley says.
So if you’re in a jobless slump, use the tips above to get motivated. Sometimes it just takes a little tweaking to get things moving.
Jennifer Rich, Herald business editor, can be reached at (941) 745-7087.