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Little Mistakes That Keep You Unemployed

If your job search is dragging on and on, you might want to look in the mirror. Because the person looking back may be sabotaging your efforts.

Do you make the following mistakes in your job search? If so, stop now. And start getting more calls for job interviews.

Mistake #1) Not Following Up

If you fire off resumes without checking to see if employers get them, and fail to keep in touch until a hiring decision is made, your dream job might go to someone less qualified, but more persistent than you.

Here's how one of my clients, Mike M. from Boston, followed up right. And got a great new job.

"After going to about 20 interviews, I found that following up on resumes submitted via email is very important. Probably a third of my interviews were obtained within a day or two after a follow-up," says Mike.

How did he do it?

"I sent my resume and cover letter again via email, and included one or two 'wow' points about myself in the email message."

Here's an example of a follow-up email Mike sent:


I would like to follow up on the status of my resume submission for the Forecast Analyst position, as there is a very strong match between the position requirements and my skills and experience. [I've attached my cover letter and resume again for your convenience.]

As I have a strong desire to re-enter the consumer products industry, I would again welcome the opportunity for an interview. With a track record of delivering up to $1 million in annual cost savings through accurate demand forecasts and supply-chain planning, I'm confident I could bring the same performance to ABC Co.


Mike M.

Nothing earth-shattering there. Just plain, smart persistence that set Mike apart from other candidates. And it worked -- he got hired.

You can do this, too.

Mistake #2) Not Thinking Things Through

Last week, I tried calling "Jill" (not her real name) in reply to a job search question she had emailed me. After 5 rings, Jill didn't pick up the phone ... and neither did an answering machine. So there was no way to leave a message.

What if I had been a busy hiring manager calling to set up a job interview? I would have passed on Jill and phoned the next candidate.

So I emailed Jill to suggest that she get an answering machine. Her reply: "I do not have access to an answering machine because of my limited income."

To which I was tempted to answer: "Your income may be limited because potential employers can't reach you!"

Think it through. Would you go trout fishing without a creel? Of course not -- how would you carry home the fish you caught?

So why send out resumes if you don't have an answering machine to "catch" calls from employers? Especially when you can buy one at Radio Shack for less than $30 -- about what you'd pay for a couple of large pizzas. That's a fair trade in my book.

Question: Are there any "leaks" in your job search? Are employment leads slipping through your fingers? Think it through now.

Mistake #3) Not Getting Input From Others

After reading more than 10,000 resumes over the years, I've found about 90% of job seekers are suffering from an "affliction" that keeps them unemployed.

What is it?

Let me illustrate with a story ...

You're eating dinner and your mom asks: "Could you get me the salt?" You walk into the kitchen and, after searching all the cupboards, you call out in a frustrated voice, "I can't find the salt!" Then your mom walks in, picks the salt up off the shelf in front of you and says, "Look! It was right here in front of your nose!"

In psychological terms, you have a "scotoma." (Say: ska-toe-ma.)

I have discovered that most job seekers suffer from "resume scotoma." They unknowingly overlook obvious errors in their resume ... until someone, like me, points them out.

Here's an example.

"Jerry" from New York sent me a resume used to apply for jobs as a logistics manager. Yet, most of his resume was filled with irrelevant facts ("Honorably retired from the United States Marine Corps"), empty assertions ("Extremely dependable") and unnatural language ("Excel at directing a cohesive staff in the successful attainment of objectives.")

Jerry had overlooked a host of flaws. When I asked if he had shown his resume to anyone for input, his response was a predictable, "No, I never thought of that."

To avoid "resume scotoma" -- and get hired faster -- show your resume to at least 3 friends before sending it to employers. Your friends will find gaffes and goofs that you won't, even though they're right under your nose.

Now, go out and make your own luck!

Kevin Donlin is President of Guaranteed Resumes. Since 1996, he and his team have provided resumes, cover letters and online job-search assistance to clients in all 50 states and 23 countries. Kevin has been interviewed by USA Today, CBS MarketWatch, The Wall Street Journal's National Business Employment Weekly, CBS Radio, and many others.

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