It’s hard to look at the job you have and the job you’re looking for and figure out if the gap between them is due to bad job hunting skills or to something else. The best way to get the answer to this is to understand what a good job hunter looks like, and see if you look like that, too.
It used to be that there was a two-tiered job hunt — one for knowledge workers who had college degrees and spiffed-up resumes, and the other for auto assembly line workers and people without college degrees.
Today it’s still two-tiered, but the tiers are different. The percentage of people who have college degrees is increasing to the point where it is the equivalent to what a high school degree used to be. Also, blue collar jobs are decreasing and knowledge worker jobs are increasing, so it’s harder and harder to divide the workforce by blue collar and white collar.
So where does the workforce divide today? Networked, nonstop job hunters and solo, just-for-now job hunters.
A good job hunter is always hunting for the next big thing because you don’t know when, exactly, you will need it, or what, exactly will come. So job hunting is not an event, it’s a lifestyle. And a good job hunter will do these tactics:
Ask yourself how many of these you really do. You don’t need to be doing them all, but if you are not doing at least a few of them enthusiastically, then you will probably fall into the bad job hunter category, and you’ll probably have a tough time getting a job.
You need to connect with people. In most cases sending your resume to blind ads just doesn’t work, so the list of good job hunting is all about knowing what you want and making genuine connections with people to help that happen.
It’s a great market for job hunters. The unemployment rate is low, and businesses in many sectors are stressed about employee shortages. So if you are having trouble finding a job, you really need to look at what you’re doing. Ask yourself if you fit into any of the thought patterns on this list of job hunt sabotage:
1. Do you really want to get another job or do you want to stay where you are?
2. Do you resent how quickly the world is changing? Are you aiming to resist?
3. Are you looking for a realistic job?
At some point, if you are not getting a job, you need to force yourself to do something new. It might be to try things out on the first list. It might be to ask yourself the questions on the second list.
But when you are stuck, you have to change something. Curt Rosengren has a nice post on The Occupational Adventure called Getting Unstuck. So start there, and use the list of good job hunt tactics as a starting point for setting your goals.