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:

1. Network all the time. With genuine interest.

2. Blog and comment on other peoples’ blogs.

3. Use social networking software like LinkedIn.

4. Constantly craft stories to decribe oneself.

5. Write resumes collaboratively – with a professional.

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.

14 replies
  1. Tom Morgan
    Tom Morgan says:

    Great suggestions Penelope! The hard part about them is developing the habit of networking and staying connected all of the time. It is like going on a diet for most people. You do great while on the program, however most of us fail to make the long term life style adjustments that are needed to prevent our weight from ballooning back up.

    Do you have any tips for making it easier for us typewriter age relics to stay connected all of the time?

    * * * * * * *

    Tom, you’re right, networking only really works when you make a commitment to making it part of your life.

     That said, networking is really a commitment to caring about other people. There is no way to be good at networking without having genuine interest in helping other people. And once you have that, networking actually feels pretty natural. So it is more important to figure out how to truly care about a range of people than to figure out how to network, per se.

    There’s a networking category on the sidebar of the blog. Here is one of my favorite posts from there — about how important it is to be your true self.

    http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2006/07/02/networking-for-a-new-generation-be-authentic/

    -Penelope

  2. Matt
    Matt says:

    Dear Brazen,

    Yes, yes, we get it. Be friendly. Use social networking sites.

    How about performing beyond expectations with one’s current job? Do these thoughts ever cross the radar screen with those who otherwise occupy their time with self-serving, Gimme Now networking antics and self-publicity?

    It just seems SOOO disingenuous . . especially when 65% of all resumes contain outright lies.

    There is nothing that beats a proven, demonstrable track record

    * * * * * *
    Hi, Matthew. I agree that performing well is important. After all, people will feel uncomfortable offering to help you if you are a chronic underperformer. However there is little benefit in a “proven, demonstrable track record” if you don’t have a network to tell that to. People will not find out through osmosis.

    –Penelope

  3. out_of_optimism
    out_of_optimism says:

    I was going to say, what a complete load of utter BS and what planet is Penelope living on when I raed “The unemployment rate is low,…”, and then I realized that this article is OLD. Since it is now 100% irrelevant, why is it still up?

    • Mike Higginbottom
      Mike Higginbottom says:

      Doesn’t that make the advice about constantly making networking part of your life even MORE relevant? I understood Penelope to be saying that a well networked person is more likely to find support from their friends through the hard times.

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    mingyeow says: 1. Network all the time. With genui……

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