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Avoiding the Biggest Mistakes Job Seekers Make

Everyday, thousands of people contemplate looking for a new job.  For some it’s just a fantasy, a response to one tough day at work.  For others, it’s a way to revamp a career, secure a better salary or finally get out from under the rule of an iron-fisted boss.  Regardless of the motivation, job seekers must be careful to avoid common pitfalls that many people make when searching for a job.

Here are some tips to avoid making mistakes that can impair your job search:

Leave for the Right Reason(s) 

One of the worst blunders people make is leaving their current job for the wrong reasons.  It is never advised to leave because of a disagreement with a boss, a salary discrepancy or a rumor about the company—at least without talking to a manager first.  Before making any life-altering decisions, first ask the question, “Can this be fixed?” 

A manager may be very willing to discuss a raise if the employee brings it up; a rumor about layoffs or a merger might be just that, a rumor; or if an employee has a problem with a boss, he or she can speak to the boss’s superior about a reassignment.  The decision to leave should be based on logic and reason, never emotion. 

Of course, sometimes the problem can’t be fixed.  Maybe an increase in salary is not an option, things can’t be worked out with a boss or the company really is in financial trouble.  Or maybe it’s time to switch jobs to enhance a skill set or advance a career.

Control The Search

There are a host of resources available to job seekers.  The most valuable may be a person’s network, which should include friends and family, current contacts, as well as those from former jobs, user groups and associations from years past.  Networking sites can also be tremendously helpful and user-friendly.  These days there are many ways to employ the latest technology to help you establish and further a network.  The contacts in a network can make introductions and open doors that may have previously been closed. 

The internet is also a great starting place for job seekers looking to post resumes and search for jobs.  Job boards can provide access to a wide variety of industries and positions.  Job seekers should check out big, small and niche sites for jobs and advice.

Third parties, such as placement agencies, are also an option.  Job seekers should not be afraid to seek advice from specialists such as career counselors and recruiters.  They can help identify jobs, assist with resumes and offer interview tips.  They have invaluable market knowledge and it is their job to share it.

Job seekers need to decide which resource or combination of resources will best meet their needs. 

Prepare for the Interview

“Be prepared” is more than a motto for the Boy Scouts.  It is also vital for a job interview.  Candidates who do their homework always fare better in an interview.  This doesn’t just mean browsing through the company’s website.  It also involves researching the company’s products, services and competitors, and doing a “Google” search about the company, its leaders and the manager who will be conducting the interview.  Candidates should also understand the current market conditions to have an idea of an appropriate salary range.  It is important to anticipate questions and prepare a script of answers—and then practice, practice, practice!

Give Notice

If all of the steps above are followed correctly and the candidate has made a deliberate, educated decision, giving notice should go smoothly.  It is possible that a manager may make a counter offer.  While it may be flattering to receive a counter offer, employees need to think about their reason for leaving.  Is the issue that caused them to start looking for another job likely to be resolved?  It is important to remember that feeling bad about giving notice is a perfectly normal part of leaving a job.  Any change — even good change — can induce anxiety. 

Employees should commit themselves to a smooth transition that will benefit both parties.  They should also think about their network when giving notice.  Their boss could be an important potential resource, or even a future colleague.  By steering clear of emotion and not burning bridges, employees can keep their network alive, and help assure a positive transition.

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