8.7   The Biggest Mistakes Job Seekers Make - Fear of Applying

The biggest mistake that unemployed people make is that they hang around with other unemployed people. The second biggest mistake is that they keep their status a secret. It is embarrassing to be unemployed. It is hard to surround yourself with employed people if you spend your day glued to a television set or a computer screen. You will never hear about good job opportunities if you are isolating yourself. If you want to get a job, you need to get out there and meet people and apply! Yes, you will face rejection, but the alternative is just too ugly to contemplate, and furthermore, you don’t qualify to be permanently unemployed... Do you?

Places where you will meet people include: job fairs, professional activities and conferences, and by taking specialized training and classes, even if you have graduated. You will be meeting people and enhancing your chances of finding really great opportunities, as well as improving yourself. You might also meet people in casual situations like at Starbucks, on a soccer field, on a golf course, in a hot tub, on a bus, on light rail, or in a bookstore. Over the years, people have told me that they have made valuable and productive contacts in all of these situations. I have heard about people getting jobs or job leads in some of the most unusual places, but I have never heard of anyone getting a job sitting in a closet.

The reality is that if you want a job you have to put yourself out there! 80% of the jobs that are available at any given time are not posted anywhere. That means that you will need to develop a little 1 minute speech where you will describe yourself, telling people what you are interested in. I know you are shy and you are busy and you have a million excuses for not doing the things that I am telling you to do. Do it anyway!

I have been told by many job seekers that it is helpful when I gave them explicit instructions on what to say when calling an employer. So here it is, explicit instructions on what to say when you meet someone at a conference or in line at Starbucks: "Hi my name is (fill in the blank) and I will graduate with a (BA or BS, or whatever) in (Urban Planning, Marketing, Psychology, Computer Science, Engineering or whatever) ... I am studying (fill in the blank) and I am exploring opportunities in (fill in the blank)".

Scenario 1, At that point they will jump all over you with "well, we are looking for good candidates in your field". Scenario 2, you will start asking questions like: What do you do? What is a typical day? What do you like best about your job? What qualities are required for success in this field/company?

This is not brain surgery. You are trying to make contact and get enough information to figure out where to go with your life. So get out there and just do it! Connect with people. You are not doing yourself any good by sitting on the sidelines with other unemployed people or in the closet hiding.