The Costliest Mistake Job Seekers Make

In 2006, my one-year teaching contract ended and I decided to find a corporate job. Piece of cake, I thought. After all, I’d just taught Shakespeare to college students.

Boy, was I wrong.

Three months and only one job interview later, I was still unemployed. This was especially nerve-wracking as I was a recently divorced mother of two. Desperate times called for desperate measures. I contacted my local state employment program and joined a job search club to help me figure this whole “job search thing” out.

That decision changed everything. Within 3 months, I received 2 offers in one week.

Colorful nesting boxes on blue sky

I credit a job search community for not only shortening my job search, but transforming it. According to job search expert Orville Pierson, joining a community of fellow job seekers can reduce your search time by 20%. That turns a 5 month search into a less-costly 4.

Here are the benefits:

You will learn tricks.

I was clueless about how to conduct a productive job search: I didn’t know about elevator speeches, informational interviews, and personal branding. Say what? Explain my “value proposition” in 30 seconds? Speak to complete strangers to “exchange information?” What was this strange language that flowed off of everyone’s tongue but mine?

Before long though, I learned the art of job search by being immersed in a job search culture with fellow job seekers. The state employment program and job club community taught me practical action steps that increased my interview rate. In fact, during the final week of my search, I had 3 interviews in one day. (I don’t advise this, by the way!)

You will receive vital feedback.

While attending the free workshops offered by my local state employment program here in Indiana, WorkOne, we often divided into pairs, and gave each other feedback when rehearsing our STAR stories. Several people told me, “Pare it down. Get to the point faster.” I needed to learn to be more concise.

I had a choice: Feel humiliated or grateful. I chose gratitude and adjusted my behavior. The feedback you receive won’t just make you a better job seeker, but a better employee. Without community, you miss out on vital information that will shorten your search.

Today I meet many job seekers who self-sabotage themselves, unaware of how ineffectively they come across to others. If you find yourself in a protracted job search, find someone to practice interviewing with and be open to feedback. The advice shared may be the magic bullet needed to shave weeks off of your job search.

You will gain dozens of accountability partners.

Having a group of kind, like-minded faces peer back at me each week helped me stay positive and hopeful. Plus each week, those who’d been in the trenches awhile beamed in triumph with news of landing a job. All of us were eager to hear them tell their job search success story.

I credit those alliances with fueling my job search momentum. We all reported our progress each week, heard feedback when we’d stumble, received praise for risking. I always left each meeting with new ideas to try. Early on someone offhandedly suggested I add a line of praise from a Reference letter to the top of my resume. I started landing more interviews as a result of that piece of advice.

You will gain confidence.

My confidence took off after I joined community. Because the career coaches and job club facilitators stress face-to-face activities like networking and volunteering, I practiced honing my message with each new person I met. I quickly learned what made people light up with interest, and what made their eyes glaze over. (Hint: People light up when you listen well and demonstrate succinctly how you can resolve their business pain).

As my confidence increased, my number of interviews increased. Like anything you practice daily and are committed to, you improve.

Conducting an effective job search is not instinctive. Most people fall back on the default strategy of applying to job boards. Sadly, that strategy has run its course, and most often leads to a frustrating dead end. (Job boards were my “go to” during my first 3 months. Remember? ONE interview!).  When I learned the actual skills needed to conduct a productive job search, the tide turned in my favor. Learning these skills in the arms of a supportive community made that challenging period of my life so much easier.

To find a state-funded Employment Center near you, click this link: Career OneStop Job Center, and enter your city, state or zip code in the “Location” cell, and click Search. Good luck!

Image: Depositphotos@frenta

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer. She is the founder of Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at You can also follow Julie on Twitter and Facebook.

I hope you found some helpful information here today. If you did, be sure to share this article with your connections. They will definitely appreciate your thoughtfulness.

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