by Andrea Coombes

Desperation, and six other mistakes job-seekers should avoid

Economists call it the labor market, but for job hunters competing with almost 15 million unemployed workers, it probably feels more like a labor jungle.

And many economists expect the current 9.5% unemployment rate to get worse before it gets better, possibly topping 10% — a situation not seen since the early 1980s, when for a 10-month period the jobless rate hovered between 10% and 10.8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In times like these, bad news isn’t hard to find. But jobs are — and job seekers are all too aware of it. That alone can have negative ramifications, some experts say.

“Job hunters, because they are so fearful and full of anxiety, the way they are approaching job hunting is more off base than ever,” said Andrea Kay, a career consultant and author of “Work’s a Bitch and Then You Make It Work.”

They’re “not taking time to think about strategy,” Kay said. “They’re merely reacting.”

Hide Your Desperation

When asked about the biggest mistakes job seekers are making, the three most-cited problems were “too desperate/willing to take anything,” “poor interview preparation” and “weak resumes,” according to a survey of 500 executive recruiters conducted for TheLadders.com, a career site for executives.

In this job market it’s not surprising people are “willing to take anything.” Still, career experts say it’s important to spend time digging up information on jobs that are well suited to you, rather than applying to any open position.

“It’s not about how many jobs you apply to; it’s applying to the right one,” said Alex Douzet, president and co-founder of TheLadders.com. “The skill and preparation is in narrowing down the right job for you.”

The right strategy is not complicated, Kay said. “A good job hunter has two jobs: They should be discovering the problems that employers have for which they need help and then they should be presenting themselves as the solution.”

Is the company struggling to stay in business? Developing a new product? “What are their issues that I as an IT person or a marketing person or a customer-service person can help them with?” Kay said.

Others agreed that in job hunting, strategy is all-important. “Even during good times, there are still people competing for virtually every job listing,” said Richard Bolles, author of “The Job-Hunter’s Survival Guide” and “What Color Is Parachute?”

“During hard times, you have to have better job-hunting skills to compete,” he said.

Developing a strategy can help you focus your search and, ideally, help you overcome that sense of desperation. Also, consider these other mistakes to avoid when job-hunting:

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