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Deceptive targets in the job hunt
by Caroline M.L. Potter, Yahoo! HotJobs
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Time is money -- whether you've got a job or not. While it may be tempting to chase down every possibility when you're searching for work, don't. Many can lead you down a blind alley -- where you may lose the contents of your wallet.
A focused search using tried and true methods, especially networking, will lead to your next job, not tactics that smack of desperation.
Avoid these five job-hunting "don'ts" that will yield the poorest of results, according to leading workplace advisor Liz Ryan.
1. Spray and pray.
Don't blindly send your resume unsolicited, electronically or otherwise, to any company without first making verbal contact. Says Ryan, founder of AskLizRyan.com, "Tossing out un-customized cover letters and undifferentiated resumes in huge volumes and crossing your fingers is a job-search non-starter. That doesn't work, and it hasn't worked in 10 years, or more." Establish a connection before sending a customized cover letter and, adds Ryan, "You can even customize your resume if a job opening calls for it."
2. Stand in line for a job fair.
Admits Ryan, "Sad to say, but most job fairs are a waste of time. Avoid the huge cattle call-type job fairs where zillions of employers have booths, yet no one is taking resumes." There are some job fairs that have value. Ryan, a former human resources executive, points to company-specific open hours and college placement job fairs. Tap your network to learn if anyone can recommend worthwhile fairs. "Ask around before you head off to a job fair or risk having your time wasted and your ego dashed."
3. Earn certifications nobody wants.
It's common to feel less-than-confident in your skills if you're having a hard time finding work, but don't rush out to spend money on any additional training unless you're certain it will yield improved results. Ryan reveals, "Before you sign up for a certification training program, check the job boards to make sure that employers are asking for it. There's no sense investing time and money in a certification no one wants."
If you're getting the hard-sell from an educational institution, Ryan says, "Ask the people at the school that's doing the certifying, 'Which local employers have hired your graduates in the past year?' If they can't tell you, run away."
4. Pay a headhunter.
Don't dole out money to any kind of recruiter or sign a contract agreeing to do so. "Real headhunters, also known as search consultants or third-party recruiters, won't take your money. They get paid by employers to fill open jobs." She warns, "If a recruiter calls or emails you to say s/he's got jobs open, and then invites you to his or her office for a counseling session and presents you with a range of career-coaching services, bolt for the exit. Real search professionals won't take a dime from their candidates."
5. Sign up with a resume fax-blast service.
This old-school -- and desperate -- tactic is a total turn-off to potential employers and smacks of spam. Ryan says, "Services that send out hundreds or thousands of your resumes might have been worthwhile 20 years ago. Today, they're worse than pointless, because it irks employers to get unsolicited resumes. Forget the fax-blast services and do your own careful research to reach decision-makers with messages they actually want to hear."