Indiana, PA - Indiana County

BOB LANKARD: Job seekers should work smarter

by on January 12, 2014 1:49 AM

“It’s not the workin’ I mind; it’s this job hunting I hate,” said one person seeking a job.

That pretty well sums up many unemployed people’s appraisal of job hunting.

Many job seekers work hard enough, but their approach adds to their frustration. And always, in the background, is the panic of counting up the weeks and realizing “my unemployment is about to run out.”

“The harder I go, the behinder I get,” was the way one job seeker expressed his feelings.

Such frustration calls for a job seeker to work smarter, not harder.

Here are some things he or she may have been doing wrong:

• Lack of focus. One job seeker carelessly put the wrong cover letter/r←sum← in an envelope. He apparently was sending out a number of applications at one time. Job hunters need to maintain focus and double-check their work.

• Doing things at the wrong time. Time is lost when you make a personal visit to an employer when the employer is not taking applications or when you spend time reading the same job openings list day after day. Find out the best day to apply with a phone call or email and learn what day new openings appear in your paper.

• Down time. Some job seekers complain about time spent waiting in line. Often I have seen people waiting to be interviewed blindly staring into space. I suggest job seekers anticipate this delay and take something productive to do with them.

• To-do list is overwhelming. I tell worn-out job seekers to break each task into smaller, separate parts. Then, as they complete the list, they can cross it each part out, gaining a sense of accomplishment.

The importance of working smarter, not harder is magnified when a job seeker is under pressure. He or she tends to burn the candles at both ends and thus make mistakes that create more work. Early 2014 will create one of those pressures for some job seekers — their unemployment compensation will run out.

Finding yourself without a job as the end of unemployment compensation looms is an uncomfortable situation. Some thoughts on avoiding that crisis:

• Do not treat unemployment compensation as an extended vacation. Yes, take a week to recover from the shock of losing a job. Then begin the hunt.

• Those who are fully employed should keep their r←sum← up to date at all times. We are all just between jobs.

• Find nonprofit financial advice. In some areas, call 211 to learn of such agencies. In other areas, local governments have resource guides that will lead you to the help you need.

• Talk to a temp agency. Many people dislocated after working a long time for one company have false impressions of temp employment. Talk to an agency to get a better picture of what they offer.

• Self-employment. One dislocated miner I knew in the 1980s started a handyman business as a stopgap measure and never returned to traditional employment.

• Join a job club. One-stop centers, churches, unions and social service agencies are common sponsors of such clubs.

Bob Lankard, a retired employment specialist at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry's Indiana Job Center, is a job-search columnist for the Indiana Gazette. Read his columns on Sundays.
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