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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, January 18, 2010

Change your approach to job search for better results

By Andrea Kay

When it comes to your job search, if you're doing what you've done in the past and it isn't working, stop. It will only lead to frustration.

Still, it's befuddling, isn't it? "I've always found work in the past," I hear job hunters say daily.

And that's why so many people keep doing what they've done in past job searches. They call up "agencies." Read job boards. Answer online ads. Dwell on their extensive experience that should after all, speak for itself, right?

This, I'm told by experts of the human mind, is typical. People do what has worked for them in the past.

Even if it stops working, they keep trying, expecting it to work, says clinical psychologist Carolyn Kauffman.

If what you've done before has worked at other times in your career, it's built into your "blueprint of how the world works. Once something has gone into that blueprint, the person treats it as an Absolute Truth, and may not even realize that there could be another way to look at or do things," she adds.

So here's a different way to look at your job search.

First, if you're still spending most of your time filling out online applications, why are you doing that? Have you gotten a job that way in the past? Or do you just want it to work out so badly you keep trying?

These days, you should assume your odds of hearing back from someone on the other end of the online process are as good as winning the lottery, which is estimated to be 120 million-to-1 odds. You are more likely to be struck and killed by lightning.

I may be exaggerating a bit, but my point is that when you accept how things are, not the way you think they should be, you have no choice but to stop complaining that no one ever gets back to you. Then you can cut through this impersonal process and seek out people in your field and target individuals in companies you want to talk to.

Another thing many job hunters do is insist that their experience is their greatest asset, harping on it in interviews.

Experience doesn't speak for itself in part, because "it is simply less respected in many organizations today," says executive coach Richard Leider, adding that "the more technological a society becomes, the less wisdom is valued."

Instead, focus on explaining how your experience can help a company grow and how your skills and knowledge are evolving with the changing needs of their industry.

Reach Andrea Kay at andrea@andreakay.com.