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Thursday, 15 September 2011

My three bits of advice to avoid ending up in a career disaster zone like me

Anonymous candidate

I’m looking for a new job. Over the past year I've met recruiters, spoken to friends and trawled the web to no avail. Here are the three big mistakes which I’ve made and you should avoid:

1) Avoid stagnating in the same firm

Now that I’ve been working (hard!) for almost five years in the same company, it should not have been too difficult to get a job offer. But alas, I have not even gone to a single interview.

Why? Well, because what I have done over the past five years has added little value to where I want to be. This is especially so in the current “middle child” phase of my career – I’m either too junior or too experienced for the roles that would get me ahead. I either take a plunge in salary and start from the bottom, or stay until the next recession knocks everyone around like a game of musical chairs.

2) Everything you do must boost your resume

In hindsight, this one seems so obvious. But in five years, I never paid attention to my CV. You must ask yourself everyday whether the things you do at work are actually doing anything to add value to your resume, in case you find yourself in the job market.

3) Be a fisherman, not a fish

I have met several recruiters recently. I’m not out to dish dirt on them, but I wonder whether I am the one casting for jobs, or if I am the one on the hook.

After talking to one particular recruiter, I keep getting forwarded emails from colleagues who have received a one-line email from him about how this particular job would be up their street. But more often than not, these positions are not even in the same field as the recipient.

If that’s the way that recruiters get contacts, I wonder whether that’s how they treat resumes coming their way. Perhaps they just throw them up in the wind, with many landing in the reject bin. I would have expected some greater pride in their job. It is important, therefore, to find a recruiter who doesn’t treat you like a fish.

So, here I am, still on that quest for the promised land of a better job. Will I find it soon? I’m not quite sure. But I’m taking what I’ve learnt and I’m trying to do things differently now. If I get there, I’ll let you know.

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