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Moving On

Finding a new job is a challenging but rewarding journey

By Robert Shannon

Trying to find a new job is kind of like moving. You're really excited about moving into your new place, but the thought of searching for the new apartment, packing and unpacking, and carrying furniture and countless boxes is exhausting. The same thing goes for looking for a new job. It's an exciting prospect, but there will be many daunting challenges ahead. There are new opportunities, new co-workers, new learning experiences, and a new salary, but before you reap all those exciting rewards, you have to update (or create) your resume, research job postings, write cover letters, interview, compose thank-you letters, interview some more, and play the waiting game.

What's the Worst?

I recently came across a survey at asking: "What part of the job hunt do you dread the most?" As of September 1, 2008, the response was 33% hated waiting to hear back from employers after an interview, 27% dreaded going to interviews, 17% despised digging through endless job postings, 16% hated dealing with recruiters, and 7% other.

The poll encouraged participants to support and explain their answers. Interviewing was dreaded for the reasons you would expect. Those polled didn't like having to "meet the whole company" on multiple interviews and having to "sell" themselves to an interview committee."

Waiting, of course, went hand in hand with the interviewing. Larger companies tend to move slowly, and one respondent wrote that a company offered him a job 18 months after the original interview.

Similarly, recruiters took a hit for having a "lengthy . . . and wasteful process."

Searching through endless job ads is a formidable task, even in the Internet age. Just be glad you don't have to dig through the Sunday newspaper want ads - doesn't that notion seem prehistoric?

If you want a leg-up on the competition, there is one piece of advice you will hear from anyone who is a career expect - including your career services office and from this publication - nothing beats networking. According to The Best of Effective Networking for Professional Success, networking is 12 times more successful than answering advertisements.

But networking can be difficult for those looking for a job, as well. As one respondent to the online poll wrote,

"Networking is one of the most boring and tedious things I can think of."

The bottom line: job-hunting is not a fun process. But keep in mind that your peers are in the same position that you are. So how can you get a step ahead?

The Power of Positive Thinking

To get ahead of your competition, take advantage of the job search apprehension and jump into each part of the process with a positive attitude. Remember: nothing in life worth having comes easily. So as others moan and grumble, put a little spring in your step, and you'll stand out among the sea of anxiety-ridden jobseekers.

Remember, interviews are difficult, but you're not going on "60 Minutes." This is not an adversarial situation; it's only a conversation. Employers want to learn more about you, and you should want to learn more about them. Be prepared, relax, and you will be fine.

Don't sit around waiting to hear back from an employer. Time spent waiting is time wasted. Instead, check out your other leads. If that initial interview went well, you will hear back soon. In the meantime, you will be devising a backup plan by working on other leads. No matter what happens, you will ultimately end up with a job thanks to all your hard work.

Many survey respondents stated they felt researching ads - online or elsewhere - is also a pain. It certainly can be, but it might open up some new opportunities. Think of it as a fishing expedition - casting a larger net could land you a prize catch.

Dealing with the process of a recruiter shouldn't be an issue for you at this stage of your career. As an entry-level professional, you don't have much to offer a recruiter - other than a fee. Be wary of independent recruiters and always seek guidance from your career services office first and foremost.

As for networking, try to look at it as a positive experience. Networking can be the most social - and least threatening - aspect of your job search. You're talking with people with similar interests, and you have an easy icebreaker for any conversation. That's not dreadful. It may be dull at times, but not dreadful.

Taken as a whole, searching for a new job can seem long and daunting. And there's no sense of relief until you get that offer you've been waiting for. It's like unpacking that last box: you can finally sit back and enjoy your new home. The journey's not an easy one, but it's worth it!

Robert Shannon is a freelance writer in Chicago.

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