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Six nasty unemployment myths

John Heckers //February 8, 2011//

Six nasty unemployment myths

John Heckers //February 8, 2011//

Did you see the unicorn on the Pearl Street Mall the other day? How about the centaur running down Colfax? Or the griffons flying over the Tech Center?

No, I’m not bucking for admission to the psych ward (at least not for those things). But people are believing myths about employment that are about as outrageous as nymphs bathing in the South Platte River or Pan frolicking through the downtown streets. Here are a few of them.

Myth 1: Unemployment is going down. False. In Colorado the unemployment rate is actually rising enough that Coloradoans might be eligible for extended unemployment benefits. But this doesn’t tell the whole story.

If you believe government figures on unemployment, you probably also believe in the Minotaur. Government unemployment figures leave out large segments of unemployed people. The leave out the long-term unemployed. They leave out those who have given up looking for employment. They leave out the kids who haven’t started looking because there are no jobs to be had. They leave out the people who had a job but, when they lost it, went back to school full time because they couldn’t find another. And they leave out the millions who are working at Walmart with advanced degrees.

The economy is getting better, but this is not translating to increased hiring. Companies are keeping the (sometimes record) profits, seeing a possible double dip recession in the offing, not spending it on hiring.

Myth 2: “I must interview pretty well. After all, I came in second.” And Elves are partying in the woods behind your house, too, right? Fact? You don’t and you didn’t. This is a myth in two parts.

They tell everyone that they came in second. Maybe you did, but don’t bet the farm on it. Ditto myths like “We found someone better qualified.” No, they didn’t. You just didn’t interview well.

Few people actually interview well. And why should you? It isn’t a skill that you use in your job (for the most part). But you need to interview well to accurately convey your skills and experience. Being a prepared and rehearsed interviewer is the difference between “came in second” and “starting Monday.” Get help.

Myth 3: People are hired on qualifications. And genies live in little bottles, too. People are hired based on a). who they know and b). how well they interview, not their qualifications. Yes, you must have some qualifications to do the job. But, get real. How many times in your career have you wondered how that putz ever got the job he got?

Myth 4: “I have irons in the fire.” And fauns are dancing in your backyard, too? Until you start you have fantasies in your head. Less than 2% of these “irons in the fire” that people tell me they have ever result in a hire. Don’t count on them.

Myth 5: My résumé is important and I should spend time on it. As I’ve said extensively elsewhere, your résumé is mostly useless . Sending your résumé is unlikely to get you a position. The only people who care about your résumé dwell in the underworld called “H.R.” where no living soul emerges unscathed. Once you cross the River Styx into H.R., you will howl in limbo forever. Read about that here.

Chill about your résumé. Yes, you need one. But it isn’t going to help you much in getting a job. The only effective method of getting a job in this market is networking at an intense level. Pick networking groups that are small and helpful, staying away from the large groups where you’re going to get sold lots of insurance, but find few job leads.

Myth 6: It’s getting easier to find jobs. Yes, dear. Pegasus will take you for a ride tomorrow morning. The fact is that finding a job is a full time job and very hard work. It is the hardest job you will ever have. Those who don’t put everything they have into it will still remain unemployed for a very long time. Even those who put 100 percent into the search will have some setbacks and disappointments.

But the biggest myth of all is believing that you will be unemployed forever. There are jobs out there. Dispel the myths of the job search and operate in what is, not the myths that the government and media tell you, and you will find the jobs that are waiting for you.

Want to avoid Cupid February 14th and find a non-mythical executive event? Join John and up to 40 of your colleagues on February 14th, 2011, for Structured Networking and have a great excuse to avoid one of those nasty Valentine’s Day dinners. More info and required registration here.

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