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Ten Annoying Tips for the Unemployed


Heartfelt advice sometimes sounds like smug suggestions.

It's been more than a year since the job market went from an open house to a gated community, and yet many bloggers, financial pundits, and even relatives -- okay, the majority of relatives -- still don't seem to understand: Most unsolicited employment advice is incredibly aggravating.

Tips for a job search involve someone in an extremely vulnerable state. Looking for work -- especially during a rough economy -- can be an unrewarding, soul-crushing experience, and suggestions for those doing it must both acknowledge and ignore that fact. The best, most tactful advice for someone who has just lost their job is a delicate balance of sympathy and restraint.

But time and time again, a market expert or sister-in-law will weigh in on what you should do to finally get your foot in the door, and the only natural response is the strong desire to put that foot somewhere else.

Last month, posted an article entitled 10 Reasons Why You're Not Getting Interviews. The confrontational tone of the headline is underscored by the writer's -- no name is given in the byline -- condescending advice listed below it. It's also peppered with straight-forward, "no duh" tips that should never be addressed to the millions of people who were laid off after years of employment. Ostensibly, the piece was written as a helpful guide for adults, but it comes off as job training for high school sophomores.

And boy, is it infuriating!

For anyone who has a loved one or associate in the job seeking trenches, it's paramount that you avoid giving these nuggets of wisdom.

1. "You only focus on the Googles of the world."
Assuming it's common practice for job seekers to solely approach brands with household names, Newsday suggests branching out to companies that may not be well-known -- as if someone looking for a job isn't papering every want ad and Craigslist posting with a cover letter and résumé. At this point, no desperate job seeker is turning his nose up at a smaller-staffed office.

2. "You don't follow directions."
"Each company has a different procedure it asks applicants to follow for submitting employment applications." Is that right? So applicants should read the entire posting before faxing a hand-written resume to the lobby of the building in which the office is? Yeah, that's the reason why you haven't gotten a response.

3. "You need to revamp your résumé."
Do we really need to note that updating your résumé to promote your best qualities is important? Is it necessary to suggest curtailing your experience to the job at hand would possibly be beneficial? Unless a set of specific pointers is given, it's probably safe to assume that job seekers are aware of this and don't need to be made to feel like clueless children.

4. "Your cover letter isn't enticing."
"The best cover letters take select details from the résumé and expand upon them, explaining in depth how your talents and experience can benefit the prospective employer." Mention a cover letter to a 7-year-old. Merely say a person looking for a job has to send one along with his résumé. Without any assistance, that 7-year-old would probably already know the description Newsday has provided.

5. "You don't reference keywords."
For every employer that maybe uses scanning software to comb through the résumés of potential clients, looking for "accounts receivable" or "spearheaded," there's another one who absolutely abhors those buzzwords. The truth is, like every applicant, every hiring manager is different. The best route is to just go with your instincts and what sounds right.
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