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Ten Annoying Tips for the Unemployed

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Heartfelt advice sometimes sounds like smug suggestions.

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6. "Your application materials aren't perfect."
Proofread for grammatical errors and punctuation, yes. Just like that book report on Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Disgusting Sneakers you wrote in second grade, it's best to go over a professional document once or twice. Congratulations, Newsday. Your readers couldn't have felt more belittled than they do now.

7. "You don't know who to send your résumé to."
Job advertisements tend to have contact information -- a phone number or e-mail address at the very least -- along with a name. By rough estimate, a significant majority of them do -- certainly more than the ones that actually mention the job is a non-paying gig. While personalizing the greeting in the cover letter is a no-brainer, it may be in your best interest to skip a job where there's actually no contact information.

8. "You don't have an 'in' with the company."
Well, there's your problem! You haven't been grandfathered in to a six-figure position by someone who was in your fraternity 15 years ago! Look, probably the first thing one does when they're laid off is to mentally list all the people who could possibly help them out. After the list is exhausted, it's cold calling and blind luck. No one needs to be told they should have someone on the inside pulling strings. Those people don't need any advice.

9. "You don't follow up."
The question should be, "How often do hiring managers follow up with applicants?" Anyone who's looking for work could tell you, responses range from maybe 1 to 2 out of every dozen of résumés sent. Applicants will invariably follow up on the jobs they most want, but it's a crap shoot of ever hearing back. "Follow up on your résumé" is probably not the best thing to hear after you haven't received a response on one hundred applications.

10. "You're not as qualified as you think."
And there it is. The ultimate kick-you-when-your-down blow summed up in a succinct few words. Why reach for middle-management when you're barely good enough for entry level? Why beat yourself up over the job search when you haven't first undercut your capabilities? A job search has everything to do with hope, and Newsday successfully deflated all optimism with its last tip.

The worst part: These bits of hackneyed advice barely scratch the surface. Everyone remembers an instance where their job search wasn't getting anywhere -- when they were at their lowest -- and having to hear a broad suggestion was like nails on a blackboard.

"You really gotta pound the pavement." "Don't be afraid to apply to something outside your expertise." And my personal favorite after I graduated from college: "Refuse to be a statistic." Nothing was worse than hearing that after months of fruitless job seeking.

Fortunately, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, one site offers fantastic, detailed advice on a regular basis: Lifehacker.com. Its specific tips -- avoid looking like a job hopper, know what salary to ask for, stop arriving early for interviews -- are extremely helpful and aren't presented in a remotely smug or condescending manner.

During Monday's David Letterman appearance, Barack Obama mentioned the unemployment crisis could last another year. Let's hope that in that time, experts and relatives take the time to become aware of how their unsolicited advice may sound to a job seeker.

Even though not hearing it might be the best incentive of actually finding a job.
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