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CAREER PATH POTHOLES

You're trying to get a better job, but the business world is passing you by. Here are some possible reasons why.

As good as the economy is and as wonderful as the job market is, a lot of people still are struggling. They are trying to land a better job, but nothing seems to be going their way.

If you are one of them and have no idea why the world is passing you by, consider these possible causes:

+ A weak resume.

Keep it to one page. In the initial screening, your resume will be glanced at for five or 10 seconds. Long-windedness works against you. If you are called in for an interview and think the one-page resume doesn't adequately display your talents, bring a longer version with you.

Tailor it to the company. What kind of skills does the company emphasize? How would you fit into a particular job there _ or, better yet, why should the company create a job that would be perfect for your skills? If they find the right people, smart managers are adept at making room for them.

+ A lack of sincerity.

Applying to dozens of companies at once is almost always a waste of time. Find a company that you really want to work for and a job that you really want to have, then go for it. If nothing is available right now, let people know that you're interested. And stay in touch.

+ Poor networking.

Your chances of getting a job at any company are tremendously greater if you know people there and they think highly of you. Let friends and associates know you're looking and go to professional conferences and workshops to meet people. Don't push acquaintances for job help right away but build relationships so you can help each other in the future.

+ Bad interviews or references.

If you have made it to several job interviews but just can't seem to get hired, you are either shooting yourself in the foot or someone is doing it for you.

Try having a mock interview with a friend or trusted colleague. If possible, ask an interviewer who rejected you how you could improve your chances for the future.

If your interviews seem to go well, check your references. Do you get permission from references before people call them? Do you alert them about what your prospective job involves so they can think about which qualities of yours make you particularly suited for it?

+ Unrealistic expectations.

Sometimes, workers think they are more mature than they really are.

By all means, set tough goals for yourself, but realize that some top employers demand a lot of experience before they'll hire anyone. Even you. We all want to be millionaires overnight, but it rarely happens that way. Be patient.

+ Exasperation.

If you are in a dying industry or tight market, you might get turned down many times before landing a job. Make sure your past failures don't lead to future ones. If you walk in looking like a loser, that's just how you'll walk out.

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