Working Wounded: The Truths About Job Hunting

DEAR WOUNDED: I haven't looked for work in years. What do I need to know to be successful today?

ANSWER: Whenever I think of a job hunt, I'm reminded of a pair of crutches that were in our attic when I was growing up. With three active kids, those crutches got used a lot. Then one day my mom decided it was time to get rid of them. You guessed it, within weeks I had a sprained ankle and we had to go out and get a new pair of crutches.

Job hunts are like those crutches because we'll need them on numerous occasions during our career. In fact, I recently heard that the average American only stays on a job three years today. Below are some key mindsets for job hunting successfully. For more, check out the bible of all things career, "What Color Is Your Parachute" by Sir Richard Nelson Bolles (10 Speed, 2007).

You'll job hunt more than once. Given that we'll have to do many job hunts in our career, it's important to keep your resume current. You also have to keep networking. That is how companies find talent and you want to make it easy for them to find you.

The job hunt requires work and thought. Most people think that a job hunt is all about answering want ads. I think that a job hunt today needs to involve a lot more thought and planning. What do you want to do with your life? What are you doing when you lose track of the time? Those are just two questions that should be a part of any job hunt. The more thought you put into your job hunt, the greater the odds that you'll end up in the right job.

There is no always right or always wrong way to look for work. I've met people who've found great jobs through recruiters, others who happened to meet someone on a plane and other people who've got hired through a cold call to a company that wasn't currently advertising an open position. Since there is no right way to look for work, you've got to have a variety of "experiments" going on at any one time.

There is always an element of luck in any job hunt. I think it was a baseball player who said luck is the residue of design. Luck is usually a part of a job hunt. The question to ask, what are you doing to increase your chances of getting lucky?

Job hunters and job hirers approach the job hunt differently. Bolles points out in his book that companies hiring employees usually try to fill these positions first by hiring from within or from referrals. Yet, most job seekers put the majority of their efforts into want ads. Network, network, network.

Follow these tips and you won't need a crutch next time you start looking for work, you'll be ready to hit the ground running.

Online Ballot and Contest

Here are the results from a recent online ballot:

Working Wounded/ online ballot question: What is most important when working with a woman?

  • Keeping her in line, 14.8 percent
  • Listening, 20.1 percent
  • Showing respect, 57 percent

Winning Strategy

Our winning strategy for showing respect to a woman comes from B.B. in Philadelphia:

"Your question is dumb. No two women are alike, so you've got to take the time to find out what makes her tick. And then fashion your strategy accordingly. We'd all be better off if more people put time into learning about the people they work with rather than a lot of generalizations and homilies."

List of the Week

The incredibly Shrinking Vacation -- Average Vacation Time

  • Europeans: 4 to 6 weeks vacation
  • Australians: 4 weeks vacation
  • Chinese: 3 weeks vacation
  • U.S. average vacation time: 8.1 days (10 days after three years on the job)
  • 13 percent of U.S. companies offer no vacation time (up from 5 percent five years ago)

From: Workplace Media

Bob Rosner is a best-selling author, speaker and internationally syndicated columnist. His newest best-seller, "Gray Matters: The Workplace Survival Guide" (Wiley, 2004), is a business comic book that trades cynicism for solutions. Ask Bob a question: or publishes a new Working Wounded column every Friday.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.