Job Search - A Reality Check

Searching for a job for the first time in years can be a daunting and frustrating task. There are hundreds if not thousands of articles written describing the “secrets” to a successful job search. Unfortunately, most who find themselves in the midst of a transition quickly discover the obvious; there are no secrets and there are no shortcuts. The simple fact is that you succeed in your job search the same way you’ve succeeded in your career…by busting your butt. There is no secret database of unpublished jobs; no magic technique to grow your network faster; no “killer resume guaranteed to get you hired”.

The good news is that just like in your career, you can increase your chances of success by simply working harder than the next person. I’ve seen it happen with my clients time and again.

So based on personal experience and the experiences of many of my clients, I thought I’d put together some simple, non-traditional thoughts to add a different perspective to your job search:

MORE THAN ANYTHING, YOUR RESUME IS A DISTRACTION – Do you find yourself sitting at your computer, staring at your resume thinking “I wonder if I should change my name from blue to green”? For many people, the quest for the “perfect” resume quickly becomes an obsession. They waste a mountain of time changing formats, font sizes, highlighting, colors…anything to give themselves the feeling that they are actually doing something productive. But as long as there are people writing them and people reading them, there’s simply no such thing as a perfect resume. Yes, there are certain basics that you need to have and certain rules you need to follow (you can find those in any of the thousands of articles written on effective resume writing). What this resume obsession does most is create the illusion that you are actually working hard on your search. A resume is a tool, period. And your resume doesn’t get you hired; YOU get you hired. So learn the basics, be happy that it portrays the “you” that you want it to portray, AND THEN MOVE ON.

KNOWING WHAT YOUR “TRANSFERRABLE SKILLS” ARE ONLY MATTERS IF YOU KNOW WHAT TO TRANSFER THEM TO – Ask someone what they do for a living and what do they say? I’m a VP of Human Resources; a Director of IT. Most of us identify ourselves in that very narrow area defined by our title. If you’ve been in your job ten or more years, chances are it will be rather difficult to see yourself in a different role. Reach out to people who know you and ask some simple questions: “What do you feel my most valuable skills are”? ; “In what roles and industries do you feel those skills would be most effective”?; and my favorite question “IF YOU WERE ME, WHAT WOULD YOU DO”? Chances are the answers to these questions are not the same answers that you have in your head.


THE MOST COMMON REASON A JOB SEARCH STALLS IS AN INABILITY TO PERSEVERE – It is hard to think of anything in your adult life that will be filled with more negativity and rejection than a job search. Add to that the number of times you are simply ignored and it can get overwhelming (I’ve had a client who told me he applied for 702 jobs and got one response).Searches stall when the phone has stopped ringing and there’s a feeling of hopelessness. Activity is the only answer. Salespeople who struggle get mesmerized by what’s “in the pipeline”. That is a recipe for failure. No matter how many interviews and contacts you have made, a part of each day should be spent as if you have nothing going on. And high levels of activity create a feeling of inevitability; that it’s only a matter of time until you land.

A GOOD SUPPORT NETWORK IS NOT ENOUGH – Yes, it is extremely important to have a good support network when you are searching. But you need more. Ten years ago I found myself unexpectedly out of work for the first time is over 20 years. It took me three years to realize that one of the things I missed the most was being around people with the same professional experiences as me. I had a great support network, but none of my family and friends had any background or experience or understanding of what I had done all those years. I began to feel isolated and soon started feeling badly about myself, as if I hadn’t accomplished anything all those years. I missed the interaction and validation I got from working and talking with people of similar backgrounds and accomplishments. So you need to consistently put yourself in situations where you FEEL successful. Those situations will give you confidence and pay huge benefits when you network and interview.

IF YOU HAVEN'T LOOKED FOR A JOB IN A LONG TIME, CHANCES ARE YOU AREN'T GOING TO BE VERY GOOD AT THIS – The majority of people I have met over the past seven years have struggled with their search, yet all of them started out thinking they wouldn't have any problem at all. It doesn't have anything to do with talent or intelligence. It's simply something that most of us rarely do. Some haven't looked for a job in 20 or more years. If you still think you can do it without help, ask yourself this; Is there ANYTHING in your life that you're great at that you do once every 20 years? Probably not. But there's good news. Because of the economy and high unemployment rates in recent years, there are plenty of people who have been through this. Tap into that knowledge and experience. You need to quickly surround yourself with people who have done it before. People who can offer ideas when you notice that the things you're doing aren't working.

If you've recently been through a transition and have landed, what is the one thing that helped you most during your search?

Article posted June 19, 2014 by Steve Borrelli