Lies We Tell Ourselves When Job Hunting

By Gerald Walsh ©

Every day I see well-intentioned job seekers become frustrated by their lack of success in the job hunt. True, there are barriers for some people. Under-developed skills, a weak economy, and a spotty track record can hold you back.

But more often than not, the source of their problem is a set of assumptions they have about the job market. Assumptions that are simply not true.

Have you told yourself any of these lies?

1. I can’t network because I don’t have many contacts

There’s no doubt it is easier to find a job if you know a lot of people. But even if you don’t, you can still approach people doing the job you want and ask them for advice on their career, company and industry.

2. It’s easier looking for a job if I have a job.

Almost everyone has been downsized at one time or another so there is no longer a stigma attached to being unemployed. Think of how many of your friends, relatives and former co-workers have lost their job through no fault of their own. In fact, if you can afford it, it could be worthwhile to leave an unfulfilling job so that you can work full time at your job search. 

3. I don’t send cover letters. No one reads them anyway.

True, some employers discard cover letters. But many others read them carefully. Don’t take the chance. A good cover letter gives you an opportunity to explain why you are interested in and qualified for the job, and shows the hiring manager that you have taken the time to research their organization.

4. I am over 50. No one hires older workers.

The important question is whether you have the skills, education and experience to do the job. Age is much less a factor than it was. Also, many employers like to hire older workers because they believe they will stay longer and are more reliable.

5. I will apply for every job. It will increase my chances of getting one.

Employers can easily spot a general, mass application and don’t like them. You should be selective and apply only for those jobs where you meet the qualifications. Employers appreciate applicants who research their organization and demonstrate why they would be good in the particular role.

6. I’m registered with a recruiting firm. One of them will find me a job.

Recruiters are hired by employers to fill their job openings. The employer is the client, not you. Recruiters will only recommend you to an employer if they think you are a strong fit for that employer’s needs.

7. I am having trouble finding a job – something is wrong with my resume.

People spend far too much time fussing over their resume by continually updating and modifying it. No question – you need a well-written resume and should invest time at the beginning of your search ensuring that it is accurate, thorough and professional. But you will see your greatest return by reaching out to your personal connections and meeting as many people as possible.

8. I will get this job. I have all the skills.

Just because you have the skills an employer is seeking, it doesn’t mean you will get a job offer. Employers also look for “fit” and the ability to learn. The truth is many employers will choose someone with fewer skills and a great attitude over someone with all the skills – but who seems hard to get along with.

9. I have changed jobs a lot. That will work against me.

As long as you haven’t changed job every six months, this won’t be a problem. Employers understand that a traditional career path with one employer is a thing of the past and that people have to change jobs a lot to advance their careers, especially in your early career.

10. Nothing happens over the summer. I’ll put my job search on hold.

People think that hiring stops in the summer and that job searching then is a waste of time. The truth is that people leave their jobs at all times of the year. So always stay active in the job hunt. In fact, try stepping up your activity during slow times – it may be easier to network with the people you want to meet.

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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 15,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.