Job Search Expectations–Are You for Real?

As someone who’s basically an optimist, I believe that expecting good things to happen is a healthy attitude to take. However, having seriously unrealistic expectations for your job search is another matter altogether.

5 Common but Unreal Job Search Expectations

  1. If I put my resume out there in enough places, it will get me a job.
  2. Free help can get me where I want to go–people should want to help me if I’m having a tough time but have years of good experience to offer.
  3. All I need to do to my 3-year-old resume is add my latest job.
  4. After I upload my resume to my LinkedIn profile, I’ll start getting job-lead contacts within days because I have a large network.
  5. I don’t match all the major requirements for a particular job posting, but if I use the right keywords, I should still get calls.

What’s Wrong with Those Job Search Expectations?

  1. Quantity versus quality as a job search technique could seriously extend the length of your job search. Also, a resume doesn’t get you “a job”; it’s a tool to help you open the door and land interviews.
  2. Free help isn’t necessarily bad, but it needs to come from good-quality resources. Also, the likelihood that someone will want to help you just because you need/deserve it doesn’t translate into reality. Finally, actively pursuing free support presents you as more of a taker than a giver, which doesn’t inspire people to help you.
  3. Times change. So does the impact of trends and technology on your resume and your job search in general. The way we did resumes a few years ago has changed substantially since then–largely due to factors such as Applicant Tracking System (ATS) screening and LinkedIn. If your resume isn’t up to date in more ways than just its chronology, you’re missing something critical.
  4. LinkedIn is a powerful tool for business/professional networking, and you should definitely have a strong presence there. However, just uploading your resume isn’t a substitute for building a robust profile and is highly unlikely to flood your inbox with great job leads. Sorry, but you have to work at it.
  5. You can certainly apply for jobs where you don’t meet all the major requirements, but just packing your resume with relevant keywords isn’t going to plug that gap. Keywords are important, but they’re not a “fix every problem” solution to your job search. If you’re a savvy job seeker (and you should be), you already know that.

How Can I Have Realistic Job Search Expectations?

To start with, create a plan that might be ambitious but isn’t ridiculously over the top. Then work that plan consistently. In addition:

  • Put your time and energy into the actions most likely to yield potentially beneficial results for your job search.
  • Use technology to your advantage as much as possible but recognize the need to work with what is, not what you’d like it to be.
  • Create a professional resume that represents you as effectively and accurately as it can, but don’t expect it to do all the heavy lifting for you.
  • If you’re looking for help from other people, try to put yourself in their shoes. Would you appreciate an in-your-face, what-can-you-do-for-me approach if it were directed at you? No? Then don’t use it on them.
  • Give yourself a reality check every now and then. If what you’re doing isn’t working, is there something else that might be more productive?

Technology & Your Job Search–Some “Gotchas”

No one is likely to deny that we live an an age suffused with technology. Unless you live on a deserted island, you’ll probably encounter some aspects of technology every day. Your job search is no exception to that “rule.”

These days, even not-too-savvy job seekers are probably using some form of technology in their job search, such as a basic computer or maybe a smart phone. That’s not to say that use of technology in a job search couldn’t have some “gotchas” to trip you up and keep you from achieving your goal of landing a new job.

Job Search Technology “Gotchas” to Watch Out For

The following are just a few of the technology-related tools and techniques that could derail or at least delay your job search:

  • Identity theft: This might be rare, but when you use a computer to download information pertinent to your job search, you should be careful about the sites you visit for that purpose and careful about the kind of information you provide. (Actually, that’s a good point for non-job search activities, too.)
  • Bogus job postings: Sometimes unscrupulous people have been known to post ads and even conduct “job interviews” for positions that don’t exist, in hopes of luring unsuspecting individuals into get-rich-quick schemes and other activities designed to line their pockets at your expense.
  • Smart phones for submitting resumes: Many companies don’t have their recruiting process optimized for use by smart phones. If you try to upload your resume via smart phone, you might encounter much more difficulty than you expect. Sometimes it’s troublesome enough to convince you to give up in frustration.

Problems Encountered in Online Job Searching

The last point I mentioned above leads into information I found in an article titled “3 Reasons Your Online Job Search Is Failing Miserably” by Martha White. In her article White indicates three reasons that people’s job search might go badly (there are a lot more than three overall, as you can probably imagine!):

  1. You use your smart phone instead of a computer: As the article says, “Jibe, a company that makes technology for job recruiters, finds that a full 20% of job applicants would give up on an online application if they couldn’t do it entirely on their phones. But unfortunately, it also finds that more than a quarter of big companies don’t have a single part of their hiring process set up to work well on a smartphone.”
  2. You rely on Twitter and Facebook: LinkedIn is the medium of choice for recruiters–97% of them, in fact. “A new study from social recruiting company Bullhorn Reach finds that only around 20% of recruiters use Facebook to find job candidates; about the same percentage use Twitter.”
  3. You give up too easily: “Jibe’s research finds that nearly a quarter of candidates will give up on applying for any jobs at a company if they have a single bad experience with completing an online job application.” Also, the research indicated that “more than half of job-seekers say they’d be deterred if an online application didn’t let them upload their resume”–that kind of reaction could keep you from getting a job you want, because someone more persistent could knock you out of the running. According to Jibe’s CEO, failure to be able to upload your resume shouldn’t keep you from submitting it. He suggests, “If you can’t upload your resume, call or email the company even if the job listing says not to.”

I’d add at least one online job search “failure” to the above list: conducting a largely (if not entirely) passive job search that involves things like posting your resume on a bunch of job boards and waiting for the phone to ring. Not going to happen in this lifetime!

Making Technology & Your Job Search Work

Ultimately, you need to make technology a practical and effective part of your job search. Understand its limitations as well as its potential value and structure your job search to take both of those factors into consideration.

Video Interviews–A Shocker!

A while ago, I did a post on the trend in video interviews, including those in which the applicant basically responds to pre-set questions. This post is basically a somewhat alarming add-on to that.

Job Interviews That Aren’t Really Interviews

As my earlier post noted, these new-style interviews don’t involve the presence of an interviewer–just the job applicant. One of the problems with this is that it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of an interview, which is:
“a meeting of people face to face, especially for consultation” or “a formal meeting in which one or more persons question, consult, or evaluate another person: a job interview.”

Notice a common theme here? Meeting…consultation…one or more persons question…etc.

So where is the “interview” part of the one-sided arrangement? It ought to be called a pre-screening, which it really is.

HR Demand for One-Sided Job Interview

The item which initially prompted this post came from a blog post shared by Nick Corcodillos (Ask The Headhunter). The individual described how his wife had had an interview with a hiring manager, only to have an HR person step into the middle of the process and demand that she undergo a “one-way, online digital video taping, answer a series of pre-selected ‘screening questions,’ and upload it” somewhere.

When his wife declined to do that, she received an automated “Do Not Reply” notice that rejected her as a candidate–after she had already had a discussion with the hiring manager! That’s just plain stupid.

My bet is that his wife will end up with a job in a much better company, one that “gets” how to treat candidates it’s really interested in hiring. Still, this situation presents a scary prospect. That’s something Corcodillos brings out in his usual, take-no-prisoners style:

“A 2013 ADP survey found that, ‘Consistently across the globe, employers have a significantly more positive impression of how they manage their workforce versus what their employees experience in the workplace.’ ADP concludes that “as a whole, HR does not have a handle on the asset it is hired to manage.'”

He goes on to add: “In short, HR is doing a lousy job at interviewing, and HR seems to think it knows what it’s doing — while employees disagree. HR has cornered the market on stupid.”

And talk about stupid things to do: The email instructions sent to the guy’s wife included this statement: “This is a real interview! Be sure to treat this interview as you would an in-person interview.” Really? That’s what a real interview looks like? You could have fooled me!

Are You Doing What Your Boss Wants?

You can go along thinking you’re doing well in your job and suddenly discover–maybe in your performance review!–that your boss doesn’t agree. This can happen for many reasons, and you need to be on top of it before things get so bad you can’t “fix” them.

Meeting Performance Expectations

You should have had a clear indication from your boss when you started as to his/her performance expectations. If you didn’t, it would be a good idea to correct that situation ASAP. How can you hit a target you can’t see?

On the other hand, if you did have well-defined performance expectations laid out for you, that doesn’t mean you can just coast along. Circumstances might have altered since you took the job. Priorities could have shifted, conditions within the company could have changed, and so on. Even if your boss neglected to keep you up to date on that, it doesn’t let you off the hook. As a presumably responsible adult, you need to pay attention to changes and how those might affect your job requirements.

Fixating Can Jeopardize Your Job

At some point you might spend a lot of time and energy on a project that you really enjoy and feel great about. However, if you haven’t double-checked how it fits with your boss’s current priorities for your job performance, you might be in for a shock. Misinterpreting or overlooking signs as to what your boss currently considers critical could mean that you’re putting a lot of effort into something he/she doesn’t consider as significant as something else that you’re not doing.

Basically, fixating on work that you think is valuable without comparing it with how your boss views the situation can–in a worst-case scenario–actually jeopardize your job. You might, for instance, have overlooked a project that either would have saved the company money or helped it bring in more money. That could have serious repercussions for your job security!

Don’t Aggravate Your Boss

There are other ways to make your boss unhappy, of course. Some might not be job-threatening, but it wouldn’t hurt to acquaint yourself with them and make sure you’re not guilty of any of them. You could begin by reading an article titled “10 Ways to Tick Off Your Boss Without Even Knowing It” by Jay Steinfeld, CEO of

Here are some of the things Steinfeld advises you not to do:

  • Say that you know something when you really don’t.
  • Do exactly as you are told, even when you know it’s wrong.
  • Arrive 5 minutes late to meetings.
  • Be the same person you were six months ago. My ideal employee is miles from where he or she was personally and professionally in each successive year.
  • Tell me you’ll be late on delivering a project on the day that it’s due.
  • Whine (about other employees, the weather, traffic, your workload).

I have to say that the one about being late to meetings was one of my pet peeves back in the days when I was the administrative assistant to a vice president. One of his senior staff members was habitually late to meetings and had to be almost dragged away from his phone or computer to get him to the meeting. His attitude appeared to be that no one else’s time was as valuable as his or as important as whatever he decided he should be doing. As a result, he ended up wasting the time of a lot of other people, who definitely didn’t appreciate it!

Probably the big point to remember about “doing what your boss wants” is that you need to make sure you know what that is and check periodically to find out whether something else has superseded it; then put your energy and focus into achieving it as early and as well as you possibly can.

Job Search: Look Before You Leap

At some time or other, many of you have probably found yourselves in a work situation that was a disaster–or close to it. When that disaster involves a boss who exhibits out-of-control or other toxic behavior, your situation becomes a waking nightmare. The question is: Could you have done something–anything–to avoid that?

Job Search Guidelines Worth Remembering

You might already know some of these, but if you haven’t been keeping them in mind while planning and conducting your job search, it’s time to rethink your approach. At any rate, here are a few points to consider if you hope to avoid disaster in your next job:

  • Block desperation with observation: Even if you urgently need a new job, make a conscious effort to keep your powers of observation sharp. You don’t want to overlook signs (including subtle ones) that would suggest proceeding with caution in deciding whether to accept an offer if it comes.
  • Investigate as thoroughly and as objectively as you can: Job postings can sometimes sound like dream opportunities you’d be crazy to pass up. After all, companies want to hire someone, not scare candidates away, so they’re usually trying to put their best foot forward. If you want the best available information to make a decision, you need to conduct your due diligence almost as thoroughly as a company does when considering an acquisition.
  • Evaluate the elements that are most important to you and rank them in order of priority: For example, if you prize integrity and ethical behavior, you probably won’t be happy working for a company or a boss who acts as if the end justifies any means necessary. On the other hand, if you would rather not travel all the time but don’t mind traveling a fair amount if necessary, a position that’s described as needing 75% travel might not be a problem.
  • Pay careful attention to not only what is said but how it’s said–and by whom: Listen and watch before, during and after job interviews to note how your would-be boss interacts with you and those around him/her that already work there. What does he/she say, what tone of voice and/or facial expressions are used, etc.? You want to be sensitive to nuances that might not be really obvious. Someone who speaks disparagingly of people he/she works with or manages might be someone who goes off the rails without provocation.

How Bad Can It Get?

The answer is, pretty bad. A classic case in point is a recent blog post by Nick Corcodillos (Ask The Headhunter). A reader sent in a description of his just-left situation that was horrific. It was so bad that he quit without another job lined up. Part of Corcodillos’ response was: “Please remember a piece of advice my mentor gave me many years ago…: Never work with jerks. As you learned while facing the sick wrath of your boss, It’s the people, Stupid. (No offense intended. We all need to think about that.)” He went on to add, “I compliment you for not resigning on the spot in anger. It’s critical to take time to think, and to act with forethought and grace.”

A much better alternative than struggling with a horrendous work environment, if you can manage it, is to prevent your job search from dumping you into a situation that could be hazardous to your health in more ways than one. Before you decide to accept an offer, ask yourself honestly if you’ve done everything you reasonably could to minimize your risk and maximize your opportunity.