1 Lack of Focus
2 Presentation Statement
3 Resume Mistakes
4 Applying and Posting Online
6 Not Being Proactive
8 Unrealistic Expectations
9 Lack of Consistent Effort
10 Acknowledging Help
11 Consider a Career Coach
to Avoid While
Let’s begin by acknowledging that it has never been
more difficult to advance your career or to make a job
change. Whether it is early in your career or you are a
seasoned professional, the challenges are daunting. The
good news is that there is a lot of free help on the
internet, in bookstores and in a variety of support
The bad news is that there is so much information out
there that it can be overwhelming.
With so much information to take into consideration,
there are some common mistakes that job seekers
make, especially those that may be involuntarily in the
market for a new role.
Over the years, many of my clients launched a job search without clearly
thinking about what they wanted to do, where they wanted to do it or the
steps they needed to take from beginning to end. Frankly,
some were still angry and confused about being in the situation to begin
with and many others had never had to look for a job before. Many began
their search process by calling their close contacts just to let them know
what happened, and a fairly high percentage did some self-damage with
these calls. In some cases, they couldn’t communicate a game plan, so
the person they called couldn’t help even if they wanted to. In other
cases, the tone of the call was at least slightly negative and a perfectly
good contact could have been spoiled—maybe forever.
The key point to make here is that after a little decompression time, an
initial game planneeds to be put together before anything else is
done. The game plan can be multi-path as long as the directions to be
explored are realistic.
Lack of Focus
The Presentation Statement (PS) is what you say when someone asks
you, "Why should we hire you?" or invites you to "tell me about
yourself." The PS is the 30-second “elevator speech.”
This is such an important concept that many good career coaches
insist that their clients write this out ahead of time and pretty much use
it all the time, modifying it only slightly to fit particular situations. Other
coaches suggest that the client prepare a series of one-liners and keep
them in mental inventory for use in appropriate combinations when
needed. Sometimes you don’t get a full 30 seconds to speak at one
time either. You can now see why you need a game plan—after all, how
do you put together a PS without having a plan?
The content of a good PS answers: who I am; what I have done; what I
can do; and what do I want to do.
Similarly, another very important concept is the Transition Statement
(TS) which answers the questions: “why am I available?" or "what
happened at XYZ Corp.?" The mistake often made by many terrific
people looking to get ahead is that they don’t prepare these statements
ahead of time, and in periods of high stress, pressure or on those
occasional bad days, they make something up on the fly and don’t
communicate as well as they could have.
There is no perfectly correct resume format. There are classic, commonly
preferred resume formats depending on the client. But there are two
common mistakes found in many resumes:
• Stating an Objective: Some career coaches, especially for job searchers
right out of school, make sure you state your objective right on top on the
resume. However, after you have been in the field and gaining
experience for a few years, the objective belongs in a cover letter or in a
Presentation Statement. Why? Because stating an objective on a
resume can be more restrictive.
• Listing Job Responsibilities instead of Accomplishments: Recruiters and
hiring executives want to see challenges faced, actions taken and
results that occurred. Putting some words under each job held about
responsibilities and duties is okay, but accomplishments are even better.
This has taken the place of mass mailings as the job-seeker's panacea.
When the job market is as tough as it is now, just applying online is not
enough. In fact, if a job seems worth applying for online, it should be worth
doing a side-by-side analysis with your applicable qualifications to see
how good the fit really is. Even if the qualification match is at nearly 85%,
it is very unlikely that there will be a call-back unless you make an effort to
get face-to-face meetings with the company. And if there is no
way for you to follow up on the job application, the match should be close
to 100% to make it worthwhile. Even then, there may be no call-back from
the hiring manager. This can be huge a source of frustration for job
The fact is that there are likely hundreds of online applicants for each job.
Follow-up and personal meetings are a must to have a chance
Networking is the most useful job search tool, but can also be the one
people avoid the most. My favorite job change rule is that those we
expect to help us, won’t and those we may not expect to help us, will.
My second favorite job change rule is scheduling 2-5face-to-
facemeetingsaweek will lead to a successful job
change. You shouldn’t exclude anyone from networking meetings, and
you have to think outside the box to figure out how to meet with people
face-to-face each week. Then, at each meeting you should (politely)
ask for 2-3introductionsor referrals and make sure
to follow through on each. In return, you should offer to be of help now
and in the future at each meeting too. You never know how you might
be able to help someone else.
Some career coaching professionals will suggest that applying for open
positions online is a passive activity. In other words, we wait for a job to
be open and posted before we take action.
A more aggressive, proactive approach is to identify target
employers and take steps to become known before a job opening is
posted. In fact, the best clients do both. Just posting your resume on a
target company's site isn’t enough. Most agree that networking into the
firm using LinkedIn or even cold calling is a good way to start. Remember,
the largest job market includes positions that are filled by unsatisfactory
employees, open slots not yet filled or even positions that get
created for spectacular candidates who become known in some
way by hiring executives.
Not Being Proactive
We won’t even discuss the candidates who show up with a list of their
demands or whose only question is about days off. However, I can think of
no better way to prepare for an interview than to do a detailed side-by-side
analysis of the job description and how each requirement is met or
exceeded. What a confidence builder!
Then, to all those ramblers out there, remember nothing else but this point:
Two is better than 3, and 1 is better than 2. Think for a second or two and
answer questions in impactful sound bites. Avoid rambling,
Finally, prepare some key questions to ask. The most important question
is: “ Do you see any obstacles to my being offered this job?” The second
most important is: “How would you like me to follow up with you?”
Ultimately, be enthusiastic about the job and ask for it!
I remember a client who made a dozen calls and had 15 resumes on the
street the day he was laid off. He had the idea that he was going to collect
his severance as well as a new larger salary in days! He knew everybody
in the industry. However, after a couple of months of unreturned calls, he
was depressed. He wanted to change his resume and wanted a
list of recruiters who would find him a job. Two more months went by. Not
only did he make some of the other mistakes I've mentioned, but he also
made the mistake of having unrealistic expectations.
There are articles out there that say you should expect one month of
search for each $10,000 of income. I believe that is unrealistic, too.
Factors that directly impact the length of search are:
• Degree of occupation change
• Number of different paths explored
• Limited geographic options
• Change in geographic location
• Degree of specialization
• Limited opportunities in current location
• Activity level of search
• Lack of focus
• Pay demands in relation to the market
Everyone is different, but one thing that often results in an unsuccessful
job change is taking a couple of months off. The network
gets cold, your skills get rusty, the strategy gets murky, the
severance gets used up, the market changes, the pressure gets higher
and it becomes harder to quickly get back into a routine.
The most proven approach is to begin early, follow the process we have
discussed, spend 20-25 hours a weekon the job search,
gain some balance in your life, get the strategy and communication tools
ready and then get into it. If a vacation is planned, take 2 weeks, but
then get back into the job of finding a job.
Failing to acknowledge ideas, suggestions, introductions, referrals,
criticisms, or any kind of feedback is a huge mistake. By thanking
everyone, they will be much more open to
reconnection later and to future help.
For professionals who haven’t been in the job market in the past year
or two, navigating the job market without help is difficult at best and
fruitless at worst. There is a proven comprehensive process
that works. Most people going on their own fail to prepare properly and
just wing it over several weeks, ending up more and more frustrated.
A good recommendation is to at least talk to a good career coach.
Investing in a career coach with supporting tools always results in a
fantastic ROIand will also result in your ability to successfully
manage a career for the remaining years.
About the Author
Vice President – Senior Consultant
Steve Basinski is an experience-based personal strategy consultant. He has
held senior management and leadership positions in business development,
sales management, marketing, accounting, finance, international business
and general management for both large and small organizations.
His industry experience includes commercial and business aviation, high
and low tech manufacturing, international distribution and professional
Steve has lived in three European countries and conducted business around
the world and in over 90% of the United States. After many years supporting
the careers of colleagues and teammates, he decided to provide
professional career coaching services for those seeking to change or
advance their careers.
Steve has also served on industry boards, church committees, college
groups and mentoring organizations. He has been a successful career
consultant and executive coach for over 17 years.
Steve has an MBA in Finance and Marketing from Michigan State University.
Interested in Advancing Your Career?
Contact us and let us know how we can help you.
Patrick Lynch - President
(770) 455 4225
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