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How to Avoid Bad Job Search Advice or Run, Forrest, Run!

Amber Dawn Woods

Amber Dawn Woods

We have an epidemic. An epidemic of horrible, very bad, no good advice making the rounds of today’s job seekers. It’s a real problem…

Anyone who finds themselves on the job hunt is guaranteed to be on the receiving end of advice and tips from nearly every person they talk to. But while Aunt Sally might be great at life advice if she hasn’t looked for a job in 30 years, maybe she’s not the right person to take job search advice from. I can guarantee you at least a few things have changed!

Here are just a few examples of well-intentioned but completely outdated and off the mark advice.

 Apply to Everything

We’ve all heard this advice. In my world we call it the shotgun approach. Fire off resumes in every possible direction whether you meet the requirements or not, whether it’s the job or industry you want, just apply, apply, apply.

Here’s the hard truth. If you apply for every position open regardless of your experience and qualifications and especially if you don’t have a well written cover letter expressing WHY you are switching directions, I will take notice. And when you do finally apply for the position you qualify for, that matches your work history and experience, you won’t be taken seriously. Because you’re not taking the process seriously.

Finding your next job or career is not a numbers game! Start your search by defining the job, position and/or company you want and focus your efforts there.

 Persistence/Follow Up

Hand deliver your resume. Drop by to introduce yourself to the hiring manager. Call to follow up or let the hiring manager know that you’ve sent in your resume and are very interested in the job. Better yet, call to tell the hiring manager when you’ll be stopping by with your resume!

There was a time, not very long ago, when printing your resume on nice paper and hand delivering it to a hiring manager was a good way to get you noticed. And it’ll still get you noticed. Just maybe not in the way you’re hoping! Companies outline exactly how they want you to apply and these days it’s almost always online. Please follow directions.

Be respectful of people’s time. Calling to tell me that you’ve applied or to ask questions that are clearly answered in the job posting or to find out just how long your commute will be isn’t likely to result in a request for an interview. And on a side note…It’s not my job to tell you how long you’re commute would be. It’s called Google.

If you do call…. watch what you say and how you say it. It matters. Being combative or displaying negative emotions towards the process is a sure-fire way to NOT get a call back.

Persistence is NOT the answer. Calling or emailing weekly to ‘check on your application’ is not going to speed the process along or make you look like a go-getter. And if you apply for a position and receive a kindly worded ‘thanks but no thanks’ email – move on. Don’t immediately reapply for the same position or email your resume with a note about how you’re sure it was an error because you are SO qualified or call the Company and insist on talking with the hiring manager because you just don’t understand why they don’t want to hire you. You’re not going to change their mind.

 Arriving Early

Your mother is right. Whatever you do, don’t be late. But also recognize that how early you arrive can be just as damning.

If you are scheduled for 10 am and you pull into the parking lot at 9 am (and trust me, it will be noticed), there are only three possible conclusions. Either you can’t follow directions or manage your time, you think appointment times are approximate, or you’re desperate. Arriving excessively early does not show your enthusiasm for the job. It does show how out of touch you are.

And if for some reason you do arrive early, don’t come inside. You won’t be interviewed until your schedule time and waiting in the lobby only makes you more nervous and everyone in the office feel awkward. Do they keep talking to and entertaining you, do they offer you a drink, the wi-fi password?

Arrive for your interview no more than 15 minutes in advance and walk in between 5 and 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment.

 Ask for the Job

Y’all this one throws me for a loop every single time. I understand the intent. Always make sure your interviewer knows that you are interested and want the job. And I agree. You must show interest in the position and the company. But ending your interview by asking for the job or asking ‘when do I start’ is like asking someone to marry you on the very first date! It’s awkward, it’s dated, and it’s disrespectful of the company, the process and your interviewer.

Assume that each position you apply and interview for has multiple qualified candidates in line beside you. The interview process is designed to answer your questions and the company’s questions. Instead of aggressively asking for the job, focus on making sure your interviewer believes that you are interested in the position. Ask next step questions. Tell your interviewer that you are more interested now than before the interview and that you are excited to hear back from them soon.


And these are just a few! It’s also not a good idea to bring your interviewer coffee, practice your stand-up comedy routine, or bring a friend for support. Oh, and that button down collared white shirt is no longer mandatory!

So, before you accept and implement that well-intentioned advice, take a moment to consider the source. Is this someone who is currently responsible for reviewing, interviewing and hiring candidates? If not, maybe you should run the other way!


Amber Dawn Woods