Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Seven Things Jobseekers Say That Drive Me Crazy

As a resume writer for the past 15+ years, I like to think that I've heard it all. Certainly, I've heard certain things over and over again from jobseekers that absolutely drive me crazy... and I've listed seven of them below.

1. I don't care what kind of job I get, I just need a job. In most cases, if you don't care what kind of job you get, the job you get isn't going to be the one you want ... or the one you are best suited for. If you're frustrated with the job search process and decide to look for a different type of job, you are giving up the momentum you've already built. Instead of starting over from scratch, is there one small change you could make that might make all the difference? After all, success is not a straight line.

2. "I had my (mom, sister, neighbor, teacher, best friend, second-cousin-twice-removed) look at the resume and they said..." Opinions are like resumes. Most everyone has one, and some are better than others. Something that works for one person's job search won't necessarily work for yours. You wouldn't ask Aunt Edna's advice on how your accountant did your tax return ... why would you take her advice on your resume? (And yes, that counts even if Cousin Ted is a recruiter. Unless he is the recruiter or hiring manager for the exact position you're applying for, the advice he's giving — while industry-specific — might be off target as well.) Your resume writer gets to know you and your specific circumstances and has created a resume that addresses the specific qualifications and challenges in YOUR job search.

3. If I'm on LinkedIn, everyone will know I'm looking for a new job. One of the primary reasons to be on LinkedIn is to make professional and career connections. But yes, if your profile springs up overnight and you suddenly add 200 connections, yep, it's a solid bet you're either in job search mode now, or shortly will be. Think of your involvement on LinkedIn as a marathon, not a sprint. As author Harvey Mackey says, "Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty."

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't be on LinkedIn. In fact, there's no reason why you shouldn't be on LinkedIn right now, even if you're not looking for a job. Start digging your well now. (Check out my 8-day guide to getting started: "Leveraging LinkedIn For Your Job Search")

4. I know I just lost my job, but I'm going to take a break before I start looking again. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Even if you're getting severance and/or unemployment benefits, you need to start looking for your next job as soon as possible. The longer you are unemployed, the harder it is to find a job. And your network is much more likely to be responsive to requests for help when you're newly unemployed. Not to mention, if your job search takes longer than you think, you might run out of money. A better way to handle it is to find your next job, and then negotiate a starting date to take a short vacation to celebrate before you start the new job!

5. Related to #4: "I can't stand my job anymore. I'm going to quit." My mom's number one rule is: Never quit your job until you have a new one. The biggest reasons for this is: It's easier to get hired if you have a job. Like it or not, if you are not working, an employer has to take a bigger "chance" on you than if you're currently employed. So yeah, if you can't stand your job anymore, use that as motivation to ramp up your job search! Treat your job search as a full-time job (or at least a part-time job) and get cracking! But don't just quit. You're going to need the income to invest in your job search — new interview attire, a resume, maybe some interview or salary negotiation coaching. Which leads me to #6.

6. I can't afford to spend $XXX on my job search. There are certain things that you will need in your job search (like a professional email address, and the minimum qualifications for the job) ... and some things that will help you stand apart from everyone else applying for the position. Professional interview attire, for one thing. A professionally written resume is on that list too. You can spend anywhere from $100 to $10,000 on your resume. The cost varies greatly, although the national average is $508 for a resume and cover letter. It just depends on the writer ... and on the client. Will a professionally written resume get you the job? It's not a guarantee. But it can certainly make you a stronger candidate, and can provide you with the confidence to advance in a competitive search. You may need to cut back on some of your other expenses (cable, eating out, entertainment) in order to shift money to your job search.

7. "Can't you just do it for me?" I've had wives call for their husbands, and parents call for their children. Some resume writers don't mind that. I do. I want to know that the person who I'm working with is going to put in the effort. (Julie Walraven has an excellent blog post on this.) No one should be more motivated to work on your job search than you. Yes, you're hiring a professional resume writer to assist you, but that doesn't mean that it won't involve hard work -- and an investment in your time -- from you. You're the one who needs to think through your accomplishments. The resume writer will take it from there -- but he or she needs something to work from. So if the resume writer asks you to do homework assignments, take them seriously. The end product will be much more impressive if you invest the time in the process.

Help me add to this list. What are some of the other things that jobseekers say that drive you crazy as a resume writer? Post your comment below.


  1. "I've heard X is hot right now. Rewrite my resume so I can do that." "This doesn't have an objective on it. This book I have says all resumes include an objective." OR "This resume has an objective on it. The Daily Mail says those are passé."

  2. Great additions, Amy! I've gotten the "I read on Lifehacker yesterday that resumes need to be one page..." comment too! There is a LOT of information out there -- much of it is contradictory, and none of it is targeted to a specific jobseeker like a resume writer will do!

  3. It's amazing how many people who have no experience in resume writing have so much advice. I recently had one client who said he had to show his mother the resume I wrote and get her approval. This was interesting because she has no writing or recruiting experience. This is one of the most frustrating things for me a a resume writer. Bridget, this was an excellent post. I'm glad I'm not the only writer experiencing these issues.

    Rema Merrick
    The Write Career Boutique

  4. You're welcome, Rema! Sometimes it's nice to know we're not alone in our frustrations!!

  5. Terrific article! You hit the nail right on the head!

  6. "I need to include that job from 25 years ago because I worked there 15 years and it shows stability and that I worked for a Fortune 500 company (which is currently in bankruptcy protection court), which gives me clout. Since that job I haven't held a job for more that three years or less. I'm not getting interviews, but I want make sure they are aware I'm a stable employee." Despite your clearest explanation that including that information will hurt them due to age discrimination they insist and even if I don't include it, after they get their resume they put it back on insisting it's important and needed. Then when they can't find work they blame the resume writer.

    Another I got yesterday--"I need to change my resume because it just doesn't seem to be getting me the job." The conversation reveals the client is getting interviews, but after the interview isn't called back or told he wasn't selected.

  7. Soooooooo true. I've heard them all!

  8. You've got a good, solid swing with that hammer, Bridget - you nailed it!

    There's one more thing that drives me crazy: a prospect who volunteers, "I'll call you with a decision no later than tomorrow morning," and never checks in again. I'll bet those folks are the ones who moan loudest when interviewers fail to follow up!

    Thanks for your great post - 100% on target!

  9. Very relevant article. We've heard these things also. I like your "arrow" illustration and think it could be a useful visual for some of our clients. May we 'borrow' it?

  10. Linda: It is frustrating when clients want to include something that we know will work against them.

    Debra: Agreed!

    Karen: That's not my success graphic. I'm not sure who created it, but you're free to borrow it!

    Thank you, everyone, for your comments! They are spot on!

  11. Love these! My favorite is, "I need to send my resume in tomorrow, so could you just take a look at it and make some quick recommendations. It doesn't need any major changes."

  12. I love some form of: "My sister-in-law's ex-boss said I should have an Objective, so can you please add it back in"

    These are all great, and oh so true!

  13. This article is very much connected with the job-seekers, they usually face the situations you have shared in the post.