Killing Your Job Search With Inept Networking

networking, job search

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From my recent blog post for Webster University about the impact of bad networking on a job search:

Did anyone ever ask you about openings in your company?  It’s painful to say “sorry” to these people, and it’s humiliating for them to ask.  Networking for openings doesn’t work.

Well, it was OK when you were just beginning your career.  Jack got his high school stock boy job by having a friend’s dad pull strings, and Steve got a job waiting tables by walking in and asking if they needed people.  But that only works for entry-level jobs.  Once you’ve got a career in mind, it’s unlikely that your friends and acquaintances know the right people to talk to.

Person-to-person job searching is the hands-down preferred method!  The problem with this is that most people think networking works all by itself.  They’ll go to association meetings (usually made up of 40 to 60 percent job-hunters and a handful of engaged workers) and ask about vacancies or openings.  They’ll pass out their resumes on the street like flyers.  They’ll collect business cards like baseball cards, hoard them, and wish they had some realistic good reason to talk to those people.  They hope they’ll be remembered when a vacancy or opening turns up.

Then there’s networking among “primary” contacts.  Friends, relatives and acquaintances don’t like being imposed on; besides, it’s just hit or miss when you ask everyone you know about jobs.  You can quickly burn up your network instead of cultivating it.

To avoid this random, billiard-ball-style networking, you need a written and researched plan of who you want to talk to, how you can make or save them money, a firm grasp on what is going on in their industry, and a thought out rationale and method to get in to see them face to face.  You need a clear agenda for each meeting.  You must know how to milk the meeting for further contacts by knowing—at least by key information point if not by name—who else you want to talk to.

Remember, your resume is not likely to entice anyone to see you.  To generate networking interviews, you need good telephone techniques, a brief and powerful personal profile to sell your future, and you’ll need to avoid the common mistakes that kill job campaigns.  These include being “open” to any kind of job; an unplanned, unfocused search; and doing it alone.  You’re going to need support and cheerleading from friends and family to get you through the discouraging times—and don’t be afraid to get professional help to assist you in getting beyond your limiting beliefs.

Poor networking is worse than no networking Meeting people is one thing, making the correct impression is another.  Just meeting a lot of people and talking with them doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting closer to a new job.  If people aren’t impressed or if they think you’re too arrogant, too pushy, too meek, too timid, too uninformed, not committed enough, too confused, or too anything, all that a hundred networking contacts will do is generate a hundred poor impressions.  You’ll end up burning bridges that you’ll have to rebuild later once you get your head on straight.

One client was very excited because he “knew everybody” in his industry.  When we did a candid reference check, we found out he was well-known, but for the wrong reasons.  He wasn’t famous, he was infamous!  He had to shape up in a number of areas, including going back to everyone he knew and revising the impression he’d made.

In some cases, you may not be able to repair the damage.  You never get a second chance to make a first impression.  Poorly conducted or ill-prepared networking will only make things worse every time, so it’s in your best interest to develop a strong plan for networking prior to engaging with potential contacts.

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Is True Balance of One’s Career and Life Even Possible?

advice for life and work balance

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This is a question every single professional ponders at some point, some of us more than others.

“Work life” has its demands – deadlines, heavy workloads, client/vendor relationships, managing expectations, etc.

“Regular” life has its demands – family life, friend life, grocery shopping, exercise, hobbies, etc.

So can these two lives ever live in perfect harmony? This is a tough one. It seems like whenever we are successfully committing to one of these lives, we are neglecting the other. As a Career Coach, part of my job is to help people strive for balance in the face of throwing themselves completely into their career or job search.

That’s why I’d like to share a Huffington Post piece titled The 12 Days of Work-Life Imbalance: Holiday Tips From 12 Women in Tech and Female Entrepreneurs From Silicon Valley by Caitlin Roberson and many others. In it, Roberson suggests that the problem is expecting balance in the first place, when we should all be embracing the imbalance of work and life. She writes of “The simple belief that the only predictable substance of life are shifts and fluctuating priorities.”

I highly recommend you read what these 12 women have to say about how they manage work and life in the context of the Holiday season. There are some very insightful ideas and thoughts that will appeal to women and men alike.

What about you? How have you seen challenges and successes in work/life balance? What tips or advice would you give?



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What HR Doesn’t Tell You About Job Requirements

Image appearing in article, 8.27.14

Image appearing in article, 8.27.14

A client of mine just sent me an article titled “Job Requirements Are Mostly Fiction And You Should Ignore Them”, which pretty much says it all!

Now, it should be understood that job requirements are a must so that hiring managers can at least know what kind of position they need to fill and what kinds of skills are being sought. However, these requirements should not be taken as gospel. As the article states:

“A lot of times when companies write job descriptions, they include everything that they dream of having,” Scott Purcell, a Silicon Valley-based technology recruiter at Jobspring Partners, tells Quartz. “It’s a list of things that they need, then things that they want to use in the future or are thinking about using. They put in everything that’s in their environment, every sort of technology. ”Hiring managers get overexcited and list too many things, even though only a few parts of the description are truly core. But the term “requirement” gets read very literally, and scares people off from jobs they could well get.

A specific stat my client pointed out to me:

A commonly cited statistic is that women only apply for jobs when they feel 100% qualified, while men are willing to apply when meeting just 60% of the qualifications—evidence of a confidence gap between the genders. But both men and women fall into the trap of taking job requirements too seriously.

Is this you? Are you letting the technicality of job requirement lists keep you from applying for a position you may be perfect for? Don’t fall into the trap.

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December CAREEReport: Tis’ The Season For Your Career

Career Report

Every month I write the CAREEReport newsletter to give you the latest job news, networking tips, success stories and more.

This month’s report is all about Holiday-relevant career topics, including:

Job News: Seasonal Retail Hiring On The Rise

Tools of the Trade: How To Approach The Holiday Office Party

Career Networking: Host Your Own Networking Party

Career Str8 Talk Blog: Comparing Resume Writers, Recruiters and Career Coaches

Job Lifeline: Jana Axline

Read the report here, and register here for future newsletters!


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Career Column: Are You Ready For Leadership?

St. Louis Post Dispatch career column

Below is an excerpt from my latest St. Louis Post Dispatch Career Column. Read the entire column here, and please let me know what you think!


“If it weren’t for the other people on my team, I could manage this project with ease!”

I’ve heard this kind of thinking more times than I can count. Professionals judge the leadership of others negatively, and therefore presume they could do the job better. Some of them climb the ladder and indeed get that opportunity — but when they get there, they quickly realize the real skill set involves the ability to influence, encourage, support, mentor and assist in the development of each team member. They realize effective leadership is not dictatorship.

So, how do you know if you are ready to lead? Here are three core principles/characteristics that could make you an effective leader.

1. Trust and/or hire team members who have skills you do not. Some managers have a belief they are leaders because of only one thing — “what they know.” If you base your value as a leader only on what you know, you will lead out of fear that someone else is going to take your job, and thereby stifle your career and business growth. This leads to insecurity — a leader who is skeptical of the very people that could grow the business. But it’s not all about you. Great leaders know the value of hiring the most talented employees in the organization, leveraging their unique skills and ability so that together they can reach a new level of accomplishments. This kind of leader has the ability to see the big picture and effectively structure and influence others in accomplishing growth for the business.

2. Know how and when to let go. I’ve helped many Career Coaching clients obtain jobs… Read the rest of the column here.


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Having The Right “Crucial Conversation” In The Workplace

Image by iosphere, via

Image by iosphere, via

I am a big fan of the thinkers at VitalSmarts.

Having met personally with their leadership, I can say that we truly have a similar line of thinking, and I am always excited to hear their opinions on situations and topics.

So when I saw this question in one of their recent newsletters, I was very intrigued:

How do you respond to work colleagues who complain that management never asks our opinion? I agree it’s good to get insight from management on how and why things are the way they are. But my coworkers seem to forget there are some things administration just can’t get everyone’s viewpoint on—because a consensus would never be reached. I feel our administration does keep us in the loop as much as they can, and these childish attitudes from my coworkers are more frustrating and demoralizing than what they’re complaining about.


Done with Complainers

First off, I’m sure most managers wish they had more employees like “Done With Complainers”!

Secondly, I think the way this question was answered is fantastic. I won’t spoil it here, so jump over to their blog and take a look for yourself!


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Tags: VitalSmarts
Posted in Career Change Career Coaching by David Hults. No Comments

Quit a Job You Love? Consider It.

quitting a job you love

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In a workplace world where so many professionals are unhappy, unsure, or unemployed, why would I even bring up the concept of QUITTING a job that someone loves? Isn’t this counter-intuitive?

While it may seem absurd, you have to ask yourself WHY you love your job. Do you love it for the right reasons – reasons that nurture your career and position you for future success? Or do you love it for reasons that aren’t necessarily going to help you long-term – things like comfort in doing the job, security, or simply the people you work with (the power of which should never be underestimated, but likewise should never be the only reason to stay in a job!)?

Here’s a great testimonial from Jana Axline, a woman who loved her job and was on track to move up the ladder, but then decided to quit because she realized it didn’t necessarily align with her long-term vision. She calls out five reasons when it’s time to quit your job, even if you love it:

  1. When the job no longer fits the vision you have for your career.
  2. When you identify a gap in your toolkit that can’t be filled where you are.
  3. When you are no longer growing or your job is so easy you are becoming complacent.
  4. When you and the company no longer have value alignment.
  5. When you’ve outgrown your company.

Jana goes much more in depth on each of these reasons, so I recommend you read her story for more context and insight.

Have you ever considered quitting a job that you love? What has held you back?

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Comparing Resume Writers, Recruiters and Career Coaches

job seekers, job recruiter, career coach, resume

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This is a topic that goes through many job seekers’ minds, more often when their search is taking longer than expected.

It’s a hard topic for me to comment on here, because as a Career Coach I of course am a strong believer in the impact a coach can have on one’s job search! However, there are other job search services you can pay for – like resume writers or recruiters – that may offer different levels of value for what you pay.

Enter this “Ask Matt” feature from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, in which Matt Krumrie gives excellent third party advice on where it’s worth a job seeker investing, and where it’s not.

Regarding recruiters, Krumrie writes:

Put together a list of target companies or positions, update your LinkedIn profile, let everyone in your network know of your search, then update your résumé based on those goals. Do this first before hiring anyone to write your résumé for you — and if you do that, never pay more than $300, says Drew Schmitz, a sales and marketing recruiter and President of Twin Cities-based Blue Octopus LLC ( “There is no ultimate résumé,” says Schmitz, who says the average recruiter or HR professional spends about 30 seconds looking at it. “We read the sentences below your name, your job titles, the dates of employment and your employers’ names. Then we decide to contact you — or put the résumé away never to look at it again.”

On the topic of recruiters, Krumrie says:

As for that recruiter, keep this story in mind: Schmitz had a friend who (against Schmitz’s expert advice) paid a recruiter $2,700 for what turned out to be a résumé, cover letter, interview tips and one interview for a job $25,000 below his expectations. And of course, they never found him a job. “Recruiters like me make money when we place people,” says Schmitz. And that fee is paid by the employer — not the job seeker. “We shouldn’t be charging job seekers and unemployed candidates who desperately need the money.”

Then comes what he has to say about Career Coaches (obviously I don’t disagree):

However, you may want to invest in the services of a career coach. Why? Career coaches can help you clarify a career objective, prepare for the job search, help practice for interviews, create an online presence, teach networking skills, overcome barriers encountered in the job search and even help manage the emotional component of job transition.

Have you ever worked with a Resume Writer, Recruiter or Career Coach? What was your experience?

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A Great Resource For Your New Career Search

onetI often work with Career Coaching clients who have worked years (sometimes even decades) in a certain position, but want to shift into a new career – they’re just not exactly sure what that career should be.

The question then becomes, what kind of job matches your talents and passions? And beyond that it gets even trickier – what skills and experience do you have from your previous career that apply or give you unique value as you pursue this new career?

This is something I specialize in with my clients. But there are online tools I recommend and utilize in doing so, one of which is O*NET Online, which offers various tools for career exploration and job analysis. I’ve used O*NET Online for a while now, and I’m pleased with it’s functionality.

This article does a great job of breaking O*NET Online down better, and I’ve copied a section from the article with very specific insight into how it works below. Let me know how it works for you!


At, click on “Find Occupations.” There are many options here, but take one of the jobs you listed while brainstorming and enter it under “Keyword or O*NET-SOC Code.”

For example, you can enter “astronaut.” The next screen will show all related occupations listed by relevance. Once you click on a title, you will have a wealth of information including tasks, tools used in this job, abilities, education requirements, work styles, work values and wage information. Something may spark your interest from the related occupations, and you can click on any of those titles and instantly get specific details about those careers.

You can always go back to the “Find Occupations” page and search by career clusters, industries or job zones, too. The second way to explore careers is to search for occupations that align with your current experience, knowledge and education. On the main page,, click on “Advanced Search.” Under “Tools & Technology,” if you have experience working with machines, equipment, tools, or software, you can enter that information here. For example, if you worked with aircraft engines before, you can enter “aircraft engines” and see all the categories and occupations that match your search. If you click on an occupation, you will get lots of valuable information.

From the “Advanced Search” page, you can also select the “Skills Search” option. This will allow you to customize a list of the skills you have acquired in six general categories, and the system will match your skills list with occupations requiring those same skills.

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