how to derail your job search

If you’re searching for a job, you face a hard enough market these days without making things even worse by sabotaging your own efforts. But lots of people inadvertently derail themselves with bad habits like obsessing over their resume and cover letter to the point that they miss application deadlines or don’t apply at all, or being shy about telling people that they’re looking for a job.

Over at U.S. News & World Report today, I talk about these and other ways that people often sabotage their own job search efforts. You can read it here.

{ 10 comments… read them below }

  1. Eric

    How do you let your network know you are looking for a job without alerting your present employer?

  2. Anon

    Maybe I’m slow, but I can’t imagine finishing a cover letter in 30 minutes, and I certainly can’t imagine sending one that I started that same day. I spend hours working on my cover letters, and I always wait at least a day after I finish the first draft, so I can look at it with a fresh set of eyes. I’m glad I do, too, because I almost always notice something I’d missed.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      That particular advice was directed to people who end up not applying at all because they agonize so much about getting the letter right. That said, spending hours is too much — unless you’re getting a very high interview rate from them, in which case continue right along! But in general, hours is too much time to spend. (There’s a post on this here, actually: )

      1. Anonymous

        Hours is too much? Well, I’m doing something really wrong then. Generally the letter would have to be somewhat the same with a few customized sentences mixed in? Which would be great – I am a deadline misser because of this.

        Oh, and how long should cover letters be? No more than 2 paragraphs? Four?


        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Take a look at the post linked just above for some advice on this. But length-wise, two paragraphs is a minimum, but usually it takes something closer to a page to write a really great one. Don’t go over one page though.

  3. ChristineH

    #1 is definitely my biggest weakness. I always manage to find some reason to not apply for otherwise interesting job opportunity, whether it’s because I’m missing a specific skill, don’t have enough experience, or that it requires a drivers license, which I don’t have.

    I also wanted to add to the parts about showing bitterness or getting defensive: Believe me, I do get discouraged. But when describing my situation in an interview or network event, I always try to put it in a positive perspective. Yeah I’m bitter about being laid off; I’m sure lots of people get that way. But I tend to frame it around the fact that afterwards, I decided to re-assess my career goals and explore different options.

  4. JfC

    Just wanted to say this was very timely for me. I tend to commit 1 and 2, and I was about to again, but reading this article inspired my to actually get off my ass and apply to a particular job I was waffling over.

  5. danr

    Add … spending too much time reading AAM when I should be writing my new cover letter and getting that resume out…

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