Because I've recently been doing freelance work with Recruiter.com, I literally see dozens of resumes each and every day.
Before I attempt to shake readers awake with my words, let me state for the record that I understand with every fiber of my being why people are making these poor choices. I spent years experiencing the same feelings and making the same poor choices during my own painstaking job search.
After I deliver the tough reality for you to chew on in this post, I will offer some inside information that will give you a competitive advantage in another installment.
Sound like a fair trade?
You Are Awesome and Have a Lot to Offer – But You're Making Big Mistakes in Your Job Search
First, I do want to reiterate what I said in the title: You are awesome, and you have a lot to offer.
The majority of candidates I speak to are wonderful people who have achieved a ton of incredible things throughout their careers. They are talented, smart, well rounded, and insightful, and they would make tremendous contributions to many good organizations. This is why it's painful for me to see what these same people are doing behind the scenes and why I am so passionate about my message.
Here is the tough reality: The No. 1 reason you keep attracting these "bad" companies and don't believe any "good" companies or opportunities even exist anymore is yourself.
It's not them. It's you.
Well, you are not exactly the problem. What you are doing, how you are presenting yourself – these are the problems.
Does this news sting a little – or maybe a lot? That's okay. We needed to rip the bandage off.
Now, here's the great news: Once you realize you are the one creating the problem, you can identify the issue and create a solution.
Reviewing dozens of resumes a day submitted by people from all over the country has given me an even deeper sense of compassion for recruiters and hiring managers.
With very few exceptions, the resumes I read are jumbled, wordy, and very, very unclear. For example, a person will list (what feels like) 30 different skills and types of positions they feel they can excel in. Their work experience will be all over the map with little coherence between positions.
Next, some people's salary requests are genuinely humorous. I literally saw a resume the other day in which a woman listed her salary range as $60,000-350,000.
Wait. Hold on. You're on a professional site, paying for a resume distribution service, and you've built a $290,000 flexibility into your salary? Thanks for being so flexible! These crystal clear guidelines will make it so very easy for me to find you an ideal fit. (Not.)
That's an extreme example, but very frequently, I will see $50,000+ salary ranges. These people are usually not open to relocating – which could explain such large ranges – so it just comes off as confusing. And this isn't a simple money problem: It also makes it very difficult to determine the level of position you would be interested in.
And don't even get me started on how many people blatantly lie on their resumes!
I will put aside my recent pertinent experiences and observations for now. Instead, I will share relevant research conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder:
"Fifty-eight percent of hiring managers said they've caught a lie on a resume; one-third (33 percent) of these employers have seen an increase in resume embellishments post-recession.
"Half of employers (51 percent) said that they would automatically dismiss a candidate if they caught a lie on his/her resume, while 40 percent said that it would depend on what the candidate lied about. Seven percent said they'd be willing to overlook a lie if they liked the candidate."
Is Fear Holding You Back?
So, what's the primary motivator behind all the bad choices outlined above?
Simple: It's fear.
Fear of a potential employer seeing gaps in your employment history and deciding not to hire you as a result.
Fear of being "too old" and that companies will want to hire younger, cheaper talent instead.
Fear of not having the "right" credentials for the company.
Fear of not finding a job unless you tell employers you are willing to work 30+ different types of positions with any organization at all.
Fear of actually saying what you truly want and what you feel you deserve to be paid – because you honestly don't believe any companies would be willing to match your needs.
These are some of the most common fears I hear from people in this situation. Here's the problem: All these underlying fears are causing you to approach your job search in a very confused and confusing way. Moreover, when you convey a message that is dishonest, confusing, and desperate, you'll generally receive the same back message back.
That is why you are creating your own chaos and attracting only toxic companies.
But here's the thing: None of these fears are based in fact.
Sure, some companies may want to hire a young buck at half your salary, but there's a good chance that company isn't right for you anyway. Sure, some companies will low ball you and refuse to pay even close to what you're worth. Why would you want to work with a company like that?
If an employer is only concerned with hiring talent at the lowest cost possible, it should be clear they aren't too concerned about the value of their own business.
Stop trying to be what you think everyone else wants you to be. Be yourself. Be clear about what you want. Your fears and behaviors aren't benefitting anybody – not you, not employers.
In the second installment of this article, I will go explore in depth what the solution to this problem looks like. I will also provide simple, real-life examples of successful job seekers using the very techniques I propose. Stay tuned!