Good News in Career Search: Harry, Larry & The Bear

What is America’s Number One domestic issue? You guessed it: JOBS.

Whether you are 18 or 80, you’ve never seen it more difficult to find a great job in your field of interest in your lifetime. The bad economy, overseas competition, and rapidly changing methods employers use to fill jobs have all made it difficult for good people to find good jobs.

A recent report said that today’s college grads face a 50% unemployment-plus-underemployment rate. Many adult job seekers reach out to 50 or more employers before they get a yes. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that a career search won’t get any easier for the foreseeable future.

But there is good news! Let me introduce you to my two good friends, Harry and Larry. They are backpacking enthusiasts and have driven their SUV as far into the Colorado wilderness as the roads go. They are about 5 miles from their SUV when suddenly up pops an angry bear about 400 years away! They see him, and he sees them. Immediately Harry drops to his knees and pulls his Nike sneakers out of his backpack and laces them up. Larry looks down at Harry and says, “Dude, you think a pair of Nikes is gonna let you outrun the bear?” Harry replies, “No man…I just gotta outrun you.”

Isn’t it the same thing with a career search? There are jobs out there that you would love to have. Your challenge is to outrun the competition you are facing (“Larry”). Even with 20% unemployment there is 80% employment. That means there are job openings, although you’ll face strong competition for those openings.

The first step in outrunning the competition is getting invited to interview for positions of interest.

Here are five things you can do right away to improve your chances of winning race to get to an interview:

  • Figure out what you do and do not know about conducting an effective career search in today’s brave new world of electronic search. Resources like www.gepatest.com can help.
  • Build a resume template in “plaintext” (text that has no formatting or special characters, such as bolding or bullet points). You’ll use this ‘base resume’ to create customized resumes that are specific for positions of interest. More on this in item 4.
  • Only apply for positions for which you are fully qualified. Hiring managers and HR departments are tired of getting hundreds of resumes from people who are not qualified for the positions they are advertising. So they have implemented electronic screening to filter out perhaps 90-95% of the resumes they receive, and only pass them ones that have a high match to the requirements for the position.
  • For each position of interest, look carefully at the job posting and/or position description and identify the keywords. You use keywords when you search for something on the Internet. You enter a few words and the Internet returns results to you, based on those keywords.
  • Embed the keywords for each position of interest to customize your base resume, and dramatically improve the chances that your resume will be selected as a candidate to be interviewed.

In a future article we’ll explore some best practices for preparing for an interview. Until next time, happy hunting…and don’t forget your ‘career search Nikes!’


This article is excerpted from our career search tool, The Graduate Employment Preparedness Assessment™ (“GEPA”). GEPA is a powerful online assessment that will pinpoint what you know and don’t know about how to conduct an effective career search, and nearly 200 pages of career search tools of current and emerging career search best practices. To find a better job faster in your field of interest, please contact us at 215-942-0982, visit us at www.gepatest.com or email BMG founder Hank Boyer at hank@boyermanagement.com.

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