Shred These Outdated Career & Job Search Practices – Part 1 of 3

Two dozen job search and career experts offer fresh guidance on all the things job seekers should quit doing if they want to find and keep a great job

It Just Ain’t Workin’!

Have you noticed how rapidly things are changing in job search and career progression? Never before in history has there been such a rapid transformation in the way people are finding a job and mapping out a career. No wonder – the pace of technological innovation is so fast that today’s inventions are almost obsolete by the time they roll off the assembly line. Add to this the most challenging labor market since the 1930’s and no wonder job seekers and employees wonder why many of the methods they used in their last job search aren’t working.

Just look at the data from the most recent LinkedIn Recruiting Trends Source of Hire report (page 12) from 4,125 hiring professionals. The graphic represents research compiled from across 14 different industry sectors and more than one million hires. The top source of hire three years ago is at the bottom of the list today, and the bottom source three years ago is now the top source.


This Isn’t Your

Grandfather’s Father’s Previous
Job Search Anymore!

I recently posed this question to career and job search experts in a number of LinkedIn Group Discussions and the Twitter Open Mic Career Char (#OMCchat) discussion forum:

What traditional career beliefs and practices are outdated and should be shredded?

The more than 100 responses I received demonstrate that much of what people do today to navigate a job search and manage their careers, is outdated. Over the next several weeks we’ll cover the more than a dozen practices you may want to place into your shredded ASAP (listed in no particular order).

Thank You!

My sincere thanks to each person who responded with guidance and advice. You do the rest of us a great service by so willingly sharing your expertise.

Shred #1 – Spray & Pray. “Stop spray and pray job search immediately,” advises Mary F. Sweeny NCC (@ProudMaryBoise), career counselor at Boise State University. Back in the day spray and pray was the brute force job search method that got you a few interviews if you sprayed enough résumés and applications at employers. Today it is counterproductive. Chaim Shapiro, M. Ed (@ChaimShapiro), popular speaker and Assistant Director of Career Services at Touro College in NYC agrees: “Stop mailing résumés to EVERY job listed in the newspaper.” Spray and pray résumés and job applications are inherently generic, so with most employers using some form of ATS (applicant tracking system), unless the keywords in your generic information are a near-perfect match for a particular employer, your spray and pray résumé or app won’t ever be seen by human eyes; it will be rejected by the ATS./p>

“Targeting jobs is important…don’t apply to every single job you see,” adds Jordan Ottaway, staff news writer for the North Texas Daily (@JordanOttaway). Select Staffing, a full-service staffing provider (@SelectStaffing) cautions job seekers be intentional when focusing on their search rather than to spray and pray. /p>

“Replace spray and pray with targeting specific employers instead,” suggests Annette Richmond, MA, CARW(@careerintell) and founder of Career Intelligence. Targeting specific jobs means you’ll need to customize every résumé and application using the keywords from the position description, job posting, employer’s mission statement, and core values./p>

Shred #2 – Career Progression is Climbing the Corporate Ladder. It used to be that you’d climb the proverbial corporate ladder (when you expected to spend your entire career with one or two employers). Today it is more likely a career matrix, a patchwork quilt of shorter-term steps that can be in almost any direction, says Albert Cabral, MSHR, a career services advisor for RochesterWorks and former Director of Internships for Nazareth College of Rochester, NY. “The career skills we focus on today, such as resilience, adaptability, and T-shaped skill sets, were not even in the lexicon a few years ago. Now, we need to coach and counsel our clients/students/employees to assess when to leave a job as well as when to take one.” Thus each step – up, down, or sideways – should add strength to the career narrative being built.

Edythe Richards, MA GCDF (@Edythe_Richards), a career counselor and instructor for the Northern Virginia Community College, agrees. “People today aren’t staying with one organization for 30 years; contracting and part-time positions are becoming the new norm as our economy is changing. This has affected ‘traditional work practices’ such as employer loyalty. We’re seeing more and more people not only changing jobs, but changing careers.” Edythe predicts this trend will continue. I’d add that having multiple jobs across different industry sectors allows someone to accumulate a broader set of job skills, which makes a candidate stronger if he or she illustrates them with examples that are relevant to an employer. A best practice is to build an inventory of career skills, along with examples of how they have been used to benefit an employer, which brings us to…

Shred #3 – I Don’t Really Need to Document My Career Successes – My References Will Talk About Them. Stephen Moulton, President and Chief Insight Officer of Action Insight, Inc. in Denver, CO advises students and employees to document successes early and often. “You need to keep a list of successes that includes specifics such as: where and when it happened; quantifying the value of their success; and being specific in dollars, time saved, and reductions in waste. Use the CAR formula to write up a short summary of the Challenge you faced, the Action you took and the specific Result you got. These success stories are crucial for great résumés, enabling you to set yourself apart in interviews.”

Get in the habit of keeping a career success diary and build an inventory of each success, along with he key skills and talents that helped you make it a success. During the job search process it will be your career success stories that will serve as compelling proof of your skills, talents, and areas of expertise during, convincing prospective employers you are the right person to hire.

Shred #4 – A Job Hunt Consists of Mass Applications and Résumés. There is so much more to effective searches today. Jon Thurmond (@Jon_Thurmond) HR Manager for Team Fishel in Richmond VA admonishes, “Get out from behind your computer filling out online apps all day!” If a job seeker is doing this all day every day, then he or she is likely using a generic resume instead of a customized one for a specific opening.

Lance Newman (@engineerhunter) of San Jose’s (a job simulation company matching candidates to employers) says job seekers need to create custom résumés for each position. “What applicants need most to change is from using generalized résumés to specific ones.” Guy Davis (@GuyDavis02), a career services practitioner with for more than three decades, adds, “Stop sending out mass résumés because this approach no longer works. Résumés and cover letters must be customized.” Job seekers cannot possibly fit every skill, talent, experience, achievement, and area of expertise into a single résumé, and then expect someone to read it. Edythe Richards keeps it simple: “Just focus on the specific things that get you an interview!”

Bottom Line: Finding a terrific job and moving forward in your career is an ever-changing progression of strategies and tactics. What worked well in 2014 may be completely counterproductive in 2016 – or may just need a tweak here and there to make it effective. Don’t make the assumption that the things you did during your last search should be dusted off and put to use during your next search.

Next Time: In the second installment of this series we’ll examine four more outdated career and job search practices that should be shredded. Until next week, happy shredding!

Boyer Management Group works with employers, organizations, and job seekers alike to help them become more successful. For employers, we offer world-class talent management, acquisition and onboarding tools and programs to help employees and volunteers achieve consistent, optimal performance. For job seekers and universities, we offer tools, assessments, books, and curricula to help connect people with careers. To find out more, please visit us at, or call us at215-942-0982.


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