Is the reason why, after over a year, I don’t have a full time job because I said one or more of the seven things I’m never supposed to say in meetings? Or because I didn’t say one of the nine things that will help land a job every time? Or because I didn’t include one of the five things every resume must have?
Since I’ve been looking for work, either full-time or freelance, I’ve subscribed to the emails newsletters and RSS feeds of a number of sites that offer tips to job seekers such as myself. There are some good ideas in what’s shared, but there’s an almost endless number of lists that are published telling people what they should do and say, what they shouldn’t do or say, the kinds of words you should never use in meetings, the smartest ways to address the leader of a meeting and more.
I’m sure if I were to track everything that’s designed to help I’d find a number of contradictions, where one sure-fire tactic has now become the thing you should avoid doing at all costs. And I’m sure I’d find lots of repetition.
I don’t begrudge these sites their business model, which is geared around making themselves an essential source of career advice as well as job listings. If I were adopt every single recommendation that’s offered, though, I’d spend my entire day updating my resume and profiles, which would come off as inconsistent and borderline crazy. The appearance would be of someone who didn’t know what he was doing and so was following every fleeting trend and tidbit of advice in the hopes something sticks, not a sober-minded professional who doesn’t chase every shiny object.
The real problem is that I can’t imagine being in an even more desperate situation than mine and trying to derive value from these sites. The pressure to follow as much advice as possible – the lists come from knowledgeable people, after all, who want people to succeed and have some experience to back up their recommendations – has to be all that much greater if you’re in truly rough circumstances regarding bills, keeping a house and so on.
It’s possible I’m leaving cards unplayed here, I’ll admit. But the constant stream of lists and tips is enough to create the unique level of panic that comes with having too many options to choose from. I’m not sure if my current situation is because I used one of the seven words yesterday’s post told me to never use, one from a similar list three weeks ago or one from the list published back in March. Knowing me, it’s probably all three.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.