Are You Sick and Tired of Job Search Advice?

A reader sent me a polite well-written e-mail basically telling me my recent career pro job search advice post was drivel, and she was sick and tired of hearing the same old advice again and again from job search experts and professionals. She explained in all sincerity that she has read countless career advice from countless experts  and knows it even better than some of the so-called career pros (she actually teaches internet networking techniques)…and yet she is still unemployed.

To summarize her sentiments: Knows it. Does it. Lives it. Even teaches some of it. And yet…no job. And so understandably she’s had it up to here…no maybe up to HERE…with all the platitudes and assurances that following these job search tips will get her the golden ticket.

I totally get it.

There’s a great scene from an episode of Sex & the City where Carrie reluctantly accompanies her determined-to-find-her-soul-mate friend Charlotte to a lecture given by some “believe and it will come true” woman guru. The woman is telling the audience (of women) that to find your soul-mate you have to be out there believing it every moment and pretty much holding the image of all you want in your mind at all times. (For me this would interfere with my visualizations of world peace, curing cancer, ending poverty, and a brand new show by Stephen Sondheim that really works. But I do digress.)

Anyway, Charlotte – a true believer – raises her hand shyly and says she has been out there doing exactly what the love guru says and saying her affirmations daily, but she’s still alone. The guru, caught off guard by all this “negativity” (i.e. honesty), crisply informs Charlotte  she hasn’t been doing it right after all. Charlotte looks hurt and tries to process. She tearfully says she thinks she has been doing it right. And just as the guru swoops in to once-and-for-all rationalize why her can’t-fail advice isn’t working for poor affirmation-challenged Charlotte (i.e. completely blaming Charlotte), the indomitable Carrie pipes up “Oh she’s been doing it all right. Believe me, she’s OUT there!”

And so I just want to take this moment to say that I think  many of you are going through something a lot like that. And I know most of you are REALLY out there. And you’re trying your best. And if it doesn’t work the first or the second or even the tenth time, it doesn’t mean you’re not doing it right.  (Although always good to see if there is anything you might be missing.)

But things like this just have their own time line – no matter what we wish or try to make happen. And please don’t let anyone try to take anything away from who you are, all you have to offer, and most of all your ability to make your job offer happen for yourself – with a little help from folks you enlist in your cause, of course.

That said…if things do get stuck or stale, it doesn’t hurt to shake things up for yourself.  When job search efforts become routine, you lose your fire and may miss important clues to help uncover that job you’ve been working so hard to find. And let’s not minimize the effect of those cold embers which can detract from how you come across in job interviews.

So in addition to letting you know you are not alone in wondering why if you are doing things right nothing is happening for you…here are a few posts (not really advice, just thoughts ;-) ) to help you look at things from different angles and maybe even help you relight that fire!

Some job search articles I hope will help:

7 Career Pros Talk Job Search 2.0

Job Search Question of the Day: Do You Let Rules Stop You?

5 Things to Ask Yourself If Your Job Search Screeches to a Halt

5 Ways Interviewers Make Job Seekers REALLY Angry

Job Interview Answers: Are You a Scripted Interview Robot?

10 Impressions You Leave Behind After a Job Interview

Job Search: The Simplest Job Networking Tip of All

10 Things I Look for When I Screen Resumes

10 Things I Learned in My 3 Month Job Search

How Joe’s HR Friend Got His Job Search Going Again

7 Ways to Rev Up Your Recession Job Search

Oh…and in case you’re curious, the reader later added that although she indeed knows the job search basics, she is probably going to shake things up for herself by getting more creative in where she’s looking and whom she’s asking for help. I wish her all the luck. Even if you’re doing it ALL right…that’s energy and time well spent!

What about you? Have you had it up to HERE? What do you do for yourself to help relight the job search fire?



About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.


  1. Thanks for the local New York City sources for job search tips Perri! I live in NYC too and love Brian Lehrer; have been enjoying his new regular segments helping folks with their job hunt. But I did not know about Job Hunt, the show. Much appreciated!

    Much thanks for being our reporter in the field, Lane. I often wonder about the value of job fairs (some of course are better than others), but I love that you know the secret which is go looking for the bits of gold and don’t worry about the rest. ;-)

    Please let us know what else you find that might help others – and I ask that of everyone. Job seekers are more up to date than some ” experts” since you are right there on the front lines!

    ~ Ronnie Ann

  2. D Weathersby says:

    New Law: Employers Can’t Perform Credit Checks

    Today, Governor Quinn signed a bill into law that prohibits Illinois employers from discriminating based on a job seeker or employee’s credit history. The new law will remove a significant barrier to employment for the growing segment of the population whose credit history has been affected by the historic national recession.

    House Bill 4658, sponsored by Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) and Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), creates the Employee Credit Privacy Act. Under the act, Illinois’ employers may not use a person’s credit history to determine employment, recruiting, discharge or compensation.

    The new law forbids employers from inquiring about an applicant or employee’s credit history or obtaining a copy of their credit report. The law does not affect an employer’s ability to conduct a thorough background investigation that does not contain a credit history or report.

    Employers who violate the new law can be subject to civil liability for damages or injunctive relief.

    Under the new law, employers may access credit checks under limited circumstances, including positions that involve: bonding or security per state or federal law; unsupervised access to more than $2,500; signatory power over businesses assets of more than $100; management and control of the business; access to personal, financial or confidential information, trade secrets, or state or national security information.

    Pre-employment credit screenings are on the rise throughout the nation. The Society for Human Resources Management recently found that 60 percent of employers run a credit check on at least some applicants. That is an increase from the 42 percent in 2006 and 25 percent in 1998.

    The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2011.

  3. Thanks D. This is an important update and a wonderful win for folks in Illinois trying to recover from a tough situation – made almost impossible prior to this bill by a Catch 22 policy. I hope every state enacts such protection. Congratulations on your efforts to make this happen!

    ~ Ronnie Ann

  4. This post is pretentious and annoying.

    Any attempt to respond to legitiment aggravation with a wink, is arrogant to say the least.

    One would think that by the title of your article, you would have something new to say to the poster you have responded to, as well as other job seekers. You don’t. And you obviously don’t get it.

    Sure, optimism is important in the job search. Sure, being the best you can be is important. But when you have been this for an indefinite amount of time, you begin to realize that an injustice has been committed in the path you’ve followed in your life up until this point.

    All the skills you earned educating yourself, all the experiences you have had in previous jobs, everything that should suggest you should have no trouble continuing in similar positions…all of this is brought to question, all of a sudden. And it shouldn’t be, but it is, and who the hell are you to insist that to be successful you simply “can’t dwell on the negative.”

    I am a perfectly qualified and normal person and my life has been, for the time being, ruined, because I don’t have a job. I have tons of experience, academic and otherwise, and I have been job searching constantly. I have gone out of my way to stand out – making connections on-site, producing, updating, and disseminating my portfolio, and pursuing my attempts without being annoying to the employer. It seems to me like the more I stand out, the more the employer is inclined to not choose me.

    It doesn’t make sense. One should not have to worry about how one is going to pay the bills. I should be worrying about paying back student loans, yes, but I should not be worrying about what I should be eating next week or next month.

    I am not associated with the alluded person who emailed you. To be honest I find this entire post smug and unhelpful. Even talking about “relighting the job search fire” at this point is ignorant, apathetic, theoretically-minded and ridiculous. I also find your use of ellipsis pretentious and annoying, and your writing is at best mediocre or run-of-the-mill.

    That said I don’t have any personal problem with you and I like your site design. But I think you should probably think twice before posting a rather airheaded comment online about something you obviously don’t have the same level of experience with. If you are going to post something with the title “Are You Sick and Tired of Job Search Advice?” DON’T MAKE IT the same boring tired advice (which is all this essentially is) with an allusion to Sex in the City in the middle (is this supposed to add authenticity or something?) promoting the illusion that job searching really isn’t all that bad – something akin to birdspotting or train spotting for “shits and giggles.” I know that wasn’t your intent but it’s what it has become, at least in my opinion.

    Bottom line, this post lacks substance and as a job searcher only irritates me more. Optimism is important, but us job searches already know this. This post comes off as a half-assed attempt at empathizing with job searchers with a certain level of ignorance as to how cold the process actually is. To top it off you list the same type of bland resources that you can find anywhere on the internet, as if we weren’t able to use Google. In other words: you come off as condescending and I expect that you were while writing this post.

    Again, nothing personal. I’m sure your site is fine otherwise, but this post has been really irritating to me. Obviously I’m aware of the fact that I’m over-analyzing and being overly critical and/or negative, but there is a place for that too sometimes, especially when exhausted with job searching.

    I hope you are able to use my advice to better your writing. I just noticed this post was added in 2010, when the economic status of the country was not quite as bad, so I acknowledge that at the time of writing this things may have not been that dire for everyone. Cheers.

    • D Weathersby says:


      You sound like a bitter, ungrateful person whose negative and nasty attitude is the basis for the lack of having a job. Reading your rant, it’s understandable why a potential employer will NEVER hire you. You’re mean-spirited, rude, arrogant, unhappy, pathetic and lonely. Basically, you’re an ass! And, I’m positive several people called you an ASS!

      Not only does your writing display ignorance, it’s also an ill fated attempt to generate pity from those who have successfully utilized this post you, which you consider “lacks substance and as a job seeker only irritate”you more.” Yes, numerous followers successfully obtained JOBS, CONNECTIONS and LEADS! Presently, I know about 40 unadvertised job openings in which I passed to those seeking a position.

      If you are so damn irritated by her post, stop reading and move on to your sorry existence of self-pity.

      No one twisted your arm to read Ronnie’s blog. No one demanded you utilize her advice. No one placed a gun to your head and threatened to shoot you unless you read her writing. You chose to not only read her blog, but you also insulted Ronnie and her followers.

      Yes, you are being overly critical AND negative.

      Instead of writing a long, tedious diatribe focusing on Ronnie’s short-givings, her writing style and her advice, analyze why you are such a miserable human being whose primary purpose is to attempt to make others as unhappy as you. Misery loves company; however, no one here wants to entertain you.

      In other words, go live in your sorry existence and self-worthlessness. No one gives a damn about YOUR smugness, arrogance and B.S. Perhaps, when you get the stick out of your butt, you’ll actually come across as a compassionate human being instead of the bitter, unemployable ass that you accurately display.

      Seriously, get a life and stop ranting on blog sites where folks actually receive valuable information they utilize to obtain interviews and jobs.


      Ronnie, my apologies to you and your other readers for responding in this manner. But, Jon is a d*ck!

    • Jon,
      Thank you for your response! I felt understood in this sea of redundant advice dribble. You are so right about the job search process and well-intentioned preaches of optimism only diminish our experience. I’ve been out there a long time, improving myself, keeping my chin up, forging ahead… But there comes a point when one wonders “how long can someone go on putting forth valiant effort, with NO results?” Your comment helped me feel understood. Thank you.

  5. Hey Don, thanks for your failed attempt at pissing me off. Effort counts in my books, even if your comment is rather antagonistic considering it was not aimed at you.

    As far as your writing goes, I find according to your first paragraph (I’ve complacently ignored the rest) that you are more interested in attacking me than speaking to my constructive criticism, so I won’t be spending much time responding to you. I will however respond to your initial paragraph:

    “You’re mean-spirited, rude, arrogant, unhappy, pathetic and lonely. Basically, you’re an ass! And, I’m positive several people called you an ASS!” – My reply was admittedly a bit bitter, however it was not without praise! Have you ever stepped outside yourself and realized that you’re equally capable of negativity, such as the negativity you have expressed here? Calling someone an “ass” (a vague term in itself) is hardly a solution to anyone’s problem, wouldn’t you say?

    The fact that you suggest several people have called me an “ass” is puzzling, because to be completely honest, I don’t think I have ever used the term before. I happen to be a great person most of the time but everyone has bitter moments, quite like your response, wouldn’t you say?

    You’re already off to a bad start by attempting to employ an ad hominem attack instead of getting to the point. Notice that I do not directly attack the original poster directly, instead I attack her writing. I could have called her stupid or annoying or whatever, but I don’t believe that she is annoying and stupid, I just find the writing of this post to be annoying and perhaps a little poorly written.

    The bottom line of this site, as far as I can see, is to get to the root of information to find out how people can be helped. I don’t find that your personal attack on me is helping anyone besides maybe giving you the childish satisfaction of stepping on me and putting me down. I’m quite sorry if you have found my writing to be upsetting!

  6. OK. I’m going to step in now.

    First…while I might not have chosen your words, D, nor do I want my readers to attack each other for their opinions, I understand where you were coming from since it seemed Jon was attacking me and my site. I thank you for being a loyal reader and for speaking up when moved to do so. I know you and many other have gotten help from this site. It’s always good to be reminded and supported. I wish you all the best!

    And Jon, I understand you were just sharing your honest reaction to the article. I also understand job search is one of the most horrible, frustrating, ridiculously unfathomable experiences a person can go through. Especially in the current economy.

    Rather than answering any of the points you made – they are your opinion after all – I want to tell you how this blog started and what it means to me.

    Almost exactly 5 years ago, after my mom had died and I was plunged into a darkness I had never imagined, I had no idea what to do or who I was any more. I could barely work (I’m an IT business process consultant and project manager) and had little interest in anything. A friend suggested I start blogging, something I knew nothing about. One of the blogs I started was Work Coach on WordPress.

    I had done some internal workplace coaching and also had gotten myself over 60 jobs and assignments, even with a less-than-perfect resume. And I had helped hire many people. So I figured maybe I could use my real-life experience to help others. At least it was something I could do that gave purpose to my life when I felt so numb.

    At first I talked mainly about work-related stuff, but people started writing and asking about interviews and job search, and so I started answering. It felt so good to be able to help people, Jon, even if most of what I was doing was just providing comfort. I’ve been visited by over 2 million people since then – something I still find hard to believe – and I’ve written over 350 articles. Not every one a gem, of course. I just try my best.

    And when you write week-in and week-out as I do, sometimes you want to try different styles and ways of expressing the ideas. I find different people connect to different things I write. Each time you put words to paper and publish, it’s a risk. But it’s also a joy for me, especially when I get letters and comments telling me something – even some small thing I said – mattered.

    This blog has been a life-saver for me and my heart is touched by knowing that people I may never know have used some of the things I’ve written and benefited because of it. And I enjoy writing in my own style, knowing i break the rules sometimes – the fun of having one’s own blog I guess. But I also know, not everything I write will strike a positive chord for every single reader. I’ve had to learn to live with that or I couldn’t keep publishing my words every week.

    I don’t even know why I felt like sharing all that with you, but maybe because of my 5-year anniversary it was sitting inside and had to come out.

    I can honestly say that I wish you luck, Jon. I would hope some of my articles could help, but as D suggested, this simply may not be the right blog to match your needs. Or maybe it’s time for your own blog? Since you are a good writer, if you don’t have one yet, it may help you the way it helped me. And you never know where it leads, as I’ve learned in so many wonderful ways.

    Good luck finding something that’s right for you, Jon. I who have had so many twists and turns and even dark times can say that I believe with all my heart it is out there for you.

  7. Ronnie Ann,

    Thank you for your reply. Admittedly, I was having a bad day and my brutalizing your article was probably a result of my left brain overworking in reaction to what I perceived at the time as somewhat of a trivializing of my situation. (Overworking being a natural action in the process of job searching of course.)

    As I mentioned, I think that your site is lovely, I like the design, and there really isn’t anything wrong with your post. Just because it didn’t meet my lofty expectations in a heated moment doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with it. And my expectations in that moment were simply that – my expecations based on my opinion, which obviously isn’t necessarily right for everyone or even the majority in many cases.

    The job search process is difficult and it can bring out the worst sometimes. I was at a point where I snapped, unfortunately, and I apologize for it. I can assure you this has been an extremely rare reaction and it is nonexistent in my real life. I’m sure You and D, like me, are all great people and we all have bad days (although you probably wouldn’t have reacted as harshly as I did.)

    I am much more optimistic about my job searching today. Paradoxically, perhaps, my reaction helped me get a lot of negativity off my chest. It’s not justifable for those reasons, but it has helped none-the-less.

    I enjoyed the brief history of this site that you provided and I share a similar affinity for writing. If nothing else this has been a test of reality – as you know as a writer your work will receive harsh criticism from time to time, and you have to have a thick skin. You have proven that you do have a thick skin and this is commendable.

    There exists in each of us a positivity as well as a negativity, and sometimes a strong measure of each is a good indication of depth. I find your actions to indicate strengh.

    The site is lovely – I am a huge coffee-lover – and at a glance there is a wealth of information that can help new job searchers or veterans. Again I apologize for my reaction and its effect on you and D, and I wish you and the site the best of luck.

    Please remember that negativity is a choice and is no more grounded in fact than positivity is. Sometimes we let negativity get to us, and it is a weakness that we must work on. This is certainly the case with me lately during the job search process. Having talent go unrecognized can result in resentment, but strong people know that the only path to true peace and recognition of talent is an inexorable conviction of one’s abilities and unwavering perseverance. And again, your reaction easily could have been like D’s or mine, but instead it has shown that you are quite strong and I can see that is to what your success can be attributed.

    All the best,

  8. You made my day, Jon. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. My gut told me that you are probably a good person going through a tough time. Really enjoyed your words about negativity and positivity. Am hoping you won’t mind if I decide to share some of this last comment in a new article to help others who feel what you feel – and who have also found themselves letting it all out at some point or another. We’ve all been there.

    Very happy to hear about your renewed optimism today. And if letting it out was part of that…great. Would be cool if we could invent a job search app that would do that for people, huh?

    All my best, Jon. And thanks again for your heartfelt and beautifully written response. I have my fingers crossed for you. Good luck!

  9. Well it’s doubly bad for for me. I’m 57 and i’m disabled. All i ever get are emails from job search sites saying things like ” 30,000 jobs a in my area; there aren’t 30,000 people in the entire town! I have never received any emails about having any job interviews though i’ve filled out many applications. I know that companies are not supposed to discriminate against age or disability but they do, in a round about way, Pretty soon they will find out about your condition whether you are up front with it, tell them after the job or they uncover it, Certain questions on the app or job assessment test will give you away anyway,

    After working for 14 years as a maintenance repairer i was let go because of a back condition in 2005. I was making over 21 dollars an hour at the time not including overtime and other financial benefits. Now after 5 years, 2 of which i worked as an auto parts delivery driver which i eventually lost as well in 2009, it is still a shock to my system to go from over 40,000 a year to under 15 grand. I’m a praying man and i won’t give up or give in to life situations no matter what.

  10. I can well understand how frustrating this is, Nate. Sadly, you aren’t alone. Love what you said about the “30,000 jobs”. Yeah…so much for hype.

    I can’t begin to figure out all the things that might help – and you didn’t ask. But as someone who is around your age and who has some physical conditions preventing me from going back to the work I used to do, I can tell you that the offers I get are from people I have worked with before or volunteered with or met through networking. It is the get-out-of-jail-free card when a resume isn’t going to cut it..

    Here are some posts on the topic of networking. I hope something you read here will help:

    Work Coach Cafe articles on networking

    Meanwhile, I wish you much luck. I like your attitude. :)

  11. I have to agree with what Jon said in his original response. This article really doesn’t provide any new information and isn’t even a good response to the person who sent the email saying she was sick of the same old advice, which she was utilizing, and still not finding work. It seems like everyone these days wants to blame the job-seeker for not finding a job. No one wants to look at what’s wrong with job hunting process itself. Such as, employers who don’t want to be bothered with phone calls or employers who don’t want to hire someone who is out of work at all, let alone someone who has been out of work an extended period of time. I’ve had a recruiter for an agency tell me flat out that she doesn’t deal with unemployed workers. I’ve also seen my local unemployment agency send ten people to a job site, only to have all of them return to the office saying that the employer would not hire them because they had been out of work for over six months. This was our state unemployment office being told this by an employer.

    The obstacles that job seekers face today are not same as what we faced in the past. Everyone is recycling job search advice and reprinting it over and over again. Our local television station announced that they were coming out with their own career website to help people find jobs, but when the site was finished, it was merely a search engine that culled jobs from other search engines.

    Job hunting fatigue is real and we know we have to be vigilant about how we come across during a job interview. Last year I faced the most challenging interviews I’ve ever faced because I had to do them shortly after my husband was killed in a car accident. But I did my very best to put on a smile and appear excited about the opportunity. The company said I might not hear from them until after the holidays, then in January of 2010, they called me back and asked if I was still available because I was one of their “top candidates”. I said yes and then I never heard from them again. I tried to contact them several times and they would not even return my emails. This is the kind of rudeness that we deal with in job hunting today. In some cases, you get ready for an interview, go to their location for it and then you don’t even get an email letting you know that they filled the position. We have to to act like we really care about their business, but most businesses today really don’t care about us.

    • Linda, I think that you and Jon are demonstrating your frustration with the way hiring works now. I also think you are right. But, I can’t fix it myself. Nor could Ronnie Ann or any other individual.

      And, job hunting fatigue is very real! I totally agree. How horrible for you to be dealing with death in the family and job search at the same time!

      Yes, job search has changed enormously in the last few years! The obstacle are MUCH different than in the past. I totally agree with that, too!

      Because we don’t know each job seeker personally, it’s impossible to know how well you are doing with your job search or even to know what would be “new” to you individually.

      You would be surprised to know what is “new” to some people:
      * The idea that one version of a resume doesn’t work for every job now.
      * The idea that professional and industry association websites often have job postings.
      * The idea that frequent self-Googling is enlightened self-defense, now, NOT vanity.
      * Etc.

      The only thing those of us who try to help job seekers can do is offer ways to avoid the mistakes we see job seekers making every day. Is that blaming them? I don’t think so, but maybe it feels that way to job seekers.

      As with everything in life, “luck” is an important component in job search success. I wish I could tell you how to be “lucky,” but, if anyone really knows how, they’re not sharing.

      Maybe what will come out of all this misery right now is a more humane and accountable system of hiring in the future? Let’s do our best to make it happen. So, when everyone who is unemployed now lands their new jobs and becomes part of hiring process in the future, they remember how it felt to be treated rudely by a potential employer and make sure it doesn’t happen where they work.

      Good luck with your job search!

      Work Coach Cafe Team Captain

  12. Problem with job search advice is that it misses one important fact: employers usually dont know what theyre doing when theyre hiring someone. I would say 95% of all employers are incompentant interviewers. I rarely get a textbook interviewer. And thats what you need to prepare for.

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