Job Search

How Keeping Your Options Open Can Hurt Your Job Search

job search options

The biggest struggle I hear from job seekers is “I have all this experience and can do anything, so I don’t want to limit my job search options.” What these job seekers don’t realize is that this type of thought is actually limiting them to having NO job search options.

Companies hire people to do specific things. If a hiring manager or recruiter can’t figure out what it is exactly that you do, then your resume is going to land in the circular file.

When I hear job seekers tell me they can do anything, it really tells me they don’t know how to focus. It is this lack of focus that is at the root of the problem.

Without Focus, it is Hard for Others to Help You

How many times, have you heard “let me know if you hear of any job openings” from a friend in a job search. Does that tell you the best way to help them?

Let’s give your friend the benefit of the doubt. You kind of know what they do for a living, they work in marketing, right? So if you hear of any marketing jobs you’ll send them their way. In reality, you go back to doing what’s important to you every day and forget about their marketing job.

What if your friend said, “Hey, I’m looking for a Director of Marketing position at small to medium size software companies. Do you know anyone at Spectrum Communications, Epiq Solutions, Yello, or companies like those?” Now you have a much more direct and clear message. Even if you aren’t familiar with the companies your friend named, you can ask for some more details on why those companies are attractive to them.


Also read: How a Career Audit Can Prepare You For Your Next Job Move


It is Difficult to Hit a Moving Target

If you keep shifting your target job, you’re not going to be able to concentrate fully on landing any one particular role. You’ll also slow your overall progress because your focus will be split in too many directions.

Often, it’s people’s fear of missing out that causes them to pursue multiple job search options. However, I find it much more productive to have plan A, B, and even C if necessary. When you concentrate on achieving plan A and know you have backup plans if it doesn’t work out, it gives you more confidence which can actually help you achieve plan A before you need to switch to plan B.

Jack or Jane of all Trades, Master of None

Just because you have the ability to do many things, doesn’t mean you should be applying for any and all jobs.

When you tout your “broad experience” or “diverse skills” in your career marketing materials hiring managers tend to not be impressed. Terms like these make it difficult to interpret what it is that you actually do.

Even if you are applying for a role that has a more broad scope like a general manager or vice president of operations, highlighting all your different skills in your resume will dilute your message. You may even come across as desperate, “I’ll do anything, just hire me.”


Also read: 6 Ways Your Job Search is Like a Marketing Campaign


What is Your Unique Selling Proposition?

Instead, you need to zero in on what you do best, and ideally like to do. This will allow you to target companies and sharpen your unique value proposition. No one else has the exact combination of skills and personal attributes as you.

Use your unique combination of skills and attributes to show how you excel at role X because you’ve experienced A, B, and C.

My favorite example of this is folks that have both sales AND marketing experience. They often feel qualified to work in either capacity. In reality, that sales hiring manager is looking for totally different things than the marketing hiring manager. However, if you’re the person that can help break down the silos between those departments, then that will capture their attention.

Remember, an executive job search should not be like throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks. You need to take a targeted approach to get the most opportunities.

About the Author

Self-proclaimed job search geek, Michelle Robin takes the often frustrating and miserable task of job search and makes it more enjoyable, perhaps even fun, for her clients. An award-winning dual-certified resume writer (NCRW, CPRW) and founder of Brand Your Career, Michelle helps sales and marketing executives transform their career marketing materials into a package that wows their target employer. Click HERE to receive Michelle’s free guide How To Make Yourself Stand Out In A Highly Competitive Sales And Marketing World.