7 Mistakes That Are Making Your Job Search Take Longer

best practices career coaching career leaders job search job search mistakes mistakes tech leader power lunch tech leaders Jan 14, 2021

Transcript for the video: 

Hey, Melisa Liberman, here! We are on the tech leader power lunch. We are going to focus today on the seven mistakes that are making your job search take longer. I'm excited to dive in with you.


  • I’m going to talk with you a little bit about to set the stage with what are the three elements of a successful job search.
  • I'll give you the secret as to what makes them take longer.
  • Then we'll dive into each of the seven mistakes.

So, first of all, if we haven't met yet, my name is Melisa Liberman. I am a career coach for tech leaders. And I am really an expert on helping tech leaders achieve their big career goals. I've worked with clients to help them find jobs, and get promoted, improve their performance in their existing job. And that's what I love doing. I've been a technology leader for 20 years, and for the last eight have been a career coach, and consultant helping people get what they want out of their career, just like I have in mind. So that's why I created this lunch. I do have private one on one clients. But I also love sharing this knowledge with you so that you can get exactly what you want out of your career, like my clients do, and like I have. So, with that, let's dive in and talk about today's topic.

The Elements of a Successful Job Search:

In order to figure out how to understand the mistakes, I want to get set on what are the really key elements of a successful job search. So, you know, what kind of mistakes being made against what baseline or bar at the very heart and core of this, and obviously, there's a lot more behind it right. But at the heart and core of a job search is a sales process. A job search, a successful job search is essentially managing a process to market and sell yourself.

There are three key elements to that:

  1. Do you have a compelling marketing message that defines your value to potential employers? It's pretty simple and straightforward when you think about it like that.
  2. Do you have an effective marketing process that attracts potential employers and generates interviews? Are you filling your pipeline?
  3. Do you have the sales skills to convert interviews into offers for yourself?

Those are essentially the three steps out of at the very core.

So, given that, so let's talk about what adds time to the search.

This is it and you can google 1000 different ways to accomplish each of these three steps. For my clients, I give them all of those best practices and shortcuts, so they don't have to do all of that research. But certainly all of the basic information is out there for strategies that are effective. So, if that's the case, and all of us have access to what are the best practices and how to effectively execute a job search. There are no secret sauces out there or unlevel playing fields of information. If we can all agree to that. Then really what is the variable is what ends up making the job search take longer for some than for others.

What I have seen in countless clients is what adds time to the job search is not executing those three steps effectively. The root cause of that is the mental game, your mindset, what you're bringing to the table as you're executing or not executing, in a lot of cases, those three steps effectively.

So, with that, as our premise, today, I want to walk you through the seven mistakes that I most commonly see when people are executing their job search, and what ends up making it take longer than it needs to. And we're all tech leaders here, right? I'm not talking to some entry level people. And some people who are retired, we're all taught, this is all for geared toward you, as a tech leader, you are higher title more highly compensated. Don't discount what I'm saying, based on you know, those kind of special unicorn, quote unquote, qualities, right? We're all friends here while we're all in the same boat.

Before I dive in, I want to give you a disclaimer.

  1. I've had a lot of coffee. So, I'll probably give you some tough love regardless, because that's what I do every almost every week.
  2. But I just want to set the stage here to say, yes, I’m going to go over the seven mistakes. But with that being said, all of us make mistakes, I make mistakes, I probably have a typo in here, like whatever it is, we’re all human, we’re making mistakes.
  3. Don't use this as 30 minutes to flog yourself, or spin into some kind of judgment as we walk through this and beating yourself up over what these mistakes might be or why you're making them or what's wrong with you.
  4. Instead, take this as an opportunity to just be super open minded and curious about what I'm about to walk you through. And ask yourself, where could this be true for me? Where could I be falling into this trap versus Oh, this isn't me, or I am special? This isn't my problem. Or this is terrible that I'm doing this? I should you know, just give it up, no one will hire me that's not going to work. Let's just focus on being curious and open minded knowing that you're a human and you don't do this for a living? No one I know on this call is or should be searching for jobs for a living. I do it every day with my clients, because that's what I chose. I assume you didn't choose this. If you did, then we can have a different conversation, right? But you're not doing this for a living. So, we're going through this process with open mindedness and curiosity.

Mistake #1 – Not Deciding

There are two groups here, people who have a job, and are considering making a change, and people who don't have a job and need to find a job. And I want to be very clear that I'm talking with both of you, both groups. Even if you do not have a job and you know you need one. That doesn't mean you've purposely decided you're going to be successful and put a stake in the ground and decided that no matter what you're going to find a job that you love without settling.

Now, for those of you who don't have a job, like really ask yourself, have I put a stake in the ground or not? Am I just going through the motions?

I promise you, I talked to people all week long, who don't have a job and they really need them financially but haven't put a stake in the ground. If that's you, just take a look at that if you have a job, and you're miserable, and you're in a toxic situation and all the things right or you're just bored and stagnating and you're kind of going through the motions you haven't decided either.

What this looks like: is saying things like,

  • let's see what happens or
  • I hope this works or
  • I hope I don't have to settle.

These are signals that you haven't truly decided, haven't put a stake in the ground. And the reason why this slows you down is that you spend a lot of time indulging in what ifs.

In order to fix it, it's as simple as deciding, deciding. Deciding means that you've cut off all the other options like pesticide homicide, all those sides are literally the other option is dead, like, I will go all in, plant my flag, and know that this that I'm going to find a job that I love without settling. And so, to fix this mistake, decide.

Then, write out exactly what it looks like for you to go all in, and then do that every day. Don't go back and forth wavering either in or you're out. And it could be that you're out.

Mistake #2 - Staying Comfortable.

I would venture a guess if you're still looking for a job, you're making this mistake.

The way I described it to the client is, “are you going to go in and get a root canal for two months? Or are you going to go in there for two hours and get a root canal?” You get to decide at the end of the day, you're getting a root canal or you're going to make it take two months or two days.

This looks like:

  • “I haven't talked to my network in years, I don't want to make them think I'm just calling them because I need something.”
  • “I'm not the kind of person who does blah, blah, blah, like goes around the system.”
  • “I'm not the kind of person who, you know, just talks to people that I don't know, I'm not the kind of person who connects with people on LinkedIn that I haven't prequalified and haven't had a professional relationship with.”

Most of my clients, I say to them, like oh, who on your list are you avoiding?

There's no reason for you to be avoiding these people. The only reason is, it's uncomfortable. It's awkward. It feels weird. feels bad. “Oh, I should have kept in touch with this person that I didn't just acknowledge the elephant in the room.”

So, are you are you staying comfortable?

The reason why this slows you down:

  • Is that you're literally eating around the edges of the process, telling yourself you're doing something, but you're not actually doing the work that moves the needle. The more people you talk to, the better your results are going to be. The more people you market to, the more interviews you generate, the more interviews you have, the better you get at it.

It's pretty simple equation, right. But most of us are doing things that feel comfortable. And that's why it's taking so long.

How to fix this mistake:

  • Notice what you’re avoiding
  • Do that
  • Every day

Mistake #3 – Mis-using Failure

I hate to fail and I'll do anything I can to avoid failing. And I would venture a guess that some of you are also like that. Maybe a lot of you, right? So, if you're like that, have that mindset like I did. You're misusing failure, you're using it as a weapon against yourself instead of using it as a tool to go farther faster.

So, what I mean by that is, if you're misusing failure, it looks like:

  • “I don't want to mess this up.”
  • “I don't want to get into another bad situation”
  • “I don't want to apply XYZ until I'm ready. I don't want to interview in time ready, I don't want to call my network until I'm ready.” Whatever that is, right? you're avoiding failure.

Why this slows you down:

  • You're basically failing ahead of time, which is another word for that is unproductive failing. You're just like, I'm not even going to go play the game, because I might be bad at it. Yeah, you're going to be bad at it, you haven't done it. It's not your job, you're probably going to be bad at it. But you're not going to get better at it by sitting on the sideline.
  • The ability to fail fast is a key to his success. And that's what we want to do here.

How to fix this mistake:

  • We want to embrace productive failing, versus unproductive failing, failing ahead of time.
  • So, the way to, to execute productive failing, is to treat this whole process like a math equation, like I, like I shared in the beginning, we're marketing and we're selling. And seeing that it's literally a math equation. Okay, I'm not getting interviews, what's wrong with my marketing? Is it the message in the marketing? Or is it the process of the marketing? basically two things, which one needs to be adjusted? Okay, I figured out my messaging, maybe it's my process that needs to be adjusted. Little by little figuring out the equation. and failing on purpose is productive failing, you might not get enough interviews to start with. But throwing up your hands and saying “I'm not employable” isn't going to answer the problem, right? It's figuring this out like a math equation and fixing each step, little by little learning and refining as you go, and really planning in advance that you're going to fail, just because you bombed a job interview. And obviously, you can practice and do your best to make the interview as productive as possible. But just because you bombed, it doesn't mean that you're unemployable. It means you should take advantage of that situation and learn as much as you can from it, so you can improve upon it next time.

Mistake #4 – Operating from the Wrong End of the Probability Scale

The probability scale looks like:

  • This feels impossible, like it's never gonna happen. I'm too old, I'll never get a job. The middle of the scale is you start inching your way away from that, it feels probable that this is going to happen. I just don't know how or when or why. And then the other side of the scale is inevitable. operating from inevitability, I know 100%, no matter what, without question, that I will land a job that I love, and I'm not settling.

So, when you're operating from impossibility, or even probability and not inevitability, it looks like thing you're telling yourself things like:

  • This is hard.
  • This is impossible.
  • No one will hire me
  • I'll never land a job I love I'll have to settle.
  • This job search is out of my control and I’m at the mercy of these other people who don't even respond to me.

It feels so impossible, right? When you're operating out of impossibility, you're sabotaging your motivation, who wants to do something that feels like you're never going to succeed? None of us, right?

It's not because you are too old or you are too highly compensated or you are to anything, it all boils down to the way that you're looking at this process, and which end of the spectrum you're living in. And the more time you live over here, and inevitability allows you to access the higher-level thinking allows you to feel more motivated and interested in networking and getting yourself out there and refining your positioning and your marketing approach. And keeps you up moving, right.

In order to fix this mistake:

  • Ask yourself, How do I make this inevitable that I will land that dream job and get yourself noticed when you're in the impossible area or zone.
  • Redirect yourself over to the inevitable zone. I mean, one way I love to teach clients to do that is there has to be how many? How many companies are there in the world? I think there's at least half a billion and I could be wrong. 500,000 pure tech companies, at least five of those need what you have. Right think of the math of that least five, have 500,000 companies if that number is even that might be even low. Need what you have focus on that to make it inevitable, or thoughts like that redirecting yourself versus this is never going to work.

Mistake #5 - Making excuses.

How much of your time are you spending making excuses?

This looks like:

  • “COVID this”
  • “I don't have time.”
  • “I have too much time.”
  • “I don't have a job.”
  • “I can't be productive.”
  • “I'm too old.”
  • “I don't have this experience.”
  • “I don't have this certificate.”
  • “I don't have this MBA. I don't know what to do. I'm not good at this. This won't work for me because of insert some special unicorn.” - These are excuses, my friends.

Why this slows you down:

  • I know that it feels super logical and rational, like but I've looked at the data. And I'm this age. And this is what happens. Yeah, it probably is at a macro level. But at a micro level, there's got to be five companies out there at least who would die to have your experience. So, focusing on these grand macro things about the COVID unemployment rates is not going to do you any good. And telling yourself like oh, it's just taking longer because of COVID is bullshit. It's not true. I'm telling you, I work with clients. Every day, I have two clients starting jobs next week, not COVID, that's holding them back is them making an excuse for themselves that COVID is holding them back.

That's what takes makes your job search take longer.

And I'm not here to shame you. Like I said in the beginning, and I'm not here to make you feel bad. But I do want to point this out to you because this is what's making it take longer. And the good news is that you have you have control over this.

I'm not telling you it's making it take longer because you are old. I'm making it whatever old is right if I'm telling you it's taking longer, because you're thinking about the fact that you feel too old or you think other people think you're too old.

I'm telling you that it's not because of COVID that is taking longer. And granted, it probably did add a couple of weeks in March and April to people's job searches. For sure. I'm not going to you know, live in a land of rainbows here. But I will tell you now, I'm seeing people's job search go very quickly. 

It can happen for you too. But you dwelling on quote COVID or your age or your lack of a whatever degree or just certificate is definitely going to make it take longer.

How to fix this:

  • Acknowledge that you're making excuses without judging or shaming yourself. We all make excuses. I try to justify why I should eat some nachos. Like we all we all make excuses, right? But just be on to yourself and then don't do that. It's not there's no upside to it, my friends.

Mistake #6 – Not using the right fuel 

This looks like:

  • Living in fear, anxiety, panic, overwhelm, discouragement, depression, insecurity. All of this stuff slows you down. Now, I'm not saying you're going to be able to completely get rid of it because we're again, we're humans. But managing the shit out of this and keeping it under control, which I'll tell you how to do in a seconds, is the key to making this go faster.

Why this slows you down:

  • We think that these feelings just happen to us. They don't. They come from you thinking things that make you feel this way. Again, I’m not trying to point the finger here. I’m just telling you where the feelings come from. So, to show you that you have control over them. You get to decide how you're feeling on a minute. If by minute basis regardless of if you have a job or not think about it. Some clients or some of you on the phone might be happy right now I don't have a job, I need some space. I need some space to take care of myself, my health. If you're on write, that doesn't necessarily have to create anxiety that can create peace or calm. Other people, the scenario is I don't have a job, the thought is I'm going to, I'm going to use up all my savings, it creates fear, right? operating your job search out of fear doesn't put you in the place where you can create your highest level work. You're constantly battling things like procrastination, or, you know, or just literally wanting to watch Netflix all day.
  • Get into a place where you're operating out of abundance and not scarcity out of out of net positive emotions instead of negative emotions.

How to fix this mistake:

  • Acknowledge like whatever you're feeling right now “I'm feeling anxious, like wonder what that is?
  • How is what I'm thinking that creates that anxiety, not true? Maybe I will eat through my savings, but doesn't mean that I'm going to be homeless? Probably not. Could I go get another job that covers the bills while I do this? Probably. So, I have options here.
  • What is the predominant emotion that I DO want? What do you want to be operating from on purpose? Is that fear and anxiety? Or is it confidence and resolution? resolved? I think that's a better word.
  • What can I think to create that emotion, like, back to our other thought, right, I'm in demand, I just have to figure out the equation to make it happen. Sales and Marketing.

Mistake #7 – Taking the wrong kind of action

It looks like:

  • “I'm doing everything but nothing's working”
  • “I’m applying so much. I just can't figure out why I'm not getting interviews and offers." 

Why this slows you:

  • You are probably spending massive time, but you're not actually implementing a concept called massive action.
    • massive action is repeated action with consistent evaluation until you get your desired result. And it's almost always uncomfortable. kind of goes back to our other mistake, right?
    • massive time is ineffective action, which is usually comfortable. I could sit there and apply online all day long. We have about a 10% chance of being successful with that, to check off the boxes and say, Oh, I'm doing everything but it's not working, which just proves you right that it's not working.

How to fix this mistake:

  • Establish your plan and process making sure that you're including things that feel uncomfortable.
  • Then you figure out what are you avoiding? do add that to your plan,
  • implement it, and then
  • evaluate, constantly evaluate after every interview after every week, what's working, what's not working, what do I want to do differently. It takes some vigilance, and diligence. But getting into massive action versus massive time is going to move the needle for you.

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