Job Seekers Behaving Badly

It’s Wednesday, and that means I’m again handing over the reins of The Job Stalker to co-blogger Gordon Dymowski “for something completely different”. In this installment he’s taking a look at a couple of job seekers who “are doing it wrong” … although it seems to me that until I find a job, I must be “doing it wrong”, but hey, this isn’t about me (I’m pretty sure).

I’ll be back on Friday with a new set of job search links, but I don’t currently have a book “in the hopper” for Monday, so we’ll see what I might come up with. There have been a number of things coming in over the e-mail transom, but mainly stuff that I’ve judged “not that interesting” or off-target in not a useful way. In any case, here’s Gordon’s piece for this week:

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For my guest post this week, I thought I would do something different – like many of you who are reading this blog, I come across multiple examples of job seekers who, through no fault of their own, engage in self-sabotaging and potentially destructive behaviors. No matter how much they may try to market themselves, or how much effort they put into their search, their behavior serves – much like the satirical motivational poster reminds us – that their lives might serve as a cautionary tale for others. So today’s guest post is about two types of job seekers “behaving badly” – combining various traits into two individuals who represent “worst practices” (as opposed to last Friday’s “best practices” post) in job seeking.

Let’s refer to our two individuals as Jack and Diane, who are not so much American kids growing up in the heartland as much as two people who have been unemployed for well over a year, often working freelance from contract to contract. In terms of age, they’re both too old for Glee and too young for Dragnet.  Both their names have been changed to protect the innocent, to spare embarrassment….and to show how universal these habits can be and how it’s easy to fall into them without warning.

Jack is seeking work in the corporate world – your “traditional desk job”, although to be clear, he hasn’t quite specified what he wants to do. Diane wants to work for a non-profit, but also is unsure, as she “never really specialized” in anything for her former agency. Both of them, however, are unwilling to consider any formal guidance, and both have expressed frustrations about not being hired via social media. Jack likes to talk about how “nobody likes” him as a professional, while Diane tends to describe upper level non-profit executives as “complete idiots.”

When someone does sit down with them and review their resumes, Jack and Diane have, well….very distinctive and unique resumes. Jack’s is in a report cover – all twelve pages of resume done on the low quality laser printer found in a local library. When advised that there is a way to pare down his resume to one or two pages, he complains, “But all of my work experience relates to one another – you need to review the whole thing in order to understand it!”. Diane’s is done in a lovely script font on purplish paper, written in a straightforward text style. When counseled to break down her resume into bullet points and modify it for each job, Diane will casually dismiss it with, “Nobody cares what the resume says – it’s all in the presentation!”

Thankfully, both have been assertive networkers, and can often be found at higher end networking events. In fact, Diane really hit it off at one particular event and encouraged all of her friends to attend, despite the fact that one particular friend pointed out the qualities it shared with “scam” networking events as described in this article. Of course, Diane simply dismissed these concerns with a wave of her hand, although – wisely – she never attended another event put on by this organization. Jack, however, tends to avoid such major confrontations, preferring instead to discuss the tragedies of his life, and getting slightly miffed when a colleague pointed out how Jack indicated that every one of his past bosses were either racist, politically insensitive, or in one highly charged comment, “Was only slightly smarter than a used Ken doll.

….But that sharing is reserved for well-known colleagues; with newer colleagues, Jack focuses more on discussing how unlucky he is in the job search, sharing inappropriate information and asking straightforwardly, “Know anyone who’s hiring?” Diane’s much more selective – so selective, in fact, that she tends to associate only with a close-knit, well-trusted group of people. In fact, Diane once “called” a colleague out “on his BS” because he asked, after she described herself as a “maven” and “connector”, if she had ever read The Tipping Point. She also has turned down several efforts by younger job seekers to network – after all, Diane argues, she’s tired of “having her brain picked” by people who can’t conceivably help her.

Yet this story, like most stories, needs to come to an end, and both Jack and Diane are faring relatively….well, they’re faring. Unable to find a job in his chosen field (or even to choose a field), Jack ended up engaged in relatively low-paying day-to-day work. For a few weeks, he worked with day laborers putting sales flyers on doors in select neighborhoods; most recently, he did some basic data entry through a temp agency. Diane found a job with a non-profit she volunteered with in the past; no, it didn’t pay what she was expecting….and it is a little bit more  work than she expected….but it’s work.

The moral of today’s post – just a polite reminder that our attitudes and behavior can sometimes have a major impact on our job search success. It’s easy to moralize and make people like Jack and Diane “worst case examples”…but all of us who are seeking jobs want the same thing: steady employment in an economically troubled climate. The more we can look at our own behaviors and attitudes – and see how they impact our private lives and our job search behaviors  – the more likely we can see successful outcomes in our endeavors.

But what do you think? Please feel free to leave a comment below, or send me an e-mail. You are more than welcome to connect with me via Linked In, or any other social media channels via (Also, brief plug for the Chicago Red Cross – our Mission: Red experience auction will be on September 16th. It’s a high end fundraiser, but will provide numerous opportunities to network, and you can click this link to order tickets. And yes, I am their marketing person). As always, thanks for reading!


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  • Brendon, nice piece. Your Jack and Diane seem to be making common mistakes that people who don't sharpen their repertoire see to do.

    What could you say to the rest of us looking for the dream day job who are getting the interview, fully qualified, prepared at the interview, and then are getting blown off after a few face-to-face interviews with good companies?

  • In reply to Andy Frye:


    This is Gordon (who wrote the piece) - sorry it took so long for me to get back to you.

    One way I handle these situations is to send a thank you e-mail as soon as possible after the interview, with a hand-written thank you note within 24 hours. It sounds like overkill, but I find that the more I keep a line of communication open, the more likely I am to get feedback.

    The other thing I do is allow myself a period for follow up before I move on. (I'm also putting in resumes, applying for other positions, etc). Usually, it's a period of one to two weeks - long enough for them to make a decision, but short enough to not keep myself in suspense.

    But for those of you who are in the career counseling/coaching business - any thoughts? Can you provide insight for Andy?


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