The 4 Killer Job Search Mistakes: Mistake #2

This is a very tough job market. Many highly skilled, extremely professional job seekers are taking an unprecedented amount of time to find a job. There are, though, 4 killer mistakes that job seekers are making that turn a long job search into an even longer one. This multiple part series will cover these mistakes and give the job seeker (you) tools to overcome them.

In the first part of this series, we covered Mistake #1: conducting the job search with a bad attitude. We learned the realities about the new job market so we can successfully navigate in it. We learned what it takes to process the loss, we have a way to deal with pressure points and we have chosen to look for the opportunity.

Mistake #2: Not Knowing Your Product and Your Target Market

Updating your resume seems like it is one of the, if not the, first step of a job search. The truth is that you should not update your marketing materials (which your resume is just one part) until after step 3.

My next analogy: I can’t sell a computer without knowing how the computer works and what makes it better than the competition’s computer. I would not dream of walking into an office to sell the computer and not being able to answer the question “why should I buy your computer over another’s?” I surely wouldn’t dream of saying “because I need the sale.” I also wouldn’t dream of creating the computer’s marketing materials without knowing my computer’s advantages.

I also would miss the mark if I created the marketing material for this computer without knowing my target market. I need to understand who would buy this computer. Trying to sell a Windows machine to artists or film production companies would fail because these industries use mainly Apple technology. If my computer does not have high end graphics cards, I also would not be successful in selling to gamers. Before I can create my marketing materials for this computer I must know its advantages and the target market.

Sadly job seekers update their resumes and begin their search without identifying their competitive advantages. Too many go into interviews without having a good answer for why the company should hire them instead of one of the other candidates. Not wording the resume for the target market also reduces the chance of a sale.

Inventory YOU
To understand your product, you need to take an inventory. You need to discover and write down your :

  • Accomplishments
  • Abilities
  • Interests
  • Personality
  • Values
  • Passions
  • Education / Certificates

How do you identify this information?

  • Ask others. There is something about you that is unique. It comes easy to you and because it does, you think it is no big deal. The rest of us would give our eye teeth for this ability but you don’t see it because it is easy. Yes – for you! You can’t see this unique ability that you have. Only someone who knows you and has seen you in action can help you see it. So ask someone who knows you.
  • Review former performance reviews. If your boss was good, they documented your skills and accomplishments. Go through and pull these out and add them to your inventory.
  • Take assessments that help you understand you.
  • Define accomplishments. As far as I know, you have not cured cancer or solved world peace. However, you have accomplished a lot in your life. Before you got there, the company was one way and was different after you left; your finger prints are all over those accomplishments. You need to document these accomplishment stories. I have always said: memory does not get better with age. Unless you have been documenting these accomplishments as you have gone along, you have already forgotten many of them. We are going to use some of these accomplishments in your resume. All of your accomplishments will be available for you to recall in the interview to add power to your responses. And reading your accomplishments from time to time will remind you how valuable you are; companies have paid for your skills before and they will again.

You should have over 50 accomplishments documented and they should be documented in the format of STAR: Situation or Task that you faced, the Actions you took, and the Results you have received.

  • Verify your abilities. Rate yourself against a list of abilities and recall and document a time you excelled in using your highest-ranked abilities.
  • Confirm your interests. What do you do or what would you do in your spare time? Let’s consider combining your interests and your job. I have had clients who never dreamed of doing that and are now living their dream.
  • Understand your personality. We are each made a certain way. Some of us get energy by being around people and others of us (including yours truly) who, although we like people, get energy by being alone. Some people need organization and others like to wing it. You need to know how you are made. Understanding your personality will help you find the right work environment for you.
  • Know your values. There are companies you would not work for based on the products they sell or the values that they hold. On the other hand, there are companies you would give your eye teeth to work with because of the products that they sell or the values that they hold. Knowing your values will help you identify or eliminate companies to target.
  • Identify your passions. Given two candidates with similar backgrounds and experiences, the one with the passion for the work or the company will get the job. Know what your passions are and consider pursuing them. When reviewing a list of companies in your area, which ones excite you and which ones leave you flat?
  • Education and certificate. You already include formal education and professional certificates on your resume. Go one step further and inventory all classes and extensive self study you have ever taken. Include webinars and seminars. These will not all make it onto the resume. The inventory though will help you recall everything you have studied and this information can be used in the interview to support knowledge of a topic. When asked about an area where you do not have experience, instead of saying what you don’t have, you can elaborate on the knowledge you have gained on that topic or a related one.

Define Your Target Market

  • Identify where you want to work and research who is hiring.
  • Be able to clearly answer why you would like to work in that industry, doing that job, for that company.
  • Know where to search for those opportunities (learn more about this in Mistake #3).
  • Research who you know who knows someone who works for that company.
  • Identify the gaps in your skills or experience that are obstacles of you getting the job and address that gap. There are tons of free courses online and many companies even offer free 30-days demo software.
  • Know your product inside and out – and why people would buy it – so that you can successfully sell it.

Know your product, YOU and your target market. Now you can update your marketing materials. Next week we’ll tackle mistake #3.

How This Impacts You

So how well do you know YOU? Where are you in the process of identifying what assets you offer your next employer/client? Remember, we are created in God’s image and He has designed us for a specific purpose (Jeremiah 29:11).


  1. Enjoyed the outline and agree with advice.

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