Job Seekers Beware!

If you are a job seeker looking for career advice, I have one word of caution, “Take what you need and leave the rest behind.”

There is plenty of great career advice out there but what concerns me is when career advisers just go too far.

I recently read a post from a well-known blogger who implied that a job seeker may have ruined a chance at an offer after the hiring manager saw that she was driving an old and dirty truck.  There didn’t appear to be any other facts listed and when I challenged the blogger with a follow up question, I did not receive a response. My take away from this post was that job seekers should be sure their image was well-represented by driving a nice car. Seriously?

In the social media universe there is no shortage of self-proclaimed gurus, experts, and authorities who are happy to tell job seekers everything they need to do in their job search if they want to land your next gig.  They will ask, “What’s your brand?”  (I uber-loathe the word ‘brand‘ – and ‘uber‘ – for that matter) and “Do you have an elevator speech?”  (What? Why can’t we just call it what it is – whichis the answer to the question, “Tell me about yourself.”)

A job loss, no matter how or why it happened, is emotional.  In addition to the loss of income, the kick to a person’s confidence can leave a job seeker feeling vulnerable and susceptible to bad advice – and that’s what scares me.

Here is what I ask of you:

If you are a job seeker, please really take the time to be honest with yourself.  Know your true strengths and weaknesses.  Seek out solid, practical and logical advice that will help you address and even talk about your weaknesses.  Learn how to maximize your strengths on your resume and when you interview.  Network with other job seekers both in and outside of your industry or occupation, attend face to face meetings, and learn new job search methods and creative ideas from others.  Ask these folks to review your resume – it helps!  Choose what you read, use common sense, and do your homework before you take any career advice.  Remember, some of these posts are written for marketing purposes without factual evidence.

If you’re blogging about careers and job searching, please be empathetic to your reader.  Wear the shoes of the unemployed who have not chosen this path. You have no idea how vulnerable someone might be so can you please keep the ridiculousness to a minimum.  I know that you have a business to run but please don’t push the envelope just because you can.  It’s not the right thing to do.

Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments. What advice do you have for job seekers today?

About the Author

Kimberly Patterson

Kimberly Patterson is the founder of Unconventional HR. An HR pro turned consultant, she has 25 years of progressive experience as a strategic HR and business leader in a variety of industries. Her hands-on and innovative approach allows her to create and deliver HR solutions to meet business challenges and needs by managing human capital, talent acquisition and technology. Connect with her on Twitter at, or at


Cris Janzen

Great post, Kimberly. I agree with you that the excess noise out there contributes to making it hard for smart people, when they have experienced loss, to separate the career advice wheat from the chaff.
It’s our duty as professionals to keep things as simple as possible while we remind people of their good instincts, common sense, and strengths…as Julie pointed out to help them spend less rather than more time unemployed. Call a resume a resume, rather than a “PMT – Personal Marketing Tool,” eh?

Julie Walraven | Resume Services

Hi Kimberly, some great points here! I do agree that there are career industry people who misconstrue advice and create a bigger problem for job seekers than the job loss itself. There is a lot of misinformation out there but there are also a lot of job seekers who are not choosing to follow the advice of the many career professionals who are caring, dedicated, and educated on the best ways to position themselves for a new job.

I understand that the name “elevator speech” may bother you but the essence of that phrase comes from people who would pass potential network contacts in an elevator (though it could be anywhere) and not be able to coherently say what they do. I have to admit that distilling what it is I do took some time. The advice is a 30 second speech that opens the door to further conversation. I think sometimes the hardest job is for a job seeker to define their gifts and talents and realize that they need to target their job search to be successful.

I have cried, laughed, and listened to job seekers for almost 30 years. I still share the story of the job I lost that made me launch my business as a full time effort. Walking in someone’s shoes, understanding the bumps helps with perspective. But at the same time, I am clear about what will work and what won’t work. I want to shorten a search not make someone stay unemployed for long periods of time.

I love what you do on #hireFriday with Margo and appreciate this post for all of the great points you make.

Diane Prince Johnston

Great post, Kimberly! While there is some good advice out there, some comments can come off as degrading. Just like anywhere else in life, we need to learn to weed out the outlandish and that is not easy during times of vulnerability.

Margo Rose

Excellent post Kimberly. This is a HireFriday must read. When it comes to career development consultants offer bad information, it hurts the rest of us. But, one bad apple doesn’t have to spoil the bunch. For every bad one I know 20 good ones. Those of us trying to make an honest living. No one deserves to be hurt by anyone, particularly a job seeker.

Good post, I retweeted it several times. We missed you during HireFriday yesterday, you must have been very busy, which is a good thing. Love ya,

Margo Rose

Kimberly Roden

Thank you for the comments and great points! There’s always homework to do in a job search… on companies, ourselves and others. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily happenings and hot topics that are all around us. I’m hoping that job seekers can keep their focus without irrelevant distractions. Thanks again!


Thumbs-up good read. I ‘ve been working with job seekers for more than 20 years, and everyone has an individual and deeply personal story. For the recently “downsized” finding their voice is challenging. Using it in an emotional maelstrom more so. These are not numbers, they’re people.

Thank you for reminding everyone of that simple point.

Dan Hardman

Thanks for the great article! It is nice to see that there are some experts that actually care about the unemployed! Thanks again!

Mervyn Dinnen

Great post Kimberly!

Advice on things like interview prep, knowing achievements and value adds, are fine but ultimately we’re talking about people, and every person is different.
You cannot give one size fits all advice, the worst thing you can do is advise someone to be something they’re not…
In Friendships and relationships we ask people to accept us and love us for who we are…so in job hunting people should be hired for who they are.


Love this post and I agree with all the points. How can you go wrong with simply 1) being yourself and 2) using common sense? You can’t.

Laura Vezer

Great post, Kimberly.

It’s easy for the “gurus” and “experts” to forget what it’s like to be a job seeker, isn’t it? I went through the interview process as a candidate recently, for the first time in many many years, and what I learnt from the whole experience was, that even though I thought I could remember what it was like to be a job seeker, I had become desensitized to some aspects (when a candidate is unsuccessful, for example) of the cycle. I forgot what it was like to be answering questions in front of a panel, instead of asking them. It’s a weird, and potentially nerve racking situation to be in, that’s for sure! Now imagine if it were three or four of those a week!? I don’t know if I could handle it!

I wonder how said gurus would go if they were to go through the interview process now? It would be interesting to see!

Finally – what the heck does a vehicle have to do with a person’s ability to do a job?!! That’s definitely one for the archives!

Great post, thanks for your insight!


Peter Lanc

Great advice. There are many who want to have their say but not all have the right way. Find people you can trust and develop relationships with them. You can get to know the “good ones” by following them on Twitter and other social media like Linkedin for a little while.

Taking an inventory of who you are is sound advice and I would add ask those who know you well and see what they say! You need to know who you are and often others see what you cannot..


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