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Job Hunting, Job Search Tips, Resumes & Cover Letters

A Simple Reason Why Many Are Still Unemployed


Question mark

Question mark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bet I got you hooked with that title?

I made what I feel to be an important conclusion regarding many of my jobseekers and why they haven’t yet returned to work: they don’t follow instructions.

At least three times in the past week I have given explicit instructions on how to improve a resume, only to get the same thing back when the work was done. Now I realize resumes can be mystifying to those who have not needed them in the past several years, but how hard is it to understand “take off work history older than ten years”?

I teach a Perfecting Applications module from time to time. In it I talk about the importance of following instructions when filling out job applications. Employers screen out job applicants who do not.

I hand out a questionnaire. It starts with a statement of instructions, including the instruction NOT to answer any of the questions until after you have read all of them. After several questions about basic information – name, occupation sought, etc – Question 7 says to not complete any answer on this form except Question 10 (which asks if you read the instructions at the start). Additionally, I tell my students they have 5 minutes to complete this questionnaire. The pressure of time makes most of my students skip the instructions. Toward the end of the 5 minutes I hear an audible reaction as most of them realize their error.

Job seekers feel under the gun to get things right and do so quickly. I think that’s why many people still use the “spray and pray” approach to sending out resumes – it’s quick, easy, and gives the feeling of widespread accomplishment. Surely one of those employers will bite. Usually they do not.

Sometimes the instructions can be confusing. There is no harm in asking an HR representative to clarify the process.  I tell my jobseekers to do that all the time. Yet they don’t. I wonder why – is it that they feel they will be screened out because they asked a question?

It may take a little longer to read and understand all the instructions given in applying for a job. It may be a little more intensive and tedious to follow instructions an employment specialist gives on improving your resume. But in my experience it is the ones who do who get back to work faster.

About kimberlyjmyers

I am a workforce development professional in Washington State. I have ten years experience working with dislocated workers, vocationally impaired, and people with disabilities on many levels and backgrounds from offenders to non-English speaking refugees from around the world. The One thing the clients I have worked with all had in common: there was some barrier to employment, and I work diligently every day to identify, address and remove those barriers.


2 thoughts on “A Simple Reason Why Many Are Still Unemployed

  1. As an employment advisor, I see the same thing at least once a week. I agree, not all clients understand resumes well enough to make their own changes, but when I write out the instructions, they still don’t follow them.
    I do point out to them that when applying for a job, it’s essential that they follow the employer’s instructions or their application/resume may be ignored. Most will comply then, but some just won’t. Some have told me
    that they believe they’re being creative and that will get them noticed. Most clients seem to believe that quantity is more important than quality, and so send out dozens of resumes or applications without knowing
    the requirements of the job or what method of delivery the employer’s asking for.

    If anybody knows a cure, I’d really love to hear suggestions.

    Posted by Kathy Boonstra | April 11, 2012, 10:45 am


  1. Pingback: A New Jobseeking Strategy– Visualization! « Job Seeking Today - May 28, 2012

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