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Best of year’s job search tips

DALE: It’s time for our annual review, where we pick our best advice from this year’s columns.

J.T.: And with that advice goes our wish that 2021 will be a year where your career flourishes. We’re standing by – let us know if we can help.

n On landing a job that doesn’t exist: There’s a market for jobs that don’t currently exist. These are positions that a company might create for the right person (as in an executive thinking, “I met this woman who could really help us expand our online operations”) or that company management is just starting to contemplate (as in an entrepreneur thinking, “I think we are getting big enough that we need our own IT person”). This can be networking at its highest level, creating a job where there wasn’t one.

• On loving working from home and being told it’s time to go back to the office: If your employer is adamant about returning to the office, you’ll want to test the job market. Many companies are starting to map out what their “new co” looks like and will be hiring remote workers as a way to save on the overhead costs in their workspaces. Now that you know you thrive working from home, it’s up to you to pivot your career in a direction that will let you leverage this newfound strength!

• On having paid $2,000 to a résumé writer: What most people don’t understand is that résumé writers design the résumé to impress you, not a hiring manager. The result is that you sound really self-important, which is actually the opposite of what recruiters are looking for. No matter how great your résumé, it probably isn’t going to get you a job. If you are only applying online, then you are essentially not job searching at all. In spite of all this technology, the majority of jobs are gotten via referral today. The sooner you start networking the better!

• On being told by a recruiter that your résumé should be more detailed: No! The résumé worked perfectly! You gave just enough info to make the recruiter call you, which gave you a chance to make a connection and use your personality to move yourself forward in the process. If you go to a multipage résumé, you are giving recruiters more reasons to screen you out, which is their job. That’s why the trend these days is to simplify the résumé so that there is only enough info to generate interest.

• On having your boss tell you he’s unhappy with your work: You must immediately initiate a massive job search. Meanwhile, you must not get fired – that’ll just make the job search tougher, and you might end up desperate and willing to compromise. Go to your boss with a list of five improvements for you to work on. Also, ask your boss if you can check back every week or two and see how you’re doing. This will buy you months of time for a better job to appear, or time to make your boss glad to have you.

• On discovering that the company is losing interest in the project your team is working on: You are wise to be thinking ahead. There are plenty of people who think that doing their work is all that matters to career success. Remember A.B.L. – Always Be Looking. That doesn’t mean constantly searching job postings; rather, it means networking in your profession and being cognizant of where else you could move in the organization.

• On learning your co-worker makes more than you do: The real question is, what does the co-worker have that you don’t? Next ask: Are you confident that you are, in fact, worth more than you’re making? If so, you should be able to list out why. Then, and only then, can you go to your boss and set a meeting and say: “I would like to do some career planning with you. I love working here, but I also am focused on earning more money. Can you walk me through what you’d need to see from me so I could earn more?”

• On thinking of confronting a co-worker who’s moonlighting on company time: Stay out of it. If he gets caught, it’s on him. Moonlighters usually end up leaving to do their side hustle full time or get caught and in trouble. You don’t have to get involved – let karma do its job.

• On being told you’re too wordy in job interviews: You have to start doing better interview prep. Make a list of all the questions you’ve been asked in interviews. Next, use the Experience + Learn = Grow model to write out the answers to each one. Explain the facts, keeping it simple. Summarize what it taught you, and then share how you will use what you’ve learned in your next job with them. This kind of logical storytelling will keep you on track and help you make sense. Practicing this will help you feel less nervous and let you pay attention to your voice tone and pace in the meeting.

• On having spent 30 years with one company and now looking for a job: Putting all 30 years of experience on your résumé could work against you. First, there’s age discrimination. Sad, but true. Second, it could seem that you really haven’t tried to grow your career. Experience isn’t what it used to be. With the economy changing as quickly as ours does, and knowledge exploding, there’s an advantage to being part of multiple organizations to see how they work and adapt. These days, every good job is about change, and change itself is a career asset.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2020 by King Features Syndicate Inc.