The elephant in the room of your job search

Let me use a variation of the well-known metaphor of “the elephant in the room” to address a fundamental problem many job seekers across the world are not able or willing to see.

If someone’s job search is not going anywhere, it’s easy to blame the hiring managers or recruiters, the crowded job market, the government, or other external factors for it. While there may often be some truth to it, leaving the matter like that will not solve the problem as none of those factors are likely to improve fast (if they ever will at all). Moreover, chances are that they are not the real reasons in your case.

Is there an elephant in the room you haven’t noticed?

If you limit your problem analysis to the things you cannot control, however, you risk not becoming aware of “the elephant in the room”: that the lack of success in your job search is likely caused by a fundamentally flawed approach to it on your side.

Over the many years during which I’ve helped clients to overcome their obstacles to a great new job, I’ve identified three major causes of failure that can count as elephants in the room of people’s job search because it takes little effort to see them as soon as the will to do so is there.

So, if your job search has not been going anywhere for too long, check if it has not fallen victim to one of the following three major causes or a combination thereof:

1. A lack of focus

Your job search is likely to stay unfruitful if you have not defined a correct focus for it.
If you cannot tell what elements the kind of job you’re looking for exactly consists of, you can neither make the right decisions about what vacancies to look out and apply for nor present yourself to hiring managers in a convincing way.

So, if you realize that you cannot explain your focus to others in the form of an elevator pitch, you’ve found a showstopper you need to remove to give your applications a chance.

Here is how you can fix it.

2. A bad CV / résumé

Too many job applicants badly underestimate the decisive role that their CVs / résumés play.
A bad CV / résumé quickly becomes a showstopper because it is the only thing that represents you as an applicant at the early stages of the process. If the CV / résumé is bad, even a good cover letter will usually not save your chances anymore.

Moreover, as many companies are flooded with bad job applications, the first decision about further consideration of a particular application is often made within 60 seconds only. If your application does not survive that, there will be no second chance and you are out.

So, if you realize that your document cannot make a professional and highly convincing impression on the relevant readers at their very first glance, you’ll need to fix this to get more invitations for job interviews.

Use my CV / résumé checklist to analyze the quality of your current document and to improve it. To get it for free, send an empty email to:

3. A lack of networking

As I explain on the page “Discover the giant hidden job market”, limiting your job search to the use of well-known job portals not only limits the number of suitable vacancies you become aware of significantly but also makes you face strong competition from other applicants.

If you are not a perfect candidate, having to compete with a high number of other applicants for every open position you’ve found usually leaves all your efforts without any chance.

The only way to avoid both problems is to focus your activities on professional networking. If you are not up to speed with it yet, it’s essential to get that showstopper out of the way.

Here is a great way to start.

Let others help you

Trust my longstanding experience: if you dare to check your current approach to your job search for those three elephants in the room and you adapt your efforts accordingly, you will normally not have to worry about limiting external factors any longer.

I recommend you also involve the help of friends or professional support because such an “elephant in the room” is usually easier to spot for others.