Navigating Through the Hidden or Unadvertised Job Market: 8 Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them So You Can Move Confidently and Purposefully Forward Towards Your Goal

When you are setting up a turnkey job search campaign and trying to tap into the hidden job market, you may happen upon some hurdles that can stop you in your tracks, shake your confidence and cause you to doubt yourself – or tempt you to settle for much less than you know you deserve. Here are 8 common pitfalls and how you can avoid them:

Pitfall #1: Thought Paralysis

Do you find yourself talking your way out of multiple potential opportunities? You may have job search thought paralysis! This can lead to hours of heavy contemplation and internal dialogue concerning each move your make in your job search. Soon hours turn into days and days turn into weeks!

Don’t fall for negative internal dialogue! No one can know what company is hiring internally and you can’t read the minds of potential employers. Countless times my clients have told me that their incredible job opportunity came from the most surprising place or out of the most unique circumstances.

The solution? If in doubt, send your resume anyway.

Pitfall #2: Fear

Bill Briggs was the first man to ski Wyoming’s Grand Tetons. His friends told him it was impossible and he was crazy. On top of that, Bill had a surgically fused hip. He knew he would have to reckon with cliffs thousands of feet high, falling rock and potential avalanches.

Regardless, he took the challenge. Bill stated simply, “If there is no risk, there is no adventure. Adventure is a part of life.”

Your career – and certainly the wild ride of changing jobs – is indeed an adventure, and one that makes demands on your virtues, including your bravery. It is worth giving your job search 100% simply because you are worth the job you want.

How do you get through the fear? By facing it head on. Break the inertia caused by fear with action. Make a list. Do at least one thing right now. Do two more things tomorrow. Three simple steps will get you traction and lead you quickly and positively to more action.

Pitfall #3: Perfection Paralysis

Do you feel like everything has to be perfect before you can move forward? This is a common pitfall that can stop your job search before it even begins. Your goal needs to be progress, not perfection. Although this might not be your motto in other areas of life, when it comes to your job search, the key is implementation.

A client once said to me regarding making follow up phone calls, “I just can’t get it right.” Of course we all need a solid and effective phone script, but the secret isn’t in getting it right as much as it is just getting it done.

The best way to move forward is to make a list regarding whatever project you are working on. Detail each step you need to take. Now make a note of what tasks you can do, what tasks you don’t know how to do, and what tasks you know how to do but don’t want to do. Now you can figure out what you can start on right now, what you need to farm out to someone else, and what you need to hire someone to help you with.

Pitfall #4: Doing Everything Yourself

Not knowing how to do something often acts like quicksand and can stop your whole job search in its tracks. Conducting a job search involves a lot of small parts. One of the reasons why it is so tempting to fall back on job boards is because it has a system. You do A, B, and C and then you’re done. And you feel like you have at least done something.

To avoid this you have to make the things you should be doing manageable. You must create a system so that your job search is turnkey.

There are also the mundane tasks that are associated with a job search. Have you ever figured out how much you make by the hour? If you make around 100k per year at an 8-hour a day / 5-day per week position, you would be making about $48 per hour. So, if you spend hours and hours trying to rewrite your resume yourself, printing out resumes and licking envelopes, you need to ask yourself, “Are these tasks worth $48 an hour?”

Sub this energy draining work out! Hire a resume writer. Go to InstiPrints. Hire a virtual assistant or your own teenager and get them to help you with the administration for a third of the cost of doing it yourself. This way you can concentrate on the big payoff activities that are worth your salary. This will ensure that these important tasks get done and you stay motivated!

Pitfall #5: Not Being Open to Try New Job Search Methods

In this job market you are going to have very little success if all you do is answer a handful of posted jobs. My clients who are having success right now are the ones that are using direct mail programs, learning how to research and use strategies to tap into the hidden job market (actually quite easy), and learning about social networking.

Pitfall #6: Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket

I worked with a client once who secured three interviews a week after I sent her final resume copies. She was so excited and I was excited for her. But when I asked her how her job search strategies were going, she said she was just waiting for her immediate interviews to pan out before she did anything else.

Though I encouraged her not to do this, her mind was made up. Six weeks later, all three potential job opportunities fell through and my client was left with an empty basket and the daunting task of starting all over again from scratch. Moral of the story: keep your pipeline full and your job search activities consistent until your first day at your new company.

Pitfall #7: No Strategy

In order to be successful in your job search, you have to have a foundation of basic goals and a clear understanding of your driving motivators. If you don’t, you’re not going to know what to focus on or where to best invest your time and energy.

I have worked with job seekers who, when they first came to me, shared that they had been in “I’ll know it when I see it” job search mode for over a year with nothing to show for it. So, know what industries you are targeting and why, what your salary goals are, your timeframe and your basic game plan before trying to move forward. You’ll be so glad you did!

Pitfall #8: Work/Life Imbalance

You can’t job search 8 hours a day. Well, you can – but if you do, you will probably be feeling drained and burnt out in no time at all. During a job search you will most likely be experiencing more stress than normal, so it’s important that you take better care of yourself and take more time off then perhaps you are accustomed. This isn’t a luxury! It’s actually a vital part of your successful job search.

Eat right, get plenty of rest and do plenty of those things you love to do. This way you will have enough energy for creativity and strategy. You will be rested, clear-headed and enthusiastic in your job interviews, which will make a positive impression.

So if you see yourself in any one of these pitfalls, take heart and use these simple techniques to break through the hurdles so you can stay focused and confident as you move toward the career opportunity you really want.

Mary Elizabeth Bradford is the Founder and Executive Director of and and a past executive recruiter. A thought leader in the career services industry for over 20 years, she holds 5 distinct advanced certifications for senior-level resume writing, online branding and executive-level job search coaching (CERM, CMRW, CARW, MCD, NCOPE). She has been seen and heard in major media including Forbes, Time, WSJ, Newsweek and NBC affiliate stations. She holds 2 CDI TORI awards and is a top tier judge for the elite CDI TORI awards for four consecutive years. Mary Elizabeth Bradford’s elite team of award-winning, certified, top executive resume writers, former top executive recruiters, and global HR executives help many of the world’s premier C-suite, board members and thought leaders secure the transitions and compensation packages they want. She works with clients all over the globe.

If you are a Director, VP, CxO, or Board Member interested in an executive resume package or working directly with Mary Elizabeth, click to schedule a complimentary 15-minute call.