Could one of your job search problems be that you’re using obsolete information?

How do you think obsolete job search information causes you to brand yourself on your resume and during an interview?

When you use obsolete information in your job research, you focus on keywords, employer issues and employer problems that aren’t problems anymore – because they’ve already been solved. That’s why the information is obsolete.

When you use obsolete information in your employer background research, you start to think of ways that you can help that employer … based on old information. Basically, you brand yourself as the perfect candidate to solve last year’s problems.

Let’s think a moment. Do you think that many employers are looking to hire an expert at solving problems the hiring manager no longer has?

Of course not.

Instead, hiring managers seek new hires who have already solved similar problems to the priority problems they face right now… even problems expected roughly 6 months in the future.

Using obsolete information makes you the perfect solution for someone else’s problem … rather than the employer’s current problems.

So why do candidates routinely brand themselves as being experts at problems that have already been solved … that are not longer priority issues? Why do candidates brand themselves as obsolete?

It’s not done on purpose – who would brand themselves as obsolete intentionally? Who would use obsolete information if they knew it was obsolete?

The problem is that most of us were taught to use obsolete information in our job search … because a few years ago, when there were shortages of candidates, it was good enough. However, in today’s job market of job shortages, resumes based on obsolete information are no longer adequate. When a hiring manger has an average 1,000 applicants to choose from, all of whom have the ability to customize a resume to reflect the hiring manager’s needs, when you customize your resume using obsolete information, hiring managers expect to find candidates who have solved similar problems to their current priority issues.

… And I’ll bet you’re using obsolete information in your job search and you don’t even realize it.

3 most commonly used sources of obsolete job search information

  1. Google: Yep, that’s right. If you’re using Google to find information on a prospective employer, that information is obsolete. How could it be obsolete, you ask … It’s Google. Google’s employer information is obsolete because employers almost never talk about current problems – because they don’t want competitors, customers, the government nor shareholders to know about these problems, until they have been solved. When you see a problem or issue discussed about a company on Google, it’s one of two things:
      • A past problem that’s already been solved: In other words, obsolete.
      • A rare PR disaster: PR disasters sometimes happen, but they’re rare. While employers try to control the information that’s released to the web, occasionally employees mess up and say the wrong thing to the press. Also, Social Media can make a PR nightmare of its own, but unsubstantiated Social Media can also be suspect, unless validated by the employer (which rarely happens). Don’t count on finding PR disasters, but if you happen to stumble across one that just happened, it could be a legitimate hot issue for the employer.
  2. Employer Website: Since the employer writes everything on its website, the website presents a very tightly controlled communication … Even more so for public company financials. Don’t believe me? Go look at some … you’ll see descriptions of products/services, names of executives, but look for discussions of operational issues. You’ll see descriptions and stories of past problems that have been solved. Remember, the employer has complete control over its website. If the employer disclosed current problems for competitors, customers, the government, shareholders and you to see, a whole department isn’t doing their job – not just one person, but a whole department has made multiple major screw-ups.
  3. Job Description: How can the job description be obsolete, you wonder? Simple – it’s constantly changing … plus, it was probably written months ago (or longer). As problems continue to be solved and new problems arise, even the most basic job descriptions are constantly in flux. As new people join the department and others leave, skills gaps and needs constantly change. Do you think that hiring manager constantly update job descriptions to reflect these changes? Of course not – Hiring managers would be spending their entire day rewriting job descriptions that were only likely to change again soon.

So think about when the job description you’re looking at was likely written. For new positions, job descriptions are typically written before the budget process – because the hiring manager uses the job description to get headcount approval. For most employers, this happens in July-September, in the 3rd quarter for positions that will be hired in the next year. This means that for new positions advertised in January, the job description is at least 3-4 months old … at the end of the year, the job description could be over a year old. Why don’t hiring managers update them? Because hiring managers know they’ll keep changing.

How about for a replacement position? Most replacement position job descriptions are recycled from the last person in the job. Why don’t hiring managers update them? Because hiring managers know they’ll keep changing.

Don’t believe me? Have you ever lost out on an interview (or position) because your resume lacked something that wasn’t even on the job description? It’s maddening, but it happens all the time … because employer problems and needs change, making job descriptions quickly obsolete.

So think about your job search, your resume and the information you’ve used to create/customize your resume.

Are you using information that describes the hiring manager’s current problems and needs?

Or is your information and your personal brand obsolete?

Watch out for my column next week, where I’ll discuss how to find information that keeps your personal brand current.