We all do it at one time or another. We blame someone or something for what’s going wrong in our lives. We can’t do something we want because of a law, so we blame the lawmakers. We can’t get into a certain school, so we blame the university’s board of admissions. We are tired, so we blame the neighbor’s dog for keeping us awake all night.

In the job search, there’s a lot of blame to go around. We can’t get a job, so we blame the human resources manager, the recruiter, the hiring manager, the resume writer or the economy for being enemies of the unemployed.

Understandably, there is a lot of frustration right now, and job search can be a soul-battering experience. At the end of the day, though, blame is a dangerous game. While there is certainly plenty of finger-pointing to go around, blame often leads to self-defeating behaviors. Those include:

1. Anger and Bad Attitude. These attitudes exude in email and in-person communications with potential job search influencers and interviewers. That chip on your shoulder is not appealing. No wonder no one wants to talk to you or respond to your resume submission.

2. Unwillingness to Change. This obstinance means you don’t listen to good advice, and thus, you keep doing the same thing over and over, yielding the same no-results outcome.

3. Inability to See Opportunity. Yes, opportunities are everywhere; they are in your email, in your social media stream, offline at the local industry association meeting or during personal downtime visiting with friends. If your vision is impaired, however, you aren’t seeing them; you are missing out.

You can change this today by:

1. Adjusting Your Attitude. It can start with a forced smile, as the simple act of smiling can often trigger a visceral, more optimistic response. Then, reach out to resources (people, books, a sunny setting, a funny movie) that boost your mood. Determine to feel happier. A happier state of mind turns into a more hopeful and positive attitude, which is directly reflected in conversations with career influencers and hiring managers.

2. Allowing Change. Stamp out your stubbornness and realize that changing the way you think and/or do things doesn’t mean you were wrong, necessarily, but that there are other points of view. There are other ways of doing things, and your tunnel vision may be derailing just the result you are desperate to achieve. Listen to what others have to say about how to conduct an effective job search. Try an idea or two on for size without nitpicking. You might be surprised at the result if you really listen to – and apply – good advice.

3. Finding Opportunities. We often get bogged down in ourselves, convinced that we’re the only ones with problems so bad that we can barely breathe. We are convinced that no opportunities exist for someone in our situation. Stop this thinking today – open yourself back up to the possibilities. You will start seeing those glimmers of opportunities, and those will turn into sparks, and then, fiery moments of optimism and hope that turn into your next great gig.

While this message may feel a bit Pollyanna-ish, it is much needed. These points are elemental ‘basics’ of a proactive, forward-moving search. Without the basics in place, none of the other ‘paddling’ you are frantically doing to stay afloat will help. Your job search will continue to sink under the weight of blame.


Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, chief career writer and partner with CareerTrend, and is one of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) globally. An intuitive researcher, she helps professionals unearth compelling career story details to help best present their unique experience, skillset and interests in resumes and other career positioning documents as well as through social media profiles. In addition to being interviewed for television and radio stories, Jacqui has written for the Career Management Alliance Connection monthly newsletter and blog, ExecuNet’s Career Smart Advisor, The Kansas City Star, The Business Journal and The Wall Street Journal. In addition, she and her husband, “Sailor Rob,” host a lively careers-focused blog over at http://careertrend.net/blog. Jacqui also is a power Twitter user listed on several “Best People to Follow” lists for job seekers.