by Meridith Levinson

It’s not you. It’s the economy.

Apr 01, 20094 mins

Time for a reality check: Your lack of progress in your job search isn’t due to any personal or professional deficiency, says Executive Recruiter Mark Jaffe.

Yesterday I got a press release from one Mark Jaffe, an executive recruiter with Wyatt & Jaffe. The sarcasm-laden pitch addressed the fear and desperation that have seized many job-seekers because of the recession. It also offered Jaffe’s advice for staying confident and making a good impression on potential employers.

One of Jaffe’s tips stood out, and I thought it was worth sharing. It was to not take rejection in your job search personally. His press release notes:

It’s not you. It’s the economy. Please, please remember that what’s happening is a reflection of the overall economy. It’s not a commentary on your specific qualifications. Sometimes stuff just happens…and we all get stuffed in the process. Don’t take it personally.”

In other words, lots of highly qualified people (like yourself) are on the market and aren’t getting responses to their résumés or callbacks for interviews—let alone job offers. It’s not because you lack credentials. It’s not because you’re doing something wrong. It’s the economy, so don’t beat yourself up over the lack of progress you’re making in your job search. 

Some of his other thought-provoking tips include:

Revitalize, don’t reinvent. Here, Jaffe attacks the idea that job seekers need to “reinvent” themselves for today’s job market. The notion of “repackaging” oneself has indeed become a catch phrase in career management circles. 

“Leave the instant makeovers for people who have something to hide,” writes Jaffe. “Companies need the experience and accomplishments you’ve earned over time. Leverage what you already have instead of focusing on what you fear you may lack.” 

It’s sensible advice and goes a long way toward helping people feel confident about their experience, rather than makimg them feel old, tired and out-of-touch.

You’re money’s no good here. Jaffe cautions job seekers against getting suckered by career coaches: “When times get tough, the tough get pitched a bunch of crap,” he writes. “If someone offers to craft you a ‘killer résumé’, put you in touch with the ‘hidden job market’ or coach you to become a newer, more marketable you…keep your wallet in its holster. Whether they’re asking for $3,000 or $300, it’s overpriced.”

Personally, I hesitate to portray all career coaches as snake-oil salesmen. They  provide a worthwhile service—especially to people who need help with their communication and marketing skills—and their customers vouch for them. (For more information about the services career coaches offer, see my feature story, Everything You Need to Know About Hiring a Career Coach.)

Seduction trumps selling. Jaffe points out that the dismal job market has made some job seekers overly aggressive: They think they need to beat prospective employers over the head with their qualifications, and they resort to telling hiring managers that they’re the “perfect candidate” rather than letting their experience speak for itself. 

“In business as in love, infatuation rarely results from a hard sell or a soft shoe routine,” contends Jaffe. “By all means explain, but resist the urge to exclaim. Let people reach their own conclusions about just how ‘world class’ an employee you are.”  

The one recommendation wich which I flat out disagree is to resist taking a job that’s a temporary fix. He urges job seekers to choose their next job wisely and not take jobs as stop-gap measures. The reality is, people need to pay their mortgages and feed their families. For more of my take on this idea, see my previous Career Connection blog, Should You Take a Lower Level Job?

Let me know what you think of Jaffe’s advice.