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It’s What You Know For Sure That Ain’t So That Hamstrings Your Job Search

Posted November 20th, 2019 | Author: Admin

“It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”


This quote is filled with so much truth on so many levels. It is frequently attributed to Mark Twain but when you tell people it ain’t so they often don’t believe it.  “But they used it at the start of a movie, it must be so,” one friend pushed back She was right, it was used at the start of The Big Short, the wonderful movie based on Michael Lewis’ brilliant book of the same name that chronicled events that led up to The Great Recession in 2009, but the truth is there is no evidence that Twain ever said that or anything similar.  

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However, I  really like the quote and so I drag it out now and then to illustrate an important point, in this case, an immutable truth.  When an executive suddenly, unexpectedly, finds him or herself in the job market, most get off on the wrong foot because they assume they already know everything they need to know to find a new job. This mistaken assumption is aptly illustrated by my quote’s kicker:  Its what you know for sure that just ain’t so. Here is a sampling of what he knew for sure:

  • He was convinced that social media was irrelevant for executives
  • He could send the same resume for each job he pursued
  • The most qualified candidates always got the job
  • He did not need to practice for interviews.  The clients are smart and will figure out the best person for the job.

I wish I had come to you a lot earlier in my search.  You really helped me.”  While that was nice of him to say, he deserves all the credit.  He was the star of the process. When we identified what he needed to change to succeed, he zealously focused on mastering the new rules for finding a new job.  He was disciplined and worked hard.  It paid off.  

On Friday a client called with the great news that he had been offered, and accepted, a new job as the CEO of a community hospital near his home.  He will not have to relocate, a possibility that he and his family were dreading.  “I wish I had come to you a lot earlier in my search.  You really helped me.”  While that was nice of him to say, he deserves all the credit.  He was the star of the process. When we identified what he needed to change to succeed, he zealously focused on mastering the new rules for finding a new job.  He was disciplined and worked hard.  It paid off.  

One day, at the end of one of our mock interview coaching sessions, he confided that he was truly surprised at how the job market had changed so much in recent years.  ‘I thought I understood. I lost a lot of time in my search.”

If you find yourself in the job market, don’t waste valuable time or your severance allowance.  Engage someone who can guide you through the process.  If you are tempted to save the money because you can do it yourself, remember, “Its what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

© 2019 John Gregory Self

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