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SACRAMENTO — Hope is such a wonderful word.  It is wrapped in an aura of positive thoughts, personal aspirations and expectations.  It is forwarding looking.

It can also be a deadly trap, an affliction that leads to failure.

hopeHaving hope for success is not the same thing as having a strategy with specific tactics to achieve success.

Makes sense, right?  Everyone can agree with that axiom, but you would be surprised at how many people — how many executives and managers — are crippled by hope in career management.  They want to succeed, they hope to succeed, but they are unwilling to do the heavy lifting it takes to be a success when competing for a job.

Victor Espinoza, who at 43 became the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown on Saturday, once said, when asked about his success, “Most people have dreams.  I have goals.”

Being successful in a job search these days is a lot harder than it was 20, 10 or even three years ago.  This is due, in large part, to the internet which affords a candidate instant access to hundreds of jobs in her or his field across the country.  Online job sites create immediacy and access.  It turns out that the internet is a classic two-edged sword.  This access also means that more people are looking at the same job, sometimes dozens, in some cases, hundreds.

Just doing what you always have done in a job search, sending the same resume to each potential employer, is all about hope.  You may be a successful executive who fell victim to a corporate restructuring but if you just sit in front of your computer and click the APPLY button all day long you become like the aspirational third-world college graduates sitting in front of their computers applying to hundreds, even thousands, of jobs they have no chance of getting.  Day in, day out, they sit in front of that screen hoping that if they send out enough resumes something good will happen.  It rarely does.

While the odds for an American executive applying for a job in the US are clearly much better, that does not mean the competition is any less formidable.  If you are content to use that one-size-fits-all resume, “You might as well drive by the employer’s headquarters and throw that resume out the window,” says outplacement and career management coach Nancy Swain.

Most of the resumes we receive for executive searches are generic.  It is the same document that the candidate sends to every potential employer.  It almost never addresses the needs of the client that are usually listed in the job posting.  They almost never highlight relevant accomplishments that play to what the employer is looking for.  Rather, they focus on where they have worked, for how long (more or less), their title and what they did.  The generic resume is as if the candidate is saying, “It is too much trouble to tailor my resume, to highlight my relevant accomplishments for this position.  I can do this job.  You figure it out.”


It is time for candidates to forget about hoping to get that great job and start doing what it takes to differentiate themselves with the employers/recruiters from all of the other candidates who seem content to sit in front of some computer screen clicking the SEND button.

A goal without a strategy and tactics that take into account the rapidly changing job search marketplace, is just so much hope.