Decide What Not To Do In Your Job Search

Whenever I coach people on job searching, they usually feel overwhelmed.  They have many options, many possibilities – and many things to panic about and be terrified of.  There’s so many things to get done and so many potential problems to head off that they freak out, shut down, or burn themselves out.  Sometimes they manage all three (in about that order).

We’re taught more is always better.  More of this.  More of that.  More apps.  More memory.  We miss that more is not always good, better, or desirable, but I think that’s a larger cultural/economic issue to discuss another time and another blog.

So here’s a very important piece of advice for you in your job search – and indeed your career.

Decide what not to do.

No, I’m serious, you can’t do it all.  So you have to make strategic decisions to say ‘no’ to something and mean it.

Sure, you can probably do anything.  You’re a geek like me and the rest of the Justice League of Weirdos here.  You’re smart, talented, wired, and probably charged up on caffiene.

But still you can’t do everything.

If you try and do everything, you’ll miss the important things.

If you try and do everything, you won’t do the important things as well as you should.

If you try and do everything, you’re more likely to waste time.

If you try and do everything, you can’t keep track of it all.

If you try and do everything, you will burn out.

Trust me on this.  I’ve seen it.  I’ve heard of it.  A few times, I’ve even done it.  This is why last job search I set boundaries on my time and kept an appropriate focus.  It kept me very sane during a crazy period.

So when you look at your job search strategy, you need to decide:

  • When something isn’t working or appropriate – so you can stop.
  • When a piece of advice, technique, tool, or job board isn’t worth it – so you remove it from your plans.
  • Why you are not doing some of these things – so you don’t keep going over it in your head.

What you don’t do is just as important as what you do in a job search.  To give you a few examples from my own life:

  • When I had decided to move out of a particular area, I identified specific regions I wanted to live in and targeted them.  It made sure I was focused, could learn where to move, got to know markets, and didn’t have to worry later if I wanted to live some where.
  • I have excluded given companies and industries from my search as I have no interest in them.  It’s not worth my time for something I know I wouldn’t like.
  • I have excluded certain websites from job searches as they didn’t help.  Better to miss one opportunity than waste an hour better spent.
  • I had to decide on what networking to do since you can’t meet everyone.

Decide what not to do.  The lack of things will make what you are doing much more likely to succeed.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at