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by Erik Sorenson | May 18, 2009


It wasthe great English poet-philosopher William Blake who said, "To generalize isto be an idiot. To particularize is the alone distinction."  That was in the 18thcentury, but great truths don't change, even in 200 years.  And when it comes to job search andcareer advancement in the 21st century, generalizing can be fatal.

Let meexplain why generalizing can kill your chances by presenting some"conventional wisdom" (generalizations all) and then, the reality(particulars).

Unemploymentis 8.9% so there can't be any jobs – Sure, it makes sensethat "nobody" could be hiring if "everybody" is layingpeople off, except everybody is not downsizing and even those who are may behiring in other offices or for specific positions.  In fact, more people have been hired this year in the U.S.than have been laid off. 

NorthCarolina doesn't have jobs in wake of B of A and Wachovia downsizing – It'scertainly true that those large employers have laid off workers and stoppedhiring, and the unemployment rate has hit almost 11%, however there arehundreds of new jobs being offered by biotech and pharma companies looking forpeople with skills in chemistry and engineering.

Thereare no jobs in media, especially in New York – Thismakes sense, on the surface, as the economic meltdown has led to cutbacks inadvertising and a general tightening of the media job market.  However, on-line advertising continuesto grow and I know (personally) more than a dozen people who have been hired inthe past six months to sales & marketing positions at media companies inManhattan (including mainstream).

It'seasy to get a job in Government right now – Stimuluspackage equals more jobs equals a job for you.  Well, not so fast, unfortunately.  Indeed, though the government currently has huge hiringneeds, those jobs are among the hardest on earth to actually land.  First you have to navigate achallenging application process, then you have to be chosen from among millionsof applicants who believe the same generality as you, then you have navigate abrutal interviewing and vetting process, and then (in most cases) you have towait for weeks and weeks for approval.

The moral of this post is:  don't make assumptions based on generalities and do yourhomework on every aspect of your job search.  Look for shifts within industries, localized opportunities,and companies behaving exceptionally versus their competition.  Force yourself to thinkcounter-intuitively.  Assume thereis a silver lining to every negative generality and that will increase yourchance of a successful career transition.




Filed Under: Job Search

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