Because everyone should dig their job

Zombie Career Advice – How to Save Yourself from It

By Kathleen Winsor Games

One of the things I have observed throughout my years as a career coach is that there are certain career myths that, try as I might, I can’t seem to kill off.

Certain ill-founded career beliefs tend to resurrect themselves again and again. Like a zombie, these myths appear to have a mind of their own, and unfortunately, can do real damage to your career.

This month we will examine the top career zombies that resurface regularly and will provide advice on how to save yourself from each.

The Outdated Job Search Zombie

This zombie sounds like this:

“I need a career change after many years of feeling unfulfilled (or I was unexpectedly laid off) so the first thing I should do is update my resume and start applying for jobs.”

Whoa, hold the presses! What I hear often is that by using a tactical resume, you are getting few interviews and those interviews don’t lead to job offers. As a result, your job search turns into a mystifying struggle with an unclear career direction.

What is missing in this instance is a clear vision of where you can do your best work, followed by a strategy for getting there.

That means taking time to calibrate your values, strengths, and ideal role, as well as researching to identify companies that hire people like you.

Notice the order of the process outlined in the sentence above. Too often, clients tell me they think their skills are transferable and they hope the hiring manager or recruiter will see that. That is an unlikely outcome.

Instead of beginning your job search by looking at job postings to see where you fit in, start with clarifying the work you do best. That means articulating your values, strengths, accomplishments, and measurable impact in your current or previous positions.

Once you have a clear picture of your marketable skills, figure out who hires people like you (not necessarily who has openings today).

The resume you write after this process is more likely to be the outcome of a smart strategy. Hiring managers and recruiters respond favorably to a well-thought out, targeted resume. Using this content on your LinkedIn

Career Advice that Once Worked, But is (hopelessly) Outdated

As we continue to explore what I call Zombie Career Advice and provide insights on how to save your career from these myths that just won’t die.

Here are a few examples of Zombie Career Advice:

  • Career advice you have heard over and over that doesn’t work

  • Myth versus Reality in job search and career change (well-meaning advice that doesn’t help)

  • Career advice that once worked, but is outdated

This week the myth I would like to address is called, “The Career Short Cut Zombie” and it sounds like this:

“I will get a recruiter to help me change careers because the service is free to me and I won’t have to look for a job.”

If you are not familiar with the role the recruiter plays, this is an understandable belief.

The fact is, recruiters are paid by the hiring company to find the best person currently performing the job. If the hiring company can offer career advancement, a more effective manager to report to, or a more favorable culture, the move could make sense and a hire can take place.

Recruiters are not career coaches. They don’t have time to give career advice. Companies are reluctant to pay a fee and only do so when they can hire proven talent.

This means that you really do need to learn about current self-marketing strategies. No one should have more interest in your career success than you, so why not add this important skill?

What are some of your favorite Zombie Career Advice myths?

We are compiling a list to see how many career zombies we can kill off. (We also hope to get a few laughs in the process.) Here are a few to get you started:

  • Get a job and stick with it until you retire

  • Start your job search before you clarify a career vision and strategy

  • You can just walk in the door and get a job

  • It’s not polite to brag (self-promotion is bad)

  • Take any job you can get and be grateful!

  • Who do you think you are, wanting a job that you like?

  • Someone will “give” you a job


Do get a “survival job” if you need one.

Don’t stop the reinvention process!