Career Advice Opinion

Are you guilty of “False Diligence”?

By AAEE — October 02, 2013 3 min read
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I hear this a lot: “I’ve been applying everywhere, updating often, doing EVERYTHING.... but getting no results.” In this digital age, you may feel like you are being diligent, but are you really? Another way to define false diligence is the old term “Spinning your wheels.” So how do you get some traction?

Spend your time wisely:

Whether you have been in the job search for a while or you are just starting out, it might be helpful to think about how people get their jobs and how you are approaching the search. For example, if you are spending 80% of your time doing online applications and only 5% of the positions are filled through the online system, you may want to reallocate your time to a more effective approach. The traditional approach to the job search hasn’t changed much over the years. Employers still find many candidates via referrals.


You have heard it before, but here it is again....NETWORK! Connect with people. Referrals, Direct Contact and Agencies (your college career center qualifies as an agency!) account for nearly 95% of successful hires. This doesn’t mean you should only spend 5% of your time online - anyone who has ever tried to “quickly” apply online knows that it can be very time consuming (if you do it right!) - but you should not rely solely on that source. As any financial advisor will tell you, diversification is a key to financial success. The same applies to the job search. Diversify your strategy; and seek advice from a professional. What works for your friends may not work for you. Shameless plug - Your career center is a great source for professional assistance.


A key to an effective search is to organize, and to keep good records and notes. A simple chart of applications is a good start, but record follow-up activity, names of contacts, even news articles about the school can be surprisingly helpful. Set goals such as when to next connect with the person or school. This simple action can keep you from going back every day to check a site or posting when you really only need to do it every week. Likewise, it can remind you to do a task that you may have put off too long. One hint: update or look at your online applications each week. Many will show the last time you updated the account and employers increasingly notice applications that are current and show recent activity.


To a certain extent, repetition is a valuable tool, as long as it is not overused. Think about your own teaching style - we use repetition for effect. A solid writing technique is “Tell them what you are going to tell them; Tell them; and Tell them what you told them.” Use that same strategy in the job search. Keep applying and they will begin to remember your name. Remember to always state your name or to have it on every item. Your name is what you want them to remember - consider it “branding” to use a marketing term.

Make it easy to hire you:

Part of being diligent is to be prepared and to anticipate what is needed. Respond in a timely manner, but do so completely. If you have a request for materials and it will take a day to collect them all, let the person know that. A quick note of “I will submit the entire packet to you as soon as possible” is preferable to receiving four different submissions: a resume in one, a transcript in another and a couple of other mailings with a reference and a writing sample. Send them all at once to simplify the filing and minimize the chance they will be lost. Have a set of what the employer will need to hire you available even at the interview - resume, transcript, test scores, references (or a list of them) and clearances are fairly standard requirements.

Good luck with your search - remember to work smarter - evaluate and examine your methods regularly and don’t be shy about asking for help!

Phil Tripp,

West Chester University Career Center (retired)

West Chester, PA

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