Adjusting Expectations

I recently had a conversation with my cousin at our last family dinner about why he can’t find a job. He’s been out of work for two years and can’t seem to find the type of job he’s looking for. He asked me what he could do to improve his resume and hopefully, be noticed in a crowded field and snag more interviews.

My cousin is looking for a high-level management job but he wasn’t positioned very well to appeal to recruiters. His resume was very long and overloaded with detail.

So, I had him back up and talk about his expectations. He really, really wants a six-figure income but in this job market, chances of that are slim. He could be pricing himself out of jobs. He’s also described himself in his resume as being highly qualified in so many ways that it could be scaring prospective recruiters away. I explained that his salary expectations may be too high. He could focus instead on the most marketable skills he already has and look ahead to ways he could further develop and rise through the ranks at a new company.

I helped him clean up his resume and cut its length from three pages to two. As we talked through the resume, he became more comfortable with redirecting his job search and applying for positions that may not be as high-level but still give him a chance to excel. Better yet, he’s starting to realize we all have to start somewhere and if he is really great (he really does think he’s pretty great!) then he’ll have promotional opportunities with the company that hires him. He doesn’t necessarily have to go back to square one, but maybe consider looking at positions that are down a notch from his previous searches.

If you’re in a similar situation, try this. Run through the following questions and – be honest! – answer them with an eye toward the present plus where you’d like to be in five years. Taking a longer view often helps refocus your expectations.

• What responsibilities would you most like to have in a new position? How has your past experience prepared you for those key responsibilities?
• What type of management style appeals to you most? Top-down? Team-oriented? Casual? Structured?
• What type of work environment would be best for you?
• What salary could you live with right now? What salary would you like to be making five years from now?
• What benefits do you most value? A 401(k)? A pension? Health insurance? Schedule flexibility?

Especially in this job market, be sure you’re managing your own expectations as well as your resumes and applications. Your next job might just turn out to be your best job, even though it doesn’t quite fit your preconceived notions.



  1. Angie Smucker
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Hello AmFam professionals. I am searching for a commercial underwriter and/or marketing position for 2 months. And, I am willing to pay for my own relocation. Can you give me some suggestions or ideas to improve my success? Below is my resume. Thank you!

  2. amfamlisa
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Hi Angie,
    We would be happy to network with you. I’ll send you a direct message with my email information, so we can get you in contact with someone in our staffing area.

    Thanks for reaching out.


  3. Heather Carrell
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Hello American Family!

    I have been hearing wonderful things about American Family Insurance and therefore would like to explore a career with you. I have several years of experience in P&C Insurance and recently completed my Bachelors Degree In Business Administration. I would like to make a change to a Marketing, Training or Property Claims Adjuster position. I enjoy being out and about with others and educating them about insurance. Please advise how I should proceed. My resume is below for you to review.

    Thank you,
    Heather Carrell

  4. amfamlisa
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Hi Heather,
    We would be happy to network with you. I”m out on maternity leave for another month or so but I’ll send you a direct message with my email information, so we can get you in contact with someone in our staffing area. Marketing positions are mostly based out of our Madison, WI office. There are some trainers and many property claim adjusters located in our different states.


Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *


%d bloggers like this: