Job Block – Can’t See the Forest for the Trees


What I often discover when talking to clients about their current situations and thoughts about how they want to move forward is one of two things:


Tunnel Vision

Forest Syndrome


Their tunnel vision is a self-imposed captivity of only being able to see themselves in their current position.


The forest syndrome is not being able to see the forest from the trees.  They have become so entrenched in what they are doing or the “failures” of the past to be able to see a positive direction to move forward.


When you boil it down it is a matter of perspective.  We are sometimes too close to the situation that we can not evaluate it objectively or even in a hopeful manner.


Just because you have been doing a certain job for some time does not mean that is where you will always be – you are not stuck unless you allow yourself to be stuck.


This is a point when it is important to get another view point.  You need someone else to look objectively at your situation, skills and help you identify what you really want and not just what you think you can do.


Friends and spouses are well meaning but sometimes unable to help us, not of their own fault but our own.  Of course, sometimes they are not the best help because they want to be supportive and any type of criticism, even positive, would seem like a negative and unsupportive.


For example if you have asked a friend to review your resume and give input and the only thing they tell you is: it looks great, they are not helping.  You need constructive criticism.  If it was so great why are you not getting the call?


They need to tell you when what you have written does not make sense or does not really portray your value.  But they probably won’t because they don’t want to upset or challenge you.


Of course, you may not be able to take constructive criticism well because you are personally involved with them and take it as a personal attack.  Or you may brush off their helpful tips because you don’t think they really know what they are talking about.  If that is the case, why on earth did you ask for their help?


Sometimes we negate the ability for friends and family to help us because we are embarrassed.  Maybe we don’t really know what we want to do next.  Or maybe you have this crazy idea and don’t want them to think you have completely gone off the deep end.  So you keep it to yourself.


If job searching was easy you won’t need the help.  If you are not getting the results you want than odds are you need help.  Get over yourself and ask!  I have a wonderful support system, yet sometimes they can be a total pain in the rear when asking for help.


For example, if I am trying to fix something mechanical, electrical or structural in my house I know exactly who to ask.  He is an expert on these things and just happens to be my ex-husband – and one of my best friends.


This means he knows me very well.  If I need help with anything he is always there and always helps.  Recently, I had a bit of flooring work to do and asked for his help.  One of the first comments was something to the effect of “you think you know what you are doing but you don’t”.  It was not meant to be mean it was simply just a comment.  I just smiled and said I knew, that is why I was asking for his help.


I have learned to bite my tongue, remember it is not a personal jab, just a comment.  Let it go.  I also know that he will be very honest with me if I am doing something wrong and help me correct it because bottom line is he wants it done right and in my best interest.  So I learn to bob and weave the comments and sometimes, give a little jab back.


But he also gets me to see the bigger picture.  Maybe I could fix something my way, but it will cause problems for something else that I never even thought of.  I hate when that happens but that is why I ask him – because he can see the forest for the trees.


This is the person you personally know to help you.  If you have someone in your circle of friends that is honest, willing to give constructive criticism and you trust then ask them for help.  If the personal feelings are going to get in the way then don’t.


Ask for professional help.  We are not as scary as you think.


If nothing else there are plenty of career coaches or resume writers that will give you a critique of your resume.  Many for free – I do.  I think it important to give someone an objective viewpoint in order that they have the information they need to move forward.


One word of caution on the reviews – there are many sites out there that will give you a review and quite a lengthy one; read it carefully.


I have worked for national sites that offer these critiques and they are pretty much a standard format.  They give broad statements that make you feel like you have the worst thing penned to paper ever.  Wide reaching statements like “you have spelling and grammatical errors throughout the resume”.


Really?  Where?  I want to know you actually read it to point these things out.  Don’t fall for general statements that are scare tactics.


Whether it is a friend or professional assisting you ask questions!  Why do they think something needs to be changed?  What would they suggest and why in changing format, verbiage or anything else?


I want to know the whys.  Not just change this or do it this way but why.  What difference will it make or is it just something that they are saying to make themselves feel that they are adding value.


When you think you need help that is the time to ask.  But don’t just stop at asking for help, ask for clarification.  If their reasoning does not resonate with you then it is not a change you should make.  But you need to be willing to listen because maybe, just maybe, they are seeing something that you cannot and that could make all the difference.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


2 thoughts on “Job Block – Can’t See the Forest for the Trees”

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    1. Thank you for the kind words. I’m not sure what you mean by regards to the bottom line or supply – could you elaborate and I can respond (making sure I address your questions!)

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