Thursday, December 8, 2011

Get Back to Work Faster: The Ultimate Job Seeker's Guide, by Jill Konrath

Sales Gravy Press, ISBN 9780981800486,  October 2009

Jill Konrath wants to share the secret of finding well-paid work as quickly as possible even in a terrible economy. She's happy to share that secret for free; you can buy a paperback copy of her book on Amazon, or you can download a pdf copy for free from her website, at

The core of her secret is quite simple: Be a hard-driven, brilliant salesperson.

Really, there are a lot of specific and useful recommendations here. There is also information about valuable resources, most free, some not, that can be valuable additions to your job-hunting strategy.

Nevertheless, overall, I'm not favorably impressed by this book. For all its talk of "professionals," Konrath seems unaware that there are professions unrelated to sales, which prioritize both skills and personality traits other than those which make topflight sales people, in which hiring managers might be put off by the relatively pushy approach advocated by Konrath. Also, the main text is interrupted several times for advertisements for some of her other offerings--also free, it should be noted, but still ads, and each time I had a momentary impression that I'd reached the end. I felt that this was really a poor choice.

Sales skills are not the sole measure of professional worth in all professions, and not being a sales superstar is not a character flaw. People aren't guilty of not doing enough to get re-employed simply because they're not salespeople first, and librarians or accountants or doctors or yoga instructors second or third. I'm really, really tired of being confidently assured that, in the worst economy since the Great Depression, the real problem is that talented, skilled, ethical, experienced, hard-working professionals don't possess the personalities, attitudes, and skills of Madison Avenue hucksters.

I'm a librarian. My professional purpose is to help people find, evaluate, and use the information they need. It's not my role to sell them things. It's an important part of my role to be skeptical and questioning when sales representatives offer to "help" me by selling me expensive products and services they claim my library users just can't manage without. Often--I know this will come as a shock to many--those products and services are over-priced, under-featured, overly restricted, and would take money away from resources the library users really do need.

And I'm betting the doctors and the accountants and the yoga instructors have similar experiences with sales reps wanting to sell them similarly high-priced and inappropriate products and services. As a law librarian for general practice law firms, I know lawyers do.

Why is it I want to make myself into a salesperson, again?

Konrath also apparently subscribes to the theory that almost anything is justified if it increases the company's short-term profits. An example of a job seeker's summary that Ms. Konrath assures us the "right employer would drool over":

Supply Chain Consultant: I help manufacturing companies move production to
by negotiating supply chains in Mandarin and English. My average client in
the last 2 years increased earnings by 22% within 6 months.
 Isn't that just wonderful? An expert at shipping American jobs overseas! Just what America needs more of!

I realize that many people believe that profit isn't the most important thing; it's the only thing. That if it's profitable for the company, its effect on the country, whether economically, politically, or environmentally, is irrelevant. I don't share that viewpoint.

I also don't buy into the idea that companies can keep doing this indefinitely without eventually hurting themselves. Keep shipping jobs overseas because it's cheaper, and forcing wages and standards of living down in the US, and eventually their sales in the US are going to tank because no one will have any money to buy things with.

There are plenty of good books with advice on improving your job search. I've reviewed some of them previously. This book is not joining that collection in my personal library.

Not recommended.

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