Closing The Knowing-Doing Gap In The Job Search Process

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Ted was using the shotgun approach when applying for jobs.  He was applying for every job that caught his attention.  He estimated that he has applied for about 10 jobs each week over that last several months.  He was frustrated that he hasn’t gotten an interview for any of these positions, so he decided to ask a career counselor for help.  The counselor asked to see his resume and one of Ted’s cover letters.  It didn’t take long for the counselor to provide some assistance. Ted was using the same cover letter for each position and generalizing it by addressing it to “To Whom It May Concern.”  The counselor advised Ted that he should be personalizing each cover letter.  Ted responded by saying that he knew this, but “he didn’t have the time to apply for all of the jobs and personalize each cover letter.”  The counselor referred to Ted’s error, in not personalizing his letter, as the Knowing-Doing Gap.

The Knowing-Doing Gap is a phenomenon that authors describe as the difference (or gap) between knowing what should be done in a particular situation, and the reality of what is actually being done.  As it applies to career development, your goal should be to gain the knowledge on how to properly conduct each aspect of the job search process, and then execute and perform these techniques and strategies to secure a job.  The difference between your knowledge of the job search process, and how you apply this knowledge is the Knowing-Doing Gap.


The first thing Ted needed to do was to become familiar with the proper techniques and strategies associated with the job search process.  He thought he knew what the correct methods were, despite the fact that he has never taken a class or read a book on the job search process.  He gained most of his knowledge about resumes and cover letters through suggestions from friends.


Once Ted learns the correct techniques and strategies for the job search process, he will want to execute these techniques and strategies correctly every time he applies for a job.  The doing process takes a considerable amount of time if you are going to do it right. For each job you apply for, you will want to research the basics of the job (and the organization) so you can personalize your promotional materials, gain an understanding of who is involved in the hiring process, and determine if you are a good fit for the position and the organization.  When you are invited for an interview, you will need to continue with your research and be completely prepared for both the interview stage and the follow-up stage of the job search process.

Closing the Gap

Once you know the proper techniques and strategies of the job search process, you will need to make sure that you are executing these techniques correctly so there isn’t a gap between what you know and what you do.  By learning the proper techniques of the job search process, and by closing the knowing-doing gap, you will be able to secure a job that’s right for you.  In Ted’s case, his cover letters weren’t properly formatted and he didn’t personalize his letters.  Once he learned the proper techniques, and he executed the techniques correctly, Ted not only received an interview but he was able to secure the job he wanted.

The key is that you know the basic fundamental skills that are associated with each stage of the job search process and that you effectively performing these skills.  In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at or his new book Execute for Success at


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