Wednesday, November 2, 2011

5 Common Job Hunting Myths Exposed

Happy November everybody!  I hope that you had a great Halloween!  I can tell you that I had the best one ever.  My oldest daughter Ava went as Supergirl!  We were having trouble picking out a costume for my youngest Mia until we were at the store and Ava saw a pink Supergirl costume – Ava decided that Mia could be Supergirl’s little sister, Supergirl.  It made enough sense to us and we went with it.

Today I’m going to talk about the bad advice that people give about job hunting and highlight the worst misconceptions out there.  Looking for a job is kind of like being sick.  When you are sick everyone has their own home remedy that worked for them once and they are happy to share it.  Job hunting is the same way.  So here we go:

1.  All of the Best Jobs are Hidden and Never Posted on the Internet

Okay, I’ll admit that there is some truth to this.  There are situations where high level jobs aren’t posted.  Typically this is because there is a highly confidential situation surrounding the search.  The company could be firing someone or they could be replacing a retiring employee and don’t want to broadcast the retirement.  Other reasons that companies might not post a job are because they are too cheap to pay for it or because they are in a specialized niche and don’t want to weed through thousands of unqualified resumes.  These are all valid reasons not to post a job but it certainly does not make these jobs better  than the ones posted on the internet. 

I was recently speaking with someone that told me that he was being very selective with his search and that he didn’t “apply to posted jobs” because they were just the crappy ones.  This is the stupidest thing that I’ve ever heard.  Yes there are hidden jobs out there.  However, hidden doesn’t mean better and it is silly to limit yourself in this competitive job market just because someone used Careerbuilder to advertise their job.  The truth of the matter is that you should explore all options when searching for a job.  Use networking, LinkedIn, job search boards and recruiters.  Don’t limit yourself.

2.  Acting Arrogant and Overly Confident Will Get you the Job

For some reason I’ve seen many people turn from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde in the interview process.  In real life they are well balanced, grounded nice people.  However, when the interview switch gets flipped they confuse being verbose, over-confident and arrogant with selling themselves.  I’ve seen this manifest itself in several ways:

·        Grossly inflating salary expectations in order to get what you really want or to appear more valuable – I wrote a good article about salary last month – if you want to read more on this subject check it out here:

·        Changing your title on your resume to make you appear more important.  If you own a one person business you are the CEO or President – you are the owner.  If you are the receptionist – call yourself that – not the Vice President of First Impressions. 
·        If you don’t know an answer to a question – own it and admit it.  DON’T MAKE SOMETHING UP

Finally the most important thing is to appear gracious and polite.  No matter how good you are treat the interview and process as if it is an honor to be considered.

3.  Try Unique Things Out on Your Resume So You Can Stand Out

This is one of the worst things that anybody can do.  Your resume should stand out for one reason and one reason alone.  Because your skills and experience match the job.  This is not a place to be creative.  Resumes should be in black and white, easy to read and relevant to the position.  Anything else will make you look stupid.

This is one of those situations where there are unwritten rules that our society has created and employers have expectations about what the resume should look like.  Because of this if you do something creative it runs the risk of appearing funny or totally bombing.  Some of the things that you should always avoid:

  • Pictures – I don’t care how cute your mom says you are – this is a bad idea.  Bonus bad:  Glamour Shots are a definite no-no…

  • Use of color in fonts – Black and White is all you need
  • Irrelevant information – a general rule of thumb is that if you would put it on a dating website profile then you shouldn’t put it on a resume. No references to your likes of reading, walks on the beach, funny movies, chocolate making, etc…
  • Leaving dates off of your job history.  I’m very sympathetic to age discrimination and am aware that it does happen.  The fact of the matter is that by leaving dates off of a resume calls more attention to it because it looks like you are trying to hide something (actually you are trying to hide something – your age). 

4.  Following Up Over and Over Again Makes You look Persistent and Determined

I’m sorry to burst your bubble here.  Following up over and over again makes you look desperate.  A general rule of thumb with this is that if your actions would get you a restraining order with a significant other you should avoid it with a potential employer.  OK, maybe that was a little extreme but you should use caution when following up.  You should probably never follow up more than once a week – twice at the most.  Companies have other things to attend to besides your hiring and even the best interview can’t overcome the appearance of desperation or looking annoying. 

5.  Hand Delivering a Resume and Applying in Person Makes you Stand Out
I really appreciate this sentiment.  I think that in the past you could really show your interest and excitement by walking in and hand delivering a resume or application.  You could even ask for an interview right then and there.  I have a family member who’s father kept telling her that she was handling things all wrong and that she needed to just go into the office of places she wanted to work and ask to talk to the hiring manager and that this would be much more effective than sending a resume out. 

Unfortunately this has gone out of style.  The cold hard reality is that we are at 10% unemployment and people that hire are inundated with resumes, phone calls and emails about positions.  Being bold and walking in their door will probably have the unfortunate outcome of you annoying them. 

Going a little bit deeper you also need to follow the directions on the job posting about how to apply.  Most of them will specifically tell you to send it electronically.  Failing to do so will make it appear as if you can’t follow directions.  If you choose to use another method you will stand out for using a fax machine or the postal service.  But you will stand out as being out of touch with the modern world.

Well, these are my thoughts for this week.  As always let me know what you think.  Feel free to leave comments below or email me at

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