Job Search Advice that is Best to Ignore

When you are looking for a job, there is no shortage of people offering advice.  Everybody suddenly becomes an expert on job searching and they all have an opinion about what you should be doing.  While all of this advice is well-intentioned, not all of it is useful.  Here is some advice that it is best to politely ignore:    

“Send out 25 applications each day.”  Some people ascribe to the ‘spray and pray’ method of job searching.  They believe that if you apply to a whole whack of companies, sooner or later one will call you back.  This is not an effective way to find a job.  When you are applying to such a high number of positions, you are not able to customize your application to each individual job.  As a result, you just end up sending out a lot of weak applications and the employers respond accordingly.

“Never settle.”  Sure, you have an idea of what type of job you want and how much you want to get paid.  The problem is that sometimes your goals may not be in line with the current labour market conditions.  When that is the case, it is essential that you be flexible, otherwise you could be job hunting for a long time.  You may need to settle for a less-than-perfect job in the short term in order to set yourself up to get your dream job in the future.  

“Just walk in the door and ask for a job.”  A few decades ago, the best way to find a job was to go knocking on doors.  While this may still be true if you’re applying for a job at a small business, for the most part, it is an outdated approach.  The Internet has changed job searching dramatically.  Most companies prefer for you to e-mail your resume, and many require you to register on their own career site.  Usually, if you just drop in to the office to talk to the manager, you will get screened out by the receptionist or referred to the website.

“Collect letters of reference from your past employers.”  This is another strategy that belongs in the past.  These days, letters of reference are not worth the paper that they are written on.  Employers need to speak to your references directly so that they can ensure that they are real and they can ask specific questions.  A better approach is to ask your managers for their contact information and request permission to pass it on to prospective employers.

“Don’t worry about the cover letter.”  Some people say that job seekers shouldn’t bother too much with the cover letter because employers don’t read it anyway.  The problem is that while the statement is true for some employers, other employers do read and consider it when they are evaluating the applicants.  The problem is that you never know when or where it will be important.  Even within the same company, the human resource manager may ignore it, while the hiring manager reads every word.  The safest approach is to make sure that everything that you submit presents you as a qualified and professional candidate.

Everyone has had to look for a job at some point in their life, so when you’re a job seeker, lots of people are eager to share their experiences.  It’s a good idea to keep an open mind because you never know where you’ll find a great job lead.  However, if the advice that you’re hearing sounds a little bit ridiculous, then just say thank you and move on.

(Written By:  Karen Bivand)

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