Outdoor tie man taking notes

Busting the top ten job search myths

Peter Harris|

There are a lot of misconceptions about job searching that I hear repeated fairly often in my role here as the chief editor at Workopolis. Some of them used to be true and are now outdated, while some were just wrong to begin with. I’d like to take a closer look at the ten most commonly recited falsehoods about looking for a job.

The top 10 myths:  

My resume should all fit on just one page

Well that’s just not true. If you are just starting out on your career and have had few jobs so far, then maybe you can fit your resume onto a single page.

Otherwise, having a layout that’s pleasing to the eye and that draws attention to your most important information is far more important than whether your resume is on two or three pages. Cramming too much text too close together to fit onto one page would be a really bad strategy.

Recruiters may only scan your resume quickly for a few seconds the first time, but if they like what they see, you’ll be moved to the shortlist for a closer read later.  Make sure that it looks good and contains all of your relevant information.

There just aren’t any jobs available right now

The job market is tight, but there are more opportunities out there than you think. Advertised jobs on career sites, want ads, and job boards represent only a small fraction of the opportunities available.

Recruiters are sourcing candidates through word-of-mouth connections, internal company postings, on social media sites and in resume databases. Recruiters actually search the Workopolis resume database 16,000 times every day.

How can you connect with these opportunities? Have a consistent and professional profile on your social networking sites. Let your friends, family and connections know what kind of jobs you’re looking for. Keep an up-to-date resume posted on Workopolis and any other job site that you use. There is a hidden job market out there that you can tap into.

There are times of year when job searching would just be a waste of time

Many people think that all hiring stalls at certain periods – such as over the summer or the Christmas holidays. The fact is that key people leave their jobs or change roles all the time, and they need to be replaced. Roles that were being recruited for in the spring may still be sourcing over the summer. Year-end budgets may need to be spent before New Year’s.

There are many reasons why hiring doesn’t shut down. By finding opportunities and applying while many other candidates have put their job searches on hold, you’ll actually have a competitive advantage during these so-called slow periods.

Increasing the number of jobs I apply to will increase my chances of landing a job

That’s probably not true. Employers can spot a generic, mass application in a nanosecond, and they don’t like them. They like applications that are tailored to their company and their job opening specifically, from a candidate who has done their research and demonstrated why they would be great in the role.

So while sending out more applications won’t necessarily increase your chances, sending out better ones will.

If I haven’t heard back in a few days of applying, I didn’t get it

Hiring is serious business, and it usually takes longer than expected at every step of the way. Approvals for the next steps in the process can drag on. Several levels of management may be needed to approve the shortlist of resumes to call in for interviews. A crucial person may be on vacation. A leading candidate may drop out for any number of reasons, restarting the process.

So keep answering the phone in a friendly upbeat voice and checking your messages frequently for a month after applying for a job. The sorting, selecting and responding often takes weeks or more.

I should call the employer to follow up on my application

You might think that you can shorten the time it takes to hear back from the employer by proactively calling them to check on the status of your application. This will show that you are really motivated.

That may have been true in the era where people applied to jobs by mailing or hand delivering their resumes. It’s not true in the electronic age where there can be literally hundreds of applications for a single job posting. If every one of them started calling to follow-up after applying, the recruiter would be overwhelmed.

Another reason not to call is that companies are disorganized places. The person you get on the phone won’t likely even know who you are. Even if you connect with the hiring manager who has read and remembers your resume, you’ll still be making a demand on their time before they’re ready to give it you. Many people find this presumptuous and annoying (rather than keenly motivated.) Employers get to set the timeline, candidates don’t.

What I do online in my personal life has nothing to do with me professionally

91% of employers say they regularly screen candidates on social networking sites before deciding whether or not to hire them. They want to see if you seem to be a good communicator, if the facts of your profile contradict your resume in any way, and if you have the good sense to maintain a fairly professional personal brand online.

By all means use privacy settings for your own protection, but don’t hide everything. If employers can’t find you at all, that too can be a red flag. There was even a case in the news this week of an employer asking a potential candidate for his Facebook password to see their online activities unfiltered.

Rather than hiding stuff, just be aware that the Internet is a public space where what you say and do are likely to be seen by others.

Someone will give me a chance

I’ve actually written a whole article about this one. Employers aren’t in the business of giving chances. They want to hire people who can accomplish the tasks that they need done. Your job as a candidate is to demonstrate how you can be just the person they’re looking for. Research the role in depth, and then highlight what in your skills and experiences can best suit the company’s business needs.

The most qualified candidate will get the job

Actually it’s usually the candidate who is the best fit who will land the job. Hiring managers are trying to build successful teams. People work better in groups when they have similar communication styles, values, and goals. When a person just doesn’t get along with the rest of the team, it really doesn’t matter how brilliant they are. There is going to be disruption.

Be confident, upbeat and friendly. Try to build rapport with your interviewer.  A job interview isn’t an interrogation; it should be an enjoyable conversation. While obviously you have to have the skills to do the job, being the most likeable candidate in person often trumps being the most qualified on paper.

They’re keeping my resume on file for the next opportunity

Employers often tell unsuccessful candidates that while they won’t be hiring them this time, they’re going to keep them on top of the pile for next time. This is just something that they say to be nice. I have never known it to be true.

When they start recruiting again, employers usually start from scratch rather than going back to revisit the person they didn’t hire the last time around. So, I wouldn’t be waiting by the phone for call backs from old opportunities. Move on. Find new ones.

 

Hopefully seeing through some of these myths and misconceptions can save you from making costly mistakes on the job hunt and help you to land your next gig faster. Best of luck!

 

- Peter Harris -Peter Harris on Twitter


Category: Job Search Strategies,
 
  • pjelinic

    Thank you Peter for answering those questions which many of us have always wondered about. Technological change has been incredible over the last decade
    or so and there is no doubt that this had a significant impact on how employers recruit for vacant positions in today’s market.

  • Naz

    it would be helpful to have a sample cover letter scripted for changes, esp in my case where I’ve had a wide range of responsibilities and find it difficult to customise my cover letters

  • Maco

    “Actually it’s usually the candidate who is the best fit who will land the job”….. Justification for discrimination based on race, ethnicity, age, religion etc…….

  • http://www.jobsclark.com/ Ruby Rocha

    These myths were rooted from wrong habit and thinking of people. We should not let these things control us in getting that dream job. Thank you for this post! Worth reading.