Debunking Three Job Search Myths

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During my time in HR, I have done many interviews and hired a lot of people. As a result, friends often ask for job search and interview tips. In a time when a single job posting can garner hundreds of resume submissions, snagging the mythical interview can feel nearly impossible for a job seeker. There is a lot of information online about all kinds of tips and tricks to get your resume seen and to land your dream job, but does it all really work?

In today’s post, we will look at some of the advice commonly given to job seekers and what that really means from an HR perspective.

MYTH#1: SEND OUT LOTS OF RESUMES

A few months ago I attended a job fair where a job seeker handed me her resume and said, “I send out about 50 resumes a week, and I don’t understand why no one has called me yet.” I have heard a number of job seekers say the same thing. My first question is usually, “Where have you applied?” In the case of the woman at the job fair (and many others), the answer is, “Everywhere.”

There seems to be common wisdom out there that sending out lots of resumes increases the likelihood of being called. The reason many people do not see the results they want when they do this is that they are applying to every job without thinking of whether or not they meet the qualifications. These end up being resumes tossed aside by recruiters who grumble, “Did this applicant even read the job description‽”

My advice to job seekers is to do a targeted job search. Do an assessment of your skills and find jobs that match these skills. This is where it comes in handy to have a friend in HR who can help you figure out how your skills might fit jobs that are different than what you have done before.

MYTH#2: CALL TO CHECK ON YOUR RESUME A COUPLE DAYS AFTER APPLYING

In my ten years in HR, I have received hundreds of calls from eager applicants wanting to check the status of their recently submitted resume or application. The application process is very frustrating because you apply and then wait. Often you do not hear anything at all. So, it is very tempting to try to reach someone in HR in the hopes that it will increase the chances of getting an interview.

Unfortunately HR departments are inundated by such phone calls, so the likelihood of your call increasing your chances for an interview is very small. But are there times when it is acceptable to call a company to check application status? If you have had an interview already, it is a good idea to be in touch with the company, so call or write a follow up email.

If you want to talk to someone prior to getting an interview, your best bet is to connect with someone outside of HR at the company. Do some homework. Ask around in your network and use resources like LinkedIn. Often if you make a good impression on someone outside of HR, they might be able to put in a good word with someone at HR to help move your application through the process.

MYTH#3: SHOW YOUR FUN SIDE IN YOUR COVER LETTER—LOL 🙂

I have been surprised how many applications I have seen in the last few years that contain emoticons, LOL and other informal language common to texting and the Internet. These things are fine when talking to friends, but they do not belong in a cover letter, resume or application. Your application materials should reflect your professional side.

Avoid the slang and the smiley faces, and also take the extra time to make sure your application materials are free of typos and other errors. When deciding between a candidate with a resume free of errors and one with typos and LOLs all over the place, I will often go for the one without errors—even if that person has a little less experience.

IN THE END…

Even when we work in HR, there is no single piece of advice we can give our job-seeking friends that will guarantee them a job offer, but we can give them some practical advice from the inside. What do you do when friends ask you for job search advice? What insider information do you give?

Photo via iStock.

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Comments

  1. Great post! I know so many people who are frustrated with their own job searches, and who jump frantically from one advice article to the next in their quest for the secret formula that gets called back (let alone the Holy Grail of an interview). In the Internet Age, everyone can broadcast an opinion, but it’s far more helpful when industry professionals take a moment to give the benefit of their long experience to the masses. The tip about calling is one that’s I’ve heard recently. I must admit being surprised when I first heard it, but it makes perfect sense after a moment’s thought.
    Many thanks for the helpful and insightful article!

    Reply

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