Some job search advice seems to be as old as time. For example, the old saying about resumes and how they should never exceed a page in length has been with job seekers for as long as anyone can remember. But are these traditional nuggets of advice causing more harm than good? Some old rules have tended to stick around longer than they are needed and some may never have been relevant to begin with. Returning to the old adage about the one-page resume, even if it was wise in the job markets of yesteryear, it has certainly lost its relevancy today. Of course a resume should not become a document rambling on about unnecessary facts of personal history, but modern hiring managers would rather get a good grasp of what you offer a company than penalize you for going over some arbitrary page limit. After all, aren’t professional accomplishments a good thing?
Here’s another one you may have heard before: “Full-time employment is all that should be considered.” But is it a truly a mistake to apply for temporary positions? Most of the time, temp assignments last for weeks or months, open up networking opportunities, an income source, and the potential to expand your skill set. And many times temporary positions are used as evaluation periods for assignments that may culminate in a full-time job offer. Consulting roles can instead be sometimes the easiest way to land a full-time job in this market.
Another golden oldie is the adage that you should apply for any and all jobs that suit your interests, but not necessarily your skill set. But the reality is that spending so much time applying for jobs you may not want or for which you lack the qualifications is a burden on not only your job search but on all of the hiring managers who must spend time evaluating your resume. It is best to focus your search on positions that very closely match your qualifications then customizing your application and resume for each in order to demonstrate why you are the best candidate.
Here’s a real gem: “Once you submit a resume, all you can do is cross your fingers and hope for an interview.” This “advice” can sabotage a job search from the beginning. While the hiring manger is in control of who moves along through the application process, it is not true that you have no influence over events. In fact, the vast majority of employers have reported that job candidates should reach out to the hiring manager within two weeks of applying in order to not only reaffirm the candidate’s interest in the position but also to keep your name fresh in the employer’s mind.
A final potentially damaging myth about the job search states that you should take the first job offered. While, especially in a tough economy, the advice rings with some truth, you should not simply rush into the arms of the first employer that beckons. The more selective you can be the better options you may have in the future. Make sure the employer offers sufficient opportunities for advancement and development. Compare the position to your future career goals to ensure that it fits into your larger plans. If the position is too short-sighted and one where you will be allowed to stagnate, it may be wise to be patient and wait for one with more potential.