Ignore These 7 Outdated and Bad Job-Hunting Tips

FT Contributor  | 

The job-search game has changed significantly with the advent of the internet and the prolific use of applicant tracking software by employers and recruiters. Older, well-meaning friends and family members often impart job hunting advice to younger generations. Unbeknownst to them, however, these tips may be obsolete or even harmful for modern job hunting.

Many job hopefuls are still relying on the job-seeking techniques of yesteryear, completely oblivious to the damage these methods are inflicting on their prospects for employment. Modern technologies have made job hunting easier than ever before, but on the other hand, the cultural readjustment period has made some aspects of that search more challenging. For the modern job seeker, it is just as important to learn what not to do as what to do when looking for work.

1.    “Follow Your Passion”

For someone who is very invested in following the interest or interests that they are passionate about, it is easy to get tunnel vision and overlook good job opportunities — some of which could actually be potential gateways toward a primary goal. “Follow your passion” sounds great on paper  — but don’t let it become a blinder against other opportunities along the way.

In fact, pursuing extraneous opportunities may draw attention to other interests or highlight complexities of the original interest. Finding a job that makes you happy should probably be an objective, but don’t forget to be open-minded.

2.    “Hit the Pavement and Blanket Resumes”

Employers in the present day usually prefer online resumes. As a matter of fact, many do not even offer hardcopy applications or accept hardcopy resumes and will redirect solicitors to their online application system.

It is ideal to craft a new resume for each potential job, geared to target the specific qualities they are searching for. By fixating on how many resumes one is sending out, rather than concentrating on making sure that each one is constructed well, the more valuable opportunity is missed. Not only will the recruiter be less impressed than they could have been, but the resume may not even get past an ATS scanner in order to reach the recruiter.

3.    “It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who”

It actually is often helpful to have a connection inside an industry. An employer will sometimes feel encouraged by a colleague’s or existing employee’s willingness to vouch for a candidate. However, a candidate’s skills — hard and soft — are equally important, as is experience. A recruiter probably won’t hire an unqualified candidate just because they have a mutual friend.

4.    “Lie on Your Resume”

Lying on a resume does more harm than good. A recruiter will at least appreciate the earnestness of a candidate who is underqualified but still positive and ambitious. It will be a major red flag if they catch a candidate lying, even if the truthful aspects of the resume are impressive. It is not a good gamble, especially considering that, according to one survey, 75% of HR managers claimed to have caught a candidate lying during their career. Lying would be particularly obvious in technical fields that utilize a lot of specific jargon and hard skills.

5.    “You Have to Get a College Degree to Make It”

The rising costs of college and/or subsequent loans in the modern-day have understandably begun to repel many people who would otherwise be interested in pursuing a degree. Furthermore, as work culture in the United States continues to shift toward a gig economy filled with niche professions which do not fit into traditional college curricula, the value of a college degree has accordingly diminished.

Increasingly, experience, personal connections, and a willingness to learn on the job are factors that are outweighing the worth of a college degree in the job market. In fact, even before this adjustment of employment priorities, it was not essential to have a degree in order to succeed. Ellen Degeneres, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Oprah never got a college degree. Henry Ford, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, and John D. Rockefeller never even got high school degrees.

6.    “Take Charge With Your Cover Letter”

This was probably never sound advice. No one wants an overly aggressive person in their workspace, nor someone who cannot follow direction. There is no benefit to being pushy. It will translate as an applicant with poor social skills and workplace compatibility rather than the hallmark of someone with leadership qualities. A cover letter should convey enthusiasm for the job but remain courteous.

7.    “Call the Hiring Manager”

It is normally the case that a job candidate will be notified when their online resume has been received. Once that has been verified, it is not a good idea to pester the hiring manager. If there is some confusion or no contact for an extended period of time, an email or a phone call should be fine. Feel out the situation but err on the side of being politely hands-off.


Image Source: Deposit Photos

This post was updated September 18, 2019. It was originally published September 21, 2019.