10 Bad and Outdated Job Hunting Tips You Should Stop Believing
There it is! Your college degree. The tassel has been turned to the other side, the caps have been thrown, and the punch is being poured in your old student union.
Time to celebrate!
And like clockwork, here comes Dad, his hand extended for a hearty handshake and hug about how well his kid did.
“Now if there’s one thing I’m going to tell you, it’s that when it comes to jobs, you’re there to work. Take whatever job you get. You’re not there to have fun, but to earn money.”
You nod your head and hug your dad, because he just means well. But chances are you’ve heard that a thousand times along with some other good…. well, not so good “advice” from well-meaning people in your everyday life.
This article is different. Here, we are going to talk about ten old pieces of job-hunting advice that everybody just needs to forget.
This job hunt isn’t your dad’s or even your grandfather’s-so let’s step into the new era together.
We have even provided what to say when you are faced with some of these tough situations so you can handle it like an old pro.
Stay with us!
BAD ADVICE #1: “FILL THAT APPLICATION WITH HOT WORDS AND PHRASES.”
Office buzzwords and other phrases like them are simply old hat.
They need to just go away as far as we are concerned. You know them well-they are those words that somehow only pervade office banter and meeting rooms across the country.
It’s stuff like “teamwork makes the dream work!” or “Think outside the box!” or “This team has synergy!”
Yikes, give it a rest. The same goes for your resume. Those words only end up making your application look silly and rather annoying at best.
Some of the most overly written buzzwords that bother us all include “Passionate”, “focused” and “Expert.”
There is nothing inherently wrong with these phrases.
After all, it’s great to be thought of as an expert in your field, and to be thought of as “passionate” would be a great compliment to your person!
But here’s where the trouble lies: These words are not special. They are used by everybody everywhere.
Using them is so easy because they’ve worked for others time and time again. Well, that time is passed.
It’s not going to kill your chances when you use these words, but your skills and the great things you’ve done will be what impresses the hiring manager-not some flowery words.
Instead of using common office buzzwords, use words instead that reflect the accomplishments you have managed to pull off over the years, such as “achieved” or “utilized.”
Look out for keywords that are in relation to the skills, personality traits and qualifications that the hiring personnel seek. Look for related terms too, that you think fit the bill. Match those words with your skill.
You are trying to beat the ATS, or Applicant Tracking System, and the way to do that is to include keywords that pertain to the position you want as well as your suitability.
Make that resume show how YOU-yes, you, can solve whatever issues the company is facing.
Check out this great infographic from Raconteur’s blog about buzzwords.
BAD ADVICE #2. “PUT A CALL TO ACTION ON THAT COVER LETTER.”
Have you ever been talking to another friend about a get together you’d like to have, and then another friend sidles up, hears you and mentions they’ll “pop in and visit too”? Argh!
Nothing is more annoying than a person who invites themselves to a party or get together when no invitation was extended.
Guess what. That rule applies to business too. Putting a “call to action” at the end of your cover letter is something that many would consider a bit arrogant. “Calls to Action” are great if you are a blogger and would like to encourage reader engagement, but on cover letters-no way. Leave them off.
These are mistaken as being great ways to appear super interested and excited about a position.
And sure, the right hiring manager might feel that way.
But chances are, they won’t.
So instead, let’s talk about some other great ways to end a letter that still conveys excitement.
Avoid: “I will be in contact next Wednesday to speak with you about this CV and arrange a meeting to discuss this matter further.”
Yikes! Don’t assume they are going to make time out of their day just for you-you’re not the CEO yet! Instead, try these approaches when closing that letter:
“I would love the chance to meet with you and your team to talk further about how my skills and experience will benefit your company.”
“Should I be offered the chance to work for your company, I will be ready to dive in headfirst and help [Company] exceed all expectations for greatness.”
“I believe this position will grow my excitement and knowledge of the industry because of how many great opportunities you offer the people of [Company].
Cover letter with phrases like this are a lot more grounded and will still convey excitement.
And whatever you do, do not forget to write a nice “Thank You” follow-up email once you have that interview!
BAD ADVICE #3: “SEND YOUR RESUME EVERYWHERE.”
You know the old phrase. If you cast a wide net, you’re sure to pull in a few fishes here and there. It’s great advice for commercial fishermen at work, but for job hunters-not so much.
Resumes have to be tailored to fit each and every job description.
Remember earlier when we talked about using good keywords that fit in with the job description and relating them to the skills of that particular position?
This is because it has to be read by screening software before it even sees human eyes for the first time.
So, you have to tailor that resume so that HR workers and computers with recruiting software are able to detect your skill sets as being a great match for the job. Here are some ideas.
If They Want A Team Player…
Talk about the times you worked with others in a successful way. Show how your skills in working with others did a great thing.
For instance, you might say “Collaborated with Marketing to introduce a VR food menu for new products, resulting in sales increase of 15%.”
If They Want Leadership Skills…
Talk about ways in which you instructed, helped people do their best, and made them excited about coming to work each day. You might say “Mentored 2 employees on performance improvement plans, continuing relationship after they were off said plan.”
And the best part? Even if you do not fit a job’s exact description, we can help.
Ready to make sure your resume is top notch? Check out this Business Insider video.
BAD ADVICE #4: “TONE DOWN THAT PERSONALITY!”
Once we heard an ad for a networking event on a local news station, and it started off like, “Hi, I’m Bill from Business. I blah blah blah….” The fellow’s monotone voice and the poking of fun at networking was enough to make us chuckle.
The ad was meant to be funny, but we took something more serious from it: That you can’t boring your way into a job.
There is this unwritten rule that we all have to be straight-laced and dull on our resumes and in our interviews.
Yes, you should go over some basic interview questions. You must have a flawless resume with good font, form and quality of print.
But a combination of all this can end up making you look staged and rather dull.
One way we can all be personality-smart and professional is to answer truthfully the question “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”
You will want to avoid generic answers that all the hiring managers have heard in the past-they denote little to no research done on the company.
And do not be super honest, either: stating “I really need the money,” or “The pay is amazing!” indicates you care more about your financial woes than the well-being of the company. We all work for the money, but don’t shout it out!
For instance, if your dream company values a strong work ethic as part of your position, you might discuss how you weight train on the regular or prepare for marathons if you are a runner.
BAD ADVICE #5: “DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE, AND YOU’LL NEVER WORK A DAY IN YOUR LIFE!”
OK, friends, time to get real. Realistically, it is simply not possible for all of us to make money doing what we absolutely love.
Being paid to travel and try new restaurants would be lovely, but that is not going to be the path many of us get to go down.
For example, Forbes published an article that provided us all some staggering stats: For instance, did you know that food and travel blog numbers are in the billions? Sheesh! With that kind of competition, you could be stuck in the same spot for years and never get anywhere with it all.
That being said, you should still pursue your dream, but as a side project.
For your regular day job, you will want to figure out what kind of work you really enjoy: numbers, coding, teaching, analyzing-and all that’s in between-and try to find a position based upon that.
Think about the business greats in your own life and in the big picture that you really love and try to imitate their personalities and work ethics.
Once you have figured out the jobs you really are interested in, your desire to work your hardest at them will shine through.
And the hobby or blog that you really love? Well, that will be a nice treat for after-work hours that will separate your work and home life in a healthy way.
BAD ADVICE #6: “YOU CAN PUT ME DOWN AS A REFERENCE!”
References can be a touchy subject for job seekers.
Maybe we burned a bridge or two back at the old position. Maybe a manager or superior did not get along with us as we would have liked. Perhaps a coworker simply doesn’t want to be contacted by an HR recruiter.
In these situations, it can be tempting to write down your brother in law or even your cousin as a reference. It’s even better when the volunteer to be used as one, but this is not a great idea.
Instead, you always want to shoot for people who have overseen and managed your employment. Managers, supervisors or even regional leaders are all great options that you can approach to use on your “References’ portion.
You will want to aim for three great and strong references that you will have no trouble showing off.
Students just starting in the workforce, you might ask for a recommendation from a professor or leader of a group or club of which you’ve been a member.
Depending on who you would like to use, you can usually politely ask them in person or over email.
For higher-up references, it is recommended you draft a formal letter signed with ink and send it to that individual.
BAD ADVICE #7: “TAKE THE FIRST OFFER YOU GET!”
We all have been desperate for a job. We all need money to survive, eat and have fun with our families.
But to snap up the very first job that comes your way could mean a real snag in your career’s path.
For instance, some positions might be downright unfulfilling. Imagine having to trudge your way through the days instead of treating your job as a duty that is purposeful and important.
You will quickly reach a burnout and fail to do your best work. And don’t even think of working for an employer on a volunteer basis unless you really feel the need to do so.
After all, says Liz Ryan of Forbes, if you don’t value your own work enough so someone has to pay for it, why should anybody else?
Furthermore, some jobs just don’t align with our beliefs and values. You should not give away who you are as a person just to make a few dollars.
For instance, if you are a vegan but find yourself working in a butcher shop, or don’t care to be pushy but take a job selling cars, you are going to wear yourself down and feel awful about what you do.
And perhaps the most important of all, consider how your job will affect your family. The pay might be great, but money isn’t everything. Can you still see your kids and spouse on a regular basis? Will you miss out on birthdays, ballet recitals and baseball games?
Sometimes the first offer is not always the greatest.
You can politely turn down job offers and still leave a positive impression. The best thing to do is be honest, appreciative, and do it sincerely-avoid email, says Cheryl Lock writing for Flexjobs.
You might call up and say, “I greatly appreciate your consideration of me for XX position. I have opted to seek a different endeavor, but it means a lot that you considered me a viable candidate. I wish you all the best, and hope that you enjoy continued success.”
In some instances, it might be prudent to ask for an email so you can stay in touch in case anything changes.
BAD ADVICE #8: “YOU DON’T NEED THAT LINKEDIN PROFILE!”
In our society today, social media is ultra-important. It is not only for those cute family photos and memes of cartoons from our childhood, but for a business’s wellbeing, too.
Your presence online is super important in our hyper-connected online world and having a great LinkedIn profile matters in a big way.
After all, LinkedIn does what other social media accounts can’t do: It lets people see your great reputation, for starters. It is a great way to share your story as a professional or entrepreneur.
It is also a wonderful way to glean more leads as well as referrals.
The LinkedIn activity is a way to show other professional people that you place a high value on business social media communities, and it sends a big message out like a banner behind an airplane that you are well versed in modern social media and other useful technologies.
And perhaps one of the most important parts of LinkedIn is the way in which it brings in new talent. Like moths to a softly glowing street lamp, LinkedIn is a wonderful way for companies to get the word out about job offerings to a huge pool of talented potential hires.
And what’s more, these profiles say a whole lot about a prospective employee than a regular old resume and portfolio do!
Check out the video below on how to make your LinkedIn profile the greatest.
BAD ADVICE #9: “YOU NEEDN’T TAKE NOTES DURING AN INTERVIEW.”
One of my old teachers once wore a fun tee shirt to our school end of year picnic that said, “If I’m talking, you should be taking notes.” While that was nothing more than a silly slogan, it was actually great advice.
Sure, you know the ways of polite interview conversation: Offer a firm handshake.
Stay focused on your interviewer. Leave your devices in your car. Say “Thank You” for the chance to be interviewed.
But did you know that taking notes can really make or break an interview?
It’s important and encouraged that you take notes. However, if you refer back to the notes when answering your questions, that could be perceived in the wrong way.
One suggestion is to make use of a padfolio. Arrive at your interview site with copies of your resume in the padfolio, as well as work samples that you can give away or show off to all those you meet.
Utilize the padfolio as a means to take down names and positions of people you meet.
Suppose you are called back a week later to do the second round of interviews-you would not want to forget the name of the company’s president or regional director of sales!
The best thing to do is ask for a business card of everyone you meet and arrange them in your padfolio with some notes about who they were and what they did.
Plus, the emails of these individuals will be readily available to send your “Thank you” notes.
Whatever you do, don’t look back at your notes while interviewing. You want to look like the expert you are. Plus, there is a concern that the notes you have are not your own, and your ideas are unoriginal.
BAD ADVICE #10: “NETWORKING? WHO NEEDS IT?”
Let’s begin with a few statistics here:
- 85% of all positions are filled by way of networking
- Over 70% of people report their impressions are affected by a person’s appearance and the handshake they give
- 1 out of four people do not network
These are just a few of the insightful and astonishing statistics about networking we uncovered.
Networking, after all, helps you grow in your career and increases the chance that you will be hired.
You can network with just about anybody-clients, business associates, alumni from your college or university, and current and former coworkers.
If you are too busy to make it to networking events, try to make it out to one. Take a day for professional development and attend one. You can also network online.
You likely already know where to go; LinkedIn, of course, Facebook, and other social media giants are hotspots for networking action. College students may want to check and see if there is an alumni network they can work with.
Networking can really payoff: Clare had been cut from her restaurant server job due to low customer volume during the slow months.
A friend of Clare’s, Jeff, who was in her statistics class at school, learned an upscale eatery he bussed tables for was seeking experienced servers.
Jeff put in a good word for Clare after hearing of her plight, and Clare was offered the chance to interview with the GM and two days later was offered a probationary position.
Talk to everybody you meet, and don’t be afraid to exchange LinkedIn or at least email information for the future.
Being like Dad is cool in some ways, but old career tips that aren’t relevant have no place anywhere.
Staying on the up and up with new and fresh job search tactics is just as important as staying current with your industry’s techniques and regulations.
What habits will you change as you search for a new job or shoot for that promotion? Let us know below!
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