Job Search Myths

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Think you know everything there is to know about getting a job? Not so fast. There are lots of myths floating around that people have come to accept as fact. Check out some of the most common myths below, and get one step closer to scoring a job you’ll love.

•Help wanted ads are the best place to hunt for a job. The first places people look when they want or need a new job is online job boards and newspaper classifieds. Why? Because it’s easy and requires virtually no effort on the job-seeker’s part—which is why everybody does it. That’s a huge problem in a tight job market. You might be very good at what you do, but are you better than all 50,000 people looking at the same ad that you are? By all means, use help wanted ads as a jumping off point for your search, but if you stop there, you’ll be looking for work for a long, long time. Contact the career center at your alma mater, call placement agencies (what used to be known as “temp agencies”), and talk to people you know about job leads.

•I don’t have anyone to network with. Networking is often the most difficult avenue for job-seekers, but it can offer the best results. No one wants to feel like a charity case by asking friends and family members to hook them up with a job, but the trick to networking is to think of it as a relationship-building process. Go outside of your immediate circle and chat up everyone from people at your church to other parents at your kid’s fundraiser to your fellow gym-goers. Ask them about their career, their company, and what they like and dislike about both. Everyone likes talking about themselves, and before you know it, you’ll have built a rapport. Eventually, these new friends will be happy to share job leads and contacts.

•There’s no need to resend a resume. You sent your resume to Company X two years ago when they posted a job you were interested in, so they probably still have it on file, right? Wrong. Most organizations keep resumes for a year (at the outside), so unless you sent one a few weeks ago, send it again. Besides, if it’s been a while since they looked at your resume, you’ve probably—hopefully!—racked up more accomplishments that they should be aware of.

•You can’t overcome a resume gap. If you’re currently between jobs, you may think that employers will send your resume straight to the circular file once they detect that gap in work history. Because of this myth, some job seekers are tempted to blur the lines of truth in order to cover it up. Don’t. Especially in today’s tough economy where thousands of talented people have been downsized through no fault of their own, employers are very willing to accept some out-of-work time as a norm.

•Your resume should demonstrate your mastery over everything in the work world. True, you want to come off as an expert in your field, but employers don’t care—and may not believe—that you can design a high-rise building, have memorized all one million tax laws, and can perform brain surgery if the need arises. You need to focus on a couple of areas that match the job for which you’re applying. If you’re an outstanding salesperson as well as an intensive care nurse, you need two resumes tailored to best display your strengths and accomplishments in each field. Dual careers make interesting water cooler talk after you’re hired, but they’re just confusing—and unnecessary—on your resume.

•Your salary requirements should be next to nothing. When jobs are tough to come by, it’s tempting to tell potential employers that you’ll work for a pittance—heck, you’ll pay them to work there. But unless you’re changing careers entirely or just starting out in the work world, that’s a mistake. It’s not unusual for someone from HR to call and conduct a brief screening before bringing you in for an interview, and part of that typically involves asking about your salary requirements. Give them a range if you don’t feel comfortable with an exact figure, but be sure that you’ll be satisfied with a salary anywhere in that range. Firms really don’t like to be given one salary during the screening and another (higher) salary during negotiations.

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