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7 Job Search Myths and What Really Works to Land a Job in 2019

Debunking Dinosaur Job Search Myths

It’s a whole new job search world out there and technology is rapidly changing how you find, network and land your next great job. Now, more than ever, it critical to be 150% up to date on what really works to land a job in 2019. There are too many dinosaur job search myths floating around. Some of these job search myths might actually be holding you back from landing the jobs you want!

Job Search Myth #1 – Networking

“80% of jobs are found through networking”

If I hear or read this tired old job search myth one more time … This was probably great advice 8+ years ago, but the landscape of the job search world has changed quite a bit since then. Some of the biggest changes are:

> Human Resources controls more of the job application process in major organizations.

> Recruiting is 75% digitally focused, relying on LinkedIn to find great candidates.

> More companies want ‘fresh’ new ideas and are focused on increasing mental diversity.

What does that mean for you, the job seeker? There are several things you need to keep in mind to be effective in your job search.

#1 – Networking still works, but not quite the way it used to. The larger the company, the less having a buddy on the inside will help you. You’ll still have to apply through an online portal because larger organizations typically have HR controlled hiring processes.

#2 – The smaller the company, the more effective networking can be to land your next great job. I would say the increase in the level of importance is directly related to the decrease in size of the company.

# 3 – Don’t forget your LinkedIn profile! Even if you apply online, a recruiter is likely to be more interested in a candidate he or she found on their own – regardless of how qualified your online submittal was.

Job Search Myth #2 – Resume Length

“One page resumes are best”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – short resumes don’t get you on the short list. This is particularly true if you are an experienced professional. While almost no one’s entireresume is read, it’s also important not to limit your candidacy because you weren’t able to:

  1. Clearly demonstrate your career contributions that makes you a great fit for the role.
  2. Meet the applicant tracking system (ATS) requirements because you didn’t have enough room to get all the right keywords, lingo, and skills in your resume.
  3. Have an easily read and visually appealing resume because you tried to cram in as much information as you could in one page.

Give yourself some breathing room! ATS governs most application processes and if you can’t meet the word match criteria – you’re resume goes into an archive. Period. Wave goodbye to that 45 minutes you spent applying to the job.

If you get past ATS, then your resume must immediately and clearly demonstrate your key expertise that make you a great fit for the role. Then, the hiring manager actually needs to see some examples of how you have applied those expertise with demonstrated credibility. It’s almost impossible to do all of this in one page.

  • Your resume must have plenty of ‘white space’ with easy-to-find sections (visually indexable).
  • Your resume must have all applicable skills (keywords), industry lingo and years of experience to be compatible with ATS software.
  • Your resume must give the recruiter everything they are looking for in under 5 seconds.
  • Your resume must THEN be able to communicate your depth of experience and examples of how you have applied your expertise with credible (and impactful) outcomes to the hiring manager.

Job Search Myth #3 – Cover Letters

“You don’t need a cover letter, no one reads them anyway”

This advice is completely right and totally wrong – all at the same time. You need a cover letter if there is space for one. On the other hand, less than 15% are actually read. If you are confused, I don’t blame you.

Cover letters are there to show that you care enough about the job to have taken the time to create a one. If there isn’t any way to upload or attach a cover letter – don’t worry about it. But, if there is: as long as you have a fairly decent cover letter uploaded or attached to your online application, you are good to go.

  1. Have 3 short paragraphs only in your cover letter.
  2. Discuss the skills than make you a great fit.
  3. Give an example of a career accomplishment or contribution that is relevant for the role.
  4. Explain why you are excited to work at that company (be specific).

Cover letters are not a substitute for targeting your resume towards the job posting.You always target your resume, the cover letter is just icing on the cake. If you are sending your resume directly to the hiring manager, usually the email suffices as your cover letter. Know your industry to determine how formal you need to be in order to make the right impression.

Job Search Myth #4 – Hiding Keywords

“Put keywords in white font in the open spaces between your paragraphs to beat ATS”

NO, NO, NO! Don’t do it! Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are designed to either parse (convert your resume) or optically scan your resume. In parsing situations, this mythical method will automatically blacklist your resume. If your resume is scanned – all that work was for nothing.

Adding keywords in white font in the margins or between paragraphs in your resume is a terrible message to send your prospective employer! “Hi, I like to be sneaky to get what I want.” Bad idea!

If you want to make sure your resume meets the word-match criteria for online job applications, use a tool like jobscan.co to see how well you rank against the posting. Another method is to create a section for additional skills and simply list everything from the job description that isn’t already in your resume. However, please don’t list any keywords that don’t apply to you!

Myth #5 – Diverse Experience

“Build a generic resume so you can apply to multiple types of jobs”

Having too broad a resume will ensure that you aren’t taken seriously. Onboarding employees takes time and money. No employer want to hire someone that hasn’t figured out who they want to be when they grow up. Highly targeting both your resume and your LinkedIn profile is essential to landing a job.

If you want to focus on more than one job type, great – here’s what I recommend:

> Targeting for ‘adjacent’ positions is easier than targeting dissimilar positions. For example: project management and operations management are adjacent skillsets. Project management and a tax accountant, however, might be more challenging to sell to a recruiter.

> You can also target in subsets of professional focus groups. For example: you could be targeting Engineering as a whole but also niche subsets within engineering – as long as they are not too dissimilar.

Use your common sense – if you think it’s a hard sell or your resume/LinkedIn makes your skill set seem too broad, then it probably is. Look at industry trends, what is growing and who’s hiring to help you focus. What do you like doing the most? Prioritize and target your ideal jobs to land a job!

Myth #6 – Rewriting Your Resume

“Rewrite your resume every time you apply for a job”

What?? Who has time for that? That’s just crazy talk. The complete opposite of Job Search Myth #5 and just as bad. While job targeting is critical – looking for a job should not be a full time job! The average time it takes to apply for a job online is around 45-60 minutes. That’s without much resume modification.

Instead of rewriting your resume, make several key sections that can be easily targeted for the job. That way, 80% of your resume remains static.

Add a ‘core competencies’ or ‘expertise’ section on the first page. Make sure you put all of your essential expertise in this section. You can list them horizontally or vertically. Just make sure you do not use a table or a text box as some ATS software won’t read these.

Add a ‘select accomplishments’ section to your resume and list any key career contributions or experiences that are relevant towards the position. This impresses the hiring manager and it makes the recruiter happy – they don’t have to read as much.

Myth #7 – Years of Experience

“Showing you have lots of experience gets you hired”

Wrong. It can overprice you. I’ve seen a lot of shocked faces when I bring this up. It’s a little psychological nuance that most haven’t considered. When we are early career professionals, we want to appear more experienced. But, when you arrive in you late career – that extensive experience might just nip your chances in the bud.

The hard truth is: everyone wants experience, but no one wants to pay for it. I recommend leaving off any mention of how many years of industry experience you have. New ATS applications will associate years of experience to certain key skill sets found in your resume based on what position it was listed under. There’s no need for you to do the computer’s job.

Worry more about being consistent and relevant to the job you are applying for. Blatantly advertising more years of experience than what is asked for in the job posting might overprice you for the position. Keep your resume succinct, targeted, and relevant. 

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