You have finally decided that it is time to look for a new job. Of course, everyone you typically trust has advice and wants to share it (even if you did not ask for their opinion). But why not listen to them? They all seem to have great jobs. They must have done something right.
Your friends and family only want the best for you. But before you blindly follow their recommendations, you should know that some of it might steer you wrong. Very wrong.
They mean well, of course. But what worked just five years ago when they were searching for a job may not apply now.
The hiring process is often a mystery for job seekers. At Aha! we understand — we interview candidates every day for open roles. We know that it can be an exhilarating, confounding time — especially when the rules constantly evolve. That is why I wanted to share a few observations and encourage you to critically think about your job search before you follow the one-off advice of others.
So, after interviewing hundreds of people over the last few months, here is what I have learned from the best candidates. Here are seven pieces of bad job advice you should never follow — and what you should do instead.
Apply to everything
Do not apply to every job listing that sounds like something you could potentially do. You may think sending out more applications will increase your odds, but this is not an effective job search strategy or a good use of your time.
Instead, accept that you will not be qualified for every job — and that is okay. It is better to take a targeted approach and use your time to research and apply only to the jobs where you are a meaningful fit.
Tweak the details
Do not alter your city, job titles, dates of employment, education or other facts to make yourself look more attractive. Employers know that many applicants misrepresent their experience and often order background checks to verify the details before extending an offer.
Instead, just be upfront and honest. Be prepared to answer questions about your work history, such as gaps in employment dates. Simply being truthful shows that you have integrity.
Add fancy graphics
Do not use trendy fonts and graphics on your resume. While your resume may look cool on your screen, it may not translate well on the receiving end, and may even be unreadable if the hiring manager does not use the same software.
Instead, stick to a clean, uncluttered design that highlights your achievements, and choose fonts for their readability.
Include an objective
Do not waste valuable real estate on your resume by including an objective. Recruiters often pass over whatever looks like noise and zero in on only the most critical information: your name, recent position and dates, and your education.
Instead, use that freed-up space to add in more contact information, including URLs for your LinkedIn profile, website, and email address.
Exploit your networks
Do not pester people you do not really know for the inside scoop on job openings or introductions. You may have heard that aggressive networking shows ambition, but you run the risk of appearing desperate. Plus, it can make others feel used.
Instead, spend time developing professional relationships, and ask only trusted colleagues for introductions or recommendations. You should work your network, but be patient and ask for the warm introductions that you think will help.
Mail your resume
Do not bother with postage and expensive resume paper as a way to stand out from other candidates. You cannot guarantee that the package will even end up on the right desk. It is likely that it will not, or even if it does, it will never be opened.
Instead, apply online via a provided form or email. Save your resume as a PDF (unless you are asked to provide it via text or Word) and attach it to an email. Hiring managers may take notice of you simply because you followed their directions.
Follow up daily
Do not cross that line between conscientious follow-up and annoying the HR manager with the status of your application. The hiring process now takes longer at many companies, which can test anyone’s patience. But try not to get discouraged or take it personally.
Instead, check in once or twice with the hiring manager to show that you are still interested in the position, but know when it is time to gracefully move on to the next opportunity.
These days, it can be hard to know how to act when you are looking for a job. The rules keep changing, and your friends and family may not be the best coaches anymore.
So the next time someone offers you unsolicited words of wisdom, question whether their advice is still valid or better off ignored.
Trust your own good instincts and thoughtfully consider each move you make. Soon you will know how to set yourself apart — and position yourself to land the job that is right for you.
What other bad advice should job seekers avoid?