Between parents, friends, colleagues, and common a�?wisdom,a�? therea��s no shortage of sources you canA�get adviceA�from when youa��re applying to jobs. The problem is, however, that not all of that advice isA�goodA�advice. While our friends and family often mean well, the labor market changes rapidly enough that one job hunting best practice is no longer relevant a couple years later.
And sometimes, advice-givers are just plain misinformed a�� I once had an acquaintance tell me that I shouldna��t even consider applying to a particular job withoutA�a graduate degree, which a recruiter for the position later confirmed would have been completely unnecessary.
So if youa��re really looking for tips that can help you get your foot in the door at a new job, dona��t rely too much on well-meaning friends and family a��A�leave it to the experts. J.T. Oa��Donnell, Founder & CEO of career advice siteA�Work It Daily, shared some of the mostA�common misconceptions amongst job seekers, and what the truth of the matter really is.
1. a�?You need to stay at your company at least X years before you find a new job.a�?
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Once upon a time, employees were expected to stay at their companies for years on end lest they risk looking flakey or unambitious. But today, the rules have changed. MillennialsA�change jobs an average of four timesA�in the decade after graduating from college, about double the rate of Gen Xers. And this happens for good reason a�� new jobs tend to beA�the quickest way to advanceA�in title and salary. Besides, if youa��re truly unhappy in your current position, you shouldna��t force yourself to stay a�� life is too short to be miserable at work.
a�?I still hear parents saying that you need to stay at least three years to earn credibility. But no, you dona��t a�� not if ita��s not working for you,a�? Oa��Donnell shares. a�?You need to go find your cadence and your stride and if ita��s not happening [at your current company], youa��re not helping them. Youa��ve got to find your own thing.a�?
Now, thata��s not to say that you should necessarilyA�quit a jobA�youa��re unhappy at without anything else lined up first. But if the main thing holding you back from exploring other opportunities is that you havena��t been there long enough, dona��t worry. If youa��re the right fit for the job, recruiters arena��t likely to write you off based solely on your previous tenure.
2. a�?If you want to find a job, you need to apply to as many companies as you can.a�?
You may have to apply to more than one company before you find the perfect fit, but that doesna��t mean that more applications directly translates into more opportunities. When it comes to applying to jobs, the key to success isA�working smarter, not harder. So rather than sending out as many applications as humanly possible, ita��s better to get strategic and only apply to the companies that you feel are a great fit for your interests and experience. So how exactly can you identify those companies?
a�?One of the things we have job seekers do isA�create a list of 10 companiesA�that you absolutely love a�� the product, the service, whatever it is they do, you absolutely love it. Dona��t get hung up on whether youa��d ever work for them or not, dona��t get hung up that theya��re not in your backyard. Just ten companies you love. Then [ask yourself], a�?Whata��s similar about these 10 companies?a��a�? Oa��Donnell says.
From there, patterns will emerge, whether thata��s companies with great customer service, aA�culture of innovation, a commitment to helping the less fortunate, or whatever matters most to you. a�?It gets a lot easier to find employers once you know what those are. And the beautiful part about going to Glassdoor is it tells me similar companies,a�? Oa��Donnell adds.
3. a�?Your resume should only be one page.a�?
Dona��t worry a�� despite what you may have heard,A�submitting a resumeA�thata��s more than one page doesna��t mean that recruiters will automatically gloss over it. a�?The reality is that you can go to two pages as long as youA�create white space. When I see a one-pager but theya��ve got half-inch margins, nine-point font, and theya��ve tried to stuff everything on the page, ita��s awful. So Ia��d rather see you go toA�two pagesA�as long as youa��ve really created that white space since ita��s easier for me to read,a�? Oa��Donnell explains.
However, ita��s a good rule of thumb to err on the side of concision.
a�?Under 15 years of experiences is a two [pager], in the rare instance youa��ve had a killer career of 15+ [years] is a three [pager]. The exception to that is usually people in academia or science have a lot of papers and things that they have to cite and that can take up some bulk but aside from thata�� no more than two,a�? she adds.
4. a�?Your cover letter should summarize whata��s in your resume.a�?
a�?InA�cover letters, people tell [job seekers] to basically summarize whata��s in their resume,a�? Oa��Donnell says. But using yourA�cover letterA�simply as a way to repurpose what youa��ve already laid out is a waste of your time. a�?Ia��m not going to read your cover letter if I know that everything in [it] is whata��s in the resume,a�? Oa��Donnell shares.
Beyond being redundant, using your cover letter as a resume summary means you miss out onA�demonstrating passion and culture fitA�for the company and role in particular.
a�?TheA�cover letterA�is your opportunity to tell me how you feel connected to me as a company a�� I want you to tell me how you came to learn that what we do isA�different, special, valuable, important. The resume will speak for itself,a�? Oa��Donnell says.
This is especially important if youa��re still relatively early on in your career.
a�?[If you] dona��t have anything where you can say, a�?Check out my incredible track record,a�� what you do have is that emotional connection. And thata��s what every companya�� is looking for. Theya��reA�looking for your passionA�for them,a�? Oa��Donnell shares. a�?They know theya��re going to have to train you, so tell them about how you learned that the medical devices they [make] saved your grandmothera��s life, or how being in financial planning is what helped your parents pay for your college a�� whatever the story is that connects you, thata��s what you tell those employers.a�?
5. a�?Dona��t bring up gaps in your work history.a�?
Ita��s natural to want to avoid highlighting the parts of your application that arena��t so strong, but addressing issues head-on is a good way to assuage any doubts that a potential employer might have. And while you dona��t want to necessarily make it front and center on your resume, recruiters and hiring managers will respect an honest, thoughtful answer if they inquire about why youA�took a break from the working world.
a�?What we teach people to do is answer that question using the a�?experience, learn, and growa�� model a�� what did I experience, what did I learn from that situation, and how did I grow. So if I didna��t doA�an internshipA�and I goofed off for the summera�� and they ask me what happened, my answer would be a�?That was a really great question.
At the time, I had the summer off and I opted to not pursue an internship. What I learned from that experience is that I wasted an opportunity to really get some valuable experience for my career, and what Ia��ve learned is Ia��ll never do that again.a�� Thata��s exactly what an employer wants to hear,a�? Oa��Donnell says.
On the other hand, if youa��ve had a meaningful life event thata��s gotten in the way of your work a�� whether positive or negative a�� you shouldna��t be afraid to proactively bring it up.
a�?If you were out of work because you took your sabbatical and traveled around the worlda�� that would be noteworthy. If you stayed home and cared for an ailing relative or parent who passed, you may want to say [you were a] primary caregiver,a�? Oa��Donnell advises.