Joining the plethora of job searching articles out there, I would like to put in what truths – or rather, untruths – about what I have found the hunt to really be like. If you are also currently searching for that perfect career, you might be researching resume and cover letter tips like I do at least every other day. (Maybe I’m putting too much effort into researching the search, therefore slowing myself down.) Below are three tips that I often read, but find to be an understatement or mostly untrue.
“Set aside at least an hour every day for your job search.”
If you are setting aside just one hour a day, you are only going to complete a search of current listings. To be honest, some articles I have been reading more recently admit that it takes much more of your free time than you think, which is what I have found to be true. When I search for jobs, I usually spend an hour or two reading the listings on my favorite job sites and bookmarking some potentials. The next part takes me at least two hours – absolute minimum – for each application, but usually about four. Here’s why:
You might need any variation of the following: cover letter, resume, references, and work samples. Some companies will also have you fill out their employment application in addition to requesting a cover letter and resume. These all take time to develop and perfect. You may have a resume or two that you can tweak as necessary and upload fairly quickly, but how do you make your application stand out? I research each company so I can be as specific as possible in my application, but there is still more to the hunt than these basics.
The act of job searching has become very dynamic and you need to brand yourself in this multi-media world of job hunting. You’ve heard of LinkedIn, I’m sure, but have you used it to its full capacity with a great summary, additional media, and by participating in groups? Aside from LinkedIn, there are smartphone apps that can help you meet like-minded business professionals or design a resume that you can send instantaneously as opportunities present themselves. Then there is the multitude of websites where you can basically put a “Job Wanted” ad up with your resume. You can read more about emerging job search trends here.
“Referred candidates get hired more often than those with no connections, so find someone you know in the companies you want to work for.”
Referrals do go a long, long way, as does networking in general. The writers of such statements like to make it sound easier than it is to find referrals, though. It is anything but easy, especially for the latest generations of workers who would much rather use devices to network than to go out and meet people.
Susan P. Joyce, a writer on various job hunting sites, admits that it is easier for workers over 40 to network because they have had time to build solid connections in their fields. You can read more about her networking advice here. This is bad news for those of us just out of college or trying to transition to a new field. In my case, half of my classmates are still in college and the others work at companies that are not in my scope, which leads to the last bit of advice that I don’t find extremely helpful for job seekers.
“Make a list of companies you want to work for and market to them.”
I don’t know how many of you have seen or heard this statement, but I have found this to only limit your options. Yes, every job seeker should have their ideal job and employer in mind and should definitely “give it their all” to those employers first. However, if you have no connections to people in those companies or they are not hiring for the position you want, your search should not end there.
Knowing yourself is much better than limiting yourself to certain employers. If you know the skills you have to offer and the kind of environment where you can thrive, use those qualifications to choose where to apply. I know that I can adapt and grow in many different kinds of companies, especially since I am so new to the field. Since I do research on each company before I apply to their open position, I can get a feel for their industry and usually their workplace, too.
Although every job searching tip can be helpful, I just wanted to remind people that there is no perfect way to search for jobs. It takes a lot of time to establish employment-worthy materials and habits. The traditional cover letter/resume combo has not been taken over by all of the extra apps and portfolio sites, but every seeker can use a little extra help marketing themselves with the extras. Speaking of extra help, I think all of us new to our fields need to amp up our game when it comes to networking. As I stated earlier, it’s not easy, and I admit to sucking at finding job leads from real people. There is only one way to build that 40-year-old contact list, though. Lastly, don’t limit yourself. That applies to searching for a very specific sort of job as well as using all of the advice you hear and read.
This article humbled me and my search tactics. It details exactly what us job seekers need to come to terms with in today’s job market. Getting work is a lot of work, but I honestly do not think it should be life-consuming. I like the most simple advice out there: know yourself, know the market, and sell yourself to that market. If you are an outstanding professional, you will indeed figure out what sort of process works best for you.
Have you found any unhelpful job searching tips out there? What is/was your process like when applying to positions? Leave a comment with more untruths, half-truths, or suggestions below!