Job searching is hard work. It can be complicated, it can feel mysterious—and it can sometimes seem like you’re the only person out there who doesn’t know the secrets to success.
In truth, there are no secrets to a successful job search. That’s because, just like no two job seekers are the same, neither are any two companies, or any two hiring managers. So what works in one case won’t necessarily work to land a different position.
And while there are no secrets to success, there are plenty of so-called “rules” about the job search process. In fact, most of these are myths—there might be elements of truth to them, but they should not be taken as hard-fast rules.
So what are some of these myths—and are they holding you back from success? Take a look at this list of five not-so-true job search myths.
Myth: Hiring slows down over the winter holidays.
Reality: It’s true that a lot of business slows down between mid-November and mid-January. But that doesn’t mean that hiring grinds to halt. Many companies may decide not to begin a hiring process during those slower months, but others might have good reason—a critical staff member leaves, for instance—to need to fill positions at that time of year. And, there may be fewer job seekers during the holiday period, so in fact you might stand a better chance of being considered for a position than during busier hiring times.
Myth: You should apply to as many positions as possible.
Reality: Job searching can sometimes be a game of numbers: each position you apply for increases your chances that you’ll get an offer. But it’s nearly impossible to land an offer when you’ve submitted only a generic resume to a position that you’re not even sure is a great fit for you. Taking the time to research a company and an opportunity, and then targeting your resume and cover letter to reflect the ways you are a good fit is always time well spent. So if you need to choose between a) sending out one, three or even a dozen more cold resumes, or b) networking, researching, or targeting your materials—your best bet is nearly always to concentrate your search energies.
Myth: You’ll never get a job applying online.
Reality: While this may seem to contradict the above myth, it’s not true that companies never hire candidates who submit applications online. You may have heard that networking—talking to people you know about your job search—is the only way to land a job, but that’s just not true. It’s one common path to success, but sometimes you will be a great candidate for a position that isn’t related to anyone in your network—and you should absolutely apply for that positions as well.
Myth: It will be obvious to the hiring manager that you’re the perfect fit for your dream job.
Reality: Sometimes you come across a job posting that speaks to you—in fact it may seem like it was created with just you in mind. You might think, Great—all I’ve got to do here is send in my resume and they’ll be jumping at the chance to hire me. Unfortunately, that’s not always true. Hiring managers might be weeding through hundreds of resumes, and for whatever reason, your perfect-match credentials may not stick out to them. Or, a person in HR might be unfamiliar with the details of a position, and they might miss the obvious when screening resumes. The bottom line is that you should always connect the dots on your resume and in your cover letter: detail exactly why your skills and experience make you the candidate they are looking for.
Myth: All you can do is send in your application/resume/cover letter and leave it to chance.
Reality: It’s true that the job search process can seem so mysterious that you may as well rely on fate to land your job. But as frustrating as the realities of job searching can be, there is almost always something you can do to improve your chances of getting your resume read, landing an interview, or getting an offer. Here’s a short checklist –you may not do each one of these for each position you apply for, but you should at least consider them at each step.
- Researched the company and the industry?
- Reached out to your network to see if you can make any connections?
- Targeted your resume and cover letter for the position?
- Proofed your resume and cover letter AND asked somebody else to proof it?
- Followed all directions in the posting?
- Practiced sample interview questions before your interview?
- Sent a thank-you note after each interview?
- Followed up with the hiring manager if you haven’t heard back a week or two past the deadline?