It is hard to bust myths that are “soft”, e.g. can’t be tested using scientific methods, but I’ll try anyway and you’ll have to trust me.
Myth # 1 – You just have to send enough resumes
The traditional job search goes something like this:
- You look at job listings. Most likely online.
- You send resumes and cover letters to many potential employers, hoping that one or more of the recipients will call you.
- The resume and cover letter you send to employers are slight variations of your basic version; you tailor each one to fit the position you are interested in.
- You get an unexpected call and go through a five- to ten-minute interview on the phone.
- If the interviewer likes you, you get invited for another interview that may be followed by yet another interview.
- If all goes well, they hire you.
Sounds good? Too bad it doesn’t seem to work anymore. In most job markets, these six steps will not get you a job unless you have a lot of consistent, impressive experience. (If you do, you will probably be headhunted and won’t have to go through this process anyway.)
Myth # 2 – Go on informational interviews
An informational interview is a meeting in which you solicit career advice from an influencer in an organization you want to work for. To obtain an informational interview, you approach the influencer and try to schedule a meeting.
I went on such an “informational interview,” and it didn’t make me a fan of the concept. I know that many people swear by this method as a way to become visible to an organization and eventually get a job, yet the real purpose – to get a job, not just career advice – is so obvious, that the whole thing can be a waste of time for both parties.
The people you’re meeting probably have their defenses on. They will likely tell you that if they had any openings, they would love to hire you. They will promise to forward your resume to some of their friends in the industry and try to help you move ahead. It rarely ever happens. I have heard from many people who came out of informational interviews feeling satisfied, only to find out that the person who was supposed to be their gateway to employment stopped responding or proved to be vague and flaky.
Myth #3 – Go to networking events and meetups
Almost all ambitious jobseekers attend networking meetups– at least until they become frustrated and give up. I don’t know anyone who got a job by going to meetups. (If you do, please contact me. It will be good to hear that all those hours of meetups have actually gotten someone a job.) Don’t get me wrong; a meetup is a great social activity that can be highly beneficial to you when you’re out of a job (especially if they offer free pizza). Just don’t expect to get a job that way.
Myth #4- Spread the word to everyone you meet
This tactic relates to my previous point and explains why meetups don’t work for job search. From what I’ve experienced in North America, people have to know you well to recommend you for a job in their company. When people have just met you, they are reluctant to take the risk of recommending you for a job. If they get you a job and then you suck at it, they may feel it’s their responsibility for having brought you along, which could hurt their careers. That’s why you shouldn’t expect strangers and acquaintances, no matter how nice and friendly they appear, to help you get a job. On the other hand, giving your “unemployed pitch” can appear needy and boring to the people you meet.
So I just told you about some a few common job search myths that don’t work according to my experience; what are some things that do work?