Job search rules: Can you benefit from breaking them?
Follow the rules and you are bound to get rewarded, right? Not necessarily. Here, experts offer their take on some traditional advice that might not always be in a job seeker's best interest:
"Do not be too obvious that you are trying to find a job."
While one need not hang a "Hire me!" sign around his neck, valuable networking opportunities can be wasted if a job seeker is overly apprehensive about displaying interest in employment.
"I do think this rule has been dispelled in our down economy where the job search stigma has been eliminated, though some folks are still afraid to advertise their status," says Christine Bolzan, founder of Graduate Career Coaching -- a custom-counseling service for college students and new graduates. "Just yesterday, I was speaking to a father of a current college senior and suggesting to him that he leverage his own network to help his son's search. His response was, 'Oh, no. His mother and I have not told anyone that he does not have a job.' There was a perception that this is an embarrassment or a failure of sorts, which is completely wrong on both accounts."
"Provide salary information if the job ad asks for it."
"So many job seekers are under the impression that you show that you can't 'follow rules' if an ad asks you to state your salary history/expectations and you respond without it," states Darrell Gurney, founder of CareerGuy.com and author of "Backdoor Job Search: Never Apply for a Job Again!" "If you are close enough to the specs, chances are you'll hear back even if you didn't include it. That's what you want, so you can at least begin to deal with a real person rather than set yourself up to be eliminated with no contact whatsoever."
If the lack of a figure comes up when contacted, Gurney suggests a response such as, "Oh, I'm sorry. I'd be happy to provide you with copies of W-2s at an appropriate time. Perhaps we can see if there's some initial alignment on what you're looking for first? Can you tell me more about the role?"
"Let the employer run the interview."
"Going in and being a 'good' interviewee is not in your best interests, though (of course) amiability and friendliness are critical," Gurney notes. "Think of it like you were brought in to consult. Going in with questions and interests that you want to have addressed, including a real interest in the interviewer, can go a long way to setting yourself apart from the masses."
David Couper, a career coach and author of "Outsiders on the Inside: How to Create a Winning Career ... Even When You Don't Fit In," adds, "The more you know, the better. Some job hunters think it is OK not to do research because the employer will explain to them about the company. The problem with that approach is that all the information is one-sided. It is what the company wants you to hear, not what the market, customers or employees are saying."
"Don't call after an interview to follow up because hiring managers don't like it" and "Continue to follow up on positions for which you interviewed."
Finally, remember that job search "rules" are rarely set in stone, as these two contradictory yet widely circulated pieces of advice demonstrate. Sometimes, using your own good judgment is key.
"Follow up after an interview with additional information and with solutions to their problems like a consultant would," Couper says. "Calling to discuss this information is positive. Calling just to ask where your application is and to whine about the process doesn't score you any points."
Adds Gurney, "A simple follow up from a position of strength and certitude is always helpful and demonstrates interest, but continuing to 'follow up, follow up, follow up' from a place of need and desperation loses your gloss and negotiating stance. Think dating: How interested would you be in someone calling over and over after the first date, leaving messages letting you know how much they enjoyed it and wanting to know 'where we go from here'?"
Beth Braccio Hering researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.com. Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.
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