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Debunking common job search myths

Robert Half International

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We've all heard that a résumé shouldn't be longer than a single page. And that "It never hurts to apply," even to jobs that are a long shot. It seems as if everyone has at least a small nugget of job search wisdom to pass along.

But rather than helping you, some of the advice you receive could be harming your chances of finding a new position. Job search myths -- like the "rule" about the one-page résumé -- have a habit of sticking around even though they're not true. Here are several that have been debunked:

You should keep your résumé to one page.
This job search myth is perhaps the oldest of the bunch. Even if it were true at some point, it certainly isn't now. Hiring managers are much more interested in getting a true sense of your skills and experience than counting the number of pages you use. Although you don't want to ramble on unnecessarily, don't worry about going past the single-page mark if you need more space to list all of your professional accomplishments.

You shouldn't bother to send a cover letter.
Many job candidates think the cover letter is a thing of the past, especially since the vast majority of applications today are submitted online. But most hiring managers appreciate the introduction a cover letter provides. It also offers you an opportunity to expand upon one or two key points from your résumé, thereby strengthening your case for the job. Since fewer and fewer applicants are submitting a cover letter, a well-written one can help you stand out. If you are submitting your résumé as an attachment or uploading it to a database, use the email message as your cover letter.

You should consider only full-time employment opportunities.
It's a mistake to overlook temporary positions. These assignments can last for weeks or even months, providing a source of income and a chance to network and build new skills. In addition, an increasing number of employers are viewing temporary engagements as on-the-job auditions, evaluating a potential hire's fit for the role prior to extending a full-time offer.

You should apply for as many jobs as possible.
It's true you shouldn't pass up an opportunity you feel is right for you. But applying for openings that you have little true interest in or that have requirements you clearly cannot meet is a waste of time -- for both you and the hiring manager. Focus on positions that spark your interest and match your qualifications. Then, customize your application materials to show why you deserve to be considered.

You shouldn't bother looking for work during the holiday season or summer.
Sure, people are on vacation during these times of year. But as we all know, business never stops. Companies hire year-round -- even at the end of the year and during the summer. Don't put your job search on hold. Instead, realize that there's less competition from other job seekers, increasing the likelihood you're the one called in for an interview.

You shouldn't send an application unless a company has posted a job ad.
Every job seeker dreads hearing that his résumé will be "kept on file." So it's understandable that you want to be sure a company is hiring before putting in the time and effort necessary to submit a résumé and cover letter. Use your professional network to uncover opportunities that haven't been announced yet.

You should just cross your fingers after submitting a résumé.
Once you've sent in your résumé, the ball is completely in the hiring manager's court, right? Not necessarily. Don't be afraid to contact the employer after you've applied to reaffirm your interest in the position and explain why you're a good fit for the role. Employers sometimes need to be reminded of your qualifications. In fact, 81 percent of managers polled by Robert Half said job candidates should follow up within two weeks of applying for a job.

You should take the first job offer you get.
In a tough job market, this is one myth that is partially, but not entirely, true. Take a step back before rushing to sign on the dotted line. If your situation allows, it could pay to be selective. Ask yourself if the opportunity fits your long-term career goals. Will it give you opportunities for advancement and professional development? If not, taking the job could mean missing out on one that does offer this potential.

Robert Half International is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 350 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, visit http://www.roberthalf.com/. For additional career advice, view our career bloopers video series at www.roberthalf.com/dont-let-this-happen-to-you or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/roberthalf.



Last Updated: 20/12/2011 - 3:03 PM


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