Asking for help and networking with others is essential if you’re in the market for a new position. You wouldn’t think of going it alone for such an arduous task (a task I’ve heard called the worst thing in the world after death and divorce). A second or even third opinion, a second set of eyes to look over a cover letter, good friends cheering you on; they are like oxygen to a drowning man. Just don’t forget that you’re the one running the show. Only you can decide which advice is the right advice for you. So without further ado: five pieces of job advice you’re better to forget.
1. Follow the Directions Carefully
Following the rules never got anyone anywhere. If you feel like dropping off a resumé in person on the finest quality card-stock paper, as long as the ad doesn’t explicitly forbid this, why not? If you’ve got a contact at the company to which you are applying, cut out the middleman and go straight to your source. Following the rules is a great way to get your resume fast-tracked to the trash can.
2. Only apply if you fit the criteria
Sure, lots of companies have policies about only hiring candidates with degrees. If you have one, make sure to put it right at the top of your resume so the reader can tick that off the list from the get-go. If you don’t have one, perhaps you have some other experience you feel makes up for it. Don’t be afraid to address this in the cover letter. Not all candidates will fit ALL the criteria. In fact, maybe none will. Don’t write yourself off the list of candidates before you’ve even applied. Your experience may be the thing that sets you apart.
3. Be an expert at everything
An expert in everything is a master of nothing, as they say. Never answer a pointed question about your strengths with something so generic as, “whatever you need, I can do it.” What you are effectively saying is that you have no strengths in particular. Be clear about where your expertise lies. It doesn’t mean you can’t do all that other stuff.
4. Apply for as many jobs as you possibly can
It’s much better to thoughtfully address one or two resumés per day than to spam them all over town. Effective job applications take time. You’ll need to read up on the company, write a thoughtful letter that shows the time you’ve put into your application. Your resumé should also be tailored to each job, with your most relevant skills at the very top, you summary or objectives carefully edited to suit the position.
5. Stick to the job sites
Sticking to jobs ads that are posted online is a sure way to miss out on opportunities. Some studies show that as many as seventy percent of available jobs are not posted online. Time to think outside the ol’ box. Ask yourself where you’d like to work and what skills you have that could benefit that company. Put your feelers out there. Who do you know that might be interested in what you have to offer? Use your social media networks to capitalise on the inside information only your LinkedIn connections can provide, for example.
Amy Knapp is a business blogger based in Sydney, AUS, writing regularly for InsideTrak. Educated in Law and the Fine Arts, her work champions the marriage of the creative and the corporate. Follow her on Twitter @JoyofWords.