Are you a wiz at the skill of job searching? One would hope not, but career transitions and terminations happen frequently, even in good economic times, let alone during downturns in the economy. I am fortunate to interact with many people who are either considering a job search while employed or who are currently in career transition. I hear some distressing and questionable stories as I speak with people across the world and, sadly, many have been given the wrong information or have assumed that what they did in their last transition 15 years ago, applies today. Let’s debunk eight of the myths I often hear.
Myth #1 – You should network with Human Resources
The human resources team are not the best individuals to network with They have a role in processing applications but are not the entry point into the organization or corporation. Not all human resources staff know about future openings or department head hiring plans. I would suggest that you network with influencers, most likely a potential boss or their boss, at one of the companies you have selected as your next employer. Also, network with other employees at your peer level to gain an understanding of the culture.
Myth #2 – You will find your next job by applying online
Contrary to popular belief, online applications through job boards bring minimal return on your time. Very few of the total jobs available in your area of expertise will be advertised. Most jobs are filled either internally, through referrals, or as a result of the job searcher target marketing. Very little of your time should be spent, or dare I say wasted, in applying for jobs online. The competition is vast and the chances of you being called for an interview are dramatically reduced the more people apply.
Myth #3 – An interview will be granted for every application
Oh my! It is very scary to think that way. An application through the corporate website or job board is processed using a complex scanning application known as Applicant Tracking System (ATS) where resumes are screened for skill sets. This computer application only accepts certain content and certain formats. Only those who meet the criteria of the job and pass the ATS scanning application will go into the candidate pool for further evaluation. That list is then scaled back and a certain number, maximum 20, are called for further information.
Myth #4 – Your resume is the most important job search tool
Yes, agreed. A resume is a very critical tool to market yourself and it must be a sales performance driven document to compel the reader to consider your candidacy. However, social media, in particular LinkedIn and Facebook, are now two significant resources used by career decision makers to hunt you down. Both platforms are increasingly being used to search for talent and should be treated the same way as a resume – as a major tool in your career management and job search.
Myth #5 – You should expect to hear a response instantly
Recruitment is a process. Processes can conclude quickly, or processes can take an extraordinary, and somewhat frustrating, amount of time. An advertised job is generally posted for a set period, either 21 days or 28 days. Of course, there are exceptions to that rule. However, if you apply at the beginning of that period, you will likely wait 28 days or 35 days to receive any news from a hiring authority. Why? Normally, after closing, there is a seven-day assessment of candidates before communications with the prospective candidates. If your candidacy is not successful, you will not normally receive any information. Occasionally, you might get a computer-generated rejection letter. Yes, it is impersonal, but the human resources teams and executive recruiters don’t have time to contact all applicants. Sadly, the job searcher is left in the lurch.
Myth #6 – A cover letter will be read
The Boy Scouts’ motto is “Be prepared.” You should be prepared by having your cover letter ready to be fully assessed. Some decision makers will read this letter from top to bottom, while others will give it a cursory glance or place it in the recycle bin. Regardless, it should be written professionally and eloquently, explaining why you are the best candidate and highlighting the value you would bring on your appointment. Be prepared . . . don’t expect it to be read.
Myth #7 – The best time to network is after the job is posted
I hate to dull your excitement as you apply for what you think is the perfect job for you. As a fierce networker myself, I highly encourage networking, however, you are reaching out to the influencers too late once the job has already been posted. Why didn’t you reach out to them earlier if you wanted to work for that company? A job also may have been circulating internally for a long time, and through your networking, you could have been made aware of this opportunity before it went out to a wider audience (i.e. advertising).
Myth #8 – Your references will be contacted before the interview
Seldom will references be checked while the initial assessment process is in action. It costs time and money to verify references, so this is usually left to the final candidate selections, after the final interviews have been concluded. However, be aware that your LinkedIn profile will certainly be assessed during the screening process, before candidates are called. They are looking for recommendations, generally five per job, on your LinkedIn profile.
The ROI on a job search can be high if you are fully informed of the process. I know it’s not a process you like to go through often but be aware that there are many pitfalls that can trap you and frustrate you as you want to land fast. Treat a job search as a full-time appointment. Like anything, the more effort you put in, the more rewards you will see.