What Are Job Search Myths?
If you are one of the many who are currently looking for a new position, I am sure you are getting tons of unsolicited job search advice on what you should be doing to land your dream job. Here is a question though…are you sure you know the difference between sound job search advice versus outdated job search myths?
While some of the recommendations you are receiving may have been true at one time, the job search has changed considerably over the last several years. If you haven’t had to conduct a job search in a while, it can be difficult to understand the difference between job search myths and facts.
Let’s take a look at the current top 5 outdated job search myths and how they may be sabotaging your efforts to land your dream job.
Your resume can only be one page.
I want to scream when I hear this advice. It is one of the most ridiculous job search myths I have ever run across. I once represented a Vice President who had a 52 page resume! While 52 pages may be a bit long for a typical CRA, it was perfect for him.
And yes, he won the position.
Of course, all of your resume content should be relevant, but limiting the details to a single page is only going to enable you to tell part of your story. Additionally, trying to abide by some arbitrary page limit will tie your hands when it comes to providing enough details in order to compete for positions.
Your goal should be to provide enough content to lay out a narrative of your career progression. I want to see where you have been (i.e., your work history, accomplishments and contributions to previous assignments), as well as where you want to take your career next. The number of pages it takes to achieve that goal is irrelevant.
Only apply if you meet all of the qualifications.
Harvard Business Review published research findings that showed women are 16% less likely to apply for a job if they don’t feel they are a perfect fit. Men don’t seem as concerned, with the research results showing the men will typically apply for a position if they meet only 60% of the criteria.
The article goes on to state this very sound counsel:
You may not fit every criteria a company claims to be looking for, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t the right fit for the role. You may have experience outside of their requirements that can make you a great candidate. Or, you may have strengths in areas they won’t realize they need until they interview you. This is why it’s important to give yourself (and the company) a chance by submitting an application.
We agree. Although we certainly don’t advocate applying for positions when you are seriously underqualified. Just this past Monday we had a medical technologist with zero clinical research experience apply for several senior CRA positions. There is no doubt in my mind that the applicant was aware she didn’t hold any of the qualifications required for those roles ….so why did she apply?
The typical response to this question is: ‘what do I have to lose?’
Applying for positions you are seriously underqualified for shows me that you lack judgment. Not only are you wasting both your and my time, you are hurting your personal and professional brand.
However, some of the best job search advice I can give you is that you don’t have to be perfect for the position either. Clearly you need to have a strong portion of the required qualifications, but applying for a position you are slightly underqualified for may work in your favor.
We consistently represent slightly underqualified candidates when they exhibit a strong competency and an excellent track record. If you truly knock our socks off with your professionalism and enthusiasm, being slightly underqualified isn’t going to be a problem.
Include an objective.
Including an objective in your resume can be catastrophic. A Clinical Trial Manager recently applied for several senior CRA positions with an objective that stated she was looking for a Clinical Trial Manager role.
When we sought clarity from the candidate, she told us she had recently been laid off, and while she preferred another ClinOps Management role, she would settle for a CRA position because she needed a job.
Of course she could perform the work. And honestly, we love representing folks who have progressed into management and then made a career decision to step back into a monitoring position because they want to. Why? Because candidates who make the decision to step back into a monitoring role because they love the role are typically excellent CRAs.
So the real question to our CTM applicant: did she want to do the work? The answer was clear. She was settling.
I appreciate her transparency, but our goal is to represent folks for CRA positions who have a passion when it comes to being a CRA. Said differently, we will not represent someone who is settling for the role…which means that particular CTM wasn’t considered for our open CRA positions.
To avoid the potential of providing conflicting information, I recommend leaving the objective off of your resume. A professional summary is a much better alternative to an objective as it summarizes the relevant experiences and accomplishments which make you competitive for the position. And if you feel you need to craft a message to clarify your true goals, a well written cover letter will be a million times more effective than an objective!
Apply Online, Cross Your Fingers, and Wait for a Response
Several years ago, Lou Adler published an article which revealed that 85% of all jobs are filled via networking. Based on what we are currently seeing in the market, my gut says this percentage is higher now. Additionally, Mr. Adler highlights that job seekers should use ‘the backdoor’ to gain access to a hidden job market. Which means you should be consistently building and nurturing your network in order to tap into opportunities that are never posted.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still apply to positions online. What this does mean is that if applying online is the only tactic you are taking, you won’t stand out. You will look outdated. And more importantly, you are likely to be ignored.
On the flip side, the job search advice to build, nurture and leverage your network doesn’t mean that you should attempt to ‘network’ with everyone you meet. A couple of weeks ago I received an InMail from someone who started out the InMail with “Attention all hiring managers and recruiters!” Needless to say that I archived the message without responding. In a nutshell…don’t do that.
Networking is about getting into real conversations with real people. It is important to be selective when it comes to who you connect with. Trust us when we tell you that building honest and transparent relationships with only a few well-connected and influential individuals will be all it takes to land your dream job.
Frame your “weakness” as a positive.
I seriously hate it when I ask someone to talk to me about their weakness(es) and they give me a canned and fluffy response.
I get it. Being asked to describe one of your weaknesses is a tough question to effectively answer during an interview. But understand this: when a recruiter or hiring manager asks you this question, she is not just analyzing whether or not you recognize your weaknesses. What is more important for her? She wants to know if you have a plan to do something about them.
Whatever you do, do not attempt to fluff your way through this question by using a false positive, self-serving statement like “I work too many hours”, “I am too hard on myself (or my team)”, or “I am a perfectionist”. Your interviewer will see straight through this type of answer and will not be impressed.
When you answer this question openly and honestly, it is a chance for you to exhibit your self-awareness to the hiring manager. It is also an opportunity to prove you hold yourself accountable. And, importantly, it shows a willingness to continually improve as a professional. Be sure to spend time preparing a real answer for this question so you can dazzle your future supervisor with your maturity.
Why You Should Be Aware of Job Search Myths
Our industry is always changing. The economy is also always changing. In a very simplified term, that means the way to approach the job search is always evolving.
As the job search changes, old instructions become myths and can sabotage all efforts you have made to land your dream job. While we have outlined the current top 5 myths, be aware there are many more. Therefore, it is extremely important you stay aware of what is sage job search advice versus an actual job search myth.
Not sure where to start? Reach out to us; we will be happy to help where we can.