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Debunking 10 Myths about Job Hunting

Debunking 10 Myths about Job Hunting

The global talent shortage has peaked at a seven-year high. ManpowerGroup’s ninth annual Talent Shortage Survey, conducted across 42 countries and taking into account responses from 37,000 employers, found that 36 percent of the global employers are finding it difficult to fill positions. While skill gap is cited as the biggest reason behind this shortage, job seekers are also not doing any favors to themselves as they lay prey to some very common job search misconceptions. These people are so busy working hard that they never take time to learn how to sell their skills in the job market.

Take time to go through these pervasive myths and misconceptions to avoid derailing your job search process, and make it more effective.

1. All jobs are advertised.

According to Duncan Mathison, the co-author of the 2009 book Unlock the Hidden Job Market, around 50% of positions are currently filled on an informal basis, i.e either without advertising or advertising after someone has already been identified internally for the position. This hidden job market that runs parallel is one reason many candidates miss out on some wonderful employment.

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On the other hand, managers argue that such “opportunity hiring” saves a lot of time and resources. Plus, internal hires generally perform better than external ones. While the fairness of this practice can be debated, it isn’t very surprising to know that it’s the job seekers who are at loss in the end. These job hunters do not even know that they are applying for phantom positions.

2. Take the first offer that comes to you.

It is definitely tempting to accept the first job offer that is extended to you. After all, who wants to take the high road, and go through the grueling process of interviewing over and over again? Job hunting is definitely not a very pleasing experience, and that’s exactly why it is easy to give in. However, the only time you should take the first job offer that comes along is when you are sure that the job moves your career in the right direction, and adds significant value to your resume.

3. Cover letter aren’t important.

With constant evolution of resumes, and the emergence of its various forms (video resumes, infographics and online portfolios, among others) it is easy to forget the relevance of another very important part of the job application: the cover letter. Also known as the letter of introduction, a cover letter must remain a vital part of your job search strategy. If you put in enough effort, it will motivate the recruiter to spend meaningful time reviewing your job application. The only time you should consider giving it a pass is if the company requires you to apply via ATS.

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4. The resume should only be a single page.

Although most career experts would emphasize on the importance of a brief and concise resume, it doesn’t mean that you have to leave out on your achievements and/or completed projects to limit the length of the resume to one page. The normal length of the resume is two to three pages; anything less deems you inexperienced and is suitable for beginner level.

5. You need to know people to get the job.

It helps to have someone you know work at the company you are interviewing with; however, in most cases, it probably won’t affect your chances of getting selected. You are definitely at advantage if you want to know about the kind of work culture and people that exist at the organization, but expecting anything beyond that would be doing injustice to your own skills and abilities. In any case, the recruiter is too smart to hire you only for your professional connections. With millions of people of looking for a job, relying solely on personal contacts for a new job will ensure that you end up looking for a job for a long time.

6. Lower your salary expectations for getting hired.

It’s been quite some time you left your job and you are anxious to get employed again. Such circumstances often lead job seekers to fall back on desperate measures, like accepting salaries way less than what they actually deserve. While this might work well as a gap-closing arrangement, sooner or later, you are going to get frustrated over your underpaid status and leave the job anyway in search for a better paying one, becoming a job seeker yet again. Instead of lowering your salary expectations, present the recruiter with strong reasoning to cover up your unemployed status. Besides, as long as your salary demands are within an acceptable level as per the industry standards and justify your skills, stick to it.

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7. Following up is akin to nagging and irritates interviewer.

Nothing could be further from truth. Following up is an essential part of any job hunting process. A timely follow-up “is never seen as pesky,” says Dan Black, director of recruiting for the America at EY. In fact, he adds, that “HR people and hiring managers expect thank you notes after an interview as a part of the etiquette process.” Your only concern should be to keep it short and sweet, demonstrating your gratitude and interest in the job.

8. Multiple job changes? Forget about getting hired.

There was indeed a time when job hoppers were frowned upon by hirers. However, the notion has been steadily disappearing over the years. In the fast paced corporate world, there is hardly any method to logical progression now as everyone looks to get ahead of others and gain new skill sets. Recruiters avoid hiring candidates with consequent stints of a duration less than one year. Otherwise, there is no reason to be too concerned while moving around.

9. Apply for as many jobs as possible for better hiring chances.

More is always not better, especially when you are job hunting. The shotgun approach, where you send the same resume to as many companies as possible is too common now to prove beneficial. Instead of scattering your resume in multiple directions, narrow your search to a handful of target companies with which you actually identify, and tweak your resume wherever required to suit it towards the job.

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10. No one notices your online behavior.

This is a no-brainer, but still deserves mention. In this digital age, there is a very thin, diminishing line between private and public parts of life. Anything that you put up on your Facebook profile or Twitter stream is up for public scrutiny and recruiters are always the first to check out your social profiles in the name of a background check. Hence, instead of living in a false sense of privacy, be careful about what you put online, as it might end up influencing the recruiter’s decision.

Featured photo credit: Drew Coffman via flickr.com

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Saurabh Tyagi

Career Author and Technology Evangelist

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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  • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
  • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
  • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
  • Is this aligned with my passion?
  • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

7. Be Prepared to Let Go

It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

The Bottom Line

Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

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