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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 July 18, 2019

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

Most people grow up with dreams to go to college and graduate with high-paying job offers waiting for them the week after graduation. Others may favor non-traditional career paths. But the desire is the same: to find a job we love where compensation is commensurate with experience.

However, plans change. For instance, what started out as a dream to be a surgeon is cut short by a nasty injury and you’re debating how to transition into a new role. Or you might be facing being let go from your current employer and are anxious about “options out there.”

Whatever the case may be, switching careers can be intentional or unintentional. What matters is that you’re well-prepared, and the only way to do so is to learn new skills — hone in on your transferable skills.

Why Hone in on Your Transferable Skills?

There are several reasons you need to develop these skills if you want to go far in life and your career. In a nutshell, honing in your your transferable skills can lead to:

Better Job Offers

Continuous assessment and improvement of your skills widens the pool of job offers for you to make selections from. You’re no longer tethered to one industry as you’re able to lead your career by design, not by default.

People with transferable skills on a resume also open up opportunities for more potential employers.

Increase in Pay and More Responsibilities

You’ve heard the saying “with great power come great responsibility.” In your case, transferable skills make you more marketable to employers which could lead to pay raises.

Although this isn’t an automatic process– you have to be proactive about what you want in the marketplace, there is a chance that these pay raises will come with change in titles and roles.

A Shot at Entrepreneurship

Yes, changing career paths also includes the possibility of working for yourself. With these skills and work experience, you could live anywhere in the world and design a life and career you want.

We’ve talked about why you need to strengthen your transferable skills but what are some these skills, and how can you work on them?

13 Tips to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills

1. Update Your Resume

You might be surprised to know this but yes, updating your resume is a skill. The very first thing you should do while thinking about switching careers is to highlight attributes that make you very desirable candidate to employers.

Think about your volunteer experiences, freelance projects, and school projects. Although they might seem insignificant, they demonstrate your ability to deliver results that several companies are looking for.

While you might have held several positions since college, switching careers will require you to have a different type of resume.

There are three different types of resumes: functional, chronological, and a combination resume. However, if you are looking to switch careers you’ll want to have a functional resume. A functional resume is strengths-based that emphasizes skills that are transferable rather than a collection of dates and job titles.

2. Brush up on Your Communication Skills

Every attempt to get ahead in business and in life starts with the need to communicate effectively. Whether it is interpersonal, intercultural, or multi-generational, the ability to be seen and heard while respecting the boundaries of work relationship matters.

That’s why it’s one of the top skills you need to master. Strong communication skills allows you to effectively tailor your messages to specific audiences, which will make you a stronger asset to any organization.

To hone this skill:

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Pay attention to your listening skills. To communicate effectively, you need to first learn how to understand others.

Your ability to decode overt and implied messages, no matter how nuanced they are, is key to knowing how to foster deep relationships with others.

This article can also give you effective ways to enhance your communication skills:

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

3. Learn Technical (or Business) Writing

Another form of communication, writing, is a skill that can take you anywhere.

Companies communicate a lot through written memos, emails, newsletters, and other audio-visual means. But at the crux of this all is someone or some people who are tasked with translating the organization’s vision into statements anyone can understand.

To hone this skill:

Consider taking some free or paid classes online. You can accomplish this through several community colleges or online platforms like Lynda, Udemy or edX .

4. Practice Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

No matter how intelligent you are, no one will take you seriously if you’re unable to pull off a decent level of persuasion through presentation skills.

Most presentation can be done through either electronic devices or require your physical presence. Your chosen career may require you to be in front of several hundreds of people or you could be charged with developing materials for presentation.

To hone this skill:

Volunteer to lead projects that give you some responsibility for putting together presentations.

Also, try taking courses that will improve your public speaking skills if you feel lacking.

These tips on public speaking would be helpful too:

The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

5. Get Comfortable with Identifying Problems and Solutions

Every organization has got its problems no matter how greener the grass is on the other side.

How to hone this skill:

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Practice being resourceful.

Do you know where to find every company policy on the intranet in less than five minutes?

Think about a time you noticed some inefficiency at work and proposed a solution. Think about instances where you lent your voice to a cause which resulted in improved processes for your department.

No matter how small or inadequate you might feel, you’ve got some problem-solving skills that some organizations want.

If you look for more ways to improve your problem solving skills, take a look at this article:

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6. Recognize Your Team-Building Ability

Your ability to smoothly switch careers also depends on how well you can energize your team, especially if you’re aiming for a leadership role. Unfortunately, team-building usually isn’t something you learn on the job in most careers unless you hold a managerial position.

The good thing is that you possibly know one or two things about team-building. Think back to moments in college when you had group projects with colleagues and had to work with 3 to 4 other strangers for months. Were you able to get past your differences and disagreements to focus on the uniqueness of everyone at the table?

Making a career switch might require that you work with multidisciplinary teams whether you have a deep knowledge of what the other team does or not. I can easily think of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers working closely to achieve the goals in a patient’s care plan.

How to hone this skill:

Look for collaborative projects and team building activities that excite you and challenge yourself with new possibilities.

Try some of these tactics to keep your team motivated as well:

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

7. Lean into Your Leadership Skills

Although similar to the previous point, leadership skills extend far beyond building teams, managing time sheets and correcting behavior.

What I’m referring to here is your ability to develop a vision, believe in it, and inspire buy-in from everyone involved. This isn’t about knowing how to run a particular machine; it’s about how to lead a team of people with various backgrounds, experiences, and ideas of how things should be done.

How to hone this skill:

Although more complex than the rest, it all starts with an introspective look into your strengths and weaknesses. Then get a mentor or a coach who can bring out your leadership qualities so you can operate from a place of strength.

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Learn more about the effective leadership types here:

5 Types of Leadership that Help You Build a High Performance Team

8. Improve Your Analytical Skills

Are you good at taking large amount of data and interpreting them? Your skills could come in handy.

Organizations are looking for people to make sense of the data around them, explain how it affects profitability, and make projections based on it. Best of all? You don’t need to be an accountant to be analytical.

How to hone this skill:

Try taking data interpretation classes online or at a community college. Learning Microsoft Excel or Access is also a plus. If you’re ambitious enough, you could consider getting additional certifications to up the ante.

Take a look at these ways to help sharpen your analytical skills:

What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

9. Don’t Discount Your Time Management and Prioritization Skills

How good are you when it comes to deciding how important tasks are, organizing schedules, and coordinating plans?

Should you be willing, there is a market waiting for you out there. Organizations and busy executives are always looking for talented individuals to outsource these tasks to.

How to hone this skill:

Although not everyone possesses secretarial superpowers, you can improve this skill by focusing on taking huge tasks and breaking them into smaller goals or steps in order to achieve a bigger goal.

Here, you can learn to prioritize to achieve more:

The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

10. Embrace Your Creative and Critical Thinking Side

Although it’s often believed that creativity is for the arts and right-brained people, I believe everyone is capable of being creative. In fact, most organizations recognize creativity as a vehicle that will drive successful inventions in the future.

How to hone this skill:

Try doing something fun. As simple as this sounds, you’d be surprised to learn how much. In fact, behavioral and learning scientist, Marily Oppezzo, says taking a walk might be all you need to get your creative juices flowing.[1]

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Anyone can be creative, you just need the right way to train your brain:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

11. Don’t Stop Learning Tech Knowledge and Skills

Being tech-savvy is a huge plus. If you have an affinity with computers, software applications and are abreast of technological improvements, it is a transferable skill that is worth highlighting.

You don’t have to be a young college graduate with silicon valley dreams to work

How to hone this skill:

All you need is the determination and the readiness to learn. This article will give you some ideas on the types of skills to learn:

How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

12. Build Networks and Relationships

You aren’t free from networking. Not at the moment. With your goal to switch to a different career, your networking skills will come in handy.

Fortunately for you, networking doesn’t have to be so hard.

How to hone this skill:

Attend conferences and job fairs. Chances are you already have people in your network you can move you closer to your dream career.

To enhance your networking skills, take these steps:

How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

Final Thoughts

Although there are several people with the same qualification and degree(s) you possess, what ultimately determines hireability comes down to a myriad of things such as culture fit, how teachable you are, cultural sensitivity, inter-generational awareness, and your ability to navigate uncertainty.

You have a chance to stand out by letting your dream companies know how these soft skills make you an invaluable asset, and how saying ‘YES’ to you is a win-win for both parties.

Happy career switching!

More Resources About Career Advancement

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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