6 Job Search Rules You Should Not Follow
Unfortunately, many career experts and bloggers wield a powerful sword that pokes holes in job search strategy and touts sweeping simplicity.
While the ultimate goal of a job search plan is one that you can use to smoothly navigate transition, plotting that map requires meaningful effort and thought work.
Imbibe the latest article on job search, and you’ll read phrases dripping in adjectives like “simple” and “quick” and directives that espouse the wrong or right way; best or only way.
In fact, when propelling your career forward or sideways or even a wholly different direction (e.g., backward), no clear-cut guidelines exist, except one: expect it to be harder and take longer than you initially thought.
As such, some of the broad-brush assertions that you should not take too seriously include:
1. Never exceed 1 or 2 pages on your resume.
The reason length is such a popular topic is because many careerist fail at focusing. Unnecessary content crowds out distinguishing value creating a cluster of confusion. The experts, therefore, advise shrinking the message down to a less-cumbersome size (even if the message remains ineffective and flat).
Describing one’s value is imperative for good resume storytelling, so much so that careerists often veer off on a tangent trying to include theirs. They include a laundry list of skills, abilities and metrics without processing and converting it all into targeted solutions.
So, before funneling your fret into issues of page length, take a deep breath and determine your valuable story points. Then, begin winnowing into a leaner page length that is skimmable, but also still meaty enough to sink into and capture the audience’s attention.
2. Ensure your resume is mobile ready.
The fact is, if you build a resume in one of the commonly used software applications, such as Word or PDF, then your resume is mobile ready. As well, if you know how to lay out your story in a way that doesn’t require a magnifying glass, or isn’t so cluttered the eye can’t focus, then it will be easily opened up and reviewed on a mobile device. As mobile usage has gained momentum, screen sizes have increased, concurrently shrinking issues of resume readability.
3. Include specific soft skills on your resume.
Soft skills matter, of course. But there are no hard and fast rules as to which soft skills to include on your resume. Being “collaborative” is a hot soft skill right now. However, references to this word in some circles receive eye rolls and yawns.
Describing how you collaborate in your own unique way can be helpful. For example, perhaps you “connect” people or you “coalesce” diverse others. Don’t get stuck in the buzzword game, or you may end up lumping yourself in a pack of me-toos.
Instead, focus on the soft skills that enhance your story and that matter to your target employer.
4. List every job you’ve ever held on your resume.
If you held a job for two months, and it didn’t work out, it likely is not worth listing on your resume. When building your resume chronology, list years only (no months), which makes it seamless to skip over a short-term or other role that will not support your case.
In some instances during the interviewing/hiring process, you may be obliged to disclose the short-term role. Prepare to succinctly handle those conversations. However, for purposes of your resume, which is a marketing document, strategically include – and leave out – the right information.
5. Don’t worry about a cover letter.
Don’t write a cover letter at your own peril. Even though the recruiter on your Facebook page may assert they never read cover letters, the hiring decision maker on LinkedIn or at ABC company may feel just the opposite. Including a letter that is ignored causes no harm to your search; however, ‘not’ including a cover letter when it is expected could be the difference between landing an interview, and missing out.
6. Use social media as your primary tool to land your next job.
Social media is fabulous. Many careerists grow their network, expand relationships, increase visibility, and even secure jobs this way.
If you are not already active on social media, you should put your toes in the water and eventually start swimming. At the least, join LinkedIn; then, give Twitter or Facebook a go.
However, diving into the social media pool and relying on it as a primary job search driver could prove frustrating and overwhelming to both you and the recipients of your interactions.
The bottom line: job search is a multi-pronged initiative, and there is no one secret weapon you should deploy to get that next job. What you should do is be clear, intentional and forward-moving (taking real steps!) toward your job pursuit. Action creates traction.
By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter
Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, chief career writer and partner with CareerTrend, and is one of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) globally. An intuitive researcher, she helps professionals unearth compelling career story details to help best present their unique experience, skillset and interests in resumes and other career positioning documents as well as through social media profiles. In addition to being interviewed for television and radio stories, Jacqui has written for the Career Management Alliance Connection monthly newsletter and blog, ExecuNet’s Career Smart Advisor, The Kansas City Star, The Business Journal and The Wall Street Journal.