When you have been in the job search for a while, the people that love and care for you are likely to have all kinds of advice. You know they mean well and want to be helpful and supportive, but some “feel good” advice is actually just bad advice.
Here are 5 pieces of job search advice that you can politely ignore:
#1: “Always say yes when opportunity knocks.”
Some well meaning people may advise you that any job is better than no job if you are currently unemployed. The truth is that there are plenty of reasons to say no to a job offer. Here are just a few:
- The compensation package is below the industry average and would be a significant step backwards in your career path.
- After going to the interview, you realize that the position is not as advanced as you thought from the job description.
- You got a terrible read from the hiring manager. He is clearly a micromanager and you already know that is a bad fit for your work style.
Some of these situations are an opportunity for negotiations if you get an offer. For example, a better salary or additional responsibility might be something you can leverage for if given the opportunity. However, it is also okay to recognize a deal breaker. If you know in your gut that the boss is going to make your life miserable, it could do more harm than good to take the job.
Of course, not everyone has the luxury of waiting it out for a job that will take them one step closer to their ultimate career ambitions. Financial pressure is perhaps the most valid reason to take a job that offers few opportunities to get ahead. In these cases, try to make the best of the situation by continuing your job search in your spare time or looking for opportunities to advance within the company to find a better match for your skills and qualifications.
#2: “Always choose the job that pays the most.”
When in doubt, follow the money, right? Well, not always. Choosing between multiple job opportunities is much more complicated than just the size of the paycheck. To make the most of your career choices, you need to be honest with yourself about your long-term goals and make a list of priorities that fit your values, lifestyle, and ambitions.
When weighing your options, think things through with a wider range of factors in mind. Only you can decide on your priorities – and sometimes money just isn’t the most important consideration, such as:
- Location: Picture yourself living where the job is. Are your needs for “home” going to be met?
- People: All the money in the world won’t make it tenable to work with people that just don’t share your core values. If you had a “gut” reaction when meeting your prospective coworkers at the interview, and it wasn’t good, then your instincts may be trying to tell you something.
- Fit: Do you share the cultural values of the company? If not then not only is burn out a real possibility, it is likely that your work may not be valued as much as it could be somewhere else.
- Perks: Sometimes perks such as nearby daycare facilities or a good vacation package can offer intrinsic rewards that add real value to one offer over another.
- Hours: Being able to have a life outside of work is a must. If the job demands more than you are able to sustain, the higher salary may not be worth the cost to your quality of life.
Even if your bottom line is ultimately money, that still doesn’t make the more lucrative offer necessarily the best choice. For example, it could be a “dead-end” position with little opportunity for advancement. Or, it may not offer you enough autonomy to feel satisfied with the day to day work. Sure, it might be more money in the short term, but it might not be the best move to achieve your long-term goals.
#3: “Fake it ‘till you make it.”
Well-meaning people may use this saying to pump you up with some confidence. After all, “projecting confidence” is all a part of interviewing well, right?
There is a not-so-fine line between selling your strengths and lying about your skillset. It is perfectly appropriate to put emphasis on the qualifications and work experiences that show off your fit for the position. However, inventing work experiences you haven’t had, or even implying that you have skills that you haven’t actually trained for or picked up on the job, is crossing the line.
If your potential employer picks up on your falsehood during the interview, you can be sure you won’t get the job. And not only that job, but any other jobs at that company any time soon. Even if you manage to get away with faking skills you don’t actually have to land the job, it won’t be long before you’re figured out when you are actually expected to get the work done.
If you have weaknesses relative to the job you’re applying for, your best bet is to openly acknowledge them. It not only demonstrates your integrity, it can show that you are self-aware enough to know where you still need to grow. In almost all cases, an employer would rather hire someone that is teachable with a little bit of a learning curve than to hire someone with a fundamental character flaw such as a lack of integrity.
#4: “Don’t settle for less than your dream job.”
Few of us have the luxury of walking out of high school right into our dream job where we spend the rest of our lives in career bliss. Even if you are lucky enough to eventually land your dream job, chances are you will have to “settle” for several jobs along the way. If you do it right, each of those jobs takes you closer to your ultimate ambitions by giving you more of the relevant skills and experiences you will eventually need to do a job that you are truly passionate about.
Another problem with this Pollyanna tale is that most people evolve as they grow older. Priorities and values change. Even our interests, once comic books and horses, change. For many people, our dream job at 45 looks a lot different than it did when we were 20.
Instead of expecting your next job to be a dream, approach the job search as a doorway that can open up your potential career pathways. While being motivated in a certain direction by your dreams can help you achieve your ultimate goals, be open to the idea that your passions may change as you gain new life experiences.
#5: “Keep your resume to a single page.”
And, its corollary equally bad but opposite advice: “Put as much detail as you possibly can on your resume.” A good resume communicates those skills, qualifications, and responsibilities that are most relevant to the position you are applying for. The recruiter will only spend a few seconds going over your resume and it needs communicate fit for the job. The length of your resume should be driven by that fact.
Unless you are fresh out of college, chances are you need more than a page to showcase your professional experience. And, unless you are an academic researcher or high-level executive, more than two pages is probably overkill.