As a top-billing headhunter, I am constantly appalled at the throngs of people with NO recruitment expertise who go around telling others what to do.
Without further ado, here are the TOP 5 WORST Common Job Search Tips that really make my blood boil:
#1. Create an “attractive resume”! This usually means lots of “fun” colors, fonts, margins, pictures, infographics, random factoids, and who knows what else. 99% of resume creation companies and individuals have NO IDEA what they’re talking about and are FULL of dangerous information that will do more harm than good.
In the real world, hiring decision-makers do NOT want to see your artistic talents. They just want to skim through a standard document that basically runs through your general storyline. Nothing more than that. There! I just saved you the money you were about to waste on the newest “resume format to rock your world and get you noticed”.
Please read this article for more information on why this is the #1 piece of garbage career advice.
#2. To continue along the line of misleading advice, many people recommend you to structure your self-branding tools, i.e. LinkedIn, in a similarly incorrect way. Again, you’re told to create “attention-grabbing” and “catchy” titles, provide intimate and voluminous detail about your job, cheeky quips, and personal hobbies that will somehow “attract” people to your page.
Or the WORST: “Hey, add in tons of keywords because that’s how ALGORITHMS work.” Since when did everyone become SEO experts?!
The theory goes:
The more business-y jargon and technical-sounding jibber jabber you have on all your marketing documents, the higher chance search engines may notice you and somehow bring you to the hiring manager’s attention.
As a result, many people’s online marketing presences are botched by TMTI (Too Much Technical Information). Their marketing message is totally obscured by the amount of human-element-devoid keyword salad that doesn’t make sense to any actual human being reading their profile.
Consider this: What’s the point of beating the algorithm game, when you can’t impress the actual PERSON who is going to be evaluating you? You’ll still be dead in the water. How many times have I rejected candidates’ resumes because they plagiarized job descriptions and used keyword salad like a robot??? If I had a dollar…
Furthermore, people neglect to mention this following crucial point:
#3. Your marketing materials SHOULD BE SINGULARLY FOCUSED (or at least relevantly connected). If you’re marketing yourself as an expert in: Finance, Marketing, Fashion Design, AND Software Programming, you will GREATLY DECREASE your chance of landing a job AT ALL.
Why? Wouldn’t you look more impressive by having experience in many industries? The answer is NO. Your discombobulated marketing message will turn off hiring decision-makers from ALL fields as they will assume you have NO IDEA of your own career goals and future (in addition to not enough expertise in the job function they’re hiring for).
I.e. A Finance hiring manager will deem fashion design professionals irrelevant and undesirable because they’ll have to work harder to bring this type of candidate up-to-speed. There are legions of SOLELY finance professionals ready to go, so why take the chance on an industry outsider?
#4. Besides, marketing tools are meant to be ANCILLARY! Your resume, LinkedIn, etc. will not save you nor guarantee you a successful job search process. Too many think, “all I have to do is stay in my room and apply to jobs all day, and like magic, I’ll be hired!”
“It’s a numbers game, keep applying to jobs” is no longer an effective strategy.Hear my podcast about why Job Aggregator sites like Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed, Simplyhired, LinkedIn (to a lesser extent, it’s definitely the least of all evils), are pretty much USELESS.
Instead, what people actually need to do is: identify, communicate with, and impress actual hiring decision-makers directly, past just applying on a portal somewhere.
Lastly, #5. When I say actual hiring decision-makers, I don’t mean the Human Resources Department (HR). Too many people rely on HR to somehow help them, when, in reality, HR really couldn’t care less. They’re busy with payroll, admin, internal objectives, going home on-time and maintaining their own careers and job security, etc. Recruitment is such a small part of their job, they really don’t care about random candidates off the internet who want to get in touch. And there’s little to no financial incentive to support you as a candidate.
DG TIP: Instead of HR personnel, people should ALWAYS target the HIRING MANAGER. AKA: The actual person ultimately overseeing the role’s function and team. This requires guts to, you guessed it: NETWORK digitally or in-person with strangers of higher authority who you’re hoping to work for.
Networking is the art of human interaction with a purpose for mutual benefit. Again, how you present yourself, behave, and act is something we must CONSTANTLY refine should we plan to climb the corporate ladder or survive in today’s workforce. Technical skills help, but the actual hiring process relies on your personality and likability to get ahead of the competition.
At the end of the day, when you work for someone else, you’re competing in a fixed system in which you’re a cog.
For as long as you plan to be dependent on an employer for your career, your decisions will be heavily influenced by external factors: (1) The type of company/manager you’re working for (2) their unique construct, rules, and requirements (3) How $ much they deem you’re worth (4) Market dynamics, automation, labor trends, etc.
What you CAN do to gain an advantage in the career game is: Control as much of these factors as YOU can by increasing the volume of companies and contacts interested in you so you can play them off one another and pick the best one out of the bunch! Rinse and repeat. Continue doing this at every career junction, and you’ll stay ahead of the pack.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I can literally talk for years about all the crazy things I’ve seen from the front lines managing and influencing thousands of careers as a headhunter. I haven’t even hit upon the competitive edge passion will enable you to achieve in your career…
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