Posted September 19, 2013 by

9 of the Biggest Job Search Myths

Aaron Gouveia

Aaron Gouveia, Salary.com contributing writer

Fishermen have nothing on the world of jobseekers when it comes to tall tales and nebulous information passed on from person to person over the years.

Everyone has a job-hunting strategy they swear by, along with a list of things people should never do while searching for a job. Some of it is good advice, other parts are well-intentioned but slightly misguided tidbits passed down from friends and relatives, and the rest is just downright wrong. Very, very wrong.

But which well known myths should you avoid? We lay them out in this article, and then replace the myths with some useful advice to take their place.

9. Looking on Job Boards & Sites is Enough

I had a friend once who claimed she was “job hunting” five days a week for hours on end. I assumed she was out beating the street, targeting specific companies, and mining her personal network for leads. But I was wrong.

She informed me she spent hours a day perusing job openings online and submitting her resume when appropriate. Sorry, but this isn’t enough.

The job market still favors employers, which means with the exception of niche jobs that require very specific skills, there are a lot of people vying for the same position. Yet some of the best job openings are never posted publicly, which means you need an in. Comb your network and see if you know anyone with any inside tips. An unposted opening with an internal referral gives you much better odds than the online job boards accessible to everyone. And even if your network is nil, pop into the company in person and inquire about job openings to make a face-to-face impression and gain a potential advantage.

8. Take What You Can Get

We know times are tough and jobs are still fairly scarce. But that alone is not a good enough reason to accept whatever offer is thrown your way.

If you receive a job offer, perform due diligence. Don’t just consider the salary, take into account the benefits, the atmosphere, and whether or not you’re a cultural fit there. Also, even if you’re going to accept it, don’t accept the first offer. Companies expect you to negotiate a little bit and they usually build that into their offer. Failure to negotiate will actually raise more eyebrows than counteroffering.

7. Apply to as Many Jobs as Possible

Some people think the best course of action is sending out the same resume to as many companies as possible wherever there’s a job opening, as some sort of numbers game. It’s known as the shotgun approach, and basically it’s akin to fishing with dynamite.

You could get lucky this way, but we advocate a much different approach.

Instead of scattering your resume all over creation, target your job search. Find a handful of companies you like or narrow your search to the job titles that most closely resemble what you want to be doing. Then, tweak your resume where applicable to tailor it toward that job. Hiring managers can sniff out a cookie cutter resume that’s likely been sent out hundreds of times, so don’t be generic. Job hunt with a sniper rifle instead of a shotgun.

6. No One Reads Cover Letters

Resumes contain all the important stuff, right? And with all the resumes received by hiring managers, most people assume cover letters are just outdated accessories that go ignored.

Wrong.

A quality cover letter can do wonders for your chances. Generally speaking, employers only spend about 20 seconds reading it so you have to grab their attention quickly. But by customizing your cover letter for each company to which you’re applying, you show you pay more attention to detail than the hordes of people who send out the same form letter no matter where they’re applying.  Continue reading . . .

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