Career Seeker’s Column: The Three Most Jeopardizing Job Search Myths

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Finding a job is hard. Job seekers look for any means to give themselves an edge. Unfortunately, there are many job search myths out there that can damage your search. These are the three most dangerous to steer clear of.


Myth #1: Applications per Day

Myth: You should set a number for how many applications you complete in a day. We hear of people applying for 20 to 30 jobs a day. That’s at least 100 job applications a week!

Fact: This strategy forces you to focus on quantity over quality. The reality is that you need to take your time tailoring each job application. Recruiters spend on average 30 seconds reading a resume. They mainly look for two things: Do you meet the qualifications and do you show you read the job description.

By focusing on how many applications you put out in a day, you’re more likely to make minimal or no changes to your resume before applying.  Your applications become generic, careless, and uninteresting and are more likely to be ignored. It also takes time away from other important job-search tasks like networking.


Myth #2: Resume Reading Computers

Myth: Your resume is read by a computer program called an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). The ATS scans your resume for key words and phrases, so you should put as many of them into your resume as possible.

Some people go so far as to hide a copy of the job description within their resume in tiny white letters, using the white-font tactic. Even if this gets past the ATS, a human recruiter will eventually review your resume. All they need to do is click “select all,” change the font to black, and any white text is displayed. If you’re caught, you could significantly harm your future employment prospects.

Fact: Recruiters know all of the tricks job seekers use to get their resumes noticed. Most ATFs convert a resume to a plain-text format, meaning your hidden copy of the job description is suddenly very visible. If you’re worried this conversion will mess up your carefully formatted resume, don’t be. Recruiters know how their ATF works, so if the resume they get from the ATF looks off, they can download your original resume for review instead.

The reality is the ATS does filter applicants based on answers to questions on the online job application, but a recruiter still reads every resume that meets the minimum qualifications.

This doesn’t mean keywords aren’t important, but the keywords recruiters look for are hard-skills like experience in a certain area or a type of degree, not whether you used the same adjectives and adverbs as the job description. Remember, the recruiter’s concern is that you show you understand the job you’re applying for.


Myth #3: It Must Have Been Something I Did.

Myth: Studies show humans are naturally inclined to take rejection personally. When job seekers don’t get the job after a great interview, they sometimes ask what they could have done better.

Fact: You’ll never really know why you weren’t chosen out of all the other candidates. There is no 100% guaranteed way to get a job. Even if you have the best resume and interview of your life, you may still not be chosen. Don’t take it personally. When the employer says they went with someone that was a better fit, take their word for it and move on. Focusing too much on the details means missing out on the big picture.  Trust yourself, do the best you can, and keep moving forward.

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