Wednesday, March 31, 2010

7 common job search myths

By Julie Jansen,
March 31, 2010 9:13 a.m. EDT
Myths that people believe about looking for a job are many and persistent. The most common ones are these:

Myth No. 1: A résumé should be only one page.

Absolutely not! The normal length of a résumé is two to three pages (at most). It is fine to have addendum pages such as a list of references or published articles. A one-page résumé is only appropriate for a recent college grad.

Myth No. 2: If you go on an interview through a contingency or search firm, you cannot speak directly to the person who interviewed you after the interview

The person who interviewed you is either a decision-maker or an influencer in the hiring process. Ask him during the interview if he minds if you contact him with any questions you may have later. If he says no, be skeptical about his interest or style.

After all, you are the person who was on the interview, not the recruiting professional who set up your interview. He or she is also someone you can nurture as a networking contact even if you aren't hired.

Myth No. 3: If eight people at a company interviewed you, you need to send a thank-you note only to the person you'd report to if you got the job

Those other seven people took their valuable time to interview you. Of course you should send each one a thank-you note!

Myth No. 4: You shouldn't take notes during an interview

Why not? Nobody has a photographic memory while talking, listening, and processing information. Simply ask the interviewer politely if she minds if you take some notes. Obviously, you should use abbreviations or keywords so that you're not concentrating too hard on taking notes and not focusing enough on the conversation.

Myth No. 5: There is no point in conducting a job search during the summer or in December because companies aren't hiring then.

This is absolutely ridiculous. In fact, during the summer, businesspeople are more casual and "laid back" in their attitudes and approaches. They don't tend to be as immersed in stressful projects. What a great time to approach people!

In December, companies may be focused on bringing someone on board before the new calendar or fiscal year. People are in a much more celebratory mood during this time of year, and December offers lots of opportunities for networking.

Myth No. 6: Most qualified candidate has best shot at getting job offer

Obviously, for most positions, a company needs someone with specific skills and experience. It is also true that many companies still lean toward someone who has worked in the same industry. It is more likely that the individual who fits into the company culture is the one who will get the offer.

This means that as a candidate you are accountable for finding out and understanding what the culture is -- the values that shape the company, the way people communicate, and the kinds of people who are respected within the organization. You will not find this kind of information on a Web site or in an annual report. You will find it from talking to people -- the company's employees, vendors, and ex-employees.

Myth No. 7: Only certain components of a job offer are negotiable

The two best times to negotiate with a company are when they ask you to join them, and when they ask you to leave. Anything can be negotiated if you are very clear about what you need and want, and can state the reasons why. You stand the best chance of getting your needs met if you put yourself in the company's shoes during the negotiation. Not only can compensation be negotiated but also the work itself, the way you will do the work, whom you will report to, and every other aspect of the job.

Looking for a new job requires many skills, and the more you network, interview, and negotiate, the easier the process becomes. Above all, trust your instincts during your job search. As with any relationship, you may have to make compromises.

However, there is absolutely no reason that you shouldn't be able to find the right job -- a job that fits your personality and fulfills your needs.

Julie Jansen is a career coach, consultant and the author of "I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This."


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