21 Sep Thanks, But No Thanks: Bad Job Search Advice
Tastes change over time. Trends become cliches. Yesterday’s cool is today’s bad joke. And career advice is no different — what used to be a good idea…just isn’t. Bad job search advice is dangerous when it’s an out of date strategy. And some bad advice always was. Either way, it can make a good candidate look bad, before they even get started.
So here’s a warning — five examples of bad job search advice:
1. Call to follow up on application. Perhaps at one time this showed you were enthusiastic, ambitious, or confident. Now, it shows you are a nuisance. People rarely use the phone as an initial step in the hiring process.
Email is far more common, not to mention online application portals and similar. If you have the right email address, there is almost no chance it was not received. Embrace the notion “don’t call us, we’ll call you”.
2. Be creative with prior or current salary. There was a time when you could inflate your current compensation to strategically start the negotiation higher. It is questionable if misrepresenting the truth was ever a good idea.
But now, it is downright irresponsible. It is much easier to find out current market salaries through sites like Payscale. Plus, the world is smaller. That hiring manager in Boston might be connected through LinkedIn to the head of HR at your old company in Cleveland.
3. Apply to everything, everywhere. This is the scattershot approach. If you fire off resumes to every remotely relevant job offer you increase your chances. Wrong. Jobs are not lottery tickets.
You can’t just play a numbers game. If you don’t have obvious relevant experience, and the job doesn’t specifically indicate that it’s willing to train on the job, then this is bad job search advice because you are wasting your time and theirs.
Don’t be remembered as that random person that applied to the bank cashier position when your whole career has been a high school English teacher. Yeah, ok, it could happen — no, wait — it couldn’t.
4. Find a creative way for your application to stand out. What does this look like? Sending a bouquet of balloons to the CEO. Printing a resume on colorful paper (ok, less bad, but still bad). There are so many reasons this is a bad idea; where to begin?
First, this screams insecurity. And if you are, this could look like your judgment skills are not in line with your technical skills.
No one wants an employee with poor interpersonal skills. The problem with this bad career advice is that the few people who would respond favorably are unlikely to be the ones you want to work for.
5. Don’t hit up people you barely know for introductions. Ok, revised version — it’s one thing to ask a former colleague or boss to introduce you to someone over LinkedIn that they really, truly know. This can be low key and casual — “Hey, so and so, I thought it could be good to know James/Rita/Malcolm since they are in a similar area of…” This lets the third party give a polite non-communal response. Or, an enthusiastic, let’s talk more response.
But these days people are not limited to literal word of mouth connections. Unless this connector has a sincere relationship with this person, it’s likely to look like you forced them to reach out. Which, uh, you did.
Recognize bad job search advice and vow to avoid it.
Forget the saying that desperate times call for desperate measures. Any job seeking advice that is ill-advised can do long term damage to your reputation. In the era of technology, some mistakes never die. You have to be careful with your decisions, and think twice about the advice you receive. Listen to your instincts, not every well-intentioned friend.