There have always been certain do’s and don’ts, spoken and unspoken when it comes to the behaviours you should engage in when looking for a job. Some of these “rules” have existed since the days of scouring through a newspaper for job openings. And while a lot of them have endured the ever-changing employment market, some of them are no longer very relevant today. Most rules aren’t made to be broken, but it’s time we broke these redundant ones.
So, here are 5 archaic job search rules you need to break when looking for a job today!
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5 Job Search Rules You Need To Break When Looking For A Job Today
1. “Follow up after a few days!”
Calling or messaging to check on the status of your application, after an interview or after sending an organization your resume, is constantly held up as the polite and professional thing to do. It is projected as displaying enthusiasm, persistence, and good etiquette.
However, today, when most organisations receive an overwhelming volume of resumes for every opening they put out, imagine how annoying receiving follow-up calls and messages from each applicant could be! Following up within a few days of your interaction with the hiring manager is no longer impressive or mandatory, and could instead hurt your chances of being hired.
Let your resume and cover letter speak for themselves.
It is okay to follow up if a few weeks have passed with no communication from the organisation’s end. Even then, avoid calling or DMing on their social media accounts. Stick to following up via e-mail.
2. “Apply only if you’re a perfect match.”
Career and leadership coach, Kathy Caprino, in her book, ‘The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss’, says that too many people, especially women, talk themselves out of trying for a job because they believe they don’t possess the right qualifications.
It’s easy to feel daunted by the long lists of requirements that most job postings include. However, just because you don’t meet all the requirements, doesn’t mean you don’t apply.
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If the job is something you are interested in and believe you want to do, stop assuming you aren’t qualified enough and apply.
I have a friend whose only qualifications were an academic background in psychology, who used her knowledge of psychology and consumer behaviour to land a digital marketing internship, learned on the job, is now in a full-time marketing role, and loves every minute of it.
This doesn’t mean you apply to jobs completely out of your area of knowledge, or without having some relevant skills to show. All it means is that you don’t have to be a perfect match to apply.
If some work outside your existing qualifications excites you, take a certification course in that area to help boost your application. Explain how the skills you do possess can be used in the role you’re applying to, or can help you learn better on the job. Convey your excitement and interest in the work. Let the organization decide whether you’re a good fit for them, instead of you making that decision yourself by not applying.
3. “Make sure your cover letter is in letter format and formal language.”
The cover letter format a Google search for the same will throw up harks back to the era of hand-written letters. The traditional formats always begin with your entire address, home and mobile phone number, email address, followed by whatever contact details one knows about the hiring manager, and only then does the self-introduction begin.
However, job applications today are largely – maybe even entirely – sent online and not by mail. Using the precious few first lines of a cover letter that could make an immediate positive impression, on addresses, seems redundant today. Don’t skip including your contact information altogether. Include one line with your most accessible contact information at the bottom of the cover letter.
“Dear Sir/Madam, “Please find my resume enclosed below, as an application for the position of X.” – the traditional formal introduction used in most cover letters.
You need to stand out and make it clear that you haven’t copy-pasted your cover letter from a shady job website. Be conversational while still being polite. Research about the company you’re applying to, and customize your cover letter to make it clear why you’re applying to their company. Get creative and ditch the formal language.
4. “Present yourself as a good “culture fit” during interviews.”
What this usually means is to hide aspects of your experience and personality that don’t fit with what the organization is looking for, and dress up the aspects that do. Guessing what would make you a good “culture fit” in each organisation, and adapting yourself for each different application and interview, can be confusing and exhausting.
The application process is also a time for you to understand whether the role is a good fit for you – not just the other way around.
Research about the organisation’s work culture to understand whether it is suitable for you, not to adapt and change yourself to fit it during an interview. Be transparent about who you are, the work you hope to do, and showcase how you can contribute uniquely to the company’s culture.
5. “Wait for the right job.”
The biggest mistake you can make when looking for a job, is looking with blinders on. Don’t skip applying to less dreamy job openings to keep yourself “available” for that one perfect job you’re hoping to get into.
Even if some relevant job openings seem unexciting, don’t refrain from applying to them just because you’re waiting to come across your dream job opening. No job is perfect. Each job is a way for you to get your hands dirty, get some experience, get paid, and grow.
So, break away from these redundant rules when looking for a job, and increase your chances of landing one!
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