The job search process can be onerous enough without getting slowed down by information that sounds legitimate—but maybe isn’t.

Sue Fransen Way, PhD, is a career counselor at Capella’s Career Center who recently debunked job description myths. She has some insights to share about job search myths as well.

Myth #1: The Internet is Everything

The advent of the Internet has led to a whole new way of job searching on sites like Google, Indeed, and Monster. People have started to think it’s the only method for finding a job. “I have people who come to me and say, ‘I’ve applied to 100 jobs, gotten 2 or 3 calls, and only 1 interview,’” Way explains. “They think there’s something wrong, but that’s common for online job searching.”

Yes, one can get a job that way, but it’s not the best approach. Networking is just as critical now as it was pre-Internet. “There’s a saying, ‘It’s not what I know, but who I know,’” Way shares. “I’d change that to, ‘It’s not who you know, it’s who you get to know.’” Job seekers need to get out and meet people, and build their professional community. They could join professional organizations and take part in their activities. They can find industry groups via LinkedIn and MeetUp. The Internet can certainly help, but people still need to show up in person.

Myth #2: Networking is Strictly About Landing a Job Offer

True, the ultimate goal is to find a position. But networking is about so much more. People shouldn’t go into networking events blinded by the idea that they’re only looking for a job. They should be there to learn: trends, who’s hiring, what’s happening in the field and industry, and what the culture is like at different companies.

Networking events are great for making connections and introductions. Even if they don’t produce an immediate job offer, there are long-term benefits to these connections—and those could lead to jobs down the line. “I like to tell people, ‘Maximize the time connecting, minimize the time applying,’” Way says. “And it works, as one student told me. She was frustrated after sending out dozens of applications and getting nothing. I walked her through the concept of connection. Three weeks later, she called to tell me, ‘I stopped applying, I started connecting, and it works!’”

Myth #3: If I Meet All the Requirements, They Must Want Me

This is a common misperception, and it discourages so many people. They find the job they’re perfect for, they have every requirement on their resume, they apply, and they never get a call.

There are a couple of problems here. One is the sheer number of people applying for jobs. Public job postings, especially those on the Internet, tend to get a large number of applicants. The person hiring isn’t going to sort through 300 applications if they find enough with the requirements in the first 50. If you’re number 200, your resume may never be read. This is where networking also comes in. A referral from an employee or someone known to the company gives you a much better chance of getting that first interview.

But the other problem is that even if you have all the requirements on your resume, you may not have presented them in a way that’s easy for the potential employer to read. Don’t make them connect all the dots. Be clear and concise; rearrange things if necessary. Change the summary at the top to emphasize those requirements specific to the job.

Myth #4: Keywords are Magical

Yes, many companies use bots that go looking for keywords in online resumes. But there isn’t a magic set of them. No one set of keywords is for everyone. You have to do your research, and see what the employers in your field are truly looking for. And don’t just take words from the job description and cut and paste. It can be easy to make mistakes or to omit information that makes it easy for the employer to see how those keywords apply to your work history.

Myth #5: Something is Wrong With Me

It’s so easy to get discouraged: Job seekers often say, “There’s something wrong with me. I have the wrong degree, I’m the wrong age, I do or don’t have this or that.” Self-diagnosis is defeating. It also can stop you from really understanding what’s happening.

For example, maybe someone goes to networking events, but doesn’t seem to be building on it. They may conclude that networking is worthless. But is that person clear and confident when they present themselves? If they’re changing careers, how do they frame it when someone asks? It’s important to spend time preparing, practicing, and figuring out how best to present themselves as a job seeker.

Another tool people misunderstand is LinkedIn. They figure they need a profile, so they build it, then sit and wait. No—building the profile is just the first step. The profile needs to be continually updated, and people should join LinkedIn industry groups. Being involved in LinkedIn means networking, just like in real life.

These myths show that while there is a considerable amount of “conventional wisdom” about the job search process, not everything someone hears is true. It’s important to keep an open mind and be willing to try new alternatives—even if they go against everything you’ve heard.

 

 

The Career Center’s mission is to empower students and alumni to proactively manage their careers and make meaningful, and effective, career decisions. For more job search tips, see Capella University’s Career Center YouTube channel.

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