5 Myths That Hurt a Job Search

Posted by in Career Advice

Finding a job in today's job market is tougher than ever – it takes a lot of dedication, determination and good luck. It's not easy to market your skills, to send in resume after resume, knowing that you will probably only hear back from about 1% of the companies and through it all, you have to network, keep your skills sharp and struggle to pay the bills. It's probably one of the more difficult things you will ever have to face.


Despite everything, there is still another challenge that today's job seeker faces – knowing yourself. You have to be able to recognize the lies that you tell yourself and really examine the myths that you believe to be true to overcome them and reach the next level in your career. Some of the things you will have to do will feel uncomfortable at first, but with practice, it gets easier.


Here are 5 myths aren't true and that can really hurt a job search:

  1. Job seekers do not need to market themselves – I am always surprised by the number of people who are looking for work, yet are stubbornly resistant to the idea of marketing themselves. There seems to be this idea that personal branding and marketing are things that people do to reach the next level of their very professional career, not just to find a mid-level job. While its true that marketing is done by very professional, white collar executives, it's just as helpful to job seekers who are looking for an entry-level, low-skill job. No matter what type of position you are looking for, personal branding and effective marketing tools show that you are looking for a career, not just another job. It impresses hiring managers and will help you land the job you want (even if you do not want a career).
  2. Networking is for executives and high level employees – Networking is another thing that many job seekers believe is only for other people, like executives. Spending time with other professional people, printing up some contact cards and meeting new people can be intimidating, but it's the best way to find out about other job openings and it's a well respected way of getting your foot in the door. Even if you are looking for a part-time job, networking can put you in the path of business owners and other people who could be in a position to help.
  3. Asking questions during an interview makes you appear too picky – During an interview, you should always, always ask questions. Before going to the interview, you should spend some time researching the company and getting an understanding of who they are, what they do and where they are heading. Even if you are applying for a job as the night janitor, knowing this information is a great way to really impress the interviewer. Ask questions about the corporate culture, about what the interviewer likes about the company and what happened to the person who had the job last. These types of questions show that you are interested in that particular job and that you are interviewing the company as well.
  4. My skills do not need to be updated – This is one that I've heard many, many times. People who have been out of work for more than 3 months, but less than a year, are the ones who are the most likely to believe that their skills do not need to be updated. Depending on the industry, this probably isn't true. Even if it is, there are so many applicants for every open position, any job seeker is going to be competing against people that are hungrier, younger, more desperate for the job and who either still have a job or who have been out of work for less time. A hiring manger is going to prefer someone who is more current, so look for ways to update your skills while you are out of work.
  5. This is the way I was taught and the way I've always done it. I do not need to change – Out of all these myths, this one is probably the most harmful. I've heard people who have been in the workforce for 20 years or more say this and it never fails to surprise me. The fact is that the way that jobs are found today is completely different from how it was even just a decade ago. Now, it's all about social media presence, marketing, functional resumes and networking. A neatly typed, two page resume that chronologically lists every job you've ever had, complete with an objective statement and a list of references screams, “Hopelessly out-of-date”. I've even talked with people who argued with the career counselor they hired about these issues and actively resisted change, claiming that the career adviser was in the wrong.


Change is scary and it can be very difficult to spot the areas where you could use some work. I think we all have blinders on when it comes to objectively spotting our own weaknesses. If any of these myths sound familiar to you, they might be areas where you could stand some improvement.


What do you think about these 5 myths? Have you heard yourself or anyone you know say them? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Image source: MorgueFile


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  • Ann McGinn
    Ann McGinn
    I definitely have my share of weaknesses.I could definitely use some help in that area.
  •  Susan Mislick
    Susan Mislick
    I found this article to be very helpful and confirms much of what I have heard.  I appreciate the information and will use the tools and reminders as I continue my job search.  Thank you!  
  • Gilda Whittier
    Gilda Whittier
    I am an African American job seeker and while I agree with all of the above, I find it even more difficult for me. I can always get to be the 1 of 2 last picks but I don't get the job because "a more suitable" candidate was selected. What does that mean? I have the experience, skills, knowledge and abilities for all jobs I apply for but, I am never "the suitable candidate".  What's your thoughts about that?
  •  Betty Parrish
    Betty Parrish
    This is what I've been telling clients! Good info.
  • Shera Chieves
    Shera Chieves
    This article was very helpful. Concise and to the point.
  • Pat Madden
    Pat Madden
    This is what I have told the people I work with for the last 4-5 years as the job market gets harder to break into.
  • Lawri Williamson
    Lawri Williamson
    Preference in terms of resume style is completely subjective. I've submitted functional resumes only to be told they wanted a "traditional" resume instead. I work in a creative field, so I've tried all conceivable angles, and it's tough.More important than what style you choose for your resume is its content. Make sure it is neat in appearance, and that you have used proper grammar. Make sure your formatting is consistent. And make sure you're explaining your various roles clearly and highlighting your accomplishments. The one thing I think most people don't get, and that is not included in the above list, is: "One resume and cover letter will work for every application." You have to at least write a different letter for every submission. You can take a letter and reuse parts of it, but you'll want to highlight different aspects of your experience depending on what the job description asks for. You should probably also have a few different versions of your resume.Networking works once you've built a network. But it's difficult to build one without experience! You build your most useful network as you go from company to company. Prove your abilities to a few key people, and they can get you hooked up with other important people, or bring you on board when they make a move. But that's the only way I've been able to really make it work. No matter how you slice it, you have to come across someone willing to give you a break first.
  • Eugene Gobby
    Eugene Gobby
    The functional resume might be nice, but then you run into those online job applications that ask for your job history for the past 20 yrs.  How do you answer those with time that you were out sick and recovering or the scores of jobs through the temp agencies.  (By the way, my records show that my income from temp jobs went from not enough under GW Bush to nothing at all under Obama.)The jobs that don't ask for 5yrs experience in everything from spreadsheets to travel agent are asking for people with GEDs.  So now, not only do you have expertise in everything except some obscure task/program or you are "over qualified" for everything else.H.R./ management is doing a great job these days, hunh?  The latest is they hired a mental case and gave him a security clearance he used to shoot up a navy base.  Here in Massachusetts, a CSI type technician fabricated results of criminal investigations, a company making drugs contaminated the drugs sent to thousands of people, and last week a fellow working as an accountant for a private firm with a contract with the state to recover assets from the estates of people given free care was found to have siphoned off millions of dollars - after he was killed when he drove his Porsche into a tree!No wonder experienced, competent people can't get hired!
  • Talib Madyun
    Talib Madyun
    The information you provided is very insightful.  I had to learn a couple of these points myself.  It is definitely a new era that we are in; continuous learning/education is a definite must if one is to succeed in today's' job market.
  • Joseph Lubrano
    Joseph Lubrano
    I don't agree with everything in the article, but personal branding is a smart move. Not even knowing what it meant, I googled it and now have a better understanding of this concept.  You see it used very often on LinkedIn profiles.
  • Gamin Davis
    Gamin Davis
    I feel like a lot of this simply doesn't apply to me. I don't know anybody to "network" with, nor do I have a lot of ways to "market myself" because I have remained unemployed-and-searching for most of the last 10+ YEARS. A degree and considerable life experience means nothing without *work experience*, which I don't have enough of to even list on an application and *cannot get*. These are simply platitudes and buzzwords, as far as I'm concerned, and don't do me any good at all.
  • Peter Monie
    Peter Monie
    I have so much to say that I have had to split it up into three separate messages.  You bring up some valid points.  Unfortunately I need proof.  Does networking really work?  The whole hiring process needs to improve.  It is not fair.  Plenty of good people are left out in the cold, myself included.  I probably sound like a crybaby but I really think it is true.  Employers hire from inside not giving outsiders a chance.  Not all employers do that but I'm sure a lot of them do.  The hiring process needs to become a level playing field.
  • Peter Monie
    Peter Monie
    No evidence is given as to whether the methods you talk about work.  One of the people who responded to you mentioned employees who performed in a way that leaves something to be desired.  I have walked into stores and experienced situations where employees weren't doing their job right or were less than friendly to customers.  I said to myself: "Hell, I can do that job at least as good  or better than as this guy.  Why am I unemployed?"
  • David W. (Mac) McGuire
    David W. (Mac) McGuire
    I am #5. Thank you for another perspective
  • Peter Monie
    Peter Monie
    I am still unemployed after five years.  I have done a little bit of networking.  I got two interviews and didn't do any networking in order to get them.  I filled out an online application.  Craigslist is frustrating.  It's easy to use but I never got any hits.  I know I could do the jobs.  They were menial jobs.  Employers worried about me moving to another job after not being in a present job for long?  Why?  The economy is so bad.  They needn't worry.  (Almost) anyone who has a job now probably is sitting tight.
  • Betsy Heard
    Betsy Heard
    Tell me how to brand and market myself.
  • Kirk Lawrence
    Kirk Lawrence
    This is so true, I can say I am guilty of doing one or two of these myths, but working in one job for more than 15 yes will do that damage to any one.
  • Frank Cuellar
    Frank Cuellar
    I earned my BS in 1974(ancient)1. market  yourself-what is this?2. Networking self-what is this?3. ask the interviewer questions-he'll probably tell me,"Iam the interviewer not you.4. updated skills-this sounds reasonable, after 1974.5.Change-this I really need.Even though "I are"a "college graduate", I some times have difficulty understanding some young people.
  • Muma Azeh
    Muma Azeh
    It is awesome, if you follow the advice you will surely pick a job.
    Thank you for the advise given me. I am looking for new carrier in NDT, but unfortunately, I have not got any result because of lack of job seeking experience . Can help with my problem?. I have certificate in NDT programs.
  • vbanks
    relevant to today s job seekers who've been out of work even longer then 2 years.
  • Luke Matney
    Luke Matney
    I'll say its true; however, what is the definition of a modern resume? In the past, people have often told skills, experience, objectives, etc. How does one make this any better? The function of the resume is to outline the past experience and to serve as a reference when making a hiring decision. As far as I know, that's the only thing for which I've used a resume. The question we need answered is how to modernize our resumes.
    What this article lacks is the reality of "supply/demand" economics.  The Great Recession has completely decimated the once plentiful availability of "white collar" jobs.  Also keep in mind that many of functions of marketing, purchasing, accounting, budgeting, human resources/payroll and etc have been "reorganized" under more general job titles that pay substantially less money.  Every job that's posted by an employer doesn't necessarily represent an actual opportunity for job seekers who aren't already working for them.  Many of them are just simply "going through the motions" in order to promote internal candidates which is quite obvious according to how the job descriptions are written.  Temporary job placement agencies constantly post ads for jobs in which they have no definitive contract with the employers.  They simply want to collect as much information as possible from job seekers to find potential clients based upon who they have worked for in the past.  Many of them are quite desperate because their "blue chip" corporate clientele has "outsourced" many of the jobs once done by "temps" overseas to cheaper labor markets.  The most "sensible" advice a recruiter gave me recently was to was to analyze my strengths based upon my work experience and education to create separate resumes that highlights them.  For example, if your background is filled with "hands on" trouble shooting then develop a resume that lists your accomplishments in this realm and make sure it contains relevant terminology for the work you performed.  Understanding how employers are "revamping" their day-to-day operations is crucial in determining the most effective means to get their attention.  Technical proficiency will get you more interviews than marketing "buzz words"!!!  Always make sure your skill sets are current according to the functions/duties listed in job postings.       
  • Travis L.
    Travis L.
    I'm 43 and was laid off in 2009.  I have been looking for work ever since.  I even went back to school to get retrained.  I know computer systems in and out and have multiple degrees in the sciences and still I get passed by.  I completely agree that it is age discrimination.  Many companies say they can't find qualified people.  If they stop requiring 4-5 years experience for entry level jobs than maybe they can get someone.  This article makes a bad attempt at explaining the reasons why we, the unemployed, are not getting hired.  I for one have done all of the things expressed here and still remain one of the hopeful.
  • Dean McCloud
    Dean McCloud
    Your resume insertion gurus are grossly uninformed.  The resume process is a corruptedquagmire. 5he notion of foot in the door networking is squelched by gate keepers who are hired to barricade out perspective new hires.

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