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:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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