When you’re looking for a job, it’s tempting to ask for help and advice everywhere you can – and even more tempting to take that advice once it’s offered. When the advice is outdated or not well considered, however, it can end up hurting your job search.
Here are seven common pieces of job search advice you’re better off ignoring:
- “Just walk in and ask.” While some companies will entertain off-the-street requests, most employers won’t accept any application that doesn’t come through the channels they specify. Instead of just walking in, find out how the company wants you to apply, and follow their instructions exactly.
- “Take the initiative.” When it comes to tracking down job postings or talking to your professional network, sometimes you have to be the one to make the first move. However, be willing to follow the employer’s lead. For instance, don’t make the all-too-common mistake of pushing to schedule your own interview; let the recruiter or hiring manager contact you instead. Limit your “initiative” to a follow-up email or phone call about a week after you apply.
- “Show your love for the company.” While enthusiasm is a wonderful job-search trait, going overboard can send your tone from “passionate” to “creepy.” Too much love can also seem like obsession – you adore the brand so much you wouldn’t think of bringing anything new to the table. Instead, talk about specific things you like about the company, as well as specific things your work can do to improve it.
- “Just be yourself.” Being yourself is a good idea – but choose which self you’re going to be! Too many job applicants take “just be yourself” to mean “just be who you are the moment you roll out of bed.” But messy hair pre-coffee you probably isn’t the best, most impressive you. Be aware of your audience as you present yourself.
- “Let it go – you’ll either get the job or you won’t.” Being too aggressive is dangerous, but so is being passive. Be willing to follow up on job applications and send prompt thank-you notes after interviews. Do some research to be prepared for an interview and to identify the best ways to follow up.
- “Nobody reads cover letters anymore.” Skipping the cover letter wastes your opportunity to use the letter as a tool to sell your skills, values, and personality to the employer. If the company asks for one in your application, assume that someone will read it – and use that valuable space to talk about your strongest skills and what you’ve accomplished by applying them.
- “Don’t bother with a recruiter.” Staffing firms specialize in knowing the companies that are hiring, the jobs they’re offering, and the people who will be doing the interviews. A reputable staffing firm won’t make you pay to find a job, either. Choose a recruiter in your industry, field, and geographic area for the best results.