Myths & Legends: 9 Job Hunting “Facts” that simply aren’t true

Every culture has them – the Greeks had the trials of Heracles, the Romans had Romulus and Remus founding Rome and the Americans have the idea that Donald Trump’s hair is real.  All of these myths have been passed down from generation to generation, as have many “facts” about job hunting.

In this article, we’re going to debunk 10 of the most common job hunting myths and explain the facts.

“Over 50? You won’t even get your foot in the door”
In today’s society, people are living longer.  That means that generally, people are now working longer too.  The whole meaning of age and older working has been completely redefined and therefore, older workers now have much less trouble getting new jobs.

In today’s market, especially in our industry, skills and experience are two of the highest priorities for employers.  Having the right attitude also helps – don’t be the person who thinks they know all the answers and are unwilling to change (we all know someone like that, don’t we?).  Remember, you can learn just as much from others as they can learn from you, no matter their level of seniority.

“Your CV should be a single page”
Most career experts will emphasise the importance of having a concise CV.  Whilst this is correct to a certain extent, it depends on where you are in your career. 

A single page CV is fine for someone with little industry specific work experience (e.g. a recent graduate).  If you don’t fall into that category, keeping your CV concise doesn’t mean you should leave out your achievements and completed projects – especially if they are relevant to the job you’re applying for.

The normal length of a CV is around 2-3 pages; anything less may make you look inexperienced. In the built environment, when including project experience can run to 4 pages and for the very experienced professionals, sometimes even more.

“No-one looks at your cover letter – concentrate on your CV”
It’s a common fact that most HR/hiring managers spend 10-20 seconds looking at a CV – this because they mostly follow the same format and they are only looking for key points like experience and skills.

Your cover letter (also known as a letter of introduction) is the best way to show what makes you uniquely qualified for the position.  This means you need to tailor your cover letter for that particular opportunity – a form letter is easily spotted when compared to other more individual cover letters.

If you put enough effort into the cover letter, it will prompt the HR/hiring manager to have a real in-depth at your application thus improving your chances of being invited to interview.

“Apply for every job you see – it will increase your chances”
As we’ve detailed in the previous paragraph, you should be tailoring each job application to the job you’re applying for.  If you do this properly, it will take time and there aren’t enough hours in the day to do this for every job you see.

Narrow your search to handful of companies you identify with and tweak your CV/cover letter to suit.

Basically, it’s quality, not quantity.

“All the jobs available are posted on the open job market”
Even reading that, I’m sure you’re thinking that it’s not true and you’d be right – that said, people do genuinely believe this.

At the most (and this figure is being optimistic according to most people), only 15-20% of all available jobs are publicly advertised.  The rest are part of the “hidden” or “closed” market and the more senior the position or highly the salary, the less likely it will be openly advertised.

One job myth which is (sort of) true – it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.  Whilst you need to skills to back it up, knowing the right people is a great way of hearing about these non-publicised jobs.

So how do you get know these people?  Well, I have one word for you and it’s a word that sends even the bravest people running for the hills – that’s right….NETWORKING.

We know most people hate networking (We've even written a blog post on the subject!).  As much as most people hate it, networking is great for building relationships with people who can help you with your job search. 

Clearly, that doesn’t mean you should ask everyone you know for a job however, you can talk to them about what you’d like your next steps to be so they can advise you on how to get there.

Or, of course, you can always talk to us. Lots of assignments we work on are never advertised openly and often, the only way individuals get to hear about these opportunities is through us.

“Of course you’ll get the job, you’re the most experienced”
Your qualifications and experience are very important (as we’ve already mentioned) but don't allow them to make you over-confident.

Cultural fit is just as important as your employment history and many employers use the interview stage as a way to see if you could fit in well with their working environment and their team.

You should also be looking at them in the same way as it works both ways.  In reality, you know you better than they do so whilst they may think you’re a great fit, you may know different.

“Don’t follow up – it will make you look desperate”
This myth mainly perpetuated by people who were too eager, followed up 10 minutes after leaving the interview and thus didn’t get the job because they did look desperate.

In reality, most HR/hiring manager will expect some sort of follow up thanking them for their time because this is basic interview etiquette.  This corporate equivalent of the “Thank You” note should be kept short and sweet and reflect the same tone as the interview.

The timing of this is crucial – sending it too early makes you looks like a “Desperate Dwayne” but sending it too late shows a lack of respect for the interview’s time.  Generally, a few hours after the interview is a good time – at least wait until you are back at the office or at home after the interview before sending.

If you were clever (and you’re reading this therefore you clearly are), you will have asked during the interview when you can expect to hear.  If the date you were given has passed, you have a perfectly legitimate reason for contacting them – however, careful not to scold them for missing the deadline or ask outright for the outcome.  Keep a positive tone and reiterate your interest in the position.

“That tweet is years old – no-one’s going to care”
Lately, it seems the news has been full of stories detailing someone’s fall from grace due to a decade old status update - everyone from actors to politicians been dragged through the mud or even lost their jobs due to a single tweet from 2009. 

In the digital age, the line between private and public is ever-decreasing.  Anything you post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other social media site, is open to public scrutiny and that public could include potential employers.  Be careful what you post online and, if in doubt, delete it.

“You should always take the first offer you get”
It’s so tempting to blindly accept any offer you get – after all, who wants to go through the tedium and arduousness of applying and interviewing for jobs all over again? 

Before accepting an offer, think about why you would want to accept it.  During the application process, you should have been vetting your potential employer in the same way they are vetting you.  Ask yourself:

·      Are the company a good cultural fit for you? 

·      Do the people there seem like people you could get on with and work well with? 

·      Does the company ethos and work ethic appeal to you? 

·      Can you be yourself in their work environment?

If the answer to any of these above questions is “No” and you’re in the position to do so, turning the offer down may not be the end of the world.

Was this article helpful?  Any other myths you want debunked? Let us know via our LinkedIn page.