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Outdated Job Search Advice You May Still Be Following

October 20th, 2011

How long has it been since you’ve had to job-hunt? Over the past 10 years or so, the rules have changed radically, and if you don’t know the new rules, you could be hurting your chances of being interviewed, let alone hired.

Let’s start with a true or false quiz:

  1. You must use a landline for a phone interview.
  2. Your resume should only be one page.
  3. You should put every job you’ve had on your resume
  4. You should include “references available upon request” on the bottom of your resume.
  5. You should include an objective at the top of your resume.
  6. You should use special resume paper.
  7. You should overnight your resume to get the hiring manager’s attention.
  8. When your interviewer asks about your weaknesses, offer up a positive framed as a weakness.
  9. You should write your resume and cover letter in formal language.
  10. You should call to schedule an interview for yourself a few days after you submit your resume.

In case you haven’t guessed, the answer to all 10 is FALSE. Why?

  1. These days, many people don’t even have a landline, so this advice has become unrealistic. Use a landline if you have one, but if you have to use a cell phone, just make sure you’re somewhere quiet with good reception.
  2. In the past, probably when actual people were reading resumes themselves, you were supposed to stick to one page. Now, two-page resumes are common for those with more than a few years of experience.
  3. You need to think of your resume as a marketing document, designed to present your candidacy in the strongest possible light. Stick to the highlights.
  4. Including “references available upon request” on the bottom of your resume is a convention from the past. These days, it’s assumed that you’ll provide references when asked.
  5. Hiring managers don’t care about your objectives; they care about what you can do for them. The trend now is to include your career highlights or a skills summary.
  6. There’s no need for resume paper. You should be submitting your resume electronically.
  7. If you overnight your resume, or even just mail it, you’ll stand out in a bad way. You’ll look outdated, and also become a nuisance, because changes are the employer is using an electronic application-tracking system and won’t want to take the time to enter your information.
  8. This is a tremendous interview cliché, and your interviewer will have heard hundreds of people claim they’re perfectionists or that they work too hard. Yes, it’s a bad question. Try to come up with a good, unique answer.
  9. In these days of texting and e-mail, conversational and slightly informal language is completely acceptable. Obviously, spell everything out and use full sentences, but there’s no need to be overly formal.
  10. This is a holdover from the 80s, when people equated pushy with success. Job-seekers don’t get to decide to schedule the interview; employers do. These days, with hundreds of applicants for every opening, employers would spend all day fielding these calls.

Take a good, hard look at your job search tactics. If you’re following any of these old truisms, it’s time to overhaul your approach and start fresh.

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