Not all career advice is created equal.
Since we've been old enough to make our own decisions, our closest relations have offered advice on nearly every topic. It seems like there is no end to the constant opinions offered to us. People may feel the need to advise us. This doesn't mean we have to take it to heart.
Career advice is no different. Our colleagues, family, and friends will inundate us with more recommendations than a Presidential Advisory Committee. While family and friends have good intentions, you may be better served opting to follow expert career blogs and information columns online. They'll have more relevant information than Aunt Mary or Uncle Fred. However, be discerning in the advice you follow no matter what.
1. “Summer and holidays are terrible times to look for a job”
Follow this bad career advice and you'll be out of a job. There isn't a “time” for abandoning your job search. Whether you're comfortably employed or actively searching for work, treat every moment and opportunity the same. Don't turn a blind eye to any job listing or company. Besides, summer and holidays are just as good a time as any to look for careers.
Fact: Summer jobs and holiday hiring freezes may slow down the industry, depending on your sector and position, but there are no periods when it stops altogether. Hiring managers take this time to fill positions they may lose with the coming New Year. Plus, large holidays reap big temporary hiring opportunities. Many retailers, manufacturers and delivery companies hire seasonal labor to fill their increased demands. CoolWorks lists seasonal and summer jobs. Bonus: many of their locations are top-level vacation spots.
2. “Your resume can only be one page”
Okay, obviously, shorter resumes are better. Or are they? Resumes rarely go over two pages. And the more information you cram into your document, the less likely anyone will read it. On the other hand, shorter resumes send the message you have no skills, experience or achievements. In other words, both long and short resumes kill your chances. Candidates with less than ten years of experience should do everything in their power to keep their resume at one page. The only reason to go over two pages is for executive positions requiring more than traditional experience and professional development.
Fact: Most hiring managers discard resumes they can't understand within six seconds. Without reading the career summary and job descriptions, hiring managers want to scan the titles, headers, bullet lists and job positions. They are looking to understand the candidate's basic qualifications, without reading the entire resume. TopResume offers free resume critiques to see if your resume passes the 6-second test.
3. “Your cover letter can't be imaginative”
Innovative thinkers and creative minds need to show hiring managers they can bring something to the team. A cover letter doesn't have to be a dry, conservative correspondence. Save second person, professional and conservative descriptions for the resume. The cover letter is a place to display your personality and inner strengths. Keep in mind, you're not writing a fictional story. It's okay to be imaginative and creative. Just don't forget to be professional. This is a job application. Not movie night with your best friends.
Fact: Hiring managers see enough dry, boring cover letters. They want an introduction, not another regurgitated, condensed resume or summary. Use content that makes the hiring manager smile.
4. “Hide your weaknesses, or disguise them as strengths”
Hiding your weaknesses is one thing. Changing them into strengths, well, that's called lying. Remember “to err is human.” Hiring managers realize we all have some weaknesses. After all, no one can be perfect at everything. And, no, we're not telling you to advertise your weaknesses. But don't cover them up by calling them something they're not. On a resume and cover letter, remove your weaknesses and replace them with actual proven strengths. In an interview, explain how you overcome weaknesses.
Fact: Avoid embarrassing moments in the interview by having to reveal your worst weaknesses. Volunteer some small weaknesses and provide examples of how you overcame them. This goes a long way in showing the hiring manager you take ownership of faults and think fast on your feet.
Recovering from mistakes
It happens to the best of us. We strive to improve our careers, look for ways to move up the ladder and, boom, bad advice knocks us down a few pegs. Making a mistake is easy. Recovering from the blow, well, it takes practice. The first, and possibly most important step, is to take ownership of whatever you did wrong.
Failing to take responsibility is a red flag. Employers will respect a team member who admits their wrongs, takes immediate steps to fix the problem and leaves the situation with a new lesson and set of skills. Liars, on the other hand, are shown the nearest exit. Also resist the urge to place blame on others, even if it truly was their fault.
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