Friday, October 23, 2009

The 10 Biggest Job Hunt Myths

MYTH: If the job ad says "No Calls," you should call anyway -- it'll show that you're really interested.

The quickest way to get your resume thrown in the "not now, not ever" pile is to ignore the instructions included in the job ad. Don't antagonize overstretched HR people by doing what they've expressly asked you not to do.

Reality: Email and snail mail are great follow-up mechanisms. Calling people who've specified "No Calls" is a bad one.

MYTH: A great way to network for a job is to contact people who work at your target companies, and ask them to get your resume into HR.

Here's the scenario: You're sitting at your desk. You're doing your job. The phone rings, and on the other end is a person you don't know, who wants you to hand his resume into your HR department. This random, bizarre scene replays itself every day. Calling strangers to ask for help -- and worse, an introduction to the HR department, notwithstanding the fact that the "conduit" doesn't know you from Adam -- is not networking, it's telephone spam.

Reality: Your own friends, friends-of-friends, and friends-of-friends-of-friends can make introductions for you. Leave everyone else alone.

MYTH: When you get a call from HR and they ask you your required salary, you should lowball them to get the interview.

HR people envision a special place in hell for candidates who say on the phone, "I'd love to come in and interview, and I need to make $50K per year" when in fact, after three interviews, they decide that they need to earn $75K per year. You can give a range on the phone, but you can't say that you're OK with a number that you're really not OK with.

Reality: If you're asked for a salary range, be truthful.

MYTH: In a cover letter, you should quote the job ad as much as you can to show that you're qualified for the job.

Quoting the text from the job ad doesn't say you're qualified. It says that you can read, and type. Rather than quoting the job ad, use examples from your career history that illustrate your ability to perform the job.

Reality: Don't parrot terms from the job ad, but address the elements in your cover letter with specific examples from your past.

MYTH: If you get a call from a phone screener, you say it's not a good time to talk -- that shows that you're in demand.

If you really can't talk (the baby is crying, the dog needs a walk, or you're not feeling well) then ask for a reschedule. But if you can take the call, do it! The more quickly you can get through the phone-screen process and be scheduled for a face-to-face interview, the better for you.

Reality: Don't find excuses to delay phone screening -- if you can manage to take the call when the phone rings, do it.

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