If you’ve logged onto LinkedIn recently, you’ll undoubtedly notice more and more individuals announcing that they are unemployed and starting their job search. It’s not surprising, given the number of layoffs that have taken place over the past weeks and months. Unfortunately, if you’re one of those people, you may be getting different suggestions from well-meaning family, friends and colleagues. One person may say, “A cover letter is a must!” Then, the next person you talk to asserts the opposite: “Cover letters are passé and a waste of time!” If you’ve been out of the job market for a while, it can be difficult to know what guidance to follow.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad advice for job seekers out there. While some information may have been true at one time, it has slowly become outdated. That’s why it’s critical to differentiate fact from fiction. Let’s examine five job search myths and how they might be holding you back from landing your dream job.
It’s a numbers game
While conducting a job search by sending out hundreds of resumes may seem productive, it can lead to disappointment and burnout. A better approach is to focus on quality over quantity. Identify jobs you are truly interested in and apply to each using a tailored resume and cover letter. Also, go beyond just submitting an application and waiting for a response. Be proactive. Identify the recruiter or hiring manager and reach out to them directly. Tap into your network and find out if someone can submit your resume as a referral. Finally, you can network through other means like online groups, conferences and professional organizations.
Cover letters don’t matter
Cover letters are still worth the time and effort. In one survey, 83% of recruiters agree that, although not required, sending a cover letter allows you to demonstrate that you are an excellent fit for the role you are applying for. If you don’t have all the job requirements, this is where you can fill in the gaps and explain why you have the skills to succeed. A cover letter is also useful to explain your motivation to join the company, why you want to change careers or employment gaps. According to recruiters, most candidates don’t send cover letters as part of their job search. Be one who does and increase your chances of landing the job.
Don’t apply unless you fulfill all the job requirements
Women, in particular, are less likely to apply to roles where they don’t satisfy all the criteria. According to Harvard Business Review, women hesitate if they don’t meet 100% of the job requirements, while men usually apply after meeting about 60%. If you are early in your career, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to check off every box. Don’t limit yourself and apply anyway. Especially if you feel you’re the right fit for the role. Also, don’t underestimate the power of soft skills, which are more in demand than ever. While hard skills can help you get an employer’s attention, soft skills can help you land the job.
Don’t consider companies with hiring freezes
Just because a company announces a hiring freeze doesn’t mean they aren’t backfilling positions resulting from turnover. When a role is critical to the company’s core business, and they can’t find a replacement internally, they will look outside the organization. The only difference is that the position probably won’t be advertised. In fact, Stacey Perkins, a career and leadership coach at recruiting firm Korn Ferry, estimates that at least 60% of positions are never posted publicly. That’s why the hidden job market can be so valuable.
Don’t message the hiring manager directly
When you see a position you’re interested in, it can only benefit you to contact the hiring manager. First, it shows that you are proactive and will help you make a lasting impression. In a competitive landscape, any opportunity to make yourself stand out as a candidate is a good thing. You might even learn valuable information that can help strengthen your cover letter and prepare you for a future interview. It also helps to expand your network. Even if you don’t get the interview, you gain a valuable connection. Also, they might keep you in mind for another role either now or in the future.
With the professional landscape constantly evolving, staying on top of the latest job search trends is more important than ever. Don’t let common misconceptions hold you back. By working smarter instead of harder, you’ll be that much more likely to land your ideal role.