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Old 05-12-04, 12:55 PM
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The Truth Behind Job Search Myths

The Truth Behind Job Search Myths

It seems like everyone is an expert when it comes to looking for a job. So it's no wonder that so many people have misconceptions about how to actually find a great opportunity. From resumes that miss the target to forgetting about the cover letter, there are common mistakes made by job seekers every day just because they don't know better. Here are six common job search myths and the real story that job seekers need to know.

Myth: If a company likes what they see in my resume, they'll call me.

Reality: Good jobs are never won by waiting by the phone. While the information age has made it extremely easy to send resumes, many people forget that the work involved in a job search does not stop once the "send" button is pushed. Companies receive so many resumes each day, and simply do not have time to respond to every inquiry. Therefore, it is up to the job seeker to make contact. Every resume you send should be followed up with a phone call. In his book, 95 Mistakes Job Seekers Make - and How to Avoid Them (Impact Publications), Richard Fein suggests job seekers make a chart that includes each company's name, contact person and phone number, and a column for keeping track of action to date and next steps needed. He says you should call one week after sending a resume, and then again a week to 10 days later.

Myth: If it isn't advertised, it's not available.

Reality: While there are certainly great opportunities to be found in the classified ads and online job postings, many open jobs are never advertised. So while it is important to include want ads and career websites as a part of your job search, this should only be one element of your strategy. In addition, you need to proactively call companies that interest you, as well as network. Call the head of the appropriate department and ask about openings. Request to come in for an interview. Have lunch with contacts and get your name out there. Chances are you'll find just as many opportunities from cold calls and networking as you will from the help wanted ads.

Myth: A cover letter is just a throw away addition to a resume.

Reality: In almost all circumstances, resumes should be accompanied by a cover letter. This document can be used to your advantage if your letter is well written and specific to the company and position. According to Fein, cover letters can serve five major purposes: Highlighting items that are particularly relevant or impressive in your resume; reframing items to connect them specifically to the company's needs; adding new material that is relevant to the specific job opportunity; explaining your interest in the specific job; and addressing credibility gap issues that appear in your resume. It's clear cover letters can do a lot for your job search – make sure you put the time into creating them.

Myth: A resume should explain responsibilities at previous jobs.

Reality: A resume needs to give the reader an idea of past positions you have held, but should not read like a page of job descriptions. Instead, you should write your resume like it is an advertisement for yourself. Fein says job seekers need to provide examples of success in their resumes. "Employees are paid not just to do, but to produce," he says. "Your resume should focus on results." Instead of just telling the reader about your duties, include facts and figures to demonstrate your success and accomplishments.

Myth: The more resumes I send out, the better.

Reality: While many people take a shotgun approach to job searching, this strategy generally does not end in success. "Your job search needs to be intensive, rather than extensive," says Fein. This means you should focus your energy on quality contact with companies and opportunities that are truly worthwhile rather than doing mass mailings and nothing else.

Myth: Every resume should show a chronological procession of experience.

Reality: While chronological resumes are good for those who have been in the workforce for many years, new job seekers should take a different approach, says Fein. "Job seekers with no experience should organize their experience into categories," he says. For example, if you are looking for a sales job, you would have a category called "Sales Experience," and list facts from a wide range of experience in that category. This will make it easy for the reader to see how your past experience relates to the position available, even when you do not have a long list of jobs.

Richard Fein is the director of placement at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) School of Management. For more information about "95 Mistakes Job Seekers Make...and How to Avoid Them" and other books by Fein, visit Impact Publications at
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