Job hunting is a skill that people tend to develop on their own. They don’t always seek advice or even discuss strategies with others, and this can lead to a lot of unrealistic expectations about the process.
You have to be careful about what to believe when it comes to job hunting, especially since mistakes can be quite costly. There are a lot of myths, and getting to the bottom of things isn’t easy.
But there are some commonly held beliefs that are absolutely false.
“Your CV is more important than your cover letter.”
It’s become a widely reported fact that the average hiring manager spends 10–20 seconds looking at each CV that crosses their desk. This means that even if you have the most eye-catching CV ever, it will only get you a few extra seconds of attention.
On the other hand, hiring managers will spend significantly more time reading your cover letter. It’s your best chance to grab their attention and show them what makes you uniquely qualified for the position. Employers will also spot a form letter immediately, so make sure you tailor each cover letter to the specific employer.
“You should always take the first job offer you get.”
After a long job search, it’s tempting to grab the first opportunity that comes your way. But just because a company wants you, it doesn’t mean you’ll be a good fit. Remember, during the whole application process you should be assessing the employer as much as they’re assessing you. If you’re not sure about the offer, whether because of the salary, the level of work or even just the work environment, it’s fine to turn it down and keep looking.
“Signing up to lots of job boards increases your chances of finding a job.”
Job boards are a great resource, but posting your CV on dozens of them doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a job, or even that a company will notice you. In fact, it’s generally better to narrow your search and focus on the kind of companies and roles that best suit you. Posting your CV on niche job boards will greatly improve your chances of being hired because you’re more likely to find something relevant, and you’ll be in a much smaller pool of candidates.
“The most qualified applicant is always hired.”
Just as there’s a lot more than the job description for you to consider when applying to a job, so too is there more for employers to consider than your CV and cover letter. One of the biggest factors is whether they think you’re a “cultural fit” – that is, whether they consider your personality will mesh with those of your potential colleagues and if they’ll like working with you. This is why it’s important to make a good impression in the interview, and don’t let your qualifications make you overconfident.
“Following up makes you look desperate.”
It’s hard to know when the appropriate time is to contact a company after an interview, especially if you haven’t heard anything. Ideally, you should ask during the interview when you can expect to hear from them. If the day rolls around and you haven’t had a call or email, then it’s fine to contact them.
When you do get in touch – and generally email is best in these situations – don’t just ask for their decision about the role. Mention something you discussed during the interview and expand on it. Also, use a positive tone and reiterate your interest in the role.
Image: Jo Naylor (original image has been modified)