Finding a new job can often feel like a Herculean endeavor thanks to the sheer amount of options and competition out there. The good news for job seekers is that it’s never been easier to find helpful advice to assist your search. The bad news is that some of that advice, while well-meaning, is inaccurate. There are a lot of job search myths out there, and it can be tough to find the right answers.
Thankfully, experts like Forbes’ Caroline Castrillon have done a little myth-busting to provide clarity. We take a deep look at Caroline’s five most common job search myths and add a few of our own insights.
Job searching is a numbers game
The “spray-and-pray” method of job seeking makes sense on paper (and online too!). If there are so many available openings and it’s so easy to apply for them, why shouldn’t you mass send out applications and hope for the best?
Caroline says that this approach will only lead to burnout, and rejection can take its toll. Instead, focus on quality over quantity. You’ll have a much better time if you look for jobs you actually want and put effort into your application.
You can go above and beyond by carefully using keywords in your application materials and utilizing your network. Standing out as a quality applicant is better than hoping to win the job lottery.
Cover letters are irrelevant
Let’s be honest—writing cover letters often feels like a chore, and many hiring managers and recruiters admit they don’t look at them. Knowing this, it can feel like writing one is a waste of time, but Caroline disagrees.
Your cover letter presents the unique opportunity to directly tell the employer why you’re the best fit and how you can fulfill their needs. You can also use the letter as an opportunity to explain any gaps in your resume and preemptively answer any questions about your qualifications.
“83% of recruiters agree that, although not strictly necessary, knowing how to write a cover letter and sending one gives you the opportunity to demonstrate that you are a great fit for the company you are applying for.” –ResumeLab
You must fulfill all job requirements
Job descriptions can be intimidating, especially if you feel like you don’t meet all the requirements. But don’t get discouraged!
Job descriptions are mostly wishlists. It’s rare that the final candidate is a 100% match for every item. Caroline says it’s especially common for women and new professionals to hesitate if they don’t meet all of the requirements. Bet on yourself and apply for the job anyway. This is a great time to use your cover letter to explain why you’re the best fit!
“Cover letters are also a great place to reemphasize your value. While your resume might show the hiring manager that you don’t have the years of experience they’re looking for, your cover letter can be used to fill the gaps and explain why you think you have the skills to do the job regardless of your time in the workforce.” –Janet T. Phan, Harcard Business Review
If you want to help shore the gap between your qualifications, take time to highlight how your transferable skills will help you excel at the role, writes Avery Blank. Soft skills are in high demand and could make a difference in your favor.
Be wary of companies on a hiring freeze
This one makes a lot of sense on paper. If a company announces a hiring freeze, the logic is that they aren’t hiring at all. But Caroline says there are more opportunities than you’d think.
If a role is important enough and an internal option isn’t the best fit, the company will need to look outside. In fact, you may have an advantage if you apply since others will believe there isn’t an opening.
It can be tricky to find some of these openings, but remember that not every job is openly posted. Learn how to utilize your network to access the hidden job market and find the roles other candidates are missing out on.
Don’t directly connect with the hiring manager
Many job seekers are reluctant to directly contact a hiring manager, assuming they’ll be annoying them or that their message will get lost in the void. But Caroline argues there is no reason not to reach out.
“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.” -Caroline Castrillon
With the ease of technology, especially access to LinkedIn, it’s easy to find a way to connect. But consultant Samantha McKenna says to make sure you’re doing it the right way. Be polite and respectful of their time, don’t be pushy, and don’t ask for anything. Simply introduce yourself and briefly explain the value you’d offer. You’ll stand out—and in a good way!
There is some logic to some of the above myths, but we hope Caroline’s advice can clarify some of your job search questions. Having a clear view of how the modern job search works will give you a leg up on the competition and will better help you find the role you seek.