Shred These Outdated Career & Job Search Practices – Part 3 of 3

Two dozen job search and career experts offer fresh guidance on all the things job seekers should quit doing if they want to find and keep a great job

Don’t be the Prisoner of Outdated Approaches

If you haven’t conducted a job search in a few years, much of what you did to get your last job won’t be the best use of your time and efforts this time around. Never before has job search methodology changed so rapidly in such a short period of time. We asked a panel of more than two dozen professionals from the recruitment, career services, career counseling, and human resources functions this question:

What traditional career beliefs and practices are outdated and should be shredded?

In Part 1 and 2 of this 3-part series, we examined the first eight practices that you should purge and shred from your job search and career development toolbox (see Part 1 here. See part 2 here.):

1. Spray & Pray ain’t no way (to find a job today)! Job seekers must conduct a targeted search and leverage the current and emerging tools and technologies of an effective search.

2. The career ladder has been replaced with a matrix. Climbing the career ladder used to be the appropriate way to advance your career. Today progress in your career will look more like a matrix than a ladder.

3. Build the narrative of your successes. Employers no longer accept claims that you can do the job. They want proof in the form of the examples from your career of how you applied your skills and expertise to get the job done.

4. Résumés and job applications are just a fraction of a successful search. They are still a necessary part of your strategy, albeit a small part. It’s what you surround them with that delivers success.

5. You probably won’t find your next job the way you found your current one. Job seeking methods and strategies are changing rapidly, with new and better approaches replacing yesterday’s popular approaches every day

6. Yes, Virginia, you WILL need to network. Source of hire studies consistently rank jobs found as a result of direct or indirect networking as the Number One or Two source, and that is not likely to change anytime soon.

7. The big job boards aren’t all that big anymore. They are still a viable tool, but not the dominant one they used to be. They may be fifth or sixth in terms of effectiveness by 2017.

8. The rules for résumés and cover letters are changing. Our best guidance is to do some in-depth research and send a prospective employer what works best for them.

Now, the Final Practices to be Shred!

Shred #9 – The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Fence. My current job stinks, my boss is a pain, and I don’t like the commute, so I gotta get outa here. Sound familiar? Yes, leaving is an option. Rarely is a job so perfect that there is not one single thing that could be better.

Before you decide to leave, you owe it to yourself to explore every opportunity to make things work well. What do you need to change in your attitude about the job? Have you accomplished all you could? Shawn Conlon, a Career Services Counselor for the US Marine Corps in Washington DC, echoes this sentiment: “One of the beliefs that should be shredded is that rather than looking for the next job, take a longer view about skills to be gained and experiences that could be had in your current job, and then plan your roadmap to achieve both.”

Martin Kral advises employees to take a balanced approach when deciding if they have stayed too long in a job: “Young professionals need to leave their mark (results) at two or three jobs, perhaps each for periods of three to four years. This way they will show employers that they have a proven track record at a multitude of places (without seeming like a job hopper). Besides, with the uncertainty of the job market, who can count on being at one job for the rest of their life?” So what should you do if you’ve accomplished your goals and still feel it’s time for a change? Abe WalkingBear Sanchez, CEO of A/R Management Group in Colorado Springs, CO, says it often comes down to this, “If you’re not having fun anymore, then make a change!”

Shred #10 – I Need a Job, So Any Job Will Do. This is a sure recipe for career dissatisfaction. Not every job will do because you won’t be able to do every job. Few employers worth working for will hire you with an any job’ll do attitude. Unless you are sure of what you do want to do, you’ll likely be miserable in no time at an any job’ll do position.

Select Staffing advises that it is an ineffective practice to “apply for any and every job you see advertised. Instead, focus you search on something that is right for you.” If you haven’t a clue as to what that might be, you may want to take a job inventory assessment, such as the Campbell Interest and Skill Survey or Strong Interest Inventory.

A job search best practice is to identify the type of work you want to do, the kind of employer you want to work for, and a set of criteria you’ll use to determine an employer’s suitability. Edythe Richards offers some excellent advice: “Job seekers need to be very clear about what they want. They may be qualified for multiple types of positions, or be interested in several different jobs. The clearer their career goal, the easier their job search will be. Above all, clarity leads to confidence. When someone knows how his or her skills and background can contribute, he or she will come across as passionate and be much more convincing to employers.”

Shred #11 – Social Media is Such a Chore When All I Really Need is a Job. If you haven’t had to conduct a job search since 2008, and you aren’t a fan of LinkedIn and Twitter, then you are probably thinking this. The world has changed a great deal since then and social media is a must if you want to be found. Electronic job search is not an option, today it’s THE preferred method of search. Philadelphia, PA-based search firm WalkerForest CEO Peter Levitt illustrates this point. “In less than 10 seconds I can locate everyone in the entire 350-million person LinkedIn database who graduated from a specific school in a certain year with a specific major and degree, who worked for at least 4 years for a certain employer, who speaks a certain language, who has a set of 12 skills, and with a set of 37 keywords the employer is seeking.”

To equip job seekers with the necessary social media skills, Mike Townsend (@MikeTownsend28), Talent Acquisition Specialist for Samtec, Inc. in Louisville KY thinks part of the answer may lie with higher ed. “Universities should now offer courses on creating LI profiles as well as resume courses.” Mike isn’t alone in this thinking. I’ve long been an advocate for at requiring least one semester of job search education to graduate, regardless of the student’s major, assuming the student plans to enter the workforce following graduation.

Job seekers who aren’t social media savvy should view social media as an essential skill they’ll need, not only to get their next job, but to use the power of the network to make their subject matter expertise visible to their current employer. Humera advises all job seekers: “Sites like Linkedin really make a difference. Make sure you can be found online, because that is where employers and recruiters look these days.”

Shred #12 – Miscellaneous Career Limiting Beliefs to be Shredded.

  • Failure to look at job options and geographic locations outside one’s comfort zoneMartin Kral. Technology has made the world a smaller place, and it’s no big deal to relocate. Live locally, think employment globally!
  • Nobody wants to hire someone over 50Edythe Richards. “Some 50+ job seekers believe their age is preventing them from getting a good job. While this may be true in some cases, I’ve found it’s more likely other things are standing in their way – including their own attitude.”
  • No grit – Steve Levy. “Listening to the line that says, ‘No calls’ – if someone calls me and sounds on-the-ball, I will never hang up. C’mon job seekers, show some grit!”
  • Listing skills, not accomplishments. Bonnie Natko. “SHOW me what you’ve done. Give me a case study. I want to see proof of your capabilities.”
  • Don’t take a recruiter’s call when you’re not looking for a jobMartin Lieberman. “People may not be looking, but they’re usually open to a good opportunity. At least have a conversation.”
  • I have no idea why nobody is calling me after all the applications I’ve put in – @MyHumera. “Sometimes only one part of your job search is holding you back; sometimes multiple parts are. You’ll need to analyze your approach and identify the areas where changes need to be made.” Lance Newman adds, “If you apply for three or more jobs and none respond with an interview request, something needs to be changed.

Bottom Line: Finding a terrific job and moving forward in your career is an ever-changing progression of strategies and tactics. What worked well in 2014 may be completely counterproductive in 2016 – or may just need a tweak here and there to make it effective. Don’t make the assumption that the things you did during your last search should be dusted off and put to use during your next search.

Thanks! My sincere thanks again to each person who responded to my question with guidance and advice. You do the rest of us a great service by so willingly sharing your expertise.

Boyer Management Group works with employers, organizations, and job seekers alike to help them become more successful. For employers, we offer world-class talent management, acquisition and onboarding tools and programs to help employees and volunteers achieve consistent, optimal performance. For job seekers and universities, we offer tools, assessments, books, and curricula to help connect people with careers. To find out more, please visit us at, or call us at 215-942-0982.


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