Myth #1: Skills Matter the Most
Many people believe a direct match between the skills of a candidate and the job description will almost always guarantee a hire. But in truth, the softer more intangible qualities of a candidate can often matter a lot more. According to a recent survey featured on Forbes.com, 78 percent of professionals surveyed said “personality” was the most important quality in current and potential employees. “Skill-set” only came in at 39 percent.
So when applying for jobs, don’t discount openings with steep skills requirements, and focus on showcasing personality, soft skills and character during the interview.
Myth #2: Nobody Reads the Cover Letter
Most hiring managers and recruiters see countless resumes a day, which means an eye-catching cover letter isn’t unimportant; it’s the perfect opportunity to stand out. Cover letters offer the chance to show real interest in the position, and they can be a subtle way to explain in more detail any gaps or weaknesses on a resume. When applying for jobs at startups and creative companies, the cover letter is a great showcase for an applicant’s creativity and inventiveness. Don’t skimp on producing a tailored, well thought out cover letter: it will probably be read, and it will pay off.
Myth #3: There’s One Perfect Job
Many job seekers strive to find the perfect job which has all their requirements: from work-life balance to compensation to career path, they imagine the elusive “dream job” is out there somewhere, and they will hold off from accepting anything less. The truth is there are countless jobs which can fill a job seeker’s most important needs. Nothing is going to be flawless, but there are companies who will make you happy.
Think about what requirements are the most important: what would be a deal breaker? Narrow these qualifications down to 2-4 core issues, and find positions to match. This ensures your most crucial needs are met, but the job still has room for professional growth and change. The definition of “dream job” will change throughout your career, so look for positions and companies who have what really counts, and then be open to finding new and unexpected interests.
Myth #4: Interviews are for Employers
Interviews are notoriously nerve-wracking for job seekers: 92% of Americans fear job interviews, and it is often the most stressful part of the hiring process for candidates. But this stress doesn’t mean interviews are one-way streets. Interviews are helpful for companies to learn more about candidates, but they are also a great way for candidates to learn more about the position and the company.
When looked at from this perspective, a job interview isn’t an anxiety-ridden test: it’s a date where both parties want to learn about each other.
Go into interviews equipped with real questions to ask the hiring manager. These questions will make you feel like the one with the power, which will increase confidence.
Myth #5: Networking is a Competition
Some job seekers approach networking like an intense, self-centered competition: the goal is to collect as many business cards as possible. This is actually a very destructive way to approach networking because great networking is borne out of real relationships, not business card exchanges. Someone is more likely to go out of their way or to do a favor out of friendship than out of obligation.
Next time there is an opportunity to network, find out beforehand who is going, and choose the three to four people you want to meet the most. Seek these people out personally at the event and focus on building those relationships. Find out if there’s any way to be helpful to them and their business first. This approach produces more meaningful and more productive connections, and ensures when you need something down the line, these new contacts will be more likely to help.