See All Blog Posts
outdated job search advice

Outdated Career Advice Part 1 of 3: The Job Search

Posted On06/23/2017

ContributorNelson Jobs

Outdated Job Search Career Advice You Should Ignore

When you are actively seeking work, it seems like everyone has advice to share. Though friends and family members usually have the best of intentions, they may offer outdated career advice based on what was in vogue during their active job search days.

Finding a new job now is quite different than it was 15 or even five years ago. If listening to well-intentioned counsel has you scratching your head, here are some current job search techniques from the recruitment experts at Nelson.

Outdated Career Advice: It’s a Number’s Game

Years ago when searching for a job, applicants would cast a wide net by applying for every job they could find that was related to their line of work, using the same resume for every application, and/or applying for as many jobs as possible with one target company. Since applications were reviewed individually, any one hiring manager usually wasn’t aware if someone applied for many other positions.

Modern Job Search Technique: Customize

This quantity over quality resume distribution approach isn’t effective in a data-rich hiring environment. Today, recruiters want to see that your experience matches the very detailed requirements of the job opening – and that the job relates to your overall career aspirations. If you apply for multiple positions within one company, hiring managers can see that and may think you’re less serious about any one specific position.

Whether you’re working with a staffing agency or applying directly to posted positions with hiring companies, it’s also important to tailor your resume for each application. Today, resumes are often first reviewed by applicant tracking systems (ATSs) that scan for certain keywords. Instead of using a generic, one-size-fits-all resume, increase your chances of getting past the ATS by using the job ad’s exact keywords or phrases on your resume.  For information on modern resume advice, read about modern resume template resources, and words that you shouldn’t include in your resume.

Another important job search tip you should heed is to invest time in researching the company and position. On your resume, frame your experiences and accomplishments in a way that highlights the similarities between what you’ve done and what they need their new hire to do. By showing you understand the requirements or daily realities of the role, and the structure or goals of the company, you will stand out from other applicants and have a better chance of success once your materials make it past the gatekeeping round and into the hands of a decision maker.

Outdated Career Advice: Go the Extra Step When Applying

Even a few years ago, managers were more likely to favorably view candidates who “went above and beyond” to prove interest by sending printed resumes or dropping by the office to follow up on their application. But that’s no longer the case.

Modern Job Search Techniques: Follow Application Instructions

Now, the best way to impress a hiring manager is with your skills, achievements, and experience – and your ability to follow all application instructions provided in each job ad or description. Getting your resume through the door by circumventing standard protocol is more likely to be viewed as an annoying gimmick instead of a sign of dedication. Depending on the circumstances, hiring managers may also question your comfort level with technology if you don’t follow online instructions.

Printed resumes do still have a place in the job search process. for example, you should still bring printed copies of your resume to an interview or job fair, even if you bring a business card with a printed link to your online resume or portfolio.

Outdated Career Advice: Follow up With a Call

It used to be considered polite to call to thank an interviewer for their time. These days people from all walks of life, including hiring managers, talk on the phone less. Phone calls can be considered somewhat intrusive.

Modern Job Search Techniques: Follow up Via Email

Avoid calling the interviewer to follow up unless the interviewer specifically requests that you do so. Instead, send a polite and brief thank-you email. Another job search tip: if you’ve interviewed with several people, it can be a nice gesture to send individual emails to each interviewer. Personalize each message to leave a lasting impression. And yes, if you use the services of a temporary agency or recruiting company, they too appreciate a brief email thanking them for arranging the interview.

Outdated Career Advice: Dress to Impress

Years ago, dressing for the much-anticipated job interview meant putting on your best suit. It used to be common to hear job search tips about dressing as conservatively as possible and avoiding clothing or accessories that draw too much attention. While this adage might still prove true for a few more formal companies, such as some in banking and finance, it is no longer the norm.

Each industry, company, and even department might have its own formal or informal dress code. To help prove you are a good match for the position, dress the part. Wearing a suit while the hiring manager is wearing jeans could signal to an interviewer that you don’t understand or wouldn’t fit well in the company’s culture.

Modern Job Search Techniques: Dress to Belong

While more-casual-than-expected environments used to be unique to tech companies and startups, more and more companies are embracing the comfort and productivity of a more relaxed dress code. Before your in-person or video interview, it’s important to get an idea of the company’s current dress standards by looking for photos of employees on the company’s recruiting site or employees’ public social media accounts, or by asking employees for advice.

Then, for the interview, dress the next level up. For example, if the environment is business casual, go suite and tie. If it’s casual, wear something business casual (khakis and button-up shirt or a dress that’s not too stuffy). If it’s extremely casual, with employees wearing torn jeans with hoodies, wear something that’s casual but slightly elevated, such as nicer jeans with a polo or button-down shirt. In any case, it’s best to avoid wearing clothes that don’t fit well or have stains or tears, tank tops, flip-flops, and too-short skirts and dresses.

Being Prepared Is a Job Search Tip That Never Goes Out of Style

Though modern job search techniques have replaced outdated career advice, it’s always important to be prepared. Staying current with job search trends will help make you a viable contender when looking for work. After all, hiring managers will gravitate toward those in the know. By following Nelson’s job search tips, you can stay current on modern job search techniques.