‘Tis the season for commencement addresses and graduation gowns—and as so many young people are receiving their diplomas, they’re also hitting the job beat in full force. Hopefully, the recent or soon-to-be college grads in your life have already made progress toward gaining employment—but for those that haven’t, now is a perfect time to review some of the most significant myths and misconceptions about the job market. We’re going to run down five of the biggest ones, and attempt to reveal the truth behind the myths.
Your resume is all about you.
We’re going to begin with a couple of lethal misconceptions about resume writing. The biggest, and perhaps the most detrimental, is the notion that your resume is all about you. It is about you, to some extent—and a decent resume will condense your career history into an appealing narrative—but if it’s just a retelling of your professional story, then it’s unlikely to win over employers. A good resume is as much about the employer as it is you, in the sense that it positions you as an answer to whatever need the employer currently faces. Yes, you need to use your resume to tell your story—but not in a vacuum. Think about the values of your would-be boss as you craft this important piece of personal marketing collateral.
You need to devise some creative ways to stand out.
True enough: Employers are going to be flooded with resumes. And true enough: You need to stand out. However, standing out means winning over hiring managers with your professionalism, your depth of experience, or your well-composed resume—not by doing something completely outside the box or unorthodox, and certainly not by using crazy images and silly fonts on your resume. Remember also that, while you need to stand out to hiring managers, you also need to have your resume accepted by computer scanning programs—which means abiding by agreed-upon resume formatting and keyword standards.
Your reference check will only consist of names you provide.
While the references you provide may well be checked out, you should prepare yourself for the reality that many employers will check out your online background, including social media sites. We’ve said this before, but it’s important: It’s prudent to Google yourself before going in for any job interview, lest you be taken off guard by some questionable item from your past.
The job interview is about you selling yourself to a company, but also the company selling itself to you.
Speaking of the interview process, we have heard this rumor many times over, and it’s frankly untrue. Most of the companies you apply for are probably going to have plenty of applicants to choose from, and no particular mandate to “sell” themselves to you in any overt way. It’s up to you to do a little online research before the interview, ensuring you know what the company stands for and why you might want to work there.
Nobody reads cover letters.
Finally: If you think a resume is the only piece of marketing collateral you need, think again! Sure, your cover letter may get tossed out, unread, but that’s not always or even often the case. A great cover letter can make all the difference between you and another desirable candidate, so make sure you’ve got one handy—and tailored to each individual job opportunity.