It’s late May, and you know what that means: a new wave of college grads will soon be ready for the workforce, armed with freshly-printed degrees and an arsenal of job-hunting advice from their parents, friends, and other loved ones.
But while your mom, dad, former babysitter and next-door neighbor have only the best intentions, their finding-a-job tips may not be the most up to date. Here are a few commonly shared pieces of advice you can go ahead and ignore.
1. Including an objective on your resume.
For many years, career counselors and resume-advice books instructed job hunters to start their resumes with an objective, or a sentence describing their career goals and the skills they have to contribute. But in 2018, resume objectives read as old-fashioned and unnecessary. Objectives essentially summarize the information already present on the resume, rendering them totally redundant. “Don’t worry about an objective - employers will skip over this, or worse, will screen your resume out based on an objective that is not a perfect match for the job they are hiring for. Instead let your experience, skills and results-driven descriptions make the case for you,” advises Forbes contributor Trudy Steinfeld.
2. Dropping off a physical resume in-person.
If you get involved in career conversations with your parents, there’s a good chance that the phrase “pound the pavement” will come up at some point. They’ll tell you to get out there with a stack of printed resumes and hand them off to front-desk associates at the places you want to work, insisting that this in-person approach will get you valuable face time that could even lead to an on-the-spot interview.
This technique may have worked back in the 20th century, but these days, the vast majority of employers would rather receive applications digitally. Alison Green of Ask a Manager explains it like this: “Most companies include specific instructions about how they want you to apply, and it’s pretty unlikely that “in person” is included. Plus, many companies only accept resumes electronically because they get put into an electronic screening system. Third, this is unnecessarily gimmicky; save yourself the time, apply online, and if you’re a strong candidate, they’ll contact you.”
3. “Checking in” on your application.
Like insisting on dropping off a physical resume, calling or emailing businesses to “check in” about the status of your job application can sometimes be interpreted as a positive thing. Older friends and relatives might tell you that getting in touch after applying shows initiative and keeps you fresh in the hiring manager’s mind. But in truth, this behavior reads as naive and inconsiderate of the hiring manager’s time.
The career gurus at The Muse advise against this form of follow-up. “In general, let your resume and cover letter speak for themselves. If you have a killer application (or better yet, a company connection that you made through networking), you’ll have a great chance of catching the hiring manager’s eye without the pestering follow-up,” they recommend.
If you really want to touch base on your application, it’s fine to send a single follow-up email, especially if you’ve been called in to interview. But beyond that, more contact becomes overkill and ultimately hurts your chances.
4. Offering up your references unsolicited.
In older versions of resume-advice books, you’ll often see sample resumes presented with reference contact info printed at the bottom. Once a common practice, sending your references along with your resume actually does you a disservice. Employers with a good handle on hiring practices won’t ask for references until later in the process; if they’re using these conversations to gain valuable intel on you as an employee, it makes sense to wait until you’ve established mutual interest through a dialogue and an interview.
In a recent article, The Guardian offered another compelling argument for waiting to offer references: “There is also a good tactical reason not to supply references on your CV. As you move through the progressive stages of the recruitment process it is likely you will think of different people who could act as referees. If you have given this information already, it could become awkward to then say you would like someone else to be a referee instead. As in a game of poker, it’s best not to reveal your hand too early.”
5. Forgetting to tidy up your online presence.
Rather than an old-school habit to avoid, this one’s a new tactic you should immediately add to your job-hunting strategy. Past generations didn’t live in the Internet Age, so it makes sense that their job search advice doesn’t include any mentions of Google. But in the 21st century, we now know the importance of keeping tabs on your online presence, especially when you’re in the market for a new position.
According to The Muse, one in three employers have decided against moving forward with a candidate based on unsavory information they discovered during an internet search. To avoid a similar fate, be sure to Google yourself regularly, swap out any profile photos of you doing a keg stand, and manage your privacy settings.