5 Myths About the Job Search We Need to Stop Believing

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
May 29, 2024 at 9:57PM UTC

Let’s face it: the world of job searching has changed significantly over time — even in the past year and a half, now that we’re in a pandemic world.

In 2021, many job seekers are holding onto myths that may have been true at one time but no longer hold water in the ever-evolving, competitive landscape. It’s time to set things straight.

1. You don’t need to worry about a cover letter.

Do you really need to send a cover letter? Aren’t they obsolete? Won’t your LinkedIn profile and resume suffice? Do employers even read them?

It may feel like cover letters are an outdated, unimportant, time-consuming step that you can easily overlook. 

The truth: You need to send one unless the application procedures specifically ask you not to. Even if they say a cover letter is optional, it’s still a step you shouldn’t skip. 

The cover letter serves to articulate your career journey, your passion for the role and employer and your qualifications. It goes beyond your resume and presents a cohesive picture of you and your candidacy. Yes, even in the digital world!

2. If you have enough enthusiasm, it will all work out.

This sounds nice, but unfortunately, you can have all the enthusiasm in the world and still not land that dream role. 

The truth: You simply need the skills and qualifications to support your application. Enthusiasm can certainly help set you apart from other qualified candidates, but you’ll still need to back it up with experience.

Don’t think your passion for the role doesn’t matter at all — employers do want to work with people who are enthusiastic about the job and company. But it’s that combination of skills and passion that will help land you the job.

3. Having the right qualifications will absolutely usher you through the ATS.

Many businesses use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to screen candidates nowadays. This software will filter applicants using specific keywords and criteria. So, if you have the right qualifications, your application will make it through the ATS and onto the hiring manager’s desk, right?

The truth: Not necessarily. A majority of applications simply don’t pass through the ATS, even if the candidates are well-qualified. You need to use the right keywords — job titles, skills and so on — to make it through the software. Even better, try to get your resume into the hands of a contact at the business, so you might even be able to bypass the ATS entirely. Do some digging on LinkedIn to track down possible contacts.

4. You can use the same resume for all jobs.

You’ve spent hours building and honing your resume, and by now, it’s perfectly polished. All you need to do is add experience when you gain it, and you’re ready to hit submit on any application. Isn’t that true?

The truth: Nope. Every resume you send should be tailored to the specific company and description. While you won’t need to do a complete rewrite for each application, you should spend some time tweaking it to ensure you're showing your best qualifications for the position at hand, using keywords you find in the listing or company collateral.

5. It’s too late to change careers.

Maybe you hate the job — and the entire industry — where you’ve been working for ages. Or, perhaps you truly enjoy your career but simply want a change. Either way, if you’re past a certain age or have spent a significant amount of time climbing the ranks in your current role, can you actually pivot?

The truth: Ever heard of Julia Child, Harrison Ford, Walt Disney or Vera Wang? All these household names started out in careers far different from where they landed and achieved global success. In fact, an EdX survey found that approximately one-third of Americans ages 25–44 changed fields entirely since beginning their first job out of college. And, of course, you can certainly change careers if you’re outside that range, too! 

The bottom line is that it’s not too late to reboot or overhaul your career entirely.

About the Career Expert:

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.

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