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Top 5 Pieces of Job Hunting Advice (You Should Definitely Ignore)

Top 5 Pieces of Job Hunting Advice (You Should Definitely Ignore)

Written by Auriane Desombre


There’s one question that swarms over the heads of all recent grads: “What are you going to do now?”

It comes from friends who are in the same boat. It comes from concerned parents. It comes from judgy business majors who are totally looking down on your English degree (yeah, I heard your tone, Steve). It comes from the existential crisis you have every night at 3AM when you realize you spent yet another day rewatching Avatar: The Last Airbender (though, to be fair, that’s a great use of your time).

There is one thing, though, that’s even more annoying than the question: the advice that inevitably comes with it. Everyone and their uncle has the secret to job hunting all figured out, and they can’t wait to share it with you.

And while that sounds like a good thing, not all the advice you hear is gold. I’ve seen supposed “common knowledge” floating around the internet and repeated back to me by people who have been securely employed and out of the job-hunting world for years. This advice can range from life-changing to harmlessly irrelevant, but sometimes it’s so out-of-date that it will ruin your application.

So without further ado, here are the worst pieces of advice that are somehow still circulating like they’re the only way to succeed:


1.     Just hit the pavement!

There are many people out there who like to think that the only thing standing between recent grads and great jobs is classic millennial laziness. After all, in their minds, getting a job is as simple as visiting offices, resume in hand, to ask about job openings. In reality, though this technique interrupts the workflow of the day, making your first impression a huge inconvenience for everyone you interact with. I’ve watched people do this, and I’ve watched my bosses put them on a mental do-not-hire list the second they walk in.


What to do instead

Check their website, and follow the instructions. Who knew it could be so simple?

This advice also relates to following up. If a week goes by and you haven’t heard, the common advice is to pick up the phone, but that will also be an interruption. Instead, make sure you ask about their timeline at the end of the interview. After the interview, send a thank you email, or leave a handwritten note with the receptionist. If they don’t get back to you within the timeline they laid out, send a polite email to check in.


2.     Cast a wide net right away

As recent grads, we’re often told that we should apply to everything we can find, and take what we can get. The age-old trap of needing experience to get the job, but needing the job to have experience, is working against us, that’s true. But it’s only June, people. It’s been a month since graduation. The time to hit the panic button is very far away.


What to do instead

Make sure that you fit what the company is looking for (though you don’t always have to be a 100% match. Learning on the job is a thing, so don’t underestimate yourself!). Make sure that the job fits your goals. Research the company on Glassdoor to see what previous and current employees have to say about their experience. Consider the job description: when you’re ready to move on to the next step in your career, would having these bullet points on your resume help you out?


3.     Don’t bother with online applications

Social media haters and technology-is-ruining-this-generation people are always going to hate the idea of online interaction, but job portals and Indeed postings are there for a reason. Networking is a great way to get your foot in the door, but not knowing anyone at the company doesn’t mean your chances are so doomed you shouldn’t even try.


What to do instead

Send your resume into the internet void, and the internet void will eventually send you interview requests back.


4.     Give your resume a makeover to stand out

Decking out your resume with colors and goofy fonts might sound like a good (and fun!) use of your time, but shipping an eyesore to the hiring manager isn’t going to get you an interview. And for the love of all that is holy, don’t include a picture of yourself.


What to do instead

Studies have found that hiring managers look at each resume for a super sad average of six seconds. Don’t waste your six seconds overwhelming them with your creativity on WordArt. Instead, focus on an easy-to-read format that communicates everything you want it to. Check in by having a friend look at your resume for six seconds, and write down everything they remember reading about. This will give you a great sense of what your resume actually communicates in the short time frame HR will give it.

For more on working with the six-second rule, check out this video from Business Insider.


5.     Pretty much everything you’ve ever heard about cover letters

There’s so much bad advice circulating out there about cover letters, I have no idea where to begin. From the stock advice that you should end your letter with something along the lines of “I’ll call next week to follow up” (no you won’t, see point 4) to suggesting that they’re just a formality, it’s clear that cover letter protocol has changed a lot over the years.


What to do instead

The cover letter is extra space in your application to stand out, so make sure you’re using it! Don’t just repeat your resume; add anecdotes about specific achievements at your previous jobs, positive feedback you’ve received from former supervisors, and tangible ways you’ve improved your past workplaces. This is the place to expand on your resume by adding specifics and giving HR a taste of your personal voice (in no more than one page). You should also explain why you want to work at that company, but always do so through the lens of what you can contribute to their workplace.



I’m not going to pretend I have the secrets of job hunting all figured out. I just told you all about my weird obsession with a children’s TV show that ended over a decade ago. But the most important job hunting advice I have is to evaluate where your advice is coming from. If someone who hasn’t had to apply for jobs in thirty years tries to rewrite your cover letter for you, maybe run that by a few other people who’ve had more recent experience with application etiquette before you take their word as gold. Follow your gut and be your best professional self, and opportunities will follow.

PS: After writing this article, I accepted a job offer to be an 8th grade writing teacher! The internet void came through for me, and it will for you too.

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