Monday, November 20, 2006


Some Job Hunting Myths Debunked

Here is a check list of various assumptions people make when they're looking for work, and why these assumptions are wrong - or at least need to be qualified. I include my own annotations.

1) Long resumes are impressive - Managers don't like to see long resumes. That is partly because their reading skills are rudimentary. But is also because they are busy, impatient and eager for any excuse to make a snap judgment. Make your resume like a news item or a short story - grab 'em from the git-go! (The reluctance of anyone to actually read resumes, incidentally, results in millions of wasted dollars. Many firms now rely on software that scans for key words. The consequence of this is that you get head hunters bombarding you with opportunities doing something you mentioned once in your resume, and in which you might have experience totaling only a month or two. Sad.)

2) The Internet is a good job source - I personally agree with this, as I have indeed gotten jobs - and many inquiries - from my postings with Career Builder, and Dice. However, this article says that only a fraction of jobs are posted on the Internet. Other sources may be better. These folks suggest job fairs and career consultants, even though job fairs are paradoxically only for the already-employed (or the young) and career consultants are assholes who just want your money. (Read Barbara Ehrenreich's Bait And Switch on this.) Getting jobs through professional associations, former teachers and internships is probably best. The bottom line is that you can't beat connections.

3) Entry level salaries will pay off your student loans - Yeah, right!

4) An MBA will take you up the ladder - An MBA is expensive, and not all business schools have enough of a rep to help you out. If you're the type that can succeed with an MBA, you're probably the type that can succeed without one. If not, you'll just be stuck with more student loans.

5) Don't look for work in the summer (or Christmas) - The article says hiring isn't seasonal. Maybe. I've found contracts in the summer. Weather's better in the summer, too, which makes it a pleasure to be outside, running from place to place. Holiday time may be another matter, because not only your prospective employer but yourself may be on vacation out of state. Last year, I got my notice two weeks after my father died (on Thanksgiving) and two weeks before Christmas. My former employers had such considerate timing! The impending loss of my livelihood ruined the week I spent with my in-laws down in Texas, and the delay in my interview schedule caused me to go on unemployment for a week (for the first time in twenty years!)

6) If you don't like your boss, you should quit - The article advises you to stay where you are and outlast your boss. If he's really bad, he'll be gone soon enough - or at least that's the argument here. Nonetheless, I've seen terrible bosses last forever, so you should take that one with a grain of salt. Consider a bad boss a kind of human obstacle course or some cubicle-bound Trial of Hercules. Endure it for the strength it gives you, but continue to hate the bastard anyway.

7) It's illegal to discriminate against job applicants for any reason - The article reminds us that prospective employers, like all human beings, are infinitely clever rationalizers who can readily discriminate against you in any way just by calling it something else.

"The truth about job-hunting myths" from Burlington Free Press

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