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5 Bits of Bad Job Search Advice

We've probably all been recipients of bad advice at one time or another, on everything from what to buy, whom to date, how to conduct a job search, and the best way to write your resume.

The intentions, I'm sure, were good. But later – maybe much later, especially with dating – you learn the hard way that you may not have received the best possible counsel.

When it comes to the job search, there's no shortage of advice, and much of it is – well, not good. Here's a list of five pieces of bad advice, the bad reasoning behind them, and my own advice on what you should do instead:

Bad Advice #1. Don't bother looking for a job around the holidays.

Reasoning: Hiring managers are too busy to look at your resume. They're preoccupied with year-end activities, reaching annual and quarterly quotas, writing performance reviews, and planning their own holidays.

My Advice: If they need someone to fill critical roles, especially if a quota is on the line, they just might hire someone like you – and quickly! Or, if they need someone to fill a new position that takes effect in January, it's a safe bet they'll be interviewing in November and December. Besides, if other job seekers heed this bad advice, there will be less competition for you.

Bad Advice #2. The earlier you arrive for your interview, the better.

Reasoning: Arriving early demonstrates your punctuality, your enthusiasm for the job and company, and creates a good impression with the hiring manager.

My Advice: Arriving 10 minutes early isn't a bad thing, but arriving too early sends at least one of the following messages: You can't follow directions, you think appointment times are "approximate," or you're desperate. You won't get interviewed until the scheduled time, and you'll make people nervous by hanging out in the reception area. So if the interview is scheduled for 2 p.m., don't arrive earlier than 1:45.

Bad Advice #3. Never take notes in an interview.

Reasoning: You must maintain constant eye contact with the hiring manager. Taking notes is a distraction.

My Advice: The typical interview lasts at least 45 minutes (or if all goes well, a lot longer), so you're probably not going to remember everything you discussed, especially if you ask questions (and you should). Hiring managers expect you to take notes, and doing so will send a clear message that you're serious about and interested in the job or company. It also gives you fodder for your post-interview thank you note, which you can use to reference a specific point you discussed. But if you're still uncomfortable about it, just ask at the start of the interview, "Would you mind if I take notes?"

Bad Advice #4. You must say only positive things about ex-employers.

Reasoning: Saying anything remotely bad or negative sends the message that you're a complainer, or someone with an ax to grind.
 
My Advice: Interviewers understand that not every professional parting is based on a pleasant mutual decision. You can address something negative, as long as how you say it doesn't come across as bad. For instance, you might indeed have had an unreasonable boss, but if you say, "My boss's ego was bigger than the State of Montana," it makes you look unprofessional. The best way to handle this? Use factual, non-emotional statements, such as "My boss and I had different working styles, which caused a conflict," or "The company changed the way it does business, and it limited my opportunities for professional development." The hiring manager might assume you harbor anger – after all, just about all of us have had a job or boss that left us with bad memories – but by sticking to the facts, you're sending the message that you've moved on.

Bad Advice #5. Older workers need Botox or plastic surgery to get hired.

Reasoning: Although it's illegal for a company to come right out and ask how old you are, they can see your wrinkles and gray hair. Ageism exists in the workplace, so making your appearance more youthful can make a strong impression.

My Advice: Donald Trump recently wrote a blog post on this subject ("Laid Off? Try Cosmetic Surgery") and my initial reaction was, "Donald … You're Fired!" But to his credit, The Donald debunked that advice: " … a new nose or less wrinkly eyes aren't going to get you a good job. It's all about your track record and what you can do. Not how you look. I'd suggest working on your resume, not your face." So, skip the Botox injections and elective surgery, but make sure your clothes, shoes, hairstyle, and eyeglasses have been updated more recently than Y2K.

What other bad job search advice have you heard? Please share it in a comment below.

RELATED LINKS

Beginner's Guide to the Job Search Process

 

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