- How long should my resume be?
- What should my cover letter say?
- When is the right time to follow up?
- How do I introduce myself in a networking setting?
- Do I list “job seeker” in my LinkedIn heading?
- Should I use Twitter? How often should I tweet?
The list goes on and on. The short answer I tell all of my clients? “There’s no one *right* way to approach a job search.”
It’s not difficult to find many answers to the same question. Experts disagree about how to write resumes, respond to interview questions, what to put in LinkedIn profiles and how to use social media. Ask 5 people a question about job hunting and you may very well be bombarded with 10 opinions.
This month, the Career Collective (a community I co-coordinate with my colleague Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter) addresses the question of job search “rules” and outdated job search beliefs. What are the job search “rules” so we can know which ones to break? The short answer: While there are guidelines and best practices, there are no “rules.” What works for you is not right for your neighbor, and your colleague needs to follow a totally different path to success.
This is frustrating for job seekers. One approach? EMBRACE the system instead of raging against it. Is it fair? No — job seeking is not listed under “fair” in Webster’s…it is anything but! (Plus, how much harder would it be to land a job ifÂ there was a rule book everyone followed?) The nature of selecting candidates is discriminatory: the organization has a set of criteria, combined with personal biases, personality considerations and individual impressions. Hiring someone with the “right fit” for the job is as nuanced as it gets.
So, an oxymoron for you: If there are no rules, what rule do I suggest you break?
I was inspired by my friend Laurie Ruettimann’s recent post, “On Competition.” I’d be hard pressed to find a job seeker who doesn’t obsess about the fact that he or she is competing with the hundreds of other job seekers targeting the same positions. It’s overwhelming to consider the statistics of job search; it can be paralyzing and depressing to think about all the other people out there trying for the same position.
Consider this – instead of competing with everyone else for a job, focus on demonstrating exactly what a perfect fit YOU are for the position.
Laurie outlined her take on competition:
“I am unique and wholly differentiated from anyone else in the marketplace. I know that I don’t have competition — and neither do you. Time spent obsessing about your mistakes and worrying about your competition is time that is taken away from being your best and learning from your mistakes.”
“There is no competition when you believe in yourself and you act on your abilities. When you stop viewing success as a zero-sum game, people become partners instead of adversaries.”
“Stop competing” is not an easy “rule” to break; it’s too obvious to focus on how to beat out everyone else for the job. Some action steps:
– Focus on what you offer as it relates to the targeted positions. Think long and hard about why you are the best person for the job and do what you need to do to convince everyone else. Identify best practices that make sense for your job search and invest in them.
– Since you are the best candidate and well differentiated, don’t spend all of your time obsessing about job search. Use that extra time to focus on how you can help colleagues and other job seekers. Think about what you can do to create a team of partners instead ofÂ adversaries.
You may be surprised by what happens when you shift your focus.
If you’re serious about differentiating and highlighting your strengths, I am launching a new service to help job seekers and entrepreneurs own their digital profiles. Don’t have your own website? What are you waiting for? Learn how you can help control what people find when they Google your name.
I encourage you to visit other members’ responses listed below. Please follow our hashtag on Twitter: #careercollective.
Juice Up Your Job Search, @debrawheatman
It’s not your age, it’s old thinking, @GayleHoward
Want a Job? Ignore these outdated job search beliefs @erinkennedycprw
Job Search Then and Now, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes
Break the Rules or Change the Game? @WalterAkana
The New: From The Employer’s-Eye View, @ResumeService
Job Search: Breakable Rules and Outdated Beliefs, @KatCareerGal
Job Hunting Rules to Break (Or Why and How to Crowd Your Shadow), @chandlee @StartWire
Shades of Gray, @DawnBugni
3 Rules That Are Worth Your Push-Back, @WorkWithIllness
How to find a job: stop competing and start excelling, @Keppie_Careers
Be You-Nique: Resume Writing Rules to Break, @ValueIntoWords
Modernizing Your Job Search, @LaurieBerenson
Don’t Get Caught With an Old School Resume, @barbarasafani
How Breaking the Rules will Help You in Your Job Search, @expatcoachmegan
Beat the Job-Search-Is-a-Numbers-Game Myth, @JobHuntOrg
25 habits to break if you want a job @careersherpa
photo by alancleaver_2000