Old-School Career Advice That You Should Ignore Now

·5 min read
Drazen_ / iStock.com
Drazen_ / iStock.com

If 2020 symbolized anything, it was change. And a big part of that change took place across the job landscape. For better or worse, the way we look at and approach careers has changed forever.

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As a result of the pandemic, many companies transitioned their employees to remote positions. And while many of those employees will return to in-person work at some point, some will keep working virtually. Additionally, a lot of companies started using virtual technology to interview candidates instead of meeting in person, which also may remain the norm in years to come.

But work and interview locations aren’t the only things that require a shift from previous practices. There’s also plenty of old-school career advice floating around out there — advice that won’t help you land a job or make career gains if you follow it.

Here are some pieces of outdated career advice that you should ignore now if you want to get ahead.

Just Keep Patiently Applying

Ignore advice to just keep applying even when you hear crickets, said Marja Verbon, COO and founder of Jump, a virtual career guide and job platform.

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“If you are receiving rejection after rejection, it’s time for a rethink,” Verbon said. “However, this doesn’t necessarily mean a career rethink. It could mean taking a long hard look at the way you are applying to jobs (steer clear of 1-click bulk-applying) or the companies you are applying to. But whatever you do, don’t just keep applying.”

Don’t Bring Notes to Your Interview

It used to be common for recruiters and HR professionals to advise job seekers against bringing notes to an interview unless they were new-hire questions for the potential employer, said Rolf Bax, chief human resources officer for Resume.io, a leading resume-builder and career prep service.

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Bax advises that in the remote-work world and a tight job market, the stakes are high and having notes could help you answer questions you might otherwise fumble. However, he warns: “Make sure to keep your notes completely out of sight, reference them quickly and naturally and, as always, prepare well enough that you aren’t relying on them.”

Seek Out In-Person Networking

With respect to other people’s time, in-person networking should be eschewed in favor of virtual outreach, said Andrew Fennell, director and careers expert at StandOut CV. “While it is currently a health concern and should be avoided, in-person networking is considered a bit more intrusive than it used to be. People often don’t have time to sit down for a coffee and a video call is a perfectly good equivalent now to understand more about a role, for example,” Fennell said.

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Never Leave a Job Within the First Year or You’ll Be Seen as a Job Hopper

While you don’t want to create a pattern of leaving jobs quickly, you shouldn’t feel like you have to stay at a job for an entire year if it’s not a good fit, said Biron Clark, former executive recruiter and founder at Career Sidekick. “It’s okay to begin searching for a new opportunity, and if employers ask why you’re searching, say, ‘My role right now has changed and is not what I expected, and I’m looking for a position that aligns more closely with my career goals. That includes the opportunity to do ___ and ____,'” Clark said.

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Only Answer the Questions Asked in an Interview

Showcase what makes you unique through a more conversational approach to the interview instead of simply answering the interviewer’s questions, said Randi Levin, transitional life strategist. “Employers are looking for hires that are memorable and vibrant and who are able to demonstrate not just leadership, but self-leadership. Making your virtual or in-person interviews as conversational as possible will support you in demonstrating not only your skillsets but (also) your value-add as an employee and as a person,” Levin said.

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Levin gives this additional advice to keep in mind when interviewing, “Keeping things conversational and engaging allows for your interviewer to see all aspects of you, and opens the door for you to ask questions and infuse your experience right into the conversation. If you lead with your value, you will organically align your skills with the job at hand in new and interesting ways, even if it is not similar to what you have done before,” Levin said.

Resumes Should Be One Page

While old-school advice dictated the use of a one-page resume, Michele Olivier, a certified career coach with over 20 years of experience in the HR/recruitment industry, believes that particular piece of advice was more relevant when people handed their resume to an actual person. “Now it’s much more important that you have an engaging resume that is easy to follow and has relevant information. Even one page of irrelevant content (like lists of job duties) feels too long for a recruiter, but up to four pages for senior-level folks is great if the content is managed correctly.”

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Have a Cover Letter Attachment

Olivier warns that if you attach your cover letter to an email, no one will read it. She advises that the body of the email should be your cover letter and the only attachment should be your resume — unless you are instructed otherwise. “Like most good emails this one should be concise, specific, and relevant. No more than two paragraphs and five bullet points,” Olivier said.

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Last updated: Sept. 28, 2021

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