Tag Archives: advice

When giving advice to jobseekers, remember to keep an open mind

If you are going to advise jobseekers on how to properly conduct a job search, please do them a favor; get over yourself. That’s right, remember it’s not about you; it’s about giving your listeners options and opening their minds to possibilities.

Occasionally I’m told about speakers my jobseekers hear at  networking events who speak from one point of view, their own. One speaker told the audience that he never reads cover letters. Because he’s an eloquent speaker, an accomplished recruiter, I’m willing to bet everyone in the room left thinking, phew, I don’t have to write cover letters anymore.

Recently I heard of a hiring authority who said she prefers one-page résumés. Now, I know she was speaking for herself, but immediately following the presentation, one of my jobseekers rushed to tell me she was changing her résumé to a one-pager. I spoke with her and we agreed that she had enough experience and accomplishments to warrant a two-page résumé. Further, we agreed that she should construct a one-page résumé. I don’t have anything against one-page résumés, but different situations call for different types of résumés.

A job coach once told me that he doesn’t think job candidates should go to interviews prepared; rather they should go in and wing it. Better to be relaxed than all hyped up, he reasoned. Screw the research, right? He also tells jobseekers that cover letters are a waste of time. He never got a job using a cover letter, so what’s the sense for all jobseekers to write them.

We tend to give advice based on our experience, sometimes forgetting there are other points of view, other ways of doing things. I’m guilty of doing the same. In my mind a cover letter is a compliment to one’s résumé—you write one that’s tailored to each job for which you apply. But I also get that that some recruiters don’t read them. To some, cover letters are fluffy narrative that aren’t worth the paper (or bytes) they’re written on. My advice is to send a cover letter unless specifically told not to.

I realize that one-page résumés are preferred by some hiring authorities. Hell, I’d rather read a résumé that tells it all in one page. But some people have significant accomplishments that simply can’t be covered in one page. Nonetheless, I show my Résumé Writing workshop attendees an example of an excellent one-page résumé that consists of one hundred percent quantified accomplishments. I have an open mind.

Some jobseekers can go to an interview having not researched the company or position for which they’re applying and do quite well. They’re loose and confident. They have the gift of gab. I have to admit that I’ve never suggested an alternative to preparing for interviews, but perhaps I should…nah…prepare your ass off.

I cut my jobseekers a little slack when I explain the ways they can write their LinkedIn profiles, particularly when it comes to the summary. I like one that’s lengthy, written in first person, and tells a story. Others suggest summaries written much like a résumé’s. Not for me, but who’s to say what works best in certain situations. I’m sure hiring managers in the technical fields like things short and sweet. I tend to be long-winded. Can’t you tell?

Look, your advice is probably sound, but there’s more than one way to skin a…bad analogy. Just present sound options and let the smart jobseeker decide what’s best given the situation. Let’s face it, if there were only one way to tell people how to find a job, we’d be rich people. Or we’d be out of work.