The Worst Job Search Advice

by Marian Schembari on January 12, 2010


Answer the interview question, “what’s your weakness?” with a positive spin (ex: “I’m a perfectionist” or “I work too hard”). Ummm…. I’m pretty sure interviewers can see through that. The best answer I ever gave? “I’m young”. I think it pointed out (the obvious) that because of my age I wasn’t as experienced as the next guy, but also highlighted that I would have a different perspective. But at the end of the day you’re not being honest if you say something like “perfectionist” – it doesn’t highlight your uniqueness and sounds like you’re reading something from a book. Be honest, show how you overcame that weakness and for God’s sake, stand out.

Follow a template. For the longest time I wrote cover letters with this general outline:

  • State the position for which you’re applying
  • Mention two qualifications and what you know about the company
  • Refer to enclosed resume and state when you’ll be following up

None of those cover letters got a reply. I’ve said this a million times already, but be honest, write well, try not to be boring and switch it up so your letter doesn’t get lost in the pile.

Don’t quit your day job. Unless you’re unemployed you a) wont be pressured to get the work done, b) wont have the time to really find another job you love and c) will find a million excuses to stay in your comfortable cubicle. There are a million ways to make money during “unemployment” while you find the perfect full time job. One you actually want.

Spend a lot of time on your resume and cover letter. I don’t know how many times I need to say this, but no one reads that shit. You get a job by knowing people and the perfect resume wont help you with that. This is where your winning personality and go-getter attitude comes in. Spend that new-found time on LinkedIn, making contacts and researching your field.

This is a phone.

Check job boards and company HR sites daily. By the time these jobs are posted, the opening has been there for a while. People would rather hire a recommendation from a colleague than a stranger from a site. Get the inside scoop and don’t waste time applying via button click.

Be careful with your web image. Maybe don’t put naked photos of yourself online, but try not to let HR/Facebook horror stories wreck your groove. Make sure that when companies Google you, you’re all over the place rather than hiding under the proverbial rock.

Cold call. It’s annoying, doesn’t work and it’s better to make a few, but great, connections than a lot of random and insincere ones.

A couple pieces of good career advice:

Hire a some to write your resume” ~Penelope Trunk

Make your life one giant networking event” ~Dan Schawbel

Embrace your inner geek” ~Michelle Goodman

There really never was a career path for you” ~Chris Brogan

‘Do I Like You” is by far THE most important question you can answer for a hiring manager” ~Joshua Waldman


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  • http://twitter.com/marianschembari/status/7670584684 Marian Schembari

    What's the worst advice YOU'VE ever been given? The Worst Job Search Advice http://bit.ly/5lDUjF

  • http://twitter.com/karla_porter/status/7670666361 Karla Porter

    RT @marianschembari: What's the worst advice YOU'VE ever been given? The Worst Job Search Advice http://bit.ly/5lDUjF

  • http://twitter.com/marykrafthrorg/status/7670871385 Mary Kraft

    @marianschembari Ur latest post is great! What's the worst advice YOU'VE ever been given? "The Worst Job Search Advice" http://bit.ly/5lDUjF

  • http://mbreau.wordpress.com/ Melissa Breau

    Hey Marian – so I’ve noticed a shift in your writing lately … you’ve begun to really focus on career advice. Is this because you’re finding, as you mentioned in your post on blogging ideas, that these are the posts getting the most attention? or is it because that is where you are right now, as you embark on what I’m sure will be an incredible career as a chef? Just curious.

    • http://marianlibrarian.com/ Marian Schembari

      Melissa,

      Good catch! Yeah, for whatever reason the blogs that have been getting the most views/comments here are the ones that focus on concrete and actionable career advice. Though I have a stash of publishing ones waiting to be posted…

      But as a fun little side note, I’ll be focusing exclusively on publishing over at Digital Book World. Keep your eyes peeled!

  • http://mbreau.wordpress.com Melissa Breau

    Hey Marian – so I’ve noticed a shift in your writing lately … you’ve begun to really focus on career advice. Is this because you’re finding, as you mentioned in your post on blogging ideas, that these are the posts getting the most attention? or is it because that is where you are right now, as you embark on what I’m sure will be an incredible career as a chef? Just curious.

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Melissa,

      Good catch! Yeah, for whatever reason the blogs that have been getting the most views/comments here are the ones that focus on concrete and actionable career advice. Though I have a stash of publishing ones waiting to be posted…

      But as a fun little side note, I’ll be focusing exclusively on publishing over at Digital Book World. Keep your eyes peeled!

  • http://twitter.com/karla_porter/status/7670666361 Thomas Hennessy

    RT @karla_porter: RT @marianschembari: What's the worst advice YOU'VE ever been given? The Worst Job Search Advice http://bit.ly/5lDUjF

  • http://www.domesticsluttery.com/ Siany

    “Spend a lot of time on your resume and cover letter. I don’t know how many times I need to say this, but no one reads that shit.”

    I’m not sure this is true. Whilst networking can certainly help, most of what you put on your Linkedin profile is stuff you’d put on your CV. My personal blog covers a lot of what’s on my CV. It’s just displayed differently. But people do still read your CV. It might not make up the whole picture, but it counts. And yes, I tailor my CV to every client I pitch. And my covering letter. It does take more time, but it’s worth it. I work online, I spend half my day using social networks, but if I’m applying for a job, my CV is spotless and sells me the best it possibly can.

  • http://www.domesticsluttery.com/ Siany

    “Spend a lot of time on your resume and cover letter. I don’t know how many times I need to say this, but no one reads that shit.”

    I’m not sure this is true. Whilst networking can certainly help, most of what you put on your Linkedin profile is stuff you’d put on your CV. My personal blog covers a lot of what’s on my CV. It’s just displayed differently. But people do still read your CV. It might not make up the whole picture, but it counts. And yes, I tailor my CV to every client I pitch. And my covering letter. It does take more time, but it’s worth it. I work online, I spend half my day using social networks, but if I’m applying for a job, my CV is spotless and sells me the best it possibly can.

    • http://marianlibrarian.com/ Marian Schembari

      Definitely have great resume with no typos and everything, but spending two hours on a cover letter that just goes into the internet abyss is a waste of time.

      You’re right about social media though Sian. Having a website and LinkedIn account that highlights your strengths and clearly illustrates your background is essential. But clicking apply on a website gets your nowhere. And I do know this for a fact. Ha.

      • http://www.domesticsluttery.com/ Siany

        I think it depends what job you’re looking for. One of the UKs most successful online start-ups is hiring at the moment. You can apply through a button on their website. I know they read all the applications because I work for them. I’ve got work after clicking those buttons. The more online a company is, the more you’re going to find that they pay attention to those applications. If you’re looking for with with an online company, you probably won’t find the job advertised on a job website, it’ll be on their website instead.

        I know you found employment another way, but that doesn’t mean that the traditional ways don’t work. I get work through all sorts of ways – networking, being headhunted, conventional methods. One way of finding work will work for one person, and others will work for others. It’s not fact, it’s different to all people and all industries. I work online. Those buttons work for me and my peers.

        • http://marianlibrarian.com/ Marian Schembari

          Ouch. I just got told.

          I just feel that too many people rely on conventional methods for months – sometimes years – and hear nothing. It’s frustrating for most of us to click a button and never know where we stand. Doing it through people rather than online is an alternative for those of us who need some form of response, feedback, or closure.

          • http://www.domesticsluttery.com/ Siany

            That said, I still think your website is awesome :-)

          • http://mbreau.wordpress.com/ Melissa Breau

            I think one of the most overlooked this in career advice and commentary today is how different it is from industry to industry. Anyone’s best bet is to talk to people in the business they want to work in and ask – want to be a lawyer? Call a lawyer and say what is the best way to find a job in this industry.

            I’ve been tossing around the idea of starting a blog that would regularly interview people from different industries on a regular basis about that industry and how to break into it.

            So great point Siany.

        • http://marianlibrarian.com/ Marian Schembari

          Ouch. I just got told.

          I just feel that too many people rely on conventional methods for months – sometimes years – and hear nothing. It’s frustrating for most of us to click a button and never know where we stand. Doing it through people rather than online is an alternative for those of us who need some form of response, feedback, or closure.

  • http://www.domesticsluttery.com Siany

    “Spend a lot of time on your resume and cover letter. I don’t know how many times I need to say this, but no one reads that shit.”

    I’m not sure this is true. Whilst networking can certainly help, most of what you put on your Linkedin profile is stuff you’d put on your CV. My personal blog covers a lot of what’s on my CV. It’s just displayed differently. But people do still read your CV. It might not make up the whole picture, but it counts. And yes, I tailor my CV to every client I pitch. And my covering letter. It does take more time, but it’s worth it. I work online, I spend half my day using social networks, but if I’m applying for a job, my CV is spotless and sells me the best it possibly can.

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Definitely have great resume with no typos and everything, but spending two hours on a cover letter that just goes into the internet abyss is a waste of time.

      You’re right about social media though Sian. Having a website and LinkedIn account that highlights your strengths and clearly illustrates your background is essential. But clicking apply on a website gets your nowhere. And I do know this for a fact. Ha.

      • http://www.domesticsluttery.com Siany

        I think it depends what job you’re looking for. One of the UKs most successful online start-ups is hiring at the moment. You can apply through a button on their website. I know they read all the applications because I work for them. I’ve got work after clicking those buttons. The more online a company is, the more you’re going to find that they pay attention to those applications. If you’re looking for with with an online company, you probably won’t find the job advertised on a job website, it’ll be on their website instead.

        I know you found employment another way, but that doesn’t mean that the traditional ways don’t work. I get work through all sorts of ways – networking, being headhunted, conventional methods. One way of finding work will work for one person, and others will work for others. It’s not fact, it’s different to all people and all industries. I work online. Those buttons work for me and my peers.

        • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

          Ouch. I just got told.

          I just feel that too many people rely on conventional methods for months – sometimes years – and hear nothing. It’s frustrating for most of us to click a button and never know where we stand. Doing it through people rather than online is an alternative for those of us who need some form of response, feedback, or closure.

          • http://www.domesticsluttery.com Siany

            That said, I still think your website is awesome :-)

          • http://mbreau.wordpress.com Melissa Breau

            I think one of the most overlooked this in career advice and commentary today is how different it is from industry to industry. Anyone’s best bet is to talk to people in the business they want to work in and ask – want to be a lawyer? Call a lawyer and say what is the best way to find a job in this industry.

            I’ve been tossing around the idea of starting a blog that would regularly interview people from different industries on a regular basis about that industry and how to break into it.

            So great point Siany.

  • http://twitter.com/stacygibbs100/status/7702925014 stacy gibbs

    The Worst Job Search Advice | Marian Schembari: There are a million ways to make money during “unemployment” wh.. http://bit.ly/6QnXGW

  • http://twitter.com/intmasterfeed/status/7703213010 IMasterfeed

    The Worst Job Search Advice | Marian Schembari http://bit.ly/6QnXGW

  • http://twitter.com/ryanrancatore/status/7776316449 Ryan Rancatore

    The Worst Job Search Advice http://bit.ly/5lDUjF

  • http://twitter.com/dbsalk/status/8597465962 David B. Salkover

    The Worst Job Search Advice | Marian Schembari http://ow.ly/13uu3

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