I have been involved in the Career Services field in various capacities for the past 3 decades and I can tell you that there are a great many myths out there that are just that – myths – an idea that is believed by many people but that is not true.
Here are four I find egregious and why.
1: Age discrimination is rampant and is the main reason most people over 45 can’t get an interview or a job.
Personally I think this is a crutch for many 45+ y/o job seekers to commiserate, stop trying and accept defeat rather than change. We know the dynamics of the work world are ever changing, but are older job seekers changing with the times. In many cases they have not and therefore are not being selected; not based on age but based on a lack of adaptability.
They think and work exactly like they have in the past and many live on past glories when what they should be doing is whatever it takes to keep up with the times in their profession. At every age you need to keep up with new technologies, new means of communication, and new and more efficient ways of doing what you did in the past. You need to keep an open mind for strategic changes in your profession’s methods of operation and the subtle and not so subtle changes in the culture in your workplace and the workplaces you are applying to be employed in.
If my resume got me interviews and job offers in the past all I need to do is update it now.
Resume writing is an evolving art in this millennium and what worked in the past is not getting the same results as it did in the past. Therefore just updating your resume will not work. In the past resumes followed a set format and were more fact oriented. Similar to the auto industry which discovered the value of hybrids over the past decade and resume writing has followed suit. Unless the resume you are updating is 2-3 years old, was well written and designed at that time, and the job you’re seeking is similar to the one you have or just left, a simple update is going to set you back a lot more than the time, effort or cost it will take to totally revamp it so you get it right the first time out of the shoot.
3: A resume can be One-Size-Fits-All even for different jobs because l customize a cover letter for every submission.
I cannot believe how often I hear this inverted logic from seemingly intelligent people. Research shows that over 95% of all resumes submitted are read but less that 65% are read along with them, and the percentage of times the cover letter is forwarded upstream along with the resume decreases exponentially with each new person who receives it. So by the time it gets to the ultimate decision maker the odds are 25% or less that he or she will ever read your cover letter and they will be judging you strictly on what they read in your resume. Cover letters have a purpose but customizing it for a job search is not its main one.
4: The most qualified candidate always gets the job.
This myth is built around a truism. Most people equate the most qualified man or woman as the one who has the best combination of skills and experience. In theory this is true, however if the person’s personality is not a culture match they drop off the list and the next most qualified candidate moves up the ladder. As I’ve said many times before, “Companies will make interview decisions based on who has the best resume but job offers are made to the person who is the best cultural fit.” So do your homework and due diligence as thoroughly as possible on the company and the people you’ll be meeting before you walk through the door for an interview to know how to dress, act and what to say to fit in.