Myths of the Job Search Debunked

In one of my webinars, I tell my attendees to keep their elevator pitches and interview answers short. I also tell them that a human's attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish, which is a myth that's been perpetuated by sources like Time Magazine and the New York Times.

I can attest to having a very shot attention span; ask my wife. But if I'm engrossed in a show, driving, or reading a great novel, my attention is locked in. Similarly, if I'm listening to a short, compelling elevator pitch, that person has my attention.

There are myths that exist in the job search. We have seen them spread on LinkedIn or heard them from people trying to do well by their friends.

One that comes to mind is the myth that all employers expect a one-page resume. While a one-page resume is appropriate for job seekers who have five or less years of experience, it is limiting for those who have more experience and many accomplishments to tout.

Yet, many of my clients have been instructed to write one-page resumes, despite their years of experience, by misguided "job-search experts." I know this because I poll them in my webinars. "Strategies in writing my resume include....Keeping my resume to one page."

Are there other myths out there? And what are the realities?

Thinking about job-search myths, I contacted some of my valued LinkedIn connections and asked them which myths have been perpetuated by misguided job-search pundits. Here's what they had to say (categorized in alphabetical order).

Applicant Tracking System Myths

Virginia Franco

Myth: applicant tracking systems (ATS) will kick you out.

Reality: the ATS is a filing system and there's usually a live person behind it; however, there's certainly formatting that can hinder the software's ability to read a resume (items in text boxes, graphics, for instance), and disqualifying questions (known as knockout questions) programmed by a human.

Hiring Myths

Brad W. Minton

Myth: my college degree will open up doors. 

Reality: the degree itself can only get you to a door. Getting them open requires investing in your skill development and practical experiences and then being able to articulate how that can actually make you an asset.

Laura Smith-Proulx

Myth: I'm perfect for this job posting, despite limited experience and the fact that hundreds of well-qualified job seekers will apply to it.

Reality: the employer will most likely ignore your desire for a career change, preferring candidates who are already working in the field.

Lisa Rangle

Myth: every open job is publicly posted.

Reality: every open job isn’t publicly posted for a variety of reasons. This is why you can’t solely rely on job boards for openings and must network.

Interviewing Myths

Bob McIntosh

Myth: Interviewers want to hear a strength when they ask you about a weakness.

Reality: they want an honest, relevant skill you need to improve; but not a weakness too pertinent to the position at hand.

Shelley Piedmont

Myth: The most qualified person will get the offer.

Reality: The candidate that best shows they can do the job, fit in with the culture, and wants this particular job will be the one to get the offer.

Teegan Bartos, CCMC, CCM

Myth: I should accept an opportunity if I'm given an offer

Reality: The interview process is a two-way street to determine if the company is a good fit for you. It's okay to not move forward in the process if you realize there is a misalignment.

Job-Search Mindset Myths

Erica Reckamp

Myth: my hard work will speak for itself. 

Reality: you need to clearly articulate your value offering in your resume and LinkedIn profile, as well as in networking conversations and interviews. Your audience will not connect the dots for you.

Hannah Morgan

Myth: you should begin your job search by updating your resume and LinkedIn profile. 

Reality: know which skills you want to use, research demand in market and salaries.

☯️Shea Ki

Myth: I’ll take better care of myself after I have job offers.

Reality: the time is now for self-care. This includes scheduling refueling breaks, having good sleep, eating nurturing food, and other actions that help boost inspiration and well-being.

LinkedIn Myths

Kenneth Lang

Myth: Your resume and LinkedIn profile should be the same. 

Reality: your resume shows what you've done while your LinkedIn profile is about what you'll do for future employers.

Kevin Turner

Myth: I can't post any proof metrics to back up my achievements on LinkedIn because I'll get sued by my former employers.

Reality: as long as you have not signed an agreement forbidding you to share your individual contributions or provide any company total numbers that have been published, there is no legal recourse against you.

Networking Myths

Ana Lokotkova

Myth: only a person who knows me well can become my referral for a job.

Reality: the weaker ties in your network are often more resourceful in referring you for job opportunities than the stronger ties.

Marti Konstant, MBA

Myth: tell them everything you've accomplished to cover all bases.

Reality: edit your responses in the context of their needs and specific questions. Don't overwhelm.

Personal Branding Myths

Jessica Sweet

Myth: if I want to job search, I just need to start by updating my resume.

Reality: a good job search starts with personal branding. Until you truly understand what you bring to the table, you can't know who you're looking for, or who you might be of most value to. However, when you can find that, your value proposition can sing!

Marie Zimenoff

Myth: personal branding is about bragging or being pushy and "selling" yourself.

Truth: personal branding is about being so clear in your unique promise and how that adds value to your audience that you naturally speak it daily and attract opportunities.

Recruiting Myths

Jason Yeazel

Myth: networking isn't important.

Reality: networking is important. If I am looking for a role in mechanical engineering then my main focus is to find mechanical engineers on this platform and engage them, ask questions and so on.

Kelli Hrivnak

Myth: a recruiter's objective is to find job seekers a job.

Reality: a recruiter's objective is to identify, attract, and engage talent for filling open positions for their company/client.

Resume Writing Myths

Adrienne Tom

Myth: A resume alone will get me a job.

Reality: A resume is just one tool in the toolbox; you need a diversified job search approach to increase success.

Mark Anthony Dyson

Myth: you can just copy and paste the job description into your resume.

Reality: copying and pasting a job description does not tell the employer about you or the results and impact of your performance. The employer wrote the description, they don't need you to regurgitate it.

Paula Christensen 8:38 AM

Myth: you must list every job you've ever had for the last 10-15 years.

Reality: sometimes it makes sense to leave off a job that doesn't fit with your career trajectory or if the tenure was very short.

Susan Joyce

Myth: Use a formal version of my name on my resume, because it is a business document, but use an informal version of my name (Suzie vs. Susan) on my LinkedIn profile because LinkedIn is a social network.

Reality: Using two different versions of the name means that recruiters cannot easily find the right LinkedIn profile, making it less likely that a candidate will be considered since employers want to confirm the candidate's qualifications before contacting them.

The Goldfish Attention Span Myth

If you were truly interested in what my connections and I had to say about job-search myths, you would have reached this point in the article. Thank you for reading this, and I hope you didn't have to labor over it.

Related: Hybrid Is the Preferred Workplace Model, Not Remote