As a college career service veteran, I have heard a lot of different misconceptions and myths about careers and the job search. While I do hear an occasional myth that is way out there, there are some common misconceptions that seem to have gained traction and credibility. Let’s debunk those one at a time!
1) 80% of Jobs are Filled Via Networking: I have even heard the outrageous assertion that 80% of jobs are filled BEFORE they are even posted. I understand the thought process behind this myth. Effective networking is the BEST way to secure a job. Obviously it is better if an employee submits your resume on your behalf as opposed to sending it through HR, but 80%? I have never seen the evidence supporting that claim, and I find it almost impossible to believe.
I always tell job seekers to employ a multi-modal search strategy that utilizes as many different strategies as possible. Don’t put all your eggs in the networking basket.
2) A Job Search Takes 1 Month Per $10,000 in Salary: No one likes the job search process. Understandably, people want to get through it as quickly as possible. There is a widespread belief that a job search should take 1 month per $10,000 in expected salary. That means if you are looking for a $60,000 job, the search should take 6 months and a job with an annual salary of $100,000 should necessitate a 10 month search.
I firmly believe this myth is used as a way to offer encouragement for folks who are engaged in a long job search. That being said, it makes no sense. There are so many market forces at play here. Why on earth would jobs miraculously materialize based on that formula? Yes. The more senior the job is, the more competition a candidate faces and the harder it is to find, but some people find those jobs right away and it takes more time for others.
3) The Informational Interview Trick: Many job hunters have been told about an employment strategy based on asking a professional for an “informational Interview.” The idea behind this is that it is too easy for someone to decline when you ask them for a job. Instead, the argument goes, job seekers should ask to meet a professional for an informational interview to get their advice on how to be successful in the field. Once that professional sees you and how well you present yourself in person, they will be more willing to hire you or recommend you to a friend.
While this may have been a great trick when it was first introduced, do you really think any professional would fall for it now? Yes. Informational interviews are great for networking, but you aren’t fooling anyone. They know exactly what you want when you ask them for an informational interview.
4) Social Media Magic: As a social media consultant, I hear this one ALL the time! People seem to believe that creating social media accounts will magically produce endless job opportunities. Social media is an exceptionally powerful job search tool, but there is no magic. To be successful, you need to create powerful social media profiles, AND then develop and execute a strategy to convert your social media activity into job opportunities. That takes time and effort as opposed to hocus-pocus.
5) If You Follow Your Passion, the Money will Come: I am a firm believer that job seekers should look for a profession that allows them to find enjoyment and fulfillment in their work. It is also true that people are able to make a comfortable living in just about any profession, but that doesn’t mean that career choice has nothing to do with earning potential. Non-profit jobs tend to pay less than jobs in business and finance, for example.
Just because you love your work, doesn’t mean you will make a lot of money from pursuing that career path. That doesn’t mean you should forget your dreams and follow the money, but you should be honest and realistic about the earning potential in your career of choice.