Job Search

5 Misconceptions That Could Tank Your Job Search

Job search

At the time of this publication, there are almost 784,000,000 LinkedIn members who call themselves “career coaches.” Over 1.5 million users identify as “employment coaches,” and just over a million people describe themselves as “resume writers.”

Between the “experts” sharing advice and the anecdotal suggestions delivered by well-meaning friends, family, and colleagues, it’s no wonder jobseekers can feel confused. There’s a lot of misinformation that gets circulated daily.

I’ve spent decades creating career marketing collateral, including resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and more, to help jobseekers land their dream job. My approach to the job search is shaped by my communications with colleagues in HR, recruiting, and even trainers who work for LinkedIn. These people, like me, make it their mission to keep up with the latest in job search trends—and this experience is why I can shed some light on these common misunderstandings.

Dispelling 5 Harmful Myths About the Job Search

1. Job hopping is bad.

When I first began writing resumes in the 1990s, I would agree that companies frowned upon candidates who left their job every two to three years. In my experience, jobseekers and decision-makers made a 180-degree reversal around the time the recession ended.

Today, repeated job-hopping every 12 months still sets off red flags. But in many environments, including sales, operations, consulting, and startups, it’s acceptable for employees to begin looking for a new job once they finish a major assignment.

Moreover, staying with the same employer for too long can actually hurt your long-term earning potential. A 2016 ADP analysis reveals the following salary trends:

  • The biggest salary bump comes after employees stay put at least two years but don’t stay in a role for more than five.
  • After five years, you’ll see less pay growth when you do make a leap.
  • Big pay bumps are less likely if most of your experience takes place with one employer.

It’s important to note there are more reasons to stay or leave an employer besides the salary. When it’s positioned properly on your resume and LinkedIn, you can even frame a departure as a positive asset to an employer. Hiring managers respect a candidate who will do what it takes to seek out new opportunities with more responsibility and growth potential.

2. You must wear a suit and tie to a job interview.

Job search“Business casual” first made an appearance in corporate America about 20 years ago. Flash-forward to today when even Goldman Sachs issues a firm-wide flexible dress code. Now an acceptable dress attire ranges from suit-and-tie on Wall Street to jeans and a T-shirt in Silicon Valley—and it all depends on the company culture.

If you show up to a job interview in jeans, you might not make a great first impression if everyone else at the office wears a skirt or slacks. But at the same time, you don’t want to look overdressed and out of place if you interview at a startup, for example, that has a more relaxed office setting.

To hit the right balance, you need to do a little homework. If you know someone who already works at the office, ask them for their wardrobe advice. If you don’t know anyone yet, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask someone from the HR department or a recruiter for their input. You can also do a little digging online by checking the company’s website and social media pages to get a glimpse of the office before you go there in person.

3. If you have a great resume and are a strong candidate, you’ll get a callback if you just apply online.

Many people don’t ever receive a response to their job application if they submit it online. Oversaturated “one size fits all” job boards are like black holes for resumes—it’s tough to get past the initial gatekeeper.

That’s because companies are inundated by responses—on average, every job posting receives over 250 applications. If you don’t format your resume correctly or fail to use relevant keywords, the employer’s applicant tracking system (ATS) will probably sort your resume to the bottom of the pile.

Your best shot is to use a personal referral and then showcase your qualifications in an impeccably written resume that you can give to a hiring manager directly. Undercover Recruiter elaborates on the hiring trends that affect the job search today:

  • Only 7% of employee referrals apply for roles, but this accounts for 40% of hires.
  • If you land a job via referral, you’re likely to get on-boarded more quickly (on average, within 29 days). If you apply to a position through a job board, onboarding will typically take 39 days.
  • The recruiting process is shorter if a candidate has a referral, according to 67% of the employers and recruiters surveyed.

This simple trick will tell you if your resume is getting past an employer’s ATS software.


4. If you don’t want to limit your job opportunities, keep your resume generic. A recruiter or hiring manager can connect the dots to see how your experience relates to their role.

Job applications aren’t leisure reading. People rush to read through a staggering number of applications for every job listing that’s posted. On average, most recruiters spend less than 10 seconds reviewing a resume during the first round of applicant screening.

To capture their attention, your resume needs to address the following key areas as quickly as possible:

  • The role you’re targeting in your job search.
  • How your skill set aligns closely with the job requirements.
  • Your accomplishments that prove you’re qualified for the role.

Here’s the key takeaway: Don’t expect a recruiter or hiring manager to read between the lines. You need to tailor your resume to every role you apply for.

5. You don’t need to pay much attention to your social media presence if you have a strong resume.

According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to research candidates during the hiring process. This means even a top-notch resume won’t necessarily lead to an interview—and it won’t help with employer outreach, either.

Why does your online presence matter when you’re looking for a job? Because employers don’t want to take unnecessary risks. If you use social media platforms and cultivate online connections, an employer will view you as a known entity. This information helps give context to your personality and work ethic, and it’s particularly important if you’re applying to positions at the executive level. According to the same CareerBuilder survey, almost half of all employers won’t call a candidate for an interview if they are MIA online.

But having an online presence comes with a few tradeoffs. You need to avoid online rants, discriminatory comments, and provocative or inappropriate pictures. Here’s the advice I share with my clients: if the content isn’t suitable for your grandmother to read, don’t post it on social media.


Want to learn more about optimizing your online presence? Watch Ivy Exec’s free webinar


Common Job Search Misnomers Are Avoidable!

To learn more about how to optimize your professional branding materials, prepare for a job interview, or leverage your social media activities, schedule a free consultation with a Career Advisor from Ivy Exec. Ivy Exec also offers resume writing services, one-on-one mentorship programs, a curated job board, and other services to support your job search.

About the Author

Virginia Franco, NCRW, CPRW is the founder of Virginia Franco Resumes which offers customized executive resume and LinkedIn profile writing services for the 21st century job seeker.