Imagine that you can get solid job search advice directly from someone with experience in hiring and human resources. Wouldn’t that be helpful? Now you can do just that thanks to our new series of interviews Recruiter Reveals! Every month I interview our resident HR expert Christy Morgan on various job search topics, whether it’s resumes, cover letters, job interviews, or anything marginally career-related.
Welcome to the first edition of our new interview series Recruiter Reveals with Christy, our resident HR expert and former recruiter.
This time, we will talk about the myths of the job search. Because there are too many floating around! For example, should you really cut your resume down to one page? Or skip the cover letter? Who knows?
I have compiled a list of seven common job search myths and asked Christy to help me debunk or confirm any of them. We will also discuss each topic in more depth.
Are you ready to learn the truth behind the popular job search tips?
In this interview, we’ll talk about these job search myths:
- Should Your Resume Have One Page?
- Recruiters scan resumes in 6 seconds?
- Do Qualified Candidates Exceed ATS ?;
- Are Cover Letters Really Dead?
- Are most jobs never published?
- Can your Instagram cost you a job?
- Is a thank you note essential after an interview?
Many sources, including resume creators, recommend having a single page resume. Of course, except for the managers. Are longer resumes automatically discarded?
This is a myth. A one-page resume is perfectly acceptable if you are a student or recent graduate. Also, in Silicon Valley, there is this trend towards one page resumes because they say you should be able to project your experience onto one page. But I would say that having a two page resume is standard. Of course, it also depends on the industry and level of experience. For example, in academia, two pages would probably be too short because they usually include things like posts or projects.
So how many pages is too many?
In general, more than two pages is too much. But again, this depends on the industry, the level of experience, and sometimes the country as well. But let’s say with two pages, you can never go wrong.
The longest resume I have ever seen was 16 pages long, from a teacher who filled out his resume with all of his presentations and posts. Isn’t it better to use a wallet in such cases?
Yes, it would be great to use a portfolio or just put a title and link to the post on your resume and forget about lengthy descriptions. The general rule of thumb is to keep it as short as possible. Just because it’s there in the document doesn’t necessarily mean the recruiter is going to read it. If you make it easy for hiring managers to find the information they want, they are more likely to read it.
Speaking of resume reading, is the 6 second resume rule true? Do recruiters really spend only 6 seconds looking at each resume?
This is a bit a bit of myth. It takes about six seconds to filter the resume for the key information I’m looking for, such as location, abstract, keywords, or if there is a skills section. Within this time frame, you should be able to get an idea of who you are and what you are looking for. But it is mainly about six seconds for me to select the basic information that I need. It does not mean that I will spend only six seconds on it or that I will not continue reading later.
Doesn’t it also depend on the design of the resume? For example, if you have two candidates and one resume was done in a word processor while the other has an attractive design, do you automatically prefer the prettier one?
As a human being, I think that if you see something beautiful, it will be more attractive to you. But it does not mean that the content is really adequate. Someone can have a Word document that is perfectly fine as long as it is clear and easy to follow. However, if the resume design looks great and the content matches what I’m looking for, then yes, it will probably give them an added edge. Especially if someone is applying for a job in a creative field, then good design is definitely a bonus.
Now let’s talk a little about the job application. Is it true that most jobs are never published?
His something true and it can be for many reasons. Perhaps a company has a role that is available and already has someone internally that could be a good fit. Maybe they know someone online who would be suitable. Or maybe they have found a suitable candidate in their ATS database. They may go to a recruitment consultancy, which may already have candidates. Or they may have a headhunter who finds the very specific type of person they are looking for. It’s just that for some businesses they don’t need to advertise.
Did something like this happen to you too when you were working at Hudson as an operations manager, for example?
Yes, it would happen from time to time. Advertising may have an additional cost. And this is why ATS systems are great because recruiters can store all resumes there. So if there is a new position open we can first check candidates in our database and if we find someone suitable we can contact them directly and we don’t necessarily need to advertise.
So what is the best way to apply for a job? The company’s career page, LinkedIn or?
It depends on the industry, what kind of companies you want to work for, what job you are looking for. Even in the country you are in (for example, LinkedIn is popular in many countries, but not others). If someone wants a very specific job at a specific company, in that case I would approach the company directly or the manager on LinkedIn. Or see if anyone on my network is connected to them and test that route. But if you don’t know what you are looking for, you can try different job boards.
Is it an advantage to find a hiring manager online and contact him directly, for example via LinkedIn?
It depends on the size of the company and if you know someone there. If you know someone in the company or someone who can connect you, then yes, you can help. Also, if it is a smaller business or a startup, they are less likely to use an ATS, so direct is a great way to go. But if it’s a larger company, they will almost certainly use an ATS (with a few exceptions) and should send your resume to their ATS anyway. So it can still be rejected by the ATS, plus it can annoy the hiring manager because it’s another part of management that they have to deal with.
Oh the dreaded ATS! 😀 What do you think of the myth that you will pass the ATS if you are qualified for the job?
These are actually two job search myths. First of all, every resume does through the ATS. It’s a myth that ATS leaks outside resume. What they do is filter all incoming applications against the job description versus the person’s relevant work experience, hard skills, education, etc. At that stage, your request will be denied or given more attention. Ultimately, it comes down to whether you are ranked well and whether the recruiter sees you.
And second, you can have a job seeker that is perfect for the position, but may not rank high enough on the ATS because you don’t use keywords effectively on your resume. Therefore, you should always tailor your resume to the specific job offer, even if you consider yourself qualified for the job.
But because of this, companies can also lose good candidates. So are ATS systems reliable?
Good question. And it’s also a bit tricky. In theory, they are quite reliable, however you have different practices on how recruiters use them, how personalized they are, how accurate the filters are set, or how aware job applicants are of tailoring their resume to friendly practices. ATS. So while the technology itself is relatively trustworthy, it’s the human aspect that isn’t necessarily trustworthy.
Are cover letters also sent via ATS? And is it true that cover letters are dead and never read?
They are not dead, as such, and it is still considered a courtesy to send one. On the contrary, it is quite true that they do not always receive as much attention. They also go through the ATS, but they don’t carry as much weight as a resume. Due to that fact, the cover letter may not show up anyway. Also, people generally repeat the same content they have on their resume, rather than telling the reader why they are ideal for that specific company and job. I know it takes time to tailor a cover letter and it is frustrating because it may not be read. But it’s best to err on the side of caution, especially if this is a job you really want.
So they are not dead and are scrutinized sometimes, but you need to spell them well and include relevant keywords without repeating your resume. Just get to the point and highlight what is relevant to the position.
What if a company doesn’t specifically request a cover letter in the job description? Is it still an advantage to send one?
I’d probably submit one anyway if the job application allows me to submit an additional file. However, we must keep in mind that larger companies have large HR teams, ATS systems, so they may not read it anyway. But if you are a smaller business, you can make it stand out and be more personal.
Now let’s change the topic to social media. Is it true that your activity on social media can cost you a job? Have you ever rejected someone because of what you saw on their social networks?
It sure happens that someone is rejected by their social networks. I would not say that I have rejected someone for that specific reason, but I have felt that maybe someone was not a better fit. But I prefer to interview them first because some people just do stupid things online. But if it was something really bad, for example racist, then yes, I would probably reject them.
The truth is, your social media activity can cost you a job even if you already have one. I remember when I was working in Germany, I personally knew of a company that hired someone and only later checked the person’s Facebook profile and found racist comments. That person was working with foreigners. Needless to say, they lost their jobs very quickly.
Oh! But I’d be interested to see what a normal job candidate’s online check looks like. I imagine many job seekers would like to know more about it too.
Almost all recruiters will take a look at your LinkedIn because it is a business networking site. You should definitely have a profile there and it can give you more credibility if you have a strong profile or relevant connections. On the other hand, it’s also a good way for recruiters to check the facts. Sometimes people write a few things on their resume and on their LinkedIn, it’s a completely different story.
When it comes to things like Facebook or Instagram, some companies will take a look at you. However, it is a personal thing and I believe that no company has the right to ask you to see it (although some do ask anyway). So, be very careful with your other social media profiles, ideally keep it private. In case you make it public, you should be aware that a recruiter can verify it.
What if you search for a candidate on LinkedIn and find that they don’t have any LinkedIn? Is it a red flag?
I’d probably be a little suspicious why they aren’t there at this time. But it is not a reason not to interview or reject someone. It is something that will leave a question mark.
When a job applicant already arrives for the job interview, is he really expected to send a thank you note after the interview? Does it take them one step closer to being hired?
Is not expected, but it is always a courtesy. Some recruiters may say “Oh, he didn’t thank me” and some don’t care. It really depends on the recruiter. So I think it’s a courtesy and if you have time to do it, do it. Because not everyone will do it and it can make you stand out. But at the same time, companies also don’t necessarily thank job seekers for attending a job interview. I think it is a two-way street. I always tell my clients that the way they treat you in an interview is the way they will probably treat you at the company.
Key Takeaways: Which Job Search Myths Are True?
Did any of that surprise you? Here is a summary of the job search myths that are true and which are false:
- Your resume should have one page. – fake. A two-page resume is a standard, but it also varies by industry, career level, or country. Longer resumes are not automatically discarded.
- You only have six seconds to impress the hiring manager with your resume. – fake. It takes them six seconds to scan your resume for basic information. But that doesn’t mean they won’t continue reading later.
- Most jobs are never published. – partially true. Companies can find a suitable candidate in their database, through networks or internally. They don’t always need to be advertised. Whenever you have the opportunity, go directly to the company of your dreams.
- It will pass ATS if it is a good candidate. – fake. Even if you are a great candidate but don’t use relevant keywords on your resume, the ATS may rank it low.
- Cover letters are dead, so don’t bother writing one. – fake. They don’t get as much attention as resumes and may sometimes be overlooked, but it’s always a courtesy to submit one. Especially if it is a smaller company, you can make it stand out.
- Your activity on social media can cost you a job. – certain. You should only be visible on LinkedIn and make other social media profiles private, at least during your job search.
- You are expected to send a thank you note after the interview. – partially true. Some hiring managers expect it, others don’t. But you can never go wrong doing it.