Have you ever stopped to consider how the landscape of jobs and careers have changed over the past decades? Sure, now everyone’s talking about minimum wage, benefits and unemployment, but those aren’t the only shifts we’ve seen.
Nowadays, if a young person who is just starting out is asking for advice from the older generation, they might be met with confusing advice- advice so strange that it sounds like it’s coming out of a mysterious rule book from way back in the past. The truth is, however, that for most older people, this advice actually worked!
But just because it worked years ago doesn’t mean anyone should apply it today. Consider this, for example. Because of the pandemic, many companies are shifting towards full time remote work. That means that from the interview stages all the way into someone’s career, things are no longer working the way they used to.
So, let’s break down some of this old-school career advice you should stop giving or receiving!
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Just Keep Patiently Applying
We all know how difficult it is to keep applying for jobs. The time and emotional investments you make only to hear nothing back seem like a waste, and most older people will tell you to keep patiently applying.
But should you? Of course the answer is not to give up entirely, but to revisit your strategy. If all these jobs haven’t gotten back to you until now then you have to try and find the common denominator. In most cases, sadly, it might be you.
How are you applying for jobs? 1-click bulk-applying is one thing you should steer clear of. Then, consider revamping your resume. You could even go for something more graphical that will stand out more- make it punchy and make sure it brings out your best qualities from the get go, so that hiring managers don’t have to spend more than a few minutes figuring you out before they decide you’re the candidate they should look into some more!
Only AFTER you do all of this can you continue to apply.
Don’t Bring Notes to Your Interview
A couple of years ago, if you brought notes to your interview they should have been focused on the questions you wanted to ask. HR professionals strongly advocated against any other notes. Nowadays? Bringing notes is a sign of being prepared ahead of time, which is something all interviewers want to see.
If you think there’s a chance you might fumble, having notes will help you get back on track quickly. As long as you’re not flat out reading from them and can reference them quickly, notes are a great way to ensure that you’re staying on the topic.
That being said, don’t try to rely on them too hard, and keep them out of sight. That way, the interviewer will see that even though you’re referencing notes, you’re not doing so unnaturally, as if you’re giving a presentation at school!
Seek Out In-Person Networking
In-person networking used to be a great way to get your foot in the door. Nowadays, not everyone has the time to grab a cup of coffee, go out for lunch, etc. Setting aside the fact that in-person meetings should be avoided during a pandemic, there simply is a better way to network nowadays!
Setting up a video call is just as good, plus you and the person you’re trying to network with don’t have to schedule your whole day around an in-person meeting.
Virtual outreach is important, so make sure you use every opportunity you have. If that means getting a little tech-savvy in order to do so, well, now’s a great time to start!
Never Leave a Job Within the First Year or You’ll Be Seen as a Job Hopper
It’s true, interviewers will look at your employment history and may be curious as to why you’re leaving jobs so quickly. This could be a red flag, so creating these patterns isn’t a good look. But does that mean you have to stick to a job that you hate for an entire year?
According to the older generation, yes.
Here’s the thing, you don’t have to follow this advice, especially if the job is clearly not a good fit and going in to work every day is a nightmare.
Let’s say an employer will ask why you’re reaching for a new job so soon. In that case, tell them that you’re looking for new opportunities, or that the position you currently have is not what you expected, or that it no longer aligns with your career goals. Make sure to include the new opportunities you’re looking for, especially if they’re included in the new job’s description.
Only Answer the Questions Asked in an Interview
A few decades ago, it was important for you to only answer the questions you were asked. Nowadays, with so many people looking for so many opportunities, standing out is important. So, make sure you include what makes you unique in your answers such as personal and professional experiences that will give you an edge.
You want to be memorable, so if you only answer questions as though you’re taking an exam, you’re probably going to bore your interviewer and they won’t think twice about you once the interview is over. Plus, by going above and beyond you will demonstrate self-leadership.
Here’s the thing. You want the interview to feel more like a conversation. The only way you can do so is by being honest and open. Give them something to think about and stay away from standard answers you may have read from online guides and forums. This will give the interviewer the chance to see more aspects of you, not just the ones coerced by the question.
Resumes Should Be One Page
Back in the day when you have to physically hand over your resume to an actual person, keeping it concise and no longer than a page long made sense. Nowadays, following that advice could be your downfall, especially if you’re leaving out crucial information.
For senior-level prospective employees, putting all of your qualifications and experience in under one page is downright harmful. If you have very, very little experience and you fill your single page with nothing but job descriptions and duties, this could also make your resume feel empty.
Instead, work on better information management. On a multi-page resume, make sure the most important information is on the front. This will make interviewers interested, so flipping the page over or scrolling down to the next section will come naturally!
Have a Cover Letter Attachment
For some jobs, you may be instructed to attach a cover letter and your resume to your email. Then and only then should you actually attach the cover letter.
Otherwise, the best thing you can do is simply use the body of the email as your cover letter. However, make sure that this is concise. You do not want to bore the person receiving your email, especially if they have to read tens if not hundreds of them in a day- again, you should stand out without being too wordy.
Two paragraphs and five bullet points should be enough. If you go over this, think about cutting down to just things that are relevant to that job!
Call up and Ask If They’re Hiring
This advice keeps making the rounds when younger people are looking for jobs but are unsuccessful. Here’s the thing. While back in the day calling and asking for job openings was seen as a crucial part of the process, nowadays you’re doing nothing more than wasting someone’s time on the phone.
They’ll probably tell you to check their website for vacancies, unless they do not have a website (but that’s unlikely, even for small businesses). If they do not, then calling them is an option, but you want to make sure by checking online first.
The only other time this is acceptable is if someone you know has mentioned a vacancy and told you it would be acceptable to call. If not, look online and go from there!
If Work Was Fun, They Wouldn’t Have Called It “work”!
Older people expect 9 to 5 jobs to be just that- jobs. For them, the notion of going in to work 5 days a week to grind only to have some free time in the morning, evening and weekends isn’t going to change any time soon, despite the fact that the landscape of many careers has shifted away from that.
In fact, as more and more employers realize that happy workers = better productivity, the idea of work not being fun is slowly being forgotten, though not entirely. It is due to this sort of advice that many young people feel like they HAVE to take jobs that they’ll most likely hate.
Don’t consider work to be a miserable thing for you. Look for opportunities that will bring you joy, instead and aim to join teams that will make working with them feel comfortable instead of stressful.
You Must Get a Job in Your Degree Field
Despite what a lot of people think, getting a job in a degree field isn’t a requirement- trust us, a lot of arts and humanities grads know this. Plus, there are plenty of people who have studied business, medicine or even engineering that later realized they did not want to work in their respective fields. Some were lucky enough to drop out and switch in time, others… not so much.
Yes, certain jobs require a specific degree. But not all of them, so don’t be afraid to look in areas that seem unlikely at first. Focus on skills that you can shift from your degree to a new job- soft skills, so to speak. You don’t always have to use all the technical skills you’ve gained.
And this also applies to people who want to change careers later on in life. If, after 10, 15, 20 years of working in a specific field you’re tired of it, you can switch things up a little bit. In some cases, you may require some training, but that doesn’t mean you have to go back to school entirely!
The ‘Job for Life’
Now, this one ties into what we’ve spoken about before. It’s actually a two faceted issue, so think twice before taking this career advice.
First, like we said earlier, you don’t have to stick to a career for your entire life. It’s normal to get bored eventually, and that doesn’t and shouldn’t reflect badly on the type of person or worker that you are. Even if your parents or grandparents stuck to the same career for their entire lives, doesn’t mean you should!
Ask yourself this: why should you stay in a job that offers no more progression and enjoyment?
Secondly, the ‘job for life’ notion can refer to living just to work. Sadly, a lot of people were brought up with this sort of mentality, tying their self worth to their jobs and strongly intertwining their personal and professional lives, so much so that you couldn’t figure out where one began and the other ended.
Remember: you’re working so that you can live, not the other way around!