Playing by the Rules Can Doom Your Job Search

By Mary Jeanne Vincent

     In today's competitive job market playing by the so-called "rules" can extend your job search unnecessarily. Some rules were meant to be broken and some rules aren't really rules at all. Take a look at the five below and see which ones are holding your job search back.

* Always go through the chain of command when applying for a job. If the ad says "Apply to Human Resources" then that is the only approach to take.
     Believe that and you'll resign yourself to a long job search. Apply through Human Resources, but at the same time scour your network for someone who has an inside connection to the company. Then use it. Companies often prefer to hire someone recommended by an employee. This can be a win-win since hiring an internal referral is considered less risky for the employer than making a cold hire off the street, and the employee providing the referral often earns a bonus.

* Keep your résumé to one page.
     This pseudo-rule just won't die. I've seen one-page résumés with nine-point type and no white space that were virtually impossible to read, but the writer didn't violate the one- page rule.
When asked about résumé length I am reminded of Abe Lincoln's response when asked how long a man's legs should be. He replied, "Long enough to reach the ground." Likewise, one's résumé should be long enough to highlight recent experience and key accomplishments. It is perfectly okay to have a two-page résumé provided the information is relevant.

* Always send a résumé.
     While it often makes sense to send a résumé, I suggest that you consider other options as a way to set yourself apart from the thousands of other job seekers competing for the job of your dreams. Consider sending an introductory letter and an article you've written on a topic related to the position. Or send the hiring manager an impact letter in which you reveal possible solutions for challenges facing the company. Make it clear that your ideas are the result of in-depth research you have conducted on the company. Close your letter with a suggestion that you meet to discuss your ideas.

* When asked, you must provide salary information or you won't be interviewed.
     Don't believe that for a minute. If you appear well-qualified on paper the hiring manager would be crazy not to spend a few minutes speaking with you. When he or she calls be prepared to sell what you can do not simply tell what you know. You will probably still be asked about your salary expectations so practice responding with something along the lines of "I'm sure we can agree on a salary arrangement if I'm the right person for the job, so let's first agree on whether I am."

     Sticking to bureaucratic rules can doom you to a long job search. Candidates who apply creative out-of-the-box strategies and ignore rules that don't make sense land on their feet faster and with better opportunities than those who play by the so-called "rules."

     Hi I'm Mary Jeanne Vincent, Career Expert and Strategist. I help people just like you reframe their background, rediscover their expertise and reclaim their career to make smart and rewarding career choices. For innovative strategies that sell you as the expert you are contact me at or visit today.

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