Monday, May 12, 2014

Who are you going to believe, your buddies or some lah-dee-dah corporate bigwig?

I've been noticing a disturbing trend on the message boards on LinkedIn lately, and it's got me in a bit of a bind. You see, there are a lot of people out there writing blogs and articles on how to find work, how to get your resume seen, how to get an interview, that sort of thing. I know I've been reading a bunch of them, and I bet many of you are as well. The problem is this: some of them are being written by job seekers, and they're putting out advice that contradicts what I'm reading from hiring authorities.

Here's just one example: an increasingly common bit of advice I'm seeing is along the lines of, "I believe cover letters are pretty much useless now. They're just a sales pitch and I don't think anyone one reads them anyway. Concentrate on making your resume look good." And then lots of commenters chime in about how this is a good idea, and it's going to save them time, etc., etc.

Really?? I have yet to hear of any hiring manager saying, "Yeah, his resume looked good, but, damn, I had to wade through that well written, concise, on-topic 4-paragraph cover letter to get to it. I wish he hadn't had that extra sheet of paper there, otherwise I would have hired him."

Seriously, if a hiring manager thinks a cover letter is pointless, he'll skip it and go to the resume. He's got to know that cover letters are standard, and won't ding you for sending one (unless he's already told you NOT to, but that's a different story). But if he wants one, and it's not there? Yep, the round file.

Why does this put me in a bind? Well, it's not because I have or have not followed that advice. It's that I've said from the start that this isn't an advice blog, it's just me sharing my thoughts on my personal transition process. I don't hold myself up as an expert on job hunting -- if I were, I would already have a job. Yet here I am, giving advice with one hand, while criticizing other non-experts for doing just that.

I think -- I hope -- there's a difference. I'm not saying "I think" or "I advise" anything. If I've given anything that could be construed as advice, it's not a suggestion from me. It's something I learned from an expert -- a successful executive, a hiring manager, an actual job-search counselor. I'm just passing on what I've learned, in the context of how I've applied it to my search.

So, that said,  now I am going to give some advice: If anyone offers you some advice on job hunting, consider the source. And if you're a hiring authority, reading this, and I get it wrong, please, please, correct me.

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