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Worst Career Advice… EVER

Any seasoned recruiting professional, including me, has their share of interesting stories and experiences. Whether it involves candidates, employees or employers, there is very little that surprises me. Through my work recruiting in the parking industry, I have developed relationships with thousands of parking professionals who will often discuss their job search or overall career strategies. As a result, I have heard some interesting stories and career advice.

So as we close out 2015, I thought I would share the three worst pieces of career advice I have encountered.

1. Try to trick the applicant tracking systems. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are a software application used to manage the recruitment process. They help manage applications and screen out candidates who are not qualified. This screening process allows employers and recruiters to filter out the unqualified. Most users of ATS will filter using keywords, job titles, companies, education, etc.

One of my candidates was urged to trick the ATS by adding keywords in a white font on their resume. The advice came from a mentor. The mentor suggested adding hundreds of keywords in white font to her resume. The idea was that this trick would help you come up in more searches.

What the mentor failed to realize is that the ATS only see in black. The software doesn't read colors. If you put white words on your resume, they will appear in black in the system. And if you do that, you just made your resume virtually unreadable in the system. Recruiters hate reviewing resumes and will move on if the resume is confusing.

I tell my candidates to include keywords within the resume text itself. Be tactful and repeat key terms throughout the actual resume.

2. Tell prospective employers everything.I sometimes receive resumes that take longer to read than the first five books of the Game of Thrones series. Ok, that was an exaggeration. But your resume shouldn’t be a detailed biopic of your entire professional career.

Instead, think about the purpose of a resume. A resume is a marketing document to present yourself to a potential employer. It should show you as a qualified and interested candidate. You should include information that is relevant to the job you are applying for.

But your potential employer doesn’t need to know everything. They don’t need to know your experience moonlighting as a bartender. So leave the unnecessary details of yourself out of the resume. Keep your resume short, preferably one page, but no more than two. Stick to your skills and experiences that are relevant to the job. Use only recent experiences unless an earlier role is extremely compelling.

3. Conduct your entire job search online and apply to as many jobs as possible. This piece of advice particularly astounds me. On a regular basis I encounter applicants that have absolutely no relevant work experience. They tend to send their resume with a cover letter that is completely generic. Their strategy is to apply to as many jobs as possible with the hope one of the opportunities sticks.

But it doesn’t work a majority of the time. It doesn't matter how many resumes you send out. Don’t waste the employer’s time or your time. Do not apply to jobs that you are not in any way qualified for.

While you CAN get hired by applying online, most positions are just not filled in this manner. In fact, only 15 percent of positions get filled through job boards. If you solely rely on this method when looking for a job, you could be looking for a long time. You are competing against hundreds if not thousands of other applicants.

Quantity is NEVER a good substitute for a targeted search for specific positions. These should be opportunities that interest you and have the necessary qualifications. Instead, build a list of companies to target. Make sure to always consider the culture of the company. Reach out to your network. Ask for introductions to employees at those target companies.

Whatever you do, don't fall into the trap of relying on one job-search method that is most comfortable for you. Searching for a job in today's market requires you to use a variety of channels.


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