Job Search Myths, Part 2

Job Search Myths, Part 2

Taunee Besson, CMF, Senior Columnist

Check out Job Search Myths, Part 1

Have people told you never to quit your job until you find another one? Did you believe them? If so, you may have been mislead into keeping a position you truly despise, while depriving yourself of career satisfaction and sufficient time to look for what you really want.

Below are four more myths which sabotage job seekers daily:

Many Fortune 500 companies require a Bachelors degree for most exempt positions, but not all of them do. Small to mid-sized businesses on the other hand, are more interested in your skills and experience rather than your educational credentials. Because many degrees don't prepare their graduates for the real world and others become outdated over the years, on-the-job training is often more valuable than classroom experience.

To identify employers who will appreciate your real-world expertise, ask a variety of them what they look for in an ideal employee. If you do this in an information interview or networking appointment, you won't be stymied by the typical qualifications listed in an ad. Once you've built some rapport and told them about your experience, paper credentials will decline in importance from some, but not all. For the best job search results, focus on the open-minded companies where your ability, enthusiasm and practical experience will be the most important ingredients in securing a position.

Almost everyone has experienced discrimination at one time or another, yet blaming your sex, race, marital status, ethnicity, etc., can be a cop-out which limits your options and hides the real reason people aren't hiring you. While you can't change your sex or color, you can concentrate on seeking those employers who value diversity in their employees. The vast majority of enthusiastic, committed workers can find satisfying positions by looking in the right places. Those most likely to feel like victims of discrimination often use ineffective job-search techniques, have chips on their shoulders or offer few marketable skills that employers really need.

Tell that to the thousands of men and women who start their own businesses each year. See if it will fly with the millions who are going back to school to train for new jobs in a different field. Every day these people are taking the risk to start new careers by trusting in themselves and their transferable skills. Self-fulfilling prophesies can be positive or negative. If you believe age is irrelevant, potential employers will tend to follow your lead. If you think being over 50 is a major obstacle, interviewers will zero in on your unspoken concern and begin to worry about it too.

Experience almost always supersedes untested talent, if maturity is coupled with flexibility and enthusiasm. Years of living provide seasoned professionals with a reliable framework for prioritizing, problem solving and communicating that few young people can match. Savvy employers know this and take advantage of it when they can.

Most professionals have found themselves at one time or another working:

They realize it can be easier for the company to banish the dissenter than deal with the problem internally. While there are people terminated for just cause, the majority of firings and layoffs happen because of job and personality mismatches, downsizings and political power plays. Most interviewers are sensitive to this and generally will not hold a termination against you unless you beat them over the head with it.

  1. Without a degree I can't get a professional job
  2. Males/females/minorities/singles/married people have a better chance of finding a job than I do
  3. Once a person turns 50, he is too old to change companies, let alone careers
  4. Being fired or laid off is a terrible stigma
    • With a colleague or manager whose personality drives them nuts and vice versa
    • For a company absorbed by a merger or hostile takeover, whose new management no longer requires their services.
    • With someone who's sexual harassment has become unbearable
    • In a seamy situation where they blow the whistle rather than compromise their ethics
    • For a company whose philosophy clashes with their own.

Before you begin interviewing, decide what you will say about leaving your last position. Keep your explanation short and factual. If you don't dwell on the gory details, your interviewer probably won't either.

Also find out in advance what your former employer plans to say about your termination. Most companies, fearing slander suits, give only your job title and dates of employment. If they go beyond that, they will probably offer a carefully worded positive reference. Only a truly vindictive person assassinates a former employee's character.

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