If you’re relying on mom and dad for job search advice while hunting for that first job in sales, some of their advice might be a bit stale, especially if they haven’t been in the market for a few years.
Certainly, mom’s advice to be sure your socks match for the job interview holds true. But other advice might not. Here are six things that might have been true 20 years ago but will hurt your job hunt today:
- “You have to go bang on a lot of doors.” Wrong. Today, you really don’t have to bang on any doors to do a job search. The Internet is your friend. Showing up at a business and asking about opportunities wastes your time and annoys the busy people who work there. Instead, take your search online and invest your time in research. Sites like Monster.com help you tailor your search to your background and to get a good view of the landscape. Career expert and author Vicki Salemi told USA Today that she recommends the site Indeed because it aggregates jobs from many other sites.
- “Don’t apply unless you meet the requirements.” Nope. These days, many companies are willing to consider a wide range of experience in candidate. The truth is, many areas of skill and expertise are merging, and some companies might well value your experience in a completely different field if it will make you successful in a sales career. Google is a great example of a leading company seeking a variety of background experiences. So, don’t count yourself out just because your background doesn’t exactly line up with a job description. Your particular resume might simply be something the company never considered. The fact that you’re not exactly like all the other candidates might help you to stand out in a crowded field.
- “Cast a wide net.” Fuhgettaboudit. This is the idea that you generate a spiffy, one-size-fits-all resume and submit it to as many companies as you can. This spammy approach is ineffective and a waste of your time. Instead, it’s smarter to target a handful of opportunities you really want and focus on tailoring your resume and cover letter specifically to that company.
- “If they’re interested, they’ll call you.” Companies might ask you not to inquire with them for updates once you submit a resume – “We’ll let you know if we’re interested.” And, while it’s true that you’ll just shoot yourself in the foot by becoming a pest, it’s not a bad idea to follow up with a polite and concise email to the hiring manager. Just something simple note or a quick call will do: “Thanks for considering my resume, and please feel free to let me know if I can answer any questions.” Don’t be demanding or ask for a timetable. You likely have no idea how fast the company’s hiring process grinds.
- “Put everything you’ve ever done on your resume.” The old advice was to start by listing your most recent job and go all the way back to your first paper route in reverse chronological order, and to list every lifetime accomplishment. (I can hear you out there: “What’s a paper route?” Nevermind.) Don’t do that. Nobody has time to read your autobiography, especially not while there are 40 other resumes stacked on the desk. Instead, focus on the relevant highlights. Don’t skip any jobs you’ve held recently, and don’t skip anything where you spend a good chunk of time. And, don’t feel compelled to list all your hobbies. The fact you build Civil War dioramas in your basement isn’t relevant unless the sales career involves selling tiny Confederate soldiers.
- “Start your resume with an objective statement.” Twenty years ago, the advice was to cut to the chase and tell a prospective employer the goal of your job hunt with a generic gem like, “I seek a sales position with a leading widget company that will allow me to utilize my skills and provide opportunities for growth.” Ugh. Such statements are vague and make you look boring. If you’ve tailored your cover letter to reflect the job you’re targeting, there should be no reason for an “objective statement.” One more thing: Don’t use the word, “utilize.” Ever.