Old Advice to a Young Job Seeker: Is Your Counsel Obsolete?

YouTern is happy to present this post by one of our fantastic interns – Matthew Forrest.

During a recent Twitter chat, I was amazed by how many career veterans were openly giving advice to what they described as “career rookies”.

After that chat, this thought occurred to me: Are we, as the youngest generation in the workforce, growing weary of advice that doesn’t appear to be helping?

While well-intended… is this advice – and stories about how they used to get jobs pre-recession – actually helpful? How are we, as soon-to-be members of the workforce, supposed to know who the real experts are – and what advice is worthy of consideration – and which to avoid?

From one career rookie’s perspective, I’d like to share a few pieces of advice that I’ve already learned are really not worth an internship or job seekers’ time. I will tell you: if you hear this sage advice from career “experts”… you need to listen to real experts.

The Drop Off

The “drop off” is when someone suggests you go directly to businesses, introduce yourself, express your interest in obtaining an interview, and leave a resume. Although this may have been an acceptable practice in the past to show your initiative, this strategy is largely irrelevant in today’s economic climate. Hiring managers are too busy to meet with random, hopeful candidates who stop by whenever it is convenient for them.

The Follow Up

Another common piece of advice is to follow up repeatedly with the recruiter or hiring manager in an attempt to “stand out from the crowd”. If you follow this old-school piece of advice you will most likely be perceived as an annoying stalker. This will only assure one thing – you won’t get the internship.

Don’t Waste Your Time on the Computer

“You’re never going to get a job through the computer.”

This advice is all too familiar to many internship seekers – and a statement that appears to be completely false. More and more people are networking and getting an internship or job through relationships gained via social media – on the computer. If you’re new to using social media for career networking, I recommend starting with regular participation in Twitter career chats. I’m proof that they can work for you: a few months ago, I made a contact with the CEO of YouTern, through a Twitter career chat. And after building a relationship I was offered an internship.

You Need a High GPA

GPA is only one of many considerations in a hiring decision. As a no-fluff expert recently pointed out, “You will never hear this from a recruiter: ‘You’re perfect for this job and we love you… but you have a 2.3 GPA, sorry!’”

Conflicting Resume Advice

One more issue I have is with inconsistent, conflicting advice regarding resumes. Resume length is one of these areas. Many career “experts” say to have a resume of no longer than one page, while other “experts” say that more than one page is perfectly acceptable. Objective statements are another area in which contradictory advice is common. Many experts say that you must have an objective statement, while others explicitly direct readers not to have one. I’ve also heard many “experts” advise to do something flashy to get your resume to stand out, such as using different colors or even putting your picture on your resume. At the same time, many other “experts” cringe at the very idea of such ideas.

How are we, as candidates, to know what advice to listen to if the so called “experts” can’t even agree among themselves?

Many of today’s career coaches, school-affiliated career advisors, “life” coaches, and others are simply giving outdated advice – advice that can prove to be very harmful to internship and job seekers. However, there are dedicated and highly qualified career experts out there giving great advice.

It’s up to us, as ”career rookies”, to be aware of who or where our counsel is coming from, identify the advisors who may be consistently throwing out cookie-cutter, pre-recession advice – and use the tips that are of most benefit to our specific job search needs. Let the consumer of this advice – us – beware!

What career tips – provided by so-called experts – have been detrimental to your job or internship search? Which career advisors do you most follow? Who would you recommend to young professionals? Please let us know!

About the author: In addition to being a Social Media Marketing Intern for YouTern, Matthew is a college student who is active on his campus as president of his school’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, a student ambassador, and a peer mentor.  Matthew is also a contributor to Zinch.com’s blog. You can reach Matthew via Twitter at @MatthewTForrest.

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