Beware These 7 Pieces of Old School Career Advice

Ignore career advice“By all means let’s be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.”

– Unknown

What’s the trouble with cramming to learn career management skills right before we really need a job? We feel insecure. We are unsure of our direction. And we don’t know who we should listen to – and who we shouldn’t.

To help you figure out who belongs in the “don’t listen” category, here are seven pieces of old school advice still dispensed by “career experts” to young professionals. If your career advisor is spouting these tips as set-in-stone gospel… it is not a good sign.

Resumes Must Be One Page

For college students, this was the one piece of resume advice almost everyone agreed on. In 1994.

Many of today’s college students, recent graduates and young careerists – hungry to gain a competitive edge – have completed multiple internships and volunteer assignments. They’ve led campus clubs. They have self-learned SEO and basic coding. In other words, they have done everything that a good career advisor suggests.

And then that same advisor says, “Keep your resume to one page… that’s the rule.”

As the cliché goes: “If you got it, flaunt it.” Impress me, even if that means 3 pages of relevant, quantified impact statements that demonstrate you’re the right person to solve the problem I want to fix with this hire.

LinkedIn Isn’t for Students or Early Careerists

At YouTern, we tell career-minded juniors and seniors to jump all over LinkedIn. Build a strong headline; a compelling summary; list those community service roles and the projects where they played a primary role. We tell them to join LinkedIn groups to find mentors and identify influencers. And we tell them, so they can be perceived as a passionate learner, to share valuable content.

And we tell these juniors and seniors – these high school juniors and seniors – that if they aren’t on LinkedIn… they don’t exist. Get on LinkedIn… now.

Facebook is “Personal”

Facebook is only personal because that is how we’ve always used the tool. There is no rule to say Facebook can’t be used for good… like Karli did in this story:

Karli graduates in May 2014. Smartly, she has already begun her job search. She considered scrubbing her Facebook page, as many career advisors suggest, and then had another idea. Once a day, this soon-to-be marketing grad shares blog posts from Seth Godin, Mark Schaeffer, Ted Coine and others. She deliberately demonstrates her passion for her chosen profession.

Over her winter break, less than 5 weeks after beginning this sharing process, Karli has secured 3 internship and 4 job interview invitations. All because recruiters and influencers are taking note of her passion – and her use of Facebook for something other than “personal”.

GPA and Your Degree Still Matter

You know who cares about grades and your degree? Your parents and your professors.

That’s all.

Your parents, whose archaic thinking enables them to brag that their son is a 4.0 Pre-Med student, care. Your professors, and others who have never seen the real world that exists outside those hallowed gates, care.

Employers. Mentors. Leaders. None of them care. Do you compete well against other candidates (including completing a degree where required)? Can you do the job? Do you have a great work ethic? Are you passionate about the mission? THAT is what they care about… not your 3.73 GPA while pursuing a degree in Ancient Chinese History.

Cover Letters Are Never Read

Want to know why “cover letters are never read”? Because your resume sucks.

If your resume isn’t peppered with enough keywords to get past the ATS; or if the resume is so poorly written that in 6 seconds a recruiter says, “Pass!” – your cover letter absolutely will not matter.

On the other hand, when a resume impresses… when that same recruiter says, “Yes!”… the cover letter does get read. And for many recruiters, including this one, if you haven’t taken the time to submit a cover letter (even if you had to do so separately from the application), your candidacy just lost all the momentum gained by that impressive resume.

Write a really good resume. Then write a better cover letter. If the recruiter is serious about hiring you… that cover letter will get read.

Twitter Can’t Help You Find a Job

Show me a career advisor who dispenses this advice… and I’ll show you a recruiter who doesn’t network and engage on Twitter. I’ll show you someone who has rarely participated in a Twitter chat like #jobhuntchat or #InternPro. And I’ll show you someone who doesn’t value shared content and self-learning.

Twitter is, until something better comes along, the single best outlet for networking, engaging, learning and sharing. Granted, it isn’t likely you’ll get a job offer while tweeting. But by tweeting, you’ll become known for your knowledge, passions and potential. And today, that is where job opportunities are found.

Job Boards Result in Jobs

Big job boards still have their place. As lead generation and research on who is hiring nationally, for instance. And, every once in a while, a major job board actually results in someone getting a real job. Just not very often.

Big job boards, when paired with the ATS used by most high-volume employers, have become known as the “Resume Black Hole”. It is, quite commonly, where resumes go to die. And yet, we keep dispensing the advice that says “Go to Monster, find a job.” And because of that advice, early careerists consider the big job boards their primary job search strategy.

Big job boards are a big mistake. And anyone who says spending more than 10% of your time on job boards… is wasting your  time.

By all means, be open minded. Take all the advice you can get.

But if a career advisor bestows upon you these seven pieces of outdated advice… start taking advice from someone else.





Mark BabbittAbout the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, Bloomberg News, Switch and Shift, and Under30CEO.

Mark has been honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors,” HR Examiner’s “Top 25 Trendspotters in HR” and CareerBliss’ “Top 10 Gen Y Career Experts.” Mark is currently working on two new books: “A World Gone Social: How Business Must Adapt to Survive (AMACOM, June 2014) with Ted Coine and “The Ultimate Guide to Internships (And Making Your College Years Matter Again)” (Allworth, September 2014). Contact Mark via email or on Twitter!



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