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5 Business Myths You Shouldn’t Fall For

Career Advice |

Do you think HR really read my cover letter? Am I bothering my interviewer if I send a follow-up note? If she hired me, she must really like me for me.

These are all questions and thoughts everyone has had in their job search process and at the start of a new job. But whether you’re searching for a job or starting a new one, don’t let yourself get bogged down in the cliches and myths that have  wedged themselves into our cultural consciousness of what it means to find and be at work.

Myth 1: Do what you love and the money will follow.

Sadly, work is not the Beatles’ song, and love is not all you need. Although loving what you do can help keep your checking account out of the red, passion will only carry you so far. Building a career requires planning and discipline. Your relationship with your career is like any other relationship, whether it’s friendly or romantic: you need to work on it and nurture your passion every step of the way. But above all, you need a plan to help mold and shape your career path.

Myth 2: My brilliance outweighs any grammatical errors or typos on my resume.

The job market is fiercely competitive right now. With hundreds of job applications and resumes hitting a human resources manager’s inbox every day, no one can afford even the littlest bit of carelessness. With dwindling resources in the workforce, hiring managers want to know you’re detail-oriented and care about doing a complete, thorough and flawless job on any project sitting on your desk. The cover letter and resume collection is the first step in whittling down the pile of applications sitting on an HR manager’s desk. No one is going to see how brilliant and talented you are if your application gets thrown in the discard pile over a typo.

Myth 3: Exaggerating skills you have on your resume isn’t a big deal.

Whether it’s a computer skill or knowledge of a second language, a white lie is still a lie. And it’s a lie that can seriously undercut your credibility if you get caught. When it comes to claiming knowledge of a computer program specific to your chosen field or language proficiency more complicated than basic conversation, unfortunately, those are things most have a hard time learning on the fly while holding down a full-time job. As with most things in this world, honesty is the best policy, especially if you’re putting it in writing on your resume.

Myth 4: No one notices thank you notes.

Most hiring managers absolutely notice thank you notes.  With good reason too. According to Business News Daily, a simple thank you note impacts the decision-making process of 75 percent of the hiring managers who receive it. Sarah Seberger, 25, a soon-to-be graduate of the University of Missouri School of Law, says she thinks thank you notes send a message. “In addition to showing you’re conscientious, thank you notes show that you understand the culture of business, good manners and decorum,” Seberger says. “In any job, to some extent, you have to deal with people. If you send a thank you note, it shows you know how to be courteous to people.”

Just don’t post the thank you to the company’s Facebook wall. A simple email or handwritten note will do.

Myth 5: I tried my best, so that’s good enough.

Nope, not good enough. When the results of your best efforts are so so, the truth is you’re not going to get a pat on the back for trying your hardest. No one cares you tried your best when you did a poor job. Your boss is going to be busy figuring out how to fix or expand on the project you were supposed to complete. Plus, it’s just as bad as fibbing on your resume and getting caught. It undermines your credibility and leaves your colleagues and bosses wondering whether you’re as competent as they thought you were when you were offered the job.

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11 Comments

A 'thank you' email was how I landed a prestigious internship about a year ago. This was not revealed to me until after my internship was over and was subsequently hired on.

That one email I sent turned out to be one of the most rewarding action I have done to date.

3y

I've heard the I tried my best thing so much recently. I remember in a college English class, the professor went off on this kid about that. The professor said he always wanted to work for NASA, and he tried his best in his math and physics classes, but he consistently got Cs. He then asked the guy whether NASA should hire him, because he tried his best. Then the professor admitted to the class that he hadn't really been trying his best. We often fall back on that excuse in an effort to cover up. I think, in most cases, it's a very cruel lie to tell yourself because it prevents self-reflection, like Carly was getting at earlier in this thread.

3y

Completely agree with Myth 2 - unless you're being hired for a role that doesn't require written communication at the outset, this can be a crippling oversight. Take the time to re-read, because a typo says a lot more about you than you might like.

3y

Thank you notes should not be underestimated!

3y

There is a huge difference between self-promotion and exaggeration. Definitely do not fall in the exaggeration trap, but self-promoting your accomplishments and abilities is the right way to go! As my mom says: "People who build a house of cards will see it easily come falling down eventually."

3y

Yes to handwritten thank you notes!

3y

I'm so glad that she included the importance of a handwritten thank you note. Early in my career, I'm sure that a follow up card got me on particular job, and to this day I use them for extra "emphasis" in leaving a great impression.

3y
Elana Gross

I agree with all of the points! When you are applying to a job, and when you get a job for that matter, it is important to check for typos, spelling errors, and grammar. I always think about #5 - I go by something I read in Kate White's book - "when was the last time you made you boss say wow?"

3y
Carly Heitlinger

Absolutely agree with #5. I think it's easy to write off your effort as "your best," but that doesn't leave any room for improvement! Showing growth and striving to meet (and exceed) expectations will allow you to grow as an employee and a person. I recommend blowing the socks off your boss!

3y

It is very true that thank you notes matter! I got great advice from a friend: send a short email (just a few lines) immediately after an interview or meeting to say thank you. Then, send a hand written thank you before the week is out. It really makes a difference! And two touch points are better than one.

3y

I ALWAYS send thank you notes--whether it's for a job interview or after a meeting with a new client. My advice for sending emails and handwritten notes?
Write in the email "A formal thank you letter will follow, but I wanted to take a minute now and tell you how much I appreciated meeting with you today..."

www.theproactiveprofessional.com

3y
Rita Florez

Rita Flórez is a freelance writer in her third year of law school.