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.