Who is the Best Source for Job Search Advice?

Best Source for Job Search with Career Incite

I dare say that there is no one “best” source for job search advice for everyone. There will likely be a combination of a few sources. And, those will differ from person to person and industry to industry. That being said, there are certainly not-so-good sources; and some that may have been good at one time, but now their information is out-dated.

Up to Date Sources

An Engineering & Management Co-op student came to me for a resume critique, and this was made very apparent. What I saw was a resume that, had it not been for the dates listed, looked like it was from the 1970s. When creating his resume, the student had reportedly asked a Human Resources Professor from one of his Management classes for guidance. This would seem like a good source for job search advice since Human Resources professionals are often tasked with reviewing resumes to select candidates for interviews.

That Professor for 30 years, however, was an employee in the same institution. It was the same school where he had done his Doctoral studies, so he had never really performed much of a job search. Even if he had, the resume and job search techniques that had worked 30 years ago would not all work today.

Everyone Has Advice…But Who Is the Best Source for Job Search Advice?

When people learn that you are looking for a job, many will want to assist by offering you ideas and advice. Welcome all ideas BUT take them with a grain of salt. View them in regards to your particular circumstances, and consider the source before taking action. Ask: When was the last time that person looked for a job themselves? Or ask how recently they have had any involvement in recruiting/hiring someone? Particularly in the field in which you are targeting.

Ever-Changing Strategies

As mentioned, job search techniques and strategies can change dramatically over time. When I finished University and was looking for my first “real” job, there were two things that have stuck in my mind that were the recommendations to job seekers.

1) Make your resume stand out. At the time, that included using fluorescent-coloured and/or textured paper and a creative layout with colour and graphics.

If you did this today (2019), in all likelihood, you would be eliminated as a candidate in most industries. Naturally, there are exceptions to every rule and this strategy might work for a creative position involving graphic arts. However, in almost all cases, Recruiters, HR folks and Hiring Managers prefer a professional looking, chronological, or combination-style resume on plain white paper.

2) Pound the pavement. Before the internet and email became commonplace, employers expected job seekers to knock on their doors. You would need your resume in-hand to inquire about possible job opportunities. It was expectation that students would not start a job search until the day after graduation and that they would be looking for an entry-level position in their field of study. Also, mailing (yes, snail mail) large quantities of resumes to many employers was still somewhat effective, even in the late 80’s. {Now I am really dating myself}

Personal Impression

Today, physically visiting every employer you apply to is not always possible. It is certainly not an efficient use of time or money, given the current gas prices. And, in some cases, people’s geographical job search radius is much greater than that of job seekers in earlier decades. However, if done selectively, applying in-person can still make a great impression and be effective, particularly for skilled trades and hospitality.

Mass postal mailing, although still supposedly an effective marketing technique for some products and services, is no longer very effective as a job search strategy. It also costs a lot more to mail a letter than it did back then. Mass email is frowned upon. Spam is illegal in some places (including Canada), and employers prefer to hire people who are not just looking for any job. They want to know that there is true interest in their organization and specific opportunities.

Tailored Job Search

Hence why I strongly suggest you tailor all your documents to the position for which you are applying AND consider any source for job search advice, (whether solicited or not). And, to that last point about employers wanting to hire applicants who are not just chasing a pay cheque: be as specific as possible in the job(s) you are searching for. That said, you may have two or three jobs you want to look for – but each should be specific. The more specific you are, the easier it is to have a tailored resume and the more appealing you may be to employers.

Be Specific About Your Job Search

Perhaps you are wanting a job in marketing. Would that be social media marketing, corporate communications, brand strategy, or product management? Do you want to feel that you are helping people, so are looking for a marketing role in Healthcare or Not-for-Profit? Have you got a high interest in innovation and therefore are seeking a marketing role within Computer Engineering or Telecommunications? If, in your cover letter or on your resume, you indicate that you would “like to apply what you learned in school to help the company succeed”, you could be applying for almost any position. Alternatively, you want the employer to think “the kind of job this person is looking for, is just the kind of position we are hiring for”.

Similarly, when networking or talking with friends and family, you want them to immediately be able to think of a company or a person who might be hiring for the type of position you want. You do not want them to think that you will take any job anywhere. That is too broad and nothing will spring to mind.

Who may be the Best Source for Job Search Advice?

And that brings us back to those seemingly helpful people as a source for job search advice. Some may suggest that you take any job until something better comes along. Which, if you are desperate for money, might make sense. It will be a waste of your valuable time, in most cases, if you apply to jobs for which you are very over-qualified. When job searching today, quality is more effective than quantity. Employers with jobs that almost anyone could do, would rather hire someone who can only do those types of jobs and are not qualified for anything else. Those applicants will appreciate the “lower” wages and likely stay with the company longer. Anyone else is only going to stay until something better comes along.

For instance, applying to serve coffee when you have three Science degrees might catch the reader’s attention. But they will likely laugh and wonder if you even read the job description. The exception would be, if you know the person hiring and can speak with them personally to explain why you really do want the job. Even then, it is more likely that they will refer you to someone else who may be recruiting for a position closer to your level, rather than hire you themselves.

Job Search Advice While Networking

In that case, consider that person a networking opportunity rather than a job opportunity. Ask them if they know anyone in your target field that they could connect you with. It does not have to be someone who is hiring. Any contact they provide may be a good source for job search advice and industry information. But, again, ask: when was the last time they looked for a job or hired someone in your field?


Leave a Comment