Breaking These Five Job Search Rules Could be Good

Nancy Anderson
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Your job search is as unique as your personality, experiences and qualifications. Therefore, why should you conform to any rules? Despite many "unspoken" truths about how to conduct yourself when you seek a better job, the reality is that there are no hard and fast rules to helping your career take off. Liz Ryan, HR expert and regular contributor to Forbes, has a few ideas.

Contemporary Efficiency

Employers and candidates alike deal with contemporary technology that helps make a job search more efficient. Applicant tracking systems break down keywords found in online applications, resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Rather than find candidates based on their soft skills and personalities, computers crunch numbers and rank candidates based on the words found in documents. That's not necessarily how HR likes to find the best people for the job, even though there are millions of positions posted online through job boards.

Five Rules to Break

Rather than put more energy into online job boards or applying for jobs through an employer's website, break these five rules during your job search to jump start your career. You just might find yourself with more career opportunities if you learn to retool your search.

1. Rely on Job Ads

Consider forgoing job ads altogether. Instead, make connections within your network. Nearly three-fourths of all employers state the most valuable hires come from referrals. Rather than read job ads, make a targeted list of your favorite employers, get to know the hiring manager, research the company thoroughly and then send a pain letter attached with your resume. A pain letter, rather than a cover letter, sends a message that you know how to alleviate an employer's problem.

2. Create a Traditional Resume

Instead of writing your resume in the third person and trying to get past the applicant trackers, compose a human-voiced resume for your job search. This means talking about yourself in the first person, using the word "I" repeatedly. Take a human-voiced resume to a new level by creating a video resume or an audio file.

3. Follow Instructions

Although many companies suggest following the instructions laid out in a job ad, that may not set you apart from anyone else who follows the directions. Try breaking the rules in order to stand out. For example, if the job ad says no cover letters, consider writing one if you feel it would boost your chances of getting noticed.

4. Report Your Past Salary

It's not necessary to report your past salary during a job search. In fact, you don't even have to bring up a previous salary during the negotiation process. Attend your job interview ready to negotiate a fair wage based on your skills and experiences.

5. Cave to Employers

Do not believe that employers are in the driver's seat. In reality, it's a job seeker's market thanks to an improved economy. Companies are willing to pay more for top talent, and that means you have the advantage if you have the right skills and qualifications.

Break these rules during your job search to stand out among other candidates in your field. Instead of following traditional job search tactics, go against the grain when trying to land your next opportunity.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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