Myths about careers abound. Here are 10 of the worst examples of bad advice still being recommended.
Use coloured paper or text to make your resume stand out from the crowd. Some of my masters students (employed in the recruitment industry) and I nailed this one by sending recruiters identical resumes – except one was in colour and the other was a conventional black and white version. The recruiters hated the coloured one and thought it contained less information (because they didn’t bother to read it). Don’t use colour as a gimmick.
Include a photograph to make your resume stand out. Studies in the US, New Zealand and work done by my students show resumes that contain photos of attractive men or women are short-listed more often than CVs with identical content but less attractive candidates. We also examined 625 resumes sent to a Sydney recruitment agency and found of the 101 resumes short-listed for jobs not one contained a photograph.
Use bullet points rather than sentences because it makes resumes easier to read. We sent out resumes with bullet points or sentences. Recruiters rated the ones with sentences higher. That doesn’t mean you should not use bullet points; rather, it is not wrong to use sentences – and doing this will show off your written communication skills, too.
List hobbies and interests on your resume as this shows you are a rounded person. We looked at 999 resumes at a recruitment agency and found those with hobbies and interests were no more likely to be short-listed than those without. We then made up resumes featuring the three most impressive hobbies and other resumes with the three weirdest hobbies. Recruiters were not more favourably inclined to candidates with impressive hobbies. With the exception of school leavers, forget hobbies.
Resumes should be no more than three pages. There is no evidence to support this view and it depends entirely on the content of the resume and the type of job you are going for. If what you write intrigues the recruiters, they’ll read on (within reason). After all, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was 896 pages and it sold a few copies.
The interview is more important than the resume. We followed a full recruitment process and asked recruiters to rate the candidate’s resume then their interview performance. Resumes rated just as strongly as interviews in predicting who would be short-listed. Both are important, but the resume is the only chance the applicant has to completely control what is presented.Internal candidates have the advantage over external ones. There is no evidence this is true. Research has shown repeatedly the fastest way to get promoted is to move jobs. The higher up the organisation you start, the higher you’ll go.
Setting career goals and sticking to them is the best way of having a successful career. The evidence in favour of goal setting is not great. Most diets use goal setting as a motivational technique but the failure rate for most diets is more than 50 per cent. That great careers adviser, John Lennon, said, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” Being flexible, open to opportunity, persistent and optimistic are probably more important qualities. Goals can be useful, but mostly in the short-term.
An online vocational interests test will reveal what my ideal career should be. Research from many independent studies shows interests account for less than 4 per cent of influences on career choice. Personal circumstances, ability, attitude, serendipity and many other factors also need to be considered.
There is one ideal occupation for me. Unlikely. This assumes you or your circumstances will never change and you will not develop new skills and interests. It also assumes occupations will never change. It would be a bit sad if your ideal career was typewriter repairer.