Beware of one-size-fits-all career advice

It’s true that it takes time and effort to get a job. But at the same time, make sure your job-hunting activities aren’t creating gaps on your CV – which in turn could raise doubts about your perceived desirability as a candidate.

To avoid this, combine your job search with CV-building activities; studying, voluntary or part-time projects all show you as active and will help keep your skills sharp.

Job-hopping is a red flag

In some industries, a pattern of job-hopping could be an indication of someone who makes poor career choices or is difficult to work with. But in the early stages of your career, it is not so much an issue. Trying out different roles can help you discover your strengths and interests. However, make sure you can articulate your choices, and explain how what you learned will benefit the employer.

Taking a low-skilled or temporary job will trap you

This is perhaps the greatest fear for graduates unable to find anything else. But few employers will criticise you for taking paid work (however lowly) over inactivity.

Rather than focusing on job titles in your CV or at interview, highlight instead what you learned or achieved each time. Every role should give you an opportunity to shine and to increase your range of experience. A variety of experience will give you a fund of relevant career stories to draw from during the application process.

‘Paper’ CVs are history

The rise in use of social networks such as LinkedIn (and applications like the “Apply with LinkedIn Profile”) doesn’t mean the demise of the CV. Not all hiring managers have a LI profile, or even use it in their hiring processes, and many recruiters will ask for a CV upfront. Although social media is undoubtedly useful, don’t neglect your CV. Be good at interpreting your background to match specific company needs.

Follow your passion

The idea that a career is fulfilling only if it’s based on your life’s passion can also cause rigidity in decision-making. (It can also make you unnecessarily self-critical if you fail to get the job you think you should aspire to.)

In fact, R William Holland argues in his new book Cracking the New Job Market that while passion is overrated in career choice, the role of serendipity is underrated. As most people’s careers take twists and turns, opportunities arise that you might never have anticipated, but too narrow a focus on one role could prevent you from taking other, equally satisfying roles.

This advice is also echoed by Steve Tobak, writing in Bnet. He says, “common sense techniques that ultimately lead to job happiness and career success” involve learning new skills and gaining experience; meeting people; accepting a job you want working the details out later; and being prepared to act fast.

R William Holland suggests that a solid career choice is based not upon passion, but on choosing an area of study that requires skills you enjoy using (and are good at) and for which there will be wide, future demand.

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