Dear graduates, presenting to you the biggest bluffs by online career experts

Reality and expectations can be really different. For job-seekers out there, this is more true than ever.

There are millions of career advice out there on the internet, mostly written by ‘career experts’, ‘career counselors’ or whatever fancy titles that they may have.

But if you have read enough of such advice, you will start to notice that they are mostly the same, except written by different person and writing style.

Back to the topic, let me tell you something that’s different… I don’t know if that could make or break your career, but I seriously hope it does help you.

Fallacy 1: Never tell the employer that you are in it for the money.

For most roles, this is probably true, but it’s not 100% foolproof.

Job-hunting is a 2-way process, you can raise or lower your expectations, but avoid twisting your expectations too much just because the company has a nice brand that you should put on your resume.

That means you should speak the truth at the right time, at the right place.

Sure, most HR personnel generally prefer people who “are not in it for the money”, but that is not really that effective a criteria to judge candidates on.

Everyone is working for money, even though they may deny it and covering with glittery phrases like “being passionate about the work”, “really liked the mission of the company” etc. There’s nothing wrong with working for money though. We need to put food on the table.

Now, if you are doing it for the money and you are in sales, there’s not much harm in saying it. And here’s why…

Sales manager (or at least coming from a sales background) are interested in your motivation for the job. Saying “I am passionate to bring value to the company” may sound impressive, but you are wasting a good opportunity to pitch yourself better, because the statement itself is meaningless. Everyone brings value to the company, if not they will be fired.

A love for earning good money is a good motivation for sales. A lot of sales professionals know this. That’s makes the big difference between sales versus customer service roles.

If you have read some of the materials from MergersandInquisitions.com, you may have come across some articles whereby some guy got his big break getting a BB interview, and left a special impression with the VP/MD because he wants to earn good money.

The reason this may work is because you may have potential employers who were once in your shoes before, and that brings you closer to them.

I have been to a dozens of interviews, and tried both methods. Though not statistically proven, I find that when interviewers do ask this question for a sales role, it may be good to just speak the truth. You are dealing with seasoned sales professionals, and they can discern easily if you are just trying to hoodwink them or you are a genuine individual.

Fallacy 2: Asking ‘good questions’ during the job interview

To make clear on my point here, I mean to say that you need to ask the really useful questions and not questions that “sounds good” but are useless.

And interviewers would never tell you this because they need to uphold a good, positive company image.

Let me illustrate with 2 examples here.

The 2 questions below were extracted from a BusinessInsider article, though you can find these questions anywhere on the web. (http://www.businessinsider.sg/questions-to-ask-in-every-job-interview-2016-10/#7zP2luIz4wfeJBCT.99)

Q: How would you describe the company’s culture?

What’s wrong: Because most interviewers will just blurt the usual corporate language that sounds good but not really that helpful, sometimes even straying from reality. “Dynamic environment, fun place to work etc”. One reason is corporate speak is the easiest way to prevent employees from saying the wrong stuffs that undermines brand reputation. (Best used only when one has no other questions to ask.)
(Edit: I personally tried this before just for fun to test it, and most results were as exactly described above.)

Q: Who do you consider your major competitors? How are you better?

What’s wrong: You should already know (and expected to know) at least an overview based on your industry/company research. 
E.g. One does not simply go for an interview at HipChat/Atlassian (or any other company) and ask this question. It simply shows you are too lazy and/or have zero commercial awareness. There is so much information freely available on the web for you to do your research.

A better approach: Asking something concrete and insightful would probably create more impact.

Going deeper: After getting your facts right with insights, present solutions that could increase the company’s revenue/profits.

If you are in design, present a portfolio on how you can do it better.

If you are in marketing, come up with an ingenious campaign with estimated budget and execution strategy.

Your solution could have its own flaws, but you have already differentiated yourself from the pack.

Fallacy 3: Crafting the “perfect” resume (that only scratches the surface)

How many times have you read or heard somewhere that your resume needs to be in font size XX and a whole lot of other small details, otherwise your resume will end up in the bin?

While it is true that a poorly-crafted resume is bad marketing material, you should never overspend your time on modifying it. What you should do instead is to invest those precious time to learn a new skill that is relevant.

No matter how nice your resume is, there is a limit to what it can do for you. There is just no way that your employer is going to hire you if you do not have certain skills.

Example 1: Financial modelling/excel skills for investment banking.

Example 2: Integration/Adaptability skills.

If you are applying to Fortune 500 companies (or other MNCs), it would be beneficial if you have working experience in another Fortune 500 company previously.

This is not just about the experience you gained previously, but also the dynamics working in a similar environment. The culture working at a startup vs SME vs MNC is different, and so is the office politics game. If you can survive in a F500 company, chances are that you can do so again and that reduces the risk for HR.

Focus not just on what the job requires you to do on a day-to-day basis, but it would be beneficial for you if you can start putting yourself in the shoes of the HR team and think about what they are truly concerned about.

Oh, and there is no such thing as creating the ‘perfect’ resume by putting in certain key words, because needs are always relative.

Entrepreneurial —The new ‘hip’ term in the startup economy. The CEO of the company may like this spirit, especially if he/she is the founder of the company. But to the HR, it could mean you are thinking of leaving the company within 3 years to start your own business after learning the ropes of the business. Sorry to say this, but most people never get past the HR gate to the founder-CEO.

Leadership— If you are in a management associate or graduate program of sort that grooms you to become future leaders, this would be helpful. But not so for other roles where having leadership skills is not a prized trait.

You get the idea — everything is relative. You can try to game the ATS system with your resume, but it’s best not to have the mindset that certain actions is guaranteed to reap results.

My final advice: read articles that give a more honest, objective opinion rather than click-bait captions (Unless you really know nuts about the job-search process and clueless about how to craft a resume).

Best of luck job-hunting!

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