Everybody knows that “rules are made to be broken,”* but it’s surprising how many tech job seekers seem afraid to color outside the lines. Listen—job search isn’t kindergarten. You won’t get in trouble for breaking the rules. In fact, if you break them the right way, you’ll stand out from all the “good kids” doing what they’re “supposed to do.” Here are six job search rules you should start breaking immediately:
- Write a resume.
Don’t write a resume. Write many resumes—a new one for every job you apply for. Of course, they can all be built on the same template, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t tailor them to the employer you’re targeting. And that’s just the first of the resume rules you should break:
- Make sure your resume sounds business-like.
You want your resume to represent you, right? Well, do you normally say things like “Managed planning and execution for regular cross-departmental, multi-disciplinary strategy sessions”? Then why would you fill your resume with that kind of stuffy language? Hiring managers aren’t impressed.
- Lead off your resume with an objective.
No one cares what your life or career objectives are. A hiring manager wants to know how you can help her company—period. On the other hand, if you do your homework and understand the pain point the hiring manager needs you to solve, you can score big points by making that your objective.
- Start with generalities and list specifics at the end.
- Go through the proper channels.
If you’re answering a job listing, you should fill out the online application and wait for them to get back to you, right? Sure. And meanwhile, can you hurry up with that pumpkin latte? Most online listings attract dozens—if not hundreds—of applications. If your credentials get you through the automatic screening, and if your application happens to be pulled by an overworked HR person, and if the job hasn’t already been filled by someone the hiring manager knows personally, you might get called for a phone interview. Otherwise, your application will disappear into a black hole. You need to pursue a position you want with every tool you have. Use your network. Connect with someone in the department that’s hiring. Send a pizza to the hiring manager. Don’t just wait for the “process” to work for you—because it won’t.
- Only apply to jobs where you match all the credentials.
Hiring managers write listings with lots of requirements to discourage applications from people who have no chance of getting the job. But they don’t really expect to find people who meet every last qualification. If you see a listing where you have most of the main credentials covered, and you think you’re a good fit for the job and the company, go for it. If it’s a WunderLand listing, your recruiter can help you get a better idea of how qualified you are. We love helping talented people break the rules! ____________________________________________________________________________ *The actual quote, attributed to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, is "Rules are mostly made to be broken and are too often for the lazy to hide behind." We’d work for him any day!