When you're looking for a new job, it seems that nearly everyone has some advice for you.
Particularly when it comes to resumes, I often say that if you show your resume to 10 different people, you'll get 10 different, often conflicting opinions.
People will give their opinions on what the best resources are, how to interview, how to "network", and on any other topic or strategy for your job search. And often people become passionate or argumentative if you don't quickly see the "wisdom" in their advice. Furthermore, there seems to be an infinite amount of advice online in blogs like this, newspaper and magazine articles, YouTube videos, and other sources.
It can certainly become confusing. What, and who, is right?
Take in all the advice you can… but when deciding what to apply in your search, or not… always consider the source!
You're the only one responsible for your search! Although I consider myself reasonably astute at what works in today's job market, and what doesn't, I certainly understand that people are getting a lot of conflicting advice. Based on my career as an Executive Recruiter, I write extensively, teach an 8-week class on job search strategies, present job search related topics to large groups, and coach individuals 1-on-1. However, I often tell people that I'm not offended in any way if they choose not to heed my advice. Each individual is solely responsible for the contacts they make, the resume they present, the way they interview, and how they negotiate an offer. If they rely on someone else's advice and it's ineffective or backfires somehow, the employer is not going to be swayed by hearing that you were only following someone else's advice! You have to take what you hear, apply what you believe sounds right to you, and feel comfortable with disregarding the rest.
CNN and the Wall Street Journal are not necessarily right! With the job market so tight in the last couple of years, it's not uncommon for major publications and television news outlets to do stories with advice for job hunters. It surprises me how often those stories give poor advice. They often are based on the predetermined perception of a reporter that doesn't really have a good grasp of today's job market rather than seeking effective advice from someone that is immersed in it on a daily basis. While ideas and advice from those sources can be great information points, don't necessarily take them as the best advice out there.
Hiring Managers and HR Managers aren't necessarily right! While it may seem to make sense that a hiring manager or HR Manager may be a great source of advice, it's not always the case. A hiring manager that may hire 1 or 2 new people per year, and may have a final few resumes presented to them by an internal or external recruiter, is not likely to see enough resumes or interview enough candidates in the current market to get a good overview of what is effective and what is not. The same is true for an HR Manager that may not have direct recruiting responsibility. Each of them can certainly be worthwhile additional reference points for you, however, don't necessarily weigh their opinions over others. If they are actively hiring people on a regular basis, however, they likely do have a better read of what's effective in the market, and can be a great resource for you.
Outplacement services and your state workforce centers aren't necessarily right! While there are many companies and individuals in either of those situations that are excellent, it's also very common to find people giving outdated advice for your job search. Often, those organizations hire people that may have had HR or recruiting related experience at some point in their background. However, the job market, and effective job search strategies have changed dramatically in the last few years. Technology, commonly accepted practices, preferred means of receiving candidate information, and other factors are much changed from even 4 or 5 years ago. While people are well meaning, their advice is often dated and far less effective than it could be. Consider each person, and piece of advice, on a case by case basis.
Pay attention to people "in the trenches" each day! Generally, the people with the most current and valid advice, are those that are in roles that look for, and deal with job seekers on a daily basis. They have the greatest ability to see an overview of resumes, approaches, online profiles, interview styles, and follow up. They know what gains a response, and what doesn't. They understand what creates a positive impression, and what doesn't. They can best communicate what works and what doesn't. Agency recruiters and "headhunters" that work with multiple companies gain a unique perspective of how companies respond, and what challenges job seekers face. Internal company recruiters can give excellent insight into what their company prefers, and what turns them off. Hiring managers that hire new people on a regular basis, particularly ones that see all the resumes that come in and select their own interviews can relate what triggered their interest and what didn't. Some career coaches that constantly seek out new best practices can be great resources as well.
Obviously, as a recruiter, this may sound self-serving. However, I would say that it's logical that people with the most exposure to the frontlines of the job market each day would have best understanding of the dynamics.
Seek, and listen to all the advice you can get. There are often great gems in the least likely places. And as mentioned earlier, you are the only one that's responsible for your strategies. However, be sure to weigh different advice differently based on the source. There are a lot of poor recommendations out there. Be discerning to pick, and apply, the best!