Four Job Search Rules You're Better Off Breaking

Job Search RulesBy Beth Braccio Hering, Special to CareerBuilder

Follow the rules and you are bound to get rewarded, right? Not necessarily. Here, experts offer their take on some traditional advice that might not always be in a job seeker's best interest:

1. "Do not be too obvious that you are trying to find a job."

While one need not hang a "Hire me!" sign around his neck, valuable networking opportunities can be wasted if a job seeker is overly apprehensive about displaying interest in employment.

"I do think this rule has been dispelled in our down economy where the job search stigma has been eliminated, though some folks are still afraid to advertise their status," says Christine Bolzan, founder of Graduate Career Coaching -- a custom-counseling service for college students and new graduates. "Just yesterday, I was speaking to a father of a current college senior and suggesting to him that he leverage his own network to help his son's search. His response was, 'Oh, no. His mother and I have not told anyone that he does not have a job.' There was a perception that this is an embarrassment or a failure of sorts, which is completely wrong on both accounts."

2. "Provide salary information if the job ad asks for it."

"So many job seekers are under the impression that you show that you can't 'follow rules' if an ad asks you to state your salary history/expectations and you respond without it," states Darrell Gurney, founder of and author of "Backdoor Job Search: Never Apply for a Job Again!" "If you are close enough to the specs, chances are you'll hear back even if you didn't include it. That's what you want, so you can at least begin to deal with a real person rather than set yourself up to be eliminated with no contact whatsoever."

If the lack of a figure comes up when contacted, Gurney suggests a response such as, "Oh, I'm sorry. I'd be happy to provide you with copies of W-2s at an appropriate time. Perhaps we can see if there's some initial alignment on what you're looking for first? Can you tell me more about the role?"

3. "Let the employer run the interview."

"Going in and being a 'good' interviewee is not in your best interests, though (of course) amiability and friendliness are critical," Gurney notes. "Think of it like you were brought in to consult. Going in with questions and interests that you want to have addressed, including a real interest in the interviewer, can go a long way to setting yourself apart from the masses."

David Couper, a career coach and author of "Outsiders on the Inside: How to Create a Winning Career ... Even When You Don't Fit In," adds, "The more you know, the better. Some job hunters think it is OK not to do research because the employer will explain to them about the company. The problem with that approach is that all the information is one-sided. It is what the company wants you to hear, not what the market, customers or employees are saying."

4. "Don't call after an interview to follow up because hiring managers don't like it" and "Continue to follow up on positions for which you interviewed."

Finally, remember that job search "rules" are rarely set in stone, as these two contradictory yet widely circulated pieces of advice demonstrate. Sometimes, using your own good judgment is key.

"Follow up after an interview with additional information and with solutions to their problems like a consultant would," Couper says. "Calling to discuss this information is positive. Calling just to ask where your application is and to whine about the process doesn't score you any points."

Adds Gurney, "A simple follow up from a position of strength and certitude is always helpful and demonstrates interest, but continuing to 'follow up, follow up, follow up' from a place of need and desperation loses your gloss and negotiating stance. Think dating: How interested would you be in someone calling over and over after the first date, leaving messages letting you know how much they enjoyed it and wanting to know 'where we go from here'?"

Next: Companies Hiring

Stories from CNN Money

Beth Braccio Hering researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.

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Nothing works unless you know someone (or may be 3rd or 4th degree separation) in the company you are applying. although some of the jobs where actual interview process works. Most of the resume have a fake work experience and companies do hire them. why HR (human resource) people lack the human part in them. why don't companies hire genuine people and hire the person they need rather then hiring the person they like.

January 05 2012 at 7:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As an employer who hires quite a bit, I completely disagree with suggestion #2 (providing salary information). If I'm staring at a stack of a few hundred resumes for a single position the second thing I do is eliminate all the ones that aren't at least in the ballpark of the salary I am offering. Give a range if you want negotiating room, that's fine. Some job titles have a huge salary range and I need to know if you think you're a $50K Marketing Manager or a $120K Marketing Manager.

The second thing I do is eliminate any resume without a cover letter. If you're applying at a mid-size company or smaller (too small to use automated resume filtering) your cover letter is what will or won't get you hired assuming you meet the basic skill requirements.

June 30 2011 at 2:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I always want to vomit when I read the employer's side. How is corporate America doing? They are the ones calling the shots. And they make people go through this silly charade that lasts 30 minutes but impacts both sides for 30 years. The stupidity of the American Corporate Structure is staggering.

June 09 2011 at 9:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you were not invited back for a second interview, you are not getting the job!! If you were not offered the job at the second interview, you didn't get the job!! If ******* up and kissing it are the way into a job, you don't want it. Once you prove that you are a "Yes Puppy" you will be a Yes Puppy for the rest of your employment there. You need Knowledge, Skills and abilities worth more than your salary to be any value to an employer. I excused myself and walked out of an interview when they started the psycho-babble line of questions. They called me for a second interview, wondering why I left the interview at a point where they thought that I as the person for this position, An interview is a two way street. You have to fit the requirements for the position and the company has to fit your lifestyle, ethics and beliefs.

June 09 2011 at 8:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


June 09 2011 at 8:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Send a thank you letter or email after the interview. Make sure you get the names of the person or persons conducting the interview and thank each for their time and tell them what a good experience the interview was.

June 09 2011 at 7:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to allan1486's comment

Exactly, send an e mail, mailing a thank you card is out of date, the US mail takes too long.

June 10 2011 at 10:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I want to see the ad describing the strategy for when there is one job and like 50 people applying which happens on just about any decent job today. Title it: YOUR TOAST. That is why this advice is so useless, unless looking for a job at a fast food chain.

June 09 2011 at 7:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to toddisit's comment

Re: "Your toast" - what does my toast have to do with it?

July 05 2011 at 10:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jack & Vonee

Most human resource people are lowest on the intellectual spectrum at any one company. Work it accordingly in dealing with them.

June 09 2011 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jack & Vonee's comment

Have to agree, no system for hiring people. I applied to a job where few people had a degree recently and the guy acted like it didn't even matter when I questioned him about it. Although he admitted that I was one of the few with a degree, I never got an interview for the job. There is no system for hiring out there of any fairness, so good luck getting through all the bull.

June 09 2011 at 7:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jim guynup


June 09 2011 at 7:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Rodney Phillips

OK, is not a science. Chances are the interviewer is just as anxious as you are, they need a problem solved as much as a position filled. Something in your CV says you may be a fit to do both. Ask for specific problems or responsibilities, and relate your experience and transferable skills to that job. If they are not excited, fall back on the advertised/posted list of qualifications and responsibilities. Time permitting list each item and your fit. I have been a hiring manager...and I needed to get work done so I hired the best fit. Who are these people always seen on AOL interview tips that hire based on subjective attributes like dress, race, gender, hieght, weight, punctuatilty.....I have seen little focus in all these on line helps about..the craft. Every interviewer has a bias, and will ask eliminating questions. Practice STAR/Targeted Selection..I have been in the room with managers that eliminated qualified candidates by..."to fat,cheap suit, weak handshake, poor smile, wrong color, too short..and so on". The short fat lady who was late...and thoroughly detailed her skills and experience on a critical listed function (she wasn't even questioned about) was hired...only after I fought with the room to to explain what they missed. She was the only one who made it about THE JOB.

June 09 2011 at 6:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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