Evaluating Advice and Opinions

By Joe Stein

Conducting a job search sometimes seems like discussing current politics or the local sports team (pick one in Western New York)…everyone has an opinion. It can be quite valuable to listen to the advice of others when searching for a job, as it can provide you guidance that may prove crucial to you finding a new job. A Job Seeker also, however, can easily become overwhelmed with all of the opinions that are floating around out there, either from friends and family or “experts”. Some of the tips may not even be good advice for you.
 
So, what should a Job Seeker do when faced with all of this expert opinion? It is obviously a key to evaluate what is being presented and filter out what does not work for you. A savvy Job Seeker has a plan in place regarding their search, and only deviates it in a planful approach. Always remember that ultimately you are responsible for your job search, it is your career and livelihood. Do not become pressured to do something in your search that does not feel quite right to you. You are the one that will have to live with the ramifications of any career decision you make and, therefore, should only make those in which you are comfortable.
 
It seems like nowadays, everyone with a computer has a column or blog providing job search advice. Evaluate thoroughly any advice you read and make sure it will work for you. Too often writers approach their opinions as if it is a “one size fits all” and that it will automatically work for you. You may notice in my columns, that I try to always offer multiple options for a job seeker and then try to leave it up to you to select the one that will work best. This is just my style… I don’t harbor any illusions that I have all of the answers.
 
I suggest that you also examine the credentials of the author of any advice you are reading. Personally, I tend to hold the ones written by someone who is currently in Human Resources (in particular those who recruit) and/or is a Hiring Manager, in higher regard. Specifically, those that can provide you with some real world examples of what has worked, tend to resonate with me. It seems like (at times) many are written by individuals who are not rooted in reality, perhaps because they have not been in the trenches. It may be worth your time to use your favorite search engine to look for trends in job search tips. That way you are not just relying on one person’s “expert” suggestions. If reading advice online, check the date of the article being read. Place a higher value on what has been written most recently due to its timeliness. The job search world is changing rapidly and something written many years ago may no longer be relevant.
 
Of course, parents, Aunts/Uncles and other elders can be full of job search tips. When listening, evaluate when they last found a new job and whether their advice is timely, given the changes of job seeking over the last decade. Even if their advice is a bit dated, they can still be a valuable source of emotional support during the strain of conducting a search.
 
Your friends can probably be counted on to provide you with their opinion regarding how to conduct your job search. Unless you have a friend, however, who has a track record of job search success, chances are they are in the same situation that you are in. For example, if you know someone who lost their job and recently found a new (and better!) one, then that may be just the person to probe regarding how they did it. In this type of situation, seek advice on how they actually did it (i.e., sources, interview strategy, etc.) rather than relying on generalities.
 
Those offering you advice truly mean well (unless you are soliciting advice from someone you are competing with for a job!). They are trying to help you the best that they can and it is up to you to decide what is going to work in your search. Keep an open mind and listen to what is available to you, and then construct a strategy that you feel will lead you to the new job desired.
 
As always, best of luck in your job search!