Job Search Tips for 2020: Job Search Rules That Need to Be Abandoned

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job search tips

Job Search Tips for 2020: Job Search Rules That Need to Be Abandoned

We wonder if at any time in history (not involving war) have we seen so many cultural and lifestyle changes in such a short time. Job search wisdom is just one example that we have to cope with. With Covid, Job search tips for 2020 may need to be different. The rules of searching for a job have changed.

Job seekers today are well-advised to abandon many of the old tried and true job search rules.

Here are some conventional rules examples that we might want to break:

1: Head to the job boards to look for openings

Despite the number of jobs posted, most companies have already made a hire, according to Gwen Moran of Fastcompany, “Although about 50% of applicants come from job boards, less than 1% are hired. Your time will be better spent focused on your contacts than the job boards. Don’t waste your time.”

2: Reach out to everyone in your network

This is another old guideline that needs to be modified. We advise job seekers to be strategic in their search and focus on those professionals who know and have worked with you. Sit down and make a list of people you know who might be willing to help in your job search. Narrow your list and stay focused.

3: Be sure you’re qualified

Don’t talk yourself out of a job. While you don’t want to lie or exaggerate, demonstrate the qualities that will lead recruiters to want you on their team.

We live in an age of unprecedented technological advancement. The question is not really of qualification as it is aptitude and trainability. Are you coachable? Do you like to work with others? The ability to fit in without surrendering your individuality is more important to some employers than knowledge and experience. This is especially true with remote work.

4: Adapt to be a good “culture fit”

Be yourself. Avoid changing yourself to fit into what you think hiring managers are looking for. We recommend you do research about body language and try to project confidence. Try to engage the interviewer and be ready with some questions.

5: Provide a cover letter

Experts advise that a short strong introduction to your resume is a good idea. Whatever you do, keep it professional and brief. Leave some room for questions.

6: Wait for the perfect job

Some experts advise job seekers to identify the skills needed to get that perfect job and seek positions that help you build those skills. Better to find a job that pays your bills and provides a relevant experience that can take you to the next step in your career. However, you can begin by seeking employment in a field or company you hope to grow your career in.

job search rules that you should abandon

Katie Douthwite of Wolf of The Muse  provides another set of outdated rules:

1: Cast the widest net possible

The author counsels against sending one-size-fits-all resumes to as many employers as possible. With the advent of applicant tracking systems, you need to be much more focused. Try to adopt a specific strategy concerning the types of jobs or companies that can lead to your goal.

2: Call or stop by to check on your application after a few days

This was an accepted tactic in the past but in this day and age, you will simply annoy the hiring  manager.

3: Include an objective statement at the top of your resume

Contemporary hiring practices are much more focused, so your resume must be more focused. Instead, you could create a banner on your resume that lists specific strengths that are needed for this role. This is consistent with the overall goal of limiting or focusing your job search sufficiently so that you will be able to customize your resume.

4: Use a traditional letter format for your cover letter

Wolf counsels against formal cover letters and advises that you provide your contact information at the beginning and at the end of your resume. If you are going to write your cover letter yourself, the same rules apply. Keep as brief as possible, but focused on your strengths and ability to add real value to the position.

5: Write Your Resume and Cover Letter in Formal Language

Another great tip, traditional formal language isn’t as effective. Instead, try using conversational language. And, a little creativity can go a long way.

job search rules to be abandoned

Yet another opinion comes from Life Hack, sharing 8 rules to be broken when seeking employment. These are another set of great job search tips for 2020.

Of the eight rules they list, these are the five we haven’t seen yet:

1: Register with an unemployment agency or headhunter

The unfortunate truth is, most positions are usually filled by the time they are listed. Stay focused and avoid investing energy needlessly.

2: Talk about yourself

Instead, research the company and ask intelligent questions about them. Engaging in conversation is the best and most natural way to demonstrate confidence and aptitude. Personality really matters. Avoid having your interview devolve into a boring Q&A session.

3: Apply for jobs when you’re feeling the most “motivated”

Don’t wait until you’re in a dire situation before you start looking to avoid appearing desperate. If you haven’t done it already, establish goals and work as steadily as possible to attain them. Some advise doing something no matter how small every day. Research S.M.A.R.T. goals if you’re having trouble choosing goals.

4: Scratch a company off your list if they turn you down

If you like a company that initially turned you down, try again in a month or so if you are still  looking. A position may open up. Today things happen fast and positions open up all the time. Don’t be afraid to try again.

5: Compose and practice an elevator speech

It is better to be ready to tell stories and try to add some humor according to the author (See #2). Spend your time doing research including the company and the field. There is a wealth of information online. You can review the company’s prospectus and annual statement. Be informed and everything else will come easier.

job tips to avoid

Author Alison Green recommends people break 10 job-search rules:


1: Limit your resume to one page.

2: Use formal language.

3: Include an objective.

4: Lead with your education.

5: Include “references available upon request” on the bottom of your resume.

6: After you submit your resume, wait a few days and then call to schedule an interview.

7: Arrive early for interviews.

8: When an interviewer asks about your weaknesses, answer with a positive framed as a weakness.

9: Don’t name a salary number first.

10: Ask for the job.


The list of rules to be broken is substantial and appears to be growing.

Job seekers today must be exceedingly focused and educated about the process before seeking a new job. The use of applicant tracking systems is a game-changer. There have been tremendous advances in Human Resources and these changes, such as the emphasis on “soft skills” and work culture, make job-seeking ever more challenging. These job search tips for 2020 will help you on the right path.

If you want to learn more what job search rules that should be abandoned,  our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer complimentary 25-minute phone sessions.