4 Career Advancement Myths De-Bunked

By Suzanne O'Brien

If you've worked hard and been a stellar employee, you've made some progress in your career and can do much more now than what you were hired for a few years ago. If you're serious about your career, you're always looking for an opportunity to grow faster, get better and do more, and if that's the case, you may have decided it's time to start looking for a new job.

Maybe your current employer isn't large enough to offer you a better job, maybe you got passed over for a promotion, or maybe you're simply ready to broaden your horizons, take on new challenges, and find an opportunity where you can learn, grow and truly have impact. If you're a committed professional, professional growth is part of the game, and the thought of getting your dream job gets you genuinely excited!

So why is it that the thought of launching a job search, I mean REALLY going for the job of your dreams, sparks paralyzing fear, that at best, results in a few resume updates and an online application?

Let me guess…

* You're a hard working, hard charging professional, so it's almost impossible to dedicate the time (and energy) required to finding a new job.

* You want to make a career change, but it seems almost impossible to move into a new type of job, a new industry, or move to a new part of the country without taking a big step back professionally (and maybe even financially).

* You're great at what you do, but it feels like somehow you're missing a part of the equation. People you went to school with (who weren't nearly as smart or hard working) are doing better professionally.

* You'd like to put more time into your job search, but you're not sure what will really work, and you can't justify putting in that kind of time when it might only result in disappointment and more frustration.

Busy professionals don't have the time OR ENERGY to waste. I know that first hand. I also know we've all been told to
network, find the hidden job market, and write a standout resume.  Chances are, you are trying to figure out all of the right answers through trial and error, without much help. You went to college to learn your craft, and you've been practicing it for years. How can you expect yourself to be great at finding a job, an activity that you don't practice every day, and an art form that you never had any training in?

So as you start your career, you go out and you go to networking events, and they feel cheap, weird and sleazy, and you get nothing out of them. And you write a resume, and submit it online, and eventually you get a call. The return on investment for that 5 min resume submission can feel much better than the zero return on the networking.

But ask yourself, do you really have the time to wait around for the right job to come your way, or to take one small step forward in your career instead of investing time in your search so you can make a big leap forward?

In my experience, there are four major myths to blame for a job search that doesn't get you what you really want (and deserve). I'm going to walk through each of those myths, and share with you my proven Career Management practices that will not only help you get the job that is reflective of your experience, skills, talents and interests, but also give you confidence that your time invested is well spent, and that your next career move is truly the best out there and the one you absolutely deserve.


Myth #1: Your resume is the first and most important step, and the central component to any job search

When most professionals think of a job search, they think of a four-step process:

  1. Write resume.
  2. See what's out there and where I fit.
  3. Send resume (tweak slightly if necessary).
  4. Everything else that happens after that.

… and they spend 80% of their time on steps 1 - 3. In fact, a truly effective job search will only focus 20% of time on resume development. Your resume is just one small part of a broader JOB SEARCH PROJECT, going far beyond a reactive (i.e. applying to online posts) approach.  Is it comfortable and easy? Learning something new rarely is. But developing a completing Job Search Project now will set you up to get a better job, and have better career prospects in the future as you continue to grow. And with the right plan in place, and taking the right steps in the right order, you can push yourself little by little (less scary), beyond your comfort zone which in turn, will have you showing up as a better, more accomplished, capable and confident, professional.

Focusing on what you're already doing, and using your resume to reflect that, without giving careful consideration to your ideal job, your dream job, the job you truly deserve, virtually ensures that you won't be positioning yourself for the job you want. In fact, you'll be positioning yourself for the job you already have.

And if you're wondering where to start (since we've already established that it's not your resume), the first and most important step of a fully effective Job Search Strategy, is to start with the end in mind. Identify your ideal dream job, the one you think is just slightly outside your reach, and then build a plan to get you there.

After all, your ability to tell your story in the context of the job you want, is far more powerful and effective, than a piece of paper (aka your resume).


Myth #2: Networking is hard (and I don't have the time, energy or confidence to do it right)

I don't believe in networking, and I prefer the term Connecting.  Not only do networking events have a weird vibe around them, they are often full of people looking for jobs, with a bit of desperation, and worst of all, so many conversations feel disingenuous. If you're a driven, hard-working professional, you certainly don't have time to waste talking to people who want a job in your company, a company you're trying to leave.

The bright side is that while all of those people keep showing up at networking events, asking for jobs, you have an opportunity to do something entirely different, stand out from the crowd, and make your mark.

Meeting with people who are genuinely interesting to you, with whom you have common interests,  won't feel like wasted time. It won't feel like wasted energy, and you already have the confidence you need.  You're not asking for anything but good conversation with an industry colleague that happens to be several years ahead of you in their career, so chances are you won't have a hard time thinking of things to talk about. The important thing here is that networking for a job rarely works.

Making connections of value, and building relationships with those connections, will take the work out of networking.

Myth #3: I can get my next job the same way I've gotten jobs earlier in my career.

I know I just need to find the right opportunity and apply for it online. If I just keep applying, something will come through.

What worked for you at the start of your career is going to become increasingly less effective as you move up in your career. Why? For all the people out there spinning in the online application cycle, there are also a few top-tier professionals who are making connections, building relationships and gaining access to jobs long before they are posted online. As they continue to grow their networks, the people who aren't making a concerted effort to building and foster relationships connections are getting quietly squeezed out of the race without even knowing it.

And if you think you're not wasting your time with those online applications, think again. In fact, only 40% of professionals get their job by applying online. 

At the same time, the bar for online applications keeps getting raised.  When you apply for a job online, the recruiter is using your resume as a reason to eliminate you, and multiple studies have shown that recruiters spend 6 seconds or less reviewing each resume. They are using your resume to see if you check 5 boxes, and if you're better than the 3 good people they already found. There is no opportunity for conversation, explanation, or exploration.

You've got 6 seconds to make your case with your resume.  Is that really a good use of your time?

Myth #4 - I simply don't have the time to spend on this.

My solid work performance and experience will get me the job I need.

Sure, your work performance and experience provide a fantastic foundation, and you can even try different approaches here and there.  But you wouldn't approach an important project at work without a plan, timeline, and specific steps outlined that will get the job done.

And your career, after all, is where you spend most of your time 5 days a week.

You deserve to treat yourself, and your future, as well as you treat your current job.

Without the right project plan, practice and GREAT execution, you're leaving money and opportunity, and maybe even the potential to find your dream job, on the table

With the right plan you can stop spending 80% of your time on your resume, and start to truly enjoy building your career.

So... you can continue missing the best opportunities and piece together a few opportunistic applications to find your next job….

…or you can stop the endless job search, and change your approach to transform your career by focusing on...

Career Management for Professional and Personal Growth.

And if you’re reading this post RIGHT NOW, then you’re in a unique position to differentiate yourself with this strategic approach and in doing so, achieve greater career satisfaction, impact and happiness. By proactively practicing Career Management, you'll no longer have to spin your wheels and scroll through endless job posts and email alerts, or feel the frustration of constant rejection (or not ever receiving a response to your application). You'll progress faster, not only because you'll have access to better jobs, but also through the  insights and learnings from your meaningful conversations with substantive, interesting people in your field.

Keep reading…

...now that you know the 4 Career Advancement Myths, you're on your way to developing your skills and strategies in Career Management, and I've created a detailed, free cheat sheet to help you transform your job search and career…

I've compiled a list of the 5 Differences Between Rookie Job-Seekers and Savvy Career Managers, to help you get started in achieving your next big career leap. Click here now to get that list!


Suzanne O'Brien has been providing resources, education, and guidance to ambitious professionals seeking to advance their careers and maximize their potential for years.

She's applied these very principles to maximize her own career, and wants to share the information with you, so you can confidently achieve your goals.