Busted: Job Search Myths Hurting Your Career Change


According to LinkedIn, there are 739,184 members who describe themselves as a Career Coach or who hold the title of Career Coach.

Over 300,122 LinkedIn members include the title “Employment Coach” in their headlines.

And, 975,000 LinkedIn members include the term “Job Search” (as in “Job Search Expert” or “Job Search Coach”) in their headlines.

Adding them all together, job seekers looking to remain current with job search best practices have over two million resources at their disposal.

Coupled with the advice given by friends, family and work colleagues who mean well — it is not surprising that job seekers feel overwhelmed and probably more than a little bit confused – by all the conflicting advice available to them.

When it comes to sifting through it all, it can be comforting to look to stats for clarity to determine if job search advice is myth or truth. This article focuses on the stats.

Myth #1: Job Hopping Will Hurt Your Career

While leaving several roles every 12 months can still set off alarms, the idea that one needs to stay at a role for 5+ years for fear of not appearing loyal is nothing to worry about. That idea started to phase out around the time of the Great Recession — when many were getting laid off, accepting gap roles, and then quickly moving on when a better opportunity presented itself.

This is good news for career changers as they embark on a series of micro pivots to get them to their “dream” job —

A micro-pivot is where one accepts an interim role that serves as a stepping-stone toward their ultimate goal.

As an example, a schoolteacher looking to make a move into enterprise software sales might first make a micro-pivot to selling software in the education industry. From there, the person makes yet another micro-pivot into a role selling software in another industry.

The truth? The stats favor those who hop. A 2016 ADP analysis highlighted in this Quartz article actually suggests that by NOT hopping you may be hurting your career. The authors note the following:

  • Those who stay at least 2 years will get a larger salary boost than those who stay longer than 5.
  • When you do leave your role or company, career change or otherwise, you will see less pay growth if you had stayed more than 5 years.
  • You are less likely to get a big pay bump if you stay with the same employer.

For career changers, this is good news, as there is no longer any bad connotation or even salary pain associated with leaving after a few years.

Myth #2: If I Have a Strong Resume, I Can Make a Career Change by Applying Online

While it is true that your resume must be readable by Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) systems, applying online as the first point of entry is not a great option for career changers.

Why? When it comes to ATS, the resume with the most keywords wins. The chances of a career changer’s resume having more keywords than that of a person with direct role and industry experience are not likely.

Thus, the resume of someone with direct experience will always perform better online than that of a career changer.

According to the stats, the odds of career changers (really all job seekers) dramatically increase when they have a personal referral. According to Undercover Recruiter:

  • Employee referrals account for 40% of all hires.
  • 67% of employers and recruiters surveyed say the recruiting and hiring process is shorter for those that come in via referral.
    The bottom line? A referral can act as a champion and/or be willing to take a risk on someone who’s experience is not 100% aligned with a job posting. Have you ever heard of ATS taking a risk? The answer is no – because it is not programmed to do so.

[For more, read Fast Track to a New Job: An Employee Referral and Find Jobs by Targeting Employers.]

Myth #3: When Making a Career Change, I Can Change My Resume But Leave LinkedIn Untouched

70% of employers use social media to research prospects, according to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey. LinkedIn is imperative for social proof that your skills and experience are transferrable as a career changer.

Today, success requires more than a great resume. Employers want “social proof,” too.

Without “proof” on social media, usually LinkedIn, that the expertise and accomplishments you claim on your resume are real, people may question those claims.

For those looking to keep their career change aspirations under the radar on LinkedIn, below are 2 approaches to consider depending on how you intend to pivot:

  • If looking to change job functions, I recommend a headline and About section that include key skills and areas of expertise common between your current and targeted role.
  • If looking to break into a new industry, but in a similar role, I advise you to remove industry references from your LinkedIn to position yourself as industry agnostic.

[More about social proof: Social Proof: Linked(In) to Your Resume and “Social Proof” — Required for Successful Job Search. Also, see Managing Your LinkedIn Settings for a Stealth Job Search.]

The Bottom Line

Job search for career changers is tough, but not insurmountable, and there’s a great deal of advice out there to guide you. The above busts 3 common myths and shows why a job seeker’s greatest shot at success lies with networking to gain referral relationships, remaining on LinkedIn to show social proof of skills and expertise, and by remaining unafraid of outdated job-hopping misconceptions.

Read this article to learn how to answer “Why do you want to leave your current job?” in a job interview.

More about Successful Career Change:

Virginia FrancoAbout the author…

Career Change Expert Virginia Franco is a 4 times Certified Executive Resume Writer, LinkedIn Writer, Coach and Career Storyteller. Her experience in corporate communications, journalism, and social work offered her a unique understanding of how people read, communicate, and share information. Connect with Virginia via her website VirginiaFrancoResumes.com, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter at @VAFrancoResumes.
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