If your job search seems to be moving at a glacial pace, maybe you’re buying into common “wisdom” that’s actually not wisdom at all. Much of the job search advice available online — especially the stuff that makes for attention-grabbing headlines — has been oversimplified or exaggerated to the point that it can lead you deeper into job search quandaries.
Here are eight pieces of job search advice that can actually lengthen your search if you don’t view them with skepticism.
1. Cover letters — or even resumes — are obsolete.
Online networking and job listings have forced application materials to evolve, but resumes and cover letters are far from extinct. A concise resume tailored to the specific job opening and employer remains one of your most critical tools. Standing out with your resume and cover letter doesn’t require a novel approach. It does require careful revision and targeting.
2. Everything important happens online (or offline).
A virtual handshake shouldn’t replace face-to-face networking. Focusing exclusively on either realm closes you off from a world of opportunities. Use online tools to identify people you can meet in person — or, better yet, to facilitate networking events and groups. Finding ways to serve others is one of the best ways to form lasting relationships. It can also help offset the feeling of isolation that can creep into any job search.
3. None of the good jobs are listed.
While it’s essential to network your way toward the many openings that are never listed on public job boards, you shouldn’t neglect the ones that are. The competition may be intense, but that pressure can force you to hone the way you present yourself — as well as your understanding of what sets you apart. And even if you’re not pursuing dozens of postings every week, paying attention to listings can give you a better sense of the skills and specialties in high demand.
4. You have to knock on more doors.
Sending out a certain number of resumes every week (or day, or hour) can give you a sense of accomplishment, but it won’t necessarily get you closer to your next job. Pursuing too many almost-appropriate possibilities can drain time and energy away from the opportunities that match up with your skills, experience and preferences.
5. The people you know best are your greatest resources.
This piece of job search advice isn’t all bad. Friends and the folks you work with every day are certainly great allies. But their connections and insights tend to overlap with yours. You’ll get more bang for your networking buck by cultivating distant connections, people who are more likely to lead you to opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise discovered.
6. Just keep at it.
No matter how many times you’ve done it, looking for a job is stressful work. If you become demoralized or pessimistic, those feelings will color your interactions with employers and potential contacts. That’s why it’s important to give yourself a break when you need one.
7. Stick to your strengths.
By all means, take advantage of what you’re best at, whether it’s networking online or tailoring your resume for each opening. But you may see the biggest improvements in your job search by focusing on areas that don’t come naturally to you. If you’re reluctant to meet people in person, for example, improving that skill through repeated practice may make the largest difference in your search.
8. You need to deliver a knock-’em-dead interview performance.
Being a dazzling interviewee shows an employer that you’re great at interviews, but not necessarily that you’re the right fit for the job. Be careful not to be so focused on your message that you miss out on cues from your interviewer or chances to connect your job skills with the employer’s needs. The most convincing interviews feel like conversations, not performances.
Ultimately, the most valuable job search advice might spring from paying attention to your own experiences. Set aside a little time each week for strategic evaluation: Have you spent your time in ways that expand your exposure to new opportunities? What can you do differently in the coming week? With some practice, you’ll develop instincts that can guide you down the right path.
This post was brought to you by Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 400 staffing and consulting locations worldwide. For additional career advice, read Robert Half’s blog or follow Robert Half on social media.