I’m starting to like some of Yahoo Finance‘s new personal finance content. In a new article, Penelope Trunk warns readers of common but poor advice one often hears from friends and colleagues when hunting for jobs. Trunk’s point of view is interesting, and I’ll have to keep these ideas in mind when (if?) I ever look for another corporate-type job.
Bad Rule No. 1: Draw a clear picture of yourself
A résumé is not an autobiography, it’s a marketing document. So the goal is not to tell every single thing about yourself, but rather to get an interview. And the best way to land an interview is to make the employer want to find out more about you.
This is why a résumé should be a tease, not treatise. (This is a great example of why that old rule about keeping your résumé to one page is still a very good one.)
I do tend to fit as much as I can onto one page when it comes to my résumé. This leads to very small type, and probably too much information. I like my résumé to tell a story of increasing responsibilities, but that may be too much.
Bad Rule No. 2: Don’t be too narrow
If you want to stand out, you have to stand for something. This is your unique selling proposition, and once you have one, you’ll naturally focus your résumé a little more sharply than, say, a generalist who, in trying to get every job, isn’t a fit for any job.
Sure, this means you have to decrease the pool of jobs you’ll take. But when it comes to getting flexibility from employers, it’s the specialists, not the generalists, who get what they want. That’s because the specialists are the hardest to replace.
Uh oh. I’m a guy with varied interests and a wide range of skills. Additionally, there aren’t many features of corporate business I feel passionate about. This puts me squarely in the “generalist” camp. I’m fine with this.
Bad Rule No. 3: Don’t job-hop
Job hoppers are generally happier in their work. They have more passion for their career because their work changes before it gets boring, and they have better vacations because they can really relax in between jobs.
I agree. If I find myself no longer learning or growing in a position, I will look for something else. You know that when push comes to shove for most corporations that answer to shareholders, they will show no loyalty to their employees. This isn’t your grandfather’s economy or corporate culture anymore. If your skills are better appreciated elsewhere, move on.
Bad Rule No. 4: Don’t have gaps in your résumé
This is a good piece of advice if you’re going to make work the only thing in your life. Because if you have nothing else in your life, a gap in your résumé means you’re staring off into space. But if work is a means to do other fun things, a gap is a way to grow, and you can say that in an interview.
I have heard many times that there should be no gaps in a listing of work history. I like Trunk’s opinion. It’s nice not to be pressured to work continuously in order to stay marketable. I’d like to be in a financial position that allows me to take an extended leave of absence from the corporate world without feeling guilty.
I’m a big fan of throwing old rules out the window, and that’s exactly what Penelope Trunk is doing in this article. These were her first four bad pieces of advice she turned upside-down. I’ll take a look at the second group in Part 2.
Published or updated February 1, 2007.