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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

3 Job Search Tips People Ignore Because They Think They're the Exception

I’m just going to go ahead and admit it: Sometimes when my husband gives me advice I don’t like or wasn’t expecting, instead of embracing it, I tell him he doesn’t understand, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he just doesn’t get it. This leads to exactly nowhere as he attempts to get me to explain myself better, and I shut down. My excuses for claiming his advice isn’t good are just that—excuses.

Sound familiar? If you’ve ever dismissed someone’s advice as bad and bemoaned the fact that none of your friends don’t have anything worthwhile to say when it comes to your career, you may want to take a moment to look at yourself.

Of course, not all the advice you get is going to be great, but often the problem isn’t with the information you’re getting, it’s with how you internalize it. Read on for three situations where it’s not the advice that isn’t good, it’s your refusal to embrace it as legit.

1. Your Best Friend Advises You to Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter

It’s not your best friend’s first rodeo. He recently snagged a new job at a company he’d been eyeing for months. After weeks of sending out his standard resume and a basic, generic cover letter and not getting any responses, he did some research and discovered that personalized application materials were what he needed to get an edge.

Once he created a resume and letter of interest tailored to the companies he was applying to, the interview invitations came fast and furious, and before long, he had an offer. He attributes it to revamping his professional documents, and advises you to do the same. But, instead of digesting this information and seeing the validity in it, you grow annoyed and decide that…

Your Skills Speak for Themselves

At this point, you’re applying to several jobs a day, and you can’t even imagine sending out different versions of your cover letter. You know your friend’s story, but yours isn’t identical, which means you don’t need to follow his advice, right?

Wrong. If your generic resume were getting you interviews and offers, you probably wouldn’t be getting this feedback in the first place, but since what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s clearly time to try something else.

2. Your Brother Suggests Cleaning up Your Social Media Accounts

As your older brother and one of the people closest to you, he’s read all of your distasteful tweets, and he knows you still have those ridiculous spring break photos up on your public Facebook account. You don’t have a professional LinkedIn photo, and you don’t have a summary either.

So, what you’ve got is a huge presence on Instagram (pictures of hamburgers and not much else featured prominently) and FB (see above, re: rowdy spring break photos), but you’ve got nearly nothing to show on LinkedIn, the site that nearly all hiring professionals look at when they’re hiring, and, what’s more, your Twitter page doesn’t really give any insight into your character and depth.

In spite of that reality, when your brother tells you to take an afternoon to get your social media presence hiring-manager ready, you balk. The advice is worthless, you think, because…

You Think the Right Employer Won’t Care

OK, first of all, you don’t think the spring break shots are that bad. You’re only holding a beer in a few of them—it’s not like you’re tossing back shots or are participating in a wet T-shirt contest. Just because you want to tweet out all of your customer service complaints, it doesn’t mean you should be penalized. You’re on LinkedIn—what does it matter how active you are?

Once the recruiter sees your work history and experience, she’ll know you’re the best person for the job. Um, not exactly. No doubt your skill set would make you an immediate asset to the role, but hiring managers are getting dozens of applications, and if and when they look into your online presence and are bombarded with unflattering images and unprofessional language, you’ll be moved to the bottom of the pile. Change your privacy settings and be as clear as day that your future boss would be happy with what he might come across.

3. Your Mentor Tells You to Brush up on Your Interviewing Skills

She offers to role-play with you, encourages you to ask questions, suggests that you put more of an effort into researching the company before you go in for an interview. In her position, she interviews candidates often and can point out the mistakes made in the process. She’s not claiming to have all the answers, and, no, she wasn’t with you in any of your interviews, but she has a lot of thoughts on how you can ace this part of your job search.

It’s nothing you haven’t heard before, and so you brush it aside and refuse to believe that you actually need help in this area. You’re doing everything right, you say and…

You Respond That It’s Not You Who’s the Problem, It’s Them

Admittedly, your last couple of in-person meetings weren’t so great. You didn’t always have the answer to the questions you were asked, but hey, not your fault, there were some hardballs, and you were honest when you explained why your last job didn’t work out—your boss, you know, wasn’t a good manager and made it difficult for you to get anything done.

But, no one has a perfect interview. No one has the answer to all the questions. There’s only so much you can learn about the company unless you’re working there. While there may be some truth to these things, there’s probably plenty of truth to the fact that you’re, well, getting to the interview process and bombing it. Your mentor is looking out for you, trying to help you succeed. Don’t shun the advice because your ego’s getting in the way.

Typically, if you’re finding advice hard to swallow, it’s because there’s something you don’t want to face. Like I said, I’ve been there. Coming to terms with our shortcomings and the ways we need to improve is challenging and can make us feel vulnerable. But, instead of risking relationships and losing friendships simply because you want to chalk up all the advice as no-good, take a long, hard look at yourself and what it is that you could be doing differently to get the results you want.

Photo of man having a serious conversation courtesy of Nikada/Getty Images.