If it’s been a while since you looked for a new job, it can be hard to know which tried-and-true job search tips to follow and which ones to forget.
Whether you’re transitioning out of the military to your first civilian career or hunting for a new role after a long time in one position, here are six old school tips we recommend ignoring – and one to keep in your toolbox.
DON’T apply for too many jobs
Applying for any job you see in your field is out, and targeted job searches are in.
By focusing on jobs you really want, you’ll devote more time and energy to your applications and up your odds of landing an interview. You’ll be able to write tailored cover letters, customize your resume for the position, and reach out to make sure your application lands in front of the right people.
DON’T make your resume too short
Raise your hand if you’ve been told to keep your resume to one page. (We’re just going to assume everyone has their hand up.) This old school job advice is out the window too.
Don’t try to cram your wealth of experience onto a single 8.5×11 sheet of paper. You’ll be better served by going longer — especially when you’re applying for a federal job. While private sector resumes are usually one or two pages, federal resumes can run up to five.
“The more we know, the better you’ll look,” said Tim Blakney, a VA recruitment consultant.
Learn more about how to tailor your resume to a federal job at VA.
DON’T use snail mail
Time to throw away those stacks of resume paper, matching envelopes, and rolls of stamps (actually, keep the stamps).
Almost all job applications are now completed online. For a federal job, you’ll apply online through USAJobs.
The federal hiring process is governed by rules and regulations and needs to be followed to the letter – which means no snail mail. Read up on how to apply using USAJobs.
DON’T include a photo with your resume
For one thing, it’s just unnecessary in the age of social media, where employers can easily find you online.
More importantly, the purpose of a resume is to showcase your professional skills. How you look has no bearing on your ability to do a job.
DON’T call to follow up
Hiring managers are busy and inundated with applications. Fielding follow-up phone calls just interrupts their day. Unless they ask you to call, keep communications to email, and limit your follow-ups to no more than once a week.
DON’T use pretentious language
Stick to the terms used in the job posting. Many employers now use Applicant Tracking Systems to scan through resumes for relevant terms.
USAJobs doesn’t do this, but you should still use the same terminology as the job posting to make sure the hiring manager can easily see how good of a fit you are.
“Integrating key words and phrases throughout the resume is crucial, especially if those keywords are tied to basic or preferred qualifications listed in the JOA,” said James Marfield, associate director of VA’s National Recruitment Service
You can still kick it old school when it comes to one important thing – networking.
“Networking can take your strategy to the next level,” Marfield said. “Most notable industry experts will affirm that networking is the no. 1 approach to landing a job.”
At VA, making connections can be especially helpful if you qualify for a special hiring authority or are a health care professional who can be hired outside the traditional competitive hiring process.
“Any time spent networking is time well spent,” Marfield added.
Work at VA
Now you’re ready to begin looking for your dream VA job, helping ensure Veterans have access to state-of-the-art health care.