Make your own decisions about career advice

There are no stupid questions. This statement (some would call it a cliche) rings true in economics, technology and science. It’s valid in museums, classrooms and corporate training programs. And, it certainly applies to job searches.

Here is something else that’s true: Job hunters tend to ask the same questions again and again. They inquire about resume writing, contacting employers and responding to tough interview questions. They raise questions about salary negotiations, networking, resume distribution options and overcoming gaps in employment.

No matter how many times the same questions arise, each one is valid and essential. Each job seeker has a unique set of experiences and concerns, so a basic question regarding the length of a cover letter may differ depending on individual circumstances.

If you need information about job hunting, find someone with experience. Pose your question. Listen carefully to the response, and when you return to the privacy of your home or office, decide for yourself if you’ll take the advice or throw it out.

That’s right. You may need to ignore the advice. Because career consultants, resume writers and job-search columnists come from different backgrounds as well. For example, if you have been unemployed for 10 years or more, some consultant will suggest that you to remove the dates from your resume. Other career professionals will advise you to include the dates at all costs. Depending on your work history, goals and personality, this could go either way.

I’m telling you this because I recently found an article online that addressed a common job-search question, and I wholeheartedly disagreed with the response.

The reader’s question was close to this: If the employer doesn’t bring up salary during the interview, should I ask how much the position pays? My answer is yes. Job interviews are business meetings. They exist almost exclusively because of money. Typically, employers look for candidates who will generate the greatest amount of money for the company. Job hunters seek out employers who will pay them fairly (or abundantly) for their time and expertise.

The author of the article gave the opposite feedback. No, he said. Wait until you receive a job offer before asking about money.

I imagine that the writer had good intentions, and meant to advise the job hunter to take charge of the interview. Focus on the value that you will bring to the employer. Prove that your priority is to help the company, not line your own pockets. If this was the goal of the article, I readily agree. Up to a point.

I believe strongly that job seekers should evaluate opportunities before spending time and energy to pursue them. Why waste time? If an employer doesn’t bring up the subject of compensation, do it yourself. Of course, that’s just my opinion. You have to decide what is best for you.

Here is the moral of the story: There are no stupid or redundant questions, however, answers come in a variety of forms. This is your job search. Your life. You ask the questions. You make the decisions. Don’t blindly follow every bit of advice that tumbles along your career path.

Go ahead, take my word for it. Or don’t. I’ll support your decision either way.

Eve Nicholas:

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