This post originally appeared on The Daily Muse.
The world of job hunting moves fast. Once, you’d scour the newspaper for openings; now, you have your choice of online job boards. Resumes used to be printed on thick, quality cardstock, and now, they’re usually not printed at all. The standard uniform of a suit and tie isn’t even required anymore.
And it’s not just that the rules have changed. The new rules are: There are no rules.
So, if you’ve been following some dated (er, traditional) job search tips, it’s time to think again. Here are a few rules you may have heard, why you should break them, and when—on some very rare occasions—you should follow them anyway.
Rule #1: Cast the Widest Net Possible
Years ago, it was standard to print up several copies of a one-size-fits-all resume and mail it out to as many potential employers as possible. In theory, this game of odds made sense—the more resumes you sent out, the more chances you had for an employer to call you back.
But that strategy simply doesn’t work anymore. Between applicant tracking systems that filter for specific keywords and companies that are hyper-focused on culture, hiring managers are looking for a perfect fit. A generic resume points to a generic candidate—and that’s not what companies are looking for.
Instead, focus on fewer jobs—but make them count by tailoring each application to your target company.
Rule #2: Call or Stop By to Check on Your Application After a Few Days
If there was one piece of advice from my parents that I constantly raised an eyebrow at, it was this. To them, calling or stopping by a business to check on your application showed persistence and enthusiasm. But I couldn’t imagine that it did anything except annoy the hiring manager—and ultimately hurt my chances of landing the job.
In general, let your resume and cover letter speak for themselves. If you have a killer application (or better yet, a company connection that you made through networking), you’ll have a great chance of catching the hiring manager’s eye without the pestering follow-up.
That said, it can be OK to follow up if you applied blindly (i.e., you had no personal connection or applied through an online applicant tracking system) and haven’t heard back in a couple weeks. But via email. Please, only email.
Rule #3: Include an Objective Statement at the Top of Your Resume
Objective statements made a bit more sense when they were combined with Rule #1—as you were widely distributing your resume, your objective statement gave the company a better idea of what kind of role you were after.
But now, not only do they come across as vague (“I’m interested in a position where I can use my experience to expand my skills”) and generic (“I’m looking for an entry-level position with potential for growth”), they just don’t make much sense. if you’re tailoring your cover letter and resume to apply for an inside sales position, there’s no need to make a blanket statement that says the same thing at the top of your resume.