Careers advice

Debunking common employment and job hunting myths

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet … except this.

Last updated: 12 November 2023

One of the great things about job hunting in the 21st century is that there are heaps of online tools of online resources to help you. This includes everything from digital job boards (like Trade Me Jobs) to salary guides to well-researched careers advice that will help you no matter what stage of professional life you’re at.

However, there’s also a lot of rubbish out there.

From the unclear to the totally false, you’ll find a lot of plenty of suss claims about working in Aotearoa online. And you may encounter them elsewhere too. Just because that colleague you chat to over your morning coffee has been working for decades longer than you, doesn’t necessarily mean that they know what they’re talking about.

So, to help tackle some of this misinformation, let’s debunk some of the most common employment myths you might encounter.

1. You need to match all the criteria in a job ad before you apply

Yeah, nah.

Get demoralised when you open up a job listing for what seems like a perfect role to find that you only tick five out of eight boxes? Don’t.

Remember, when employers write their job listings, they’re describing their dream candidate. And, if there’s one thing that everyone can agree on, people ain’t perfect. It’s similar to how, in a salary negotiation, you should always start with the high end of what you’d be happy to accept. It would be silly for the hiring manager to begin by listing anything except the perfect candidate because then they’d already be starting at a lower bar. But, in reality, not everything on that list is a must-have.

Generally speaking, as long as you meet most of the criteria, we always recommend applying. You never know, they might read your CV and cover letter and think you’re exactly what they need.

You DON'T need to meet all the criteria in a job advert.

2. You pay if you use a recruiter

Again, this is another big ol’ nope.

You’ll find plenty of job listings posted by recruiters on Trade Me Jobs, and you may have hesitated before clicking on them because you think you’ll have to pay for the recruiters’ services. There’s no truth to this.

Recruiters make their money by being paid by the company doing the hiring, not the candidate looking to be hired. So, you won’t pay a cent to find a job through a recruiter in Aotearoa.

These professionals can also offer you heaps of value, including:

  • Workshopping your CV and cover letter.
  • Helping you prepare for interviews.
  • Suggesting other roles you can apply for.

So, don’t let this common job hunting myth put you off. If you want to work with a recruiter, go for it!

3. The most technically skilled candidate will get the role

Now, of course technical skills matter when you’re applying for a job. Something we’re all pleased to know whenever we visit the dentist and they start firing up that terrifying drill.

However, technical skills are far from the whole picture, and the most technically skilled person isn’t guaranteed to be the successful candidate. Our Head of Engineering, Amir Mohtasebi says that, when he’s interviewing software engineers, their coding ability is only “half the story”, with soft skills such as stakeholder engagement and teamwork ethos ranking equally as important.

There are two takeaways here. Firstly, while hard skills matter, you don’t need to be the Albert Einstein of your industry to get a job. And, second, brush up on your soft skills. No matter what sector you’re job hunting in, we can guarantee that they will impact your chances of getting hired.

Employers look at a lot more than just your technical skills.

4. If you stay in a job long enough, you’ll get promoted

From increased pay to learning new skills, there are lots of reasons why employees seek promotions during their professional lives. So, it makes sense that you might be wondering what are the best ways to maximise your chances of this happening.

One safe-looking option might be to stay put in your current job and simply wait to be promoted. And, while some organisations do promote simply based on tenure, this is far from a certainty.

In fact, we’d argue that this is a particularly slow way to win a promotion, and you might see newer staff members getting promoted faster, if this is your only tactic. The people who get promoted more quickly tend to be those who really stand out from their colleagues, who put in the extra mahi, and therefore earn the extra treats. So, rather than sitting in the background hoping one day you might get promoted, put yourself out there and make your boss take notice.

5. You have to get three strikes before you’re fired

There’s absolutely no truth in the ‘three strikes rule’ when it comes to being fired.

And it’s a real shame that this myth exists, as this is a really important process to understand. We’ve written a whole article on what it means to be fired vs. made redundant, and how each process works. But, we’ll quickly break this down here.

Firings are to do with you as an individual employee, rather than your role and its value to the business. Employers might make staff redundant if the business is suffering and they need to reduce the headcount for financial reasons, for example. If you’re fired, this is normally due to poor performance, or misconduct.

Being fired is relatively unusual, but, if it happens, the employer doesn’t need to give you three warnings. However, they do need to follow a fair process. In reality, for performance- related issues, you might expect your manager to work with you to try and turn things around. So you’d have some warning. If, however, you commit serious misconduct, you can be ‘summarily dismissed’, where you receive neither any notice or payment instead of notice.


Al Hall
Al Hall

Al Hall is a regular contributor at Trade Me Jobs and Trade Me Property. He’s dedicated to helping people succeed in their aspirations to find their dream job and place to live.