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Sometimes rules are meant to be broken. Here are 10 that Halifax-based executive recruiter Gerald Walsh says you can safely and wisely break in your job search:

  • Don't apply after the date that résumés were supposed to be in: If a well-qualified candidate applies a few days after the deadline, most employers will still consider that candidate, particularly if the original aspirants were not strong. It’s still best to meet deadlines, but if you hear about the job after the deadline, don’t hold back.
  • Don’t bring notes into the interview: Most employers in fact won’t mind some notes. “Don’t bring sheafs of paper. A couple of pages – containing points you want to make and questions you want to ask – will do,” he writes on his blog.
  • Include a career objective at the top of your résumé: He considers it a waste of space and most recruiters do as well, ignoring it. He says you’ll not be penalized for leaving this supposed necessity out.
  • Don’t write your résumé in the first person: Why not? It’s about you – your experiences and qualifications. “Relax and write more personally. It will make your résumé easier to read,” he says.
  • Expect the best-qualified person to get the job: That can be a worrisome notion if you aren’t sure you measure up. But he has done a lot of hiring and says it’s not always true. If the minimum requirements are met, the job will probably go to the most likeable person – the one that seems to be the best fit and will help the organization solve its problem.
  • Cast a wide net and send out tons of résumés: The theory has been that by sending a generic résumé to as many employers as possible, some are bound to stick. But he cautions that “a generic résumé points to a generic candidate, not someone employers are looking for. Each of your résumés (and cover letters) should be carefully tailored to the job. It will increase your chances of being called for an interview.”
  • Follow the application instructions precisely: That’s not a bad idea in general, but sometimes you can skirt the requirements. An example is stating your salary expectations, which is ideally best left for the end of the hiring process. If you leave it out but are well qualified, you’ll probably still get the interview.
  • The employer controls the hiring process: The interview is actually a two-way process. Come to it very prepared. It will impress.
  • Even if you are not interested in the job, you should attend the interview since that’s good practice: That’s disrespectful and a waste of everyone’s time, including yours. Your lack of interest will probably show. If you need practice, do it with a friend.
  • Keep looking for a job until you find one you’re passionate about: Some people luck into the dream job at a dream salary. “But for most people, the best way to discover your passion is to try many things, build your skills and become proficient at your craft. You will find that as you become better and better at something, your passion for it will grow,” he writes.

Rule-breakers can be job-winners, in the right circumstances.

Five behaviours to avoid if you want to be successful (and happy)

In working with hundreds of very successful individuals, consultant Tom Koulopoulos has found that behavioral rewiring is the core discipline of success. In particular, five common behaviours account for the major impediments to success and happiness:

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  • Complaining: This is the most toxic for both success and happiness. It plays to our deepest insecurities that the world conspires against us. It reinforces the mistaken belief from childhood that if we cry long and hard enough we’ll be saved from our plight. “Complaining is not only futile but also comes with dire consequences for your self-esteem, confidence, your mental, emotional and physical well-being,” he writes on the Innovation Excellence blog. “Instead of complaining, what if you simply focused on solving the problem you’re complaining about?"
  • Blaming: After complaining, the natural next step is blaming – typically everyone and everything other than yourself. And he warns that the smarter you are, the better your ability to construct scenarios under which there are solid reasons why you are the only one who should not take responsibility for your actions or your outcomes. Instead, take responsibility for how you respond to events that happen to you, even if you lack control. That gives you a better chance to grow.
  • Avoiding: Famed management theorist Peter Drucker told Mr. Koulopoulos the greatest risk was in taking no risk. In trying to protect ourselves from danger, we are creating the greater danger of shutting out opportunity. “So, rather than be ruled by the behaviour of avoidance, what if you regarded the fear of what you are trying to avoid as a compass setting for what you need to overcome? When I look at my own life, it is those things that I was once most fearful of, which, when overcome and ultimately mastered, were the greatest contributors to my success and happiness,” Mr. Koulopoulos writes.
  • Denying: He says if you practice avoidance long enough, you’ll get very good at actually denying there is anything to avoid to begin with. But when you live in denial, most of the things you need to overcome are invisible to you. That is tough to overcome, as the denial reinforces your belief there is no obstacle.
  • Regretting: This is the most seductive and counterproductive behaviour, even if it seems like it should be positive, helping you to learn from the past. But what if nothing actually went wrong – everything happened as it should. “If you’ve tried but have not yet succeeded, then congratulate yourself for having had the courage to try – thereby extinguishing the word regret from your vocabulary,” he advises.

10 things that don’t require talent

Here are 10 good habits and traits that don’t require any special talent, offered by Alberta consultant Michael Kerr:

  • Being on time
  • Work ethic
  • Energy
  • Effort
  • Body language
  • Passion
  • Doing extra
  • Being prepared
  • Being coachable
  • Attitude

Quick hits

  • Consultant Allison Rimm recommends three lists for manging tasks. The first to-do list is for important but non-time-sensitive projects; the second for items that need to be completed today, and the third a reminder of not-to-dos, so they don’t sneak back on your to-do list.
  • The most annoying e-mail phrase, according to a survey: “Not sure if you saw my last email ….”
  • Persuading a customer begins with two questions, according to ad consultant Roy H Williams: What does your customer already care about, and what does your customer understand already? Before you can take a person to where you want them to go, you need to meet them where they are.
  • Don’t waste money on trying to be the best-dressed or most stylish person at work, says blogger Laurie Ruettimann. Spend whatever you want on your appearance because it makes you feel good, but don’t spend to compete on looks and appearances at work.
  • Website thank-you pages are a missed opportunity.  Consultant Andy Crestodina says that, instead of just saying thank you, tell visitors what to expect next, or what to do if their purchase is unsatisfactory or offer them a video to heighten their awareness of your organization’s value.

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