When out job hunting, everyone always "puts their best foot forward" right? Wrong! There are tons of tried & true methods for committing “job-search suicide.” While the state of the economy & the high unemployment rate have made job seekers just a tad wiser than before [call it experience], there remain some specific problematic behaviors that only serve to step on a job hunter's best sales message. Make no mistake about it, we are discussing a sales pitch here & the product is you. Sadly, when it comes to some key mistakes, there are plenty of "repeat offenders." Here's my critical list of things [large & small] that I still see ruining people's efforts.
Things Not To Do When Job-hunting
1-“Burning bridges” [ahead of you] Remember, the name of today's game is relationships. Try not to make enemies because yesterday's colleague could be tomorrow's boss or a connection to your next employer.
2-Feeling so hopeless that you stop trying-it's hard to stay positive in the face of serial "no thank you’s" [or worse, deafening silence] but push on. While job hunting is physically, emotionally, & financially hard, not looking virtually guarantees nothing will change.
3-Typos-OK, this is silly. Maybe it's the college lecturer in me but God created a spell-checker-use it! Typing errors reflect negative characteristics like laziness, carelessness, apathy & more. NOT helpful. Whenever possible, have a fresh pair of eyes proofread for you because sometimes you are just too close to a document to see mistakes & there are errors even a spellchecker won't pick up like "all & al” or “there & their."
4-"It's my world & welcome to it"-Any application/interview is about the job & what you can do for the employer NOT the other way around. Be certain that all of your communication with potential employers focuses on what you can do for them. Consider that every TV/web ad you see touts what a product can do for you or how much fun you will have using it or how good you will look if you buy it. No ad says "buy this because we have to fatten our corporate profits & go on golf junkets."
5-Running late-In the interest of full disclosure this is a personnel pet peeve. When you are late, the message this sends is "my time is more important than your time." Not the way to make a good first impression. In fact, I know HR people who will not even let you in the door if you arrive 15 minutes late.
6-"Bad-mouthing" past employers-Think about it, as you sit & complain about your past employers, your interviewer is thinking "why should I hire them if they are going to badmouth this company next?" They are also going to wonder about your contribution to all this horrible PR after all, "there are always at least two sides to this equation"
7-Not preparing for your interview enough [you haven't researched the company & can't ask questions about the position]-Hit the web & use some of the information found through your research in the interview to demonstrate that you've done your homework & care about the position.
8-Believing that the interview happens only in the meeting room-It's easy to forget but all eyes are watching. To this I would add that you shouldn't be lulled by the interviewer's casual informality, even chattiness. Remember that everything you communicate [verbally or physically] is fair game to be used. If the interview process continues over a meal, pay attention to everything you do. This includes how you order, what you order, how you treat the table-server, table manners; when I say everything I mean everything. Interviewing over a meal sounds casual but it is full of landmines so watch your step.
9-Hiding your unemployed status from friends-Admitting you lost your job is extremely difficult but far more common [& has less stigma] in today’s economy. When job hunting, your network is critical. Furthermore, pay special attention to what is sometimes known in social media circles as “loose links” or people you don’t know very well. Think about it; the better you know people, the greater the likelihood that you already have some access to their networks. However, in the case of people you don’t know very well, since you don’t know much about them, chances are that their network will mean fresh connections for you as well. Gaining access to new networks significantly increases your chances of meeting someone who can be helpful in your search.
10-Sending a resume without a cover letter-Imagine if someone came right up to you hand outstretched & said, "give me a job." What would you conclude? I'm a city kid so I grew up seeing this behavior everyday from homeless people. To the best of my knowledge, it rarely got them a job. Now that's a dramatic example but the point is in order for your resume to be viewed in the most favorable light possible, you have to give it context & that means formally introducing yourself & providing rationale for why you are the best person for the job. Make it short, make it memorable, & make them want to read more so this is not the place to rehash your resume. Make your letter like the mouth-watering appetizer that makes the reader look forward to the entree [aka: your resume]. The letter is afterall, a marketing document so the "copy" has to be geared towards the product that you are selling-YOU.
11-Talking about money too soon-The money issue frequently requires the finesse of a professional dancer. If they bring up the issue early as in before an offer is made, dodge, dodge, dodge! My favorite response [& one that employers respect] when they bring up the subject of money too soon is "it's a little early to be discussing money when I am still trying to get my arms around the position." Negotiating money is a fine art & deserves a post all by itself.
Covering these bases will not guarantee you a job but your chances for positioning yourself more favorably will be vastly improved!