I’m sure you’ve already heard a few of these advice bullets at some point in your career, but missing even one could keep you from being hired.
If you’re in “I need a job” land, here are 13 common mistakes to avoid making:
1. Have a Bad Resume – Not that simply sending a good resume will get you a job, but a bad resume will put the odds in favor of your competition. If your resume is not standing out, it’s not standing out. If you’re sending out a poorly written resume, you’re wasting your time.
2. Have a Bad Cover Letter – A good cover letter is a bit underrated. Many people go generic, basic, and safe. A good cover letter is addressed personally, not generically. The cover letter should talk about the value you present to that unique employer. It should have the most interesting piece mentioned first and be sure that it and references your attached resume.
3. Don’t Know What You Want to Do – If you don’t know what you want to do, you’re more likely to do nothing. If you don’t know what you want to do, then you can’t confidently communicate to employers that you want to work for them. As soon as you know what you want to do, you have something to say. Knowing what you can or want to do, is a better strategy to promote yourself as a valuable member of the team.
4. Ask About Vacation/Benefits Before Meeting in Person – Don’t pick apart the position before you’d been made an offer. Assuming anything upfront can appear as entitlement. This is a personality trait that most hiring managers find unattractive. If you practice classy negotiation skills, lock down the job first, then the extras.
5. Be Negative – If you’re jobless, being negative about your position will only help keep you there. Start being positive now, make it a choice every morning. Make it a point to only communicate with prospective employers with a positive tone, it’s difficult to do, but it will make you appear more desirable. Positive people have more physical energy and can even think better. Force yourself to smile during phone interviews, really mean it, it cans still change the tone of your voice.
6. Play the Blame Game – If you want to be interpreted as a responsible person, you must take responsibly. When talking with your future boss, or anyone for that matter, don’t blame your failures on others. The last thing a hiring manager wants to hear about is how dumb your last employer was for firing you. If it’s to be said, let them say it. Any blame, or negative talk will work against your from a hiring manager’s emotional perspective.
7. Say the word: “Honestly,” During an Interview – Don’t tell the employer you’re being honest about anything, it makes you look false. It’s an undesirable phrase, and it should be avoided at all costs. If you represent yourself professionally, and keep your lie cues to a minimum, it will be assumed that you’re honest.
8. Be Predicable – When interviewing numbers of people, it’s amazing how many people will respond to the same questions with the exact same answers. Interviews start to tire you out with pure boredom. Sometimes, just being different and refreshing will increase your changes of being hired. Before you’re hired, you’ll need to be considered. Before your considered, you’ll need to be remembered. The more common you present yourself, the easier it will be to forget you. Don’t be predicable, be remarkable.
9. Give Stiff or Limp Fish Hand Shakes – The handshake plays. It’s not a power-play, it’s not a chance to induct them hypnotically, it’s a social gesture. Make sure you’re ready to shake hands, and you’re not too tight or weak with your grip. Smile, eye contact, and think something positive to put emphasis on this physical communication. I personally like to think the words, “Done Deal”.
10. Know Nothing About the Job or Company You’re Applying For – Blindly sending out your resume (if it’s well written) can sometimes land you an interview. It’s your responsibility to research the company you’ll have an interview with as much as possible, otherwise you’re wasting your time. If you don’t know, it will show, you’ll be asking a bunch of questions that will make you look like an idiot to a prospective employer. Not only will they not hire you, but they’ll be likely to hold contempt for your poor manners.
11. Don’t Attend Job Fairs – Job fairs are a place where companies who are hiring will be looking for prospective candidates. If you want to meet people, of “network”, it’s in your best interest to addend these events. Even if you don’t want to work for a particular company, meeting people who work in the hiring field can benefit you down the road. Treat attending a job fair like an interview.
12. Dress Like a Slob - First impressions are made within only a few seconds. Even the most non-judgmental of people will make a determination about you based on how you look. If you don’t think that appearances matter, then you probably don’t understand how your subconsciousness mind works either. Over 70% of our communication with other people is non-verbal. Look in the mirror before you leave, what is your presence saying?
13. Don’t Follow Up- When you meet people at the job fair, out in public, or during an interview you need to follow up. Face it, you’re easily forgotten, just another face applying for “the job”. Reduce the odds that you will be neglected and looked over by being present. Every time someone recognizes your name, it’s more likely they’ll recommend it. Keep a record of everyone you talk to, and schedule follow up calls for down the road for the best contacts. If you’re really savvy, use a free CRM tool like zoho.com, and then collect as many business cards as you can. Leveraging the power of a CRM, you can continue to follow up with your contacts and not have to remember everything.