missteps can blow it for you
By Kimberly Lucas
his month is a “back to basics” post. I usually try to be upbeat, positive and encouraging in my blog postings, but there are a few things that candidates do during the process that are just dumb moves. So this month I’m calling you on the carpet – you know who you are. Just stop making these silly mistakes and you’ll improve your chances of getting an offer.
1. Misspelled words and bad grammar. I know you've heard this a million times. Typos and poor grammar demonstrate a lack of attention to detail and potential communication gaps. You really don’t want to be passed up because you didn't proofread your resume, do you?
2. Answering your phone from the neighborhood pool. When you are looking for a new job, every phone call could be your next employer. If you are not in a quiet place where you can carry on a conversation, let it go to voice mail. Return the call when you can focus on the conversation. And always answer in a professional manner. Finally, if you have children or roommates that answer your home phone, leave this number off your resume. You need to control the communication stream as much as possible and not let someone take a message and then forget to relay it to you.
3. Lack of preparation. It’s a complete waste of time for an interviewer to have to provide you background on the company and walk through the job description for you. This is information that you should take care of in advance of an interview. Preserve the precious interview time to get to know the people, the culture and the growth opportunity so you can make a solid career decision.
4. Giving references of people who don’t think you walk on water. I've actually done reference checks on candidates and received some very bad comments. Please don’t assume that everyone who says they will be a reference will say only nice things about you. The easiest way to check this is to have a friend who is in a hiring position (former supervisor, friendly recruiter) call your references and find out what they are going to say about you.
5. Asking for too much money. Don’t price yourself out of the market. Do your homework in advance. Ask friends and colleagues (but keep in mind they will inflate their salary) and check the online sources like Salary.com for geographically adjusted averages for your position.
6. Being late to an interview. Need I say more? I know that things happen; if you’re going to be late call before you are late, apologize, explain briefly, and then understand that you are going to have to be doubly brilliant to overcome the perception that you aren't dependable.
7. Thinking that you know your stuff. Before you embark on your search, and during the process, take time to refresh yourself on your technical skills. In your daily work activities you are focused on just what you need to get your job done. There are skills that you have not used recently and therefore your recall during an interview will be slow unless you study.
8. Failing to fill out the application completely. Again, this speaks to your attention to detail and written communication skills. Take the time to do it right – and don’t misspell words on the application.
9. Lack of follow up and follow through. E-mail thank you notes to everyone who interviews you, including the HR representative, the recruiter, the hiring manager – everyone. If you commit to following up on an item, then do it. This little detail will help you differentiate yourself. A lot of people just don’t do it.
10. Dress appropriately. Interviews are a time to showcase yourself. Show that you are worth the money you are asking. Dress up! Jeans are NEVER appropriate, even if everyone else is wearing them. You will be judged on the way you appear, speak, act, treat others, eye contact, verbal communication – everything. It’s a competition. Are you in it to win it?
Looking for a new position is a lot of work. It’s hard to keep on top of your full-time job, your family and your activities, and also look for a job. But, with some forethought, planning and focus you can make a move that will absolutely have a positive impact on your career. Get out there and do it.