Looking for a new job is one of the top three things most stressing in life. The other two being the death of a loved one and moving. No matter the circumstances of why an individual is looking for a position, it is always an emotional process. When you are the person going through this process, you want to make sure you are as prepared as possible to nail the interview and impress the people you are speaking with. Just as important, you want to be mindful of some bad habits that will make you appear to be the less desirable candidate.
Having interviewed thousands of candidates during my career, I thought I would give my top 10 list of things to avoid doing while looking for a new job!
1.) Do not apply for every job opening you see at one company!
- How do you think it appears to the company you are applying with, if you are applying for both software development as well as project management? The best practice when you see multiple positions is to make contact with the company, and express your interest in the multiple positions. When you are speaking to a live person, you will then be able to express your interest, and explain why you feel you would be a good match.
2.) Do not start your conversation with the recruiter by asking salary/pay rate!
- This is a major turn off to HR professionals as well as recruiters. The companies we represent have much more to offer than just a salary and/or pay rate. If you start the conversation with this question, the first thing a recruiter thinks of is that you will jump at the next opportunity offering you a slight increase in salary. It is best to wait and get some detail about the position before asking this question. You should also ask it in an appropriate manner such as: "This position seems to be below my current responsibilities. Can you give me a pay range on this opportunity?"
3.) Do not list every job you have ever held on your resume!
- You only need to list positions relevant to the position in which you are applying for. It is wasted space on a resume if you are listing positions you held when you were in college. Can you really justify how your experience as a fry cook can help you gain employment as a desktop support engineer? Resumes do not need fillers! You need to list most relevant experience, and keep it short a sweet. The main purpose of a resume is to entice the employer to want to ask more questions.
4.) Do not list every skill you think you have!
- Of the thousands of interviews I have completed, I would say nearly 40% of them embellish their skill sets in some way to make themselves appear more desirable to the employer. Have you ever heard of the bait and switch in retail? This is the same concept, and it will bite you in the end. If you list something on your resume it may be expected that you will utilize this skill set while employed. If you are unable or incapable of completing this task, there is a strong possibility you will be back where you started looking for another job and trying to explain why you were let go from your previous position.
5.) Do not show up late for an interview!
- This can go without explanation. If you are late, you are wasting the time of the employer interviewing you. I know this can sometimes be a double standard, but at the end of the day it's the company who signs your paychecks.
6.) Do not speak poorly about your previous employer!
- This is a major turn off for hiring managers. If you are sitting in an interview speaking negatively about a previous employer, what is stopping you from doing the same with this employer? Further, no one wants to hear you sob story regarding why you were fired or why you feel like you are not treated properly. Take ownership of the situation and explain how you have grown and become a better person/employee because of the situation.
7.) Do not sound desperate during the interview!
- Explaining to an employer how you will lose your home if you do not get the job offer will NOT give you a better chance at landing the opportunity. This will actually decrease your chances of being hired. The time spent in the interview needs to be reserved for selling the employer on why you are a great match for the position as well as the company.
8.) Do not follow up with the company every day demanding feedback!
- If you are following up on a daily basis, then you are showing desperation (see #7)! Standard rule is to follow up 1 week after the interview. At that time, feel free to ask when it is appropriate for you to follow up again. If you have not heard anything after 1-2 weeks, most likely, you are no longer in consideration.
9.) Do not forget to thank the interviewing individuals for their time!
- The thank you note has become a lost art! This is not another opportunity to sell yourself, but it is exactly what the title of the letter indicates...thanking the interviewers and/or hiring managers for their time...this includes your recruiter! Two-three sentences is all it takes to accomplish this task. Do not get carried away with details. With the fast paced world we live in, it is okay to send an e-mail, but a hand written note is always preferred.
10.) Do not get angry if you do not get the position you interviewed for!
- Competition today is very tough. Rarely is the rejection personal when you do not land the position you are interviewing for. When you receive the feedback from your interview, take it as a learning lesson on how to improve yourself for future interviews. Also, it is important to take the time to ask the employer what his/her concern was. This is invaluable information on how to grow your skill set while simultaneously keeping a pulse on the market.
Nobody is perfect...we all make mistakes. The more you prepare for your interview, the less likely you will be to make some of the more common errors during the interview process. Best thing to keep in mind is to stay positive, and take everything as a learning lesson.
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