Employers cite the mistakes that damage people’s chances
Because a job hunt can be Â aggravating, self-confidence is essential. Hopefully you won’t be rejected by employers, but you might. Just as disheartening can be the silence from employers who don’t update you on the status of your application. You can’t let some disappointment derail your search.
At the same time, you don’t want overconfidence to sabotage your efforts. Walk into the interview room knowing that you’re qualified and capable of doing the job, but don’t be so confident that you can’t step back and assess your job search tactics. You might unwittingly ruin your chances of being hired because you make the same mistake every time you interact with a company.
Hiring managers see hundreds or even thousands of applicants a year. They have heard more answers to, “Tell me a little about yourself” than you can imagine. This also means they see the same mistakes happening over and over again Â– sort of their own personal “Groundhog Day.”
We asked hiring managers and employers to share the most common job-seeker mistakes they see. We hope job seekers put the kibosh on these common errors for two reasons: the mental anguish of interviewers and the career prospects of the applicants. Hiring managers offered enough mistakes to fill 10 pages, but these are the most common and egregious we heard:
Attachments are not enough
It is critical that [online applications] are filled out completely [and] accurately, and address skills and experience specific to the job which is being applied for. Too many applicants think that attaching a rÃ©sumÃ© will address all of the questions being asked on the online application, and they are kicked out of the system immediately.” Â–Lauren M.G. Burt, director of media and marketing for economic development at the Greater Des Moines Partnership
Talking about the wrong thing
“Candidates will tell the employer: ‘I want to keep my options open’ or that they are thinking about graduate school. ‘What are the hours?’ ‘Do you pay for graduate school?'” –Thomas J. Ward, director of the Center for Career Development at Adelphi University
“Talking about the past, not the future. What will you do for your new employer?Â While this is based in your past work, you must put your past experience into the context of your next employer. Be clear about what they need, where you have done it before, and tell stories to demonstrate you get it.” — Steve Langerud, workplace consultant and director of professional opportunities at DePauw University
Don’t be sorry for being yourself
“[Recent graduates] apologize for lack of relevant business experience, rather than talk about how internships, jobs, sports, clubs and extracurricular activities challenged them, helped them develop work ethic, taught them valuable lessons, etc.” –Garrett Miller, author of “Hire on a WHIM: The Four Qualities That Make for Great Employees“
Forgetting the details
“Blasting out rÃ©sumÃ©s and when you call and follow up, they don’t know who you are or what company you’re calling from.” –Rodger Roeser, owner and president of The Eisen Agency
Rudeness is inexcusable
“Showing up just in time for the interview or, worse, showing up late. [And] demonstrating poor etiquette — e.g., chewing gum, answering your cell, sitting down first at the interview, etc.” Â–Miller
“Misspelling my name.” Â–Roeser
“Having obnoxious messages on their answering machines/cell phone when you return the call.” — Roeser
Me, me, me, me, me
“Complete failure of understanding how they can help my business be more successful — which is why I’m hiring in the first place. You need to help me; it’s not the other way around.” — Roeser
“Not understanding the context of the employer’s market. Read the trades publications in the field of your next employer. Understand the market trends, pressures and competition.Â Know the thought leaders in the field and be prepared to talk about ideas.” — Langerud
Greed is not good
“One of the biggest mistake candidates make is talking about compensation too early in the process. If you are asking for too much, you price yourself out of the job. If you ask for too little, you either get what you ask for Â– which is often less than the employer is willing to pay Â– or worse, the employer believes you can’t be a good candidate because you weren’t earning enough … One way to delay the discussion is to respond to questions about compensation by saying something like, ‘It’s not about the money. Let’s talk about the job. If I am the right person for the job and this is the right job for me, we’ll work out something that makes sense for everyone.'” — Lee Miller, co-author (with Jessica Miller) of “A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating“
Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.