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Common Job Hunting Blunders

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I want to link to a few Salary.com articles on job hunting and resumes.

I hate their slide-show format, but there are a few useful points in the articles that those seeking employment should consider. 

In 14 Common Job Hunting Blunders [4], Salary.com offers some good thoughts.

1. Relying on the job classifieds, want ads, or online job postings

U.S. Department of Labor claims that 70 percent of jobs are found through networking

Probably true in all countries. You need to get out there and become visible to potential employers. Before they start the hiring process.

2. Having unclear job or career goals

Focus on the industry and positions you want to work in. Then target those in your job hunt.

Also, develop complementary skills, extracurricular activities, and other indirect skills and experiences that are beneficial in your desired position and industry.

3. Looking for any old job

I understand the point, but if you are unemployed and money is tight, any old job looks pretty good. Also, it is always easier to get a new job when you are already employed. Some companies do not even look at applicants who are not working.

However, if you do have some flexibility, focus on a position you actually desire. One that will give you satisfaction and/or move you another step closer to your dream career.

4. Being unprepared for interviews

Duh. In this day and age if you have not researched your potential employer, you do not deserve the job. But they do make two excellent points in this blurb:

Have a friend videotape you — your smart phone video camera will do just fine — so you can see what you sound and look like and make any necessary adjustments.

When I was in executive training, we videotaped managing staff meetings and client meetings. It is interesting (and highly educational) to see how you communicate, both verbally and non-verbally. There are many positive and negative signs you are unaware. By videotaping a practice interview, you can identify weaknesses and minimize them prior to the real interview.

Not all that interested in the job? Prepare anyway. It’s good practice, and the more you practice, the better you’ll get at the interview process.

How many job interviews do you have where you sit down an hour later and wonder why you did not provide a better example or not stutter when asked a tough question. Run practice interviews to hone your interview technique. But also work equally hard preparing for marginal job interviews. In fact, when starting a job hunt, try to get some interviews for jobs that are not the highest priority before sitting down to the plum positions.

Whether you are fully interested in a job prior to the interview, work hard to impress and get the offer. If you do not want it, fine. But the object of any interview should be to land an offer and be seen as a top candidate. Maybe the job itself is not fully interesting, but the company sees it as a brief stepping stone to a more fulfilling role. Or perhaps during the interview process they get to know you and see you as a fit for another open role. Even if you do not 100% want the advertised job, think of this as both a networking opportunity and chance to hone your interview skills.

Put your best foot forward and work hard.

One caveat here. If you truly will not accept the position, let the company know before it gets too late. I would say at the close of the second interview. You made it through round one. By round two, you will be getting  into salary, perks, etc., as well as a better idea about the position. So if you will not accept the position, let them know. If you string a potential employer along, it will leave a bad taste in their mouth.

5. Going ape with guerrilla tactics

Life is one big contradiction.

Network, be proactive, etc. But do not go overboard.

A fine line I admit.

6. Badmouthing former jobs or colleagues

Stay positive during interviews.

If you must be negative, keep it factual. Let your interviewer make the judgement that your previous boss was an idiot.

Also, watch out for interview tricks that lead to negative impressions. Perhaps the interview tells a bawdy joke, swears while speaking, or asks if you noticed how hot the receptionist is. Or maybe during a lunch interview, he orders alcohol for himself and the priciest entree on the menu. It could be just the guy or he could be testing your reaction. You are on the clock at all moments during the interview. Do not let your guard down at any point.

That includes before and after the interview. I always ask the receptionist and my secretary what they thought of the candidate. And who knows who you are sharing the elevator with or is within earshot in the lobby while you are talking to your girlfriend on your mobile. You may think me paranoid, but the stories I could tell.

7. Passing out ineffective cover letters and resumes

I have covered resumes already, so check here [5], here [6], and here [7].

And cover letters, here [8], here [9], and here [10].

8. Sending your resume to the HR department 

Do some research and find out the name of the supervisor in the department you want to work in. Then, send your resume directly to that person.

Good point. Just keep in mind item 5 above.

9. Handling rejection poorly

There are normally many strong candidates for one position. The odds are never great. You will get rejected a lot.

Use the interview process as a chance to network and impress industry people you previously did not know. You may not get the job, but if you left a positive impression, it may reap benefits later in life.

10. Sending a stock thank-you note

I constantly read this in interview articles, so maybe it is good advice.

I do not care if you send me a thank you note. You are either the best candidate or not. A formal thank you will not push you over the finish line. Especially knowing that sending me a thank you note is something you read somewhere. Not necessarily who you are as a person.

Of course, a nice bottle of aged rum might work. So keep that in mind if I ever interview you!

Always thank the interviewer at the end of the meeting. And ask for the job!

11. Being unprofessional with your contact information

I am sure I have stated this before.

And do a google search of yourself before submitting the job application. Then try to clean up any negatives that exist out there.

12. Not protecting your privacy

Good point.

Also, watch how much information you provide in the initial application. You do not want your social insurance number, photograph, marital status, current salary, etc., sitting on someone’s desk or emailed throughout the company. Wait until specifically requested before providing personal and private information.

13: Being underqualified (or overqualified)

A bit of a contradiction with point 4 above.

I am not sure I agree with this point. There are so many open jobs and so many different hirers that I doubt you will be blacklisted (i.e., oh it’s that guy who applies for everything, let’s just toss his resume without looking at it).

But there are so many job applicants that if you are not within the required skill set and experience band, you will not get through the screening process. So do not expect any consideration if you are over or under-qualified.

14. Lacking commitment

Treat the job hunt as your full-time job.

Plan, focus, target, and be ready when the interview comes.