Don’t Do It/Don’t Say It! 2011 Edition

By Joe Stein

It is that time again. Time for us to once again present our 2011 annual list of items that Job Seekers should avoid doing or saying. The items on this year’s list may once again seem to be obvious, but all are items that either myself or a colleague have experienced from Job Seekers over the course of the previous year.
·        Ditch the Smart Phone - Modern technology is wonderful. Many of us would feel lost without all of the electronic toys that keep us connected. One time, however, that you will want to disconnect is when you are with a prospective employer. This is the time to give your undivided attention to whomever you are speaking with. If you are on the phone with an employer, do not place them “on hold” so you can accept another call. If you are in an interview, turn your phone off (i.e., no ringing or buzzing phone). Do not ever: check your phone, answer your phone, or return a text message when with a prospective employer. All activities provide the Interviewer with the impression that they are less important than the other person. When you are looking for a new job, no one is more important at that moment than the Interviewer you are currently with.
·        Watch What You Share About Your Employer – I am sometimes amazed at what people will share with me when interviewing. When sharing experiences or information regarding your current employer, please be careful not to share confidential information. I know it is tempting to share (especially when gently probed) as you want to hold the attention and please the Interviewer. Information such as customers, revenue numbers, starting wage rates, etc. are probably information that you should not go into detail about. The prospective employer may be quite interested in what you are sharing, but when the information is collected, they may wonder about your ability to hold confidential information, and ultimately pass on your candidacy.
·        Become Confrontational – I know you want the job, because if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be going through all the effort to get hired. It is not in your best interest, however, to become confrontational or upset with the prospective employer if they are not moving fast enough, or if they decline you for the position. The goal should be to end this search on good terms, so that if you do not land this position, you have placed yourself in a good position to be considered for the future.
·        Over Rely on the Parents – Lots of people use their parents, friends, or other family when networking for a new position. Do not, however, over rely on a “helicopter” (you know…hovering over you) parent (or Grandparent), especially if it is a position with a company that he or she currently works for. The last thing you should want is to have the standing of your parent diminished because of their overzealous support of you with their employer. I have had to have difficult conversations with parents who have become upset because a child was passed over for a position.
·        Sharing Personal Information – Wow! This one happens way too much. Where do we start? Do not share your past history in the “Woodstock era” and how you are much more conservative now. Do not inform the Interviewer that you need to work a later shift because you have a hard time getting up in the morning from being up the night before. In general, use your internal filter and if there is any doubt, don’t share it!
·        Yawn – Please get a good night sleep the night before. If the time is not convenient because it interrupts your sleep pattern (especially if you are currently work nights), then communicate to the Interviewer an alternative time. Looking tired, drowsy, or yawning during the interview will not allow you to present yourself at your best.
·        Taking Copious Notes – It is perfectly acceptable to bring in a portfolio pad with some questions or key items. You should also bring a pen in order to jot down an important note or two. It can be awkward (or even disturbing) if your head is down and you are diligently writing everything that is said. This practice not only disturbs the natural flow of the conversation, but also causes me to be cautious of what I am going to say, for fear that you are going to try to “catch me” saying something. You will also probably find yourself not truly listening to the conversation in your earnest attempt to document everything.
·        Taking Some Time Off – No Interviewer or Hiring Manager wants to hear about how you had “saved up some money” and decided to relax and take some time off. Think about it…the person you are speaking with probably is overworked and tired, but they continued working. This is a great way to have your work ethic questioned. Always give the impression that you have been busy with your job search, charitable work, or something other than “taking some time off”.
There are numerous common sense tips that a Job Seeker can learn from to improve their chances in landing the job he or she desires. Take care of all the simple, obvious items and you will provide yourself with a competitive advantage against those who cannot help themselves.

As always, best of luck in your job search