By Joe Stein
In what has become an annual tradition this time of year, it is now time for our annual review of Job Seeker “don’t do it” items. Below is a list of actual events that occurred to me (or a colleague) while recruiting for positions during the course of this past year.
Of course, the purpose of this annual list is not to “make fun” of the Job Seekers involved in these items, but rather to use their mistakes to help others avoid these unfortunate errors.
· Typographical Errors – Unfortunately, I think this item ends up on the list every year. My best example was interviewing for a professional position and deciding to speak to someone despite her Cover Letter/Resume having a spelling error and grammatical mistake. I was relieved when, to start the interview, the person provided me updated documents leading me to believe that she discovered her errors. I was wrong when a quick review not only confirmed the original errors, but also a couple of new mistakes. Please thoroughly review any of your documents prior to submission. If you do not have complete confidence in your writing ability, then have a friend or family member also scrub the documents for potential mistakes.
· Remove Desk Items – I was in an interview recently with a person who appeared very nervous. This was confirmed when she subsequently removed a binder clip off my desk and then started to “click it” as we were talking to each other. When I mentioned the distraction to her, she informed me that she often did something similar, such as clicking a pen when people speak. She went as far as mentioning that people have asked her before if she was listening to them (believing her actions reflected that she was not paying attention to them). The first lesson to learn is to leave items from the Interviewer’s desk alone, no one desires to have a stranger handle their belongings. The second lesson is don’t do something that will cause a distraction during the interview. The third lesson is never admit that you sometimes are accused of not listening to people when they speak.
· Get Mad – This one happened several months ago, but I am still thinking about it from time to time. I had a candidate with a rather sketchy work history speaking to me in a 1st round phone interview. I was in the midst of asking a series of questions to better understand some employment gaps and reasons for leaving previous positions, when the phone line went dead. Not knowing what happened, I tried to call the number back a couple of times without any luck. It was not until much later that I received a middle of the night e-mail from the candidate expressing her displeasure with me for asking questions like I did about her work history. The lesson is that a Job Seeker should anticipate interview questions and prepare his/her answers. For example, if you have a spotty work history then expect questions in this area. The interviewer is just doing his/her job in finding out more about this area of concern.
· Bring Your Child – I know this one can be tough for Job Seekers who have child care responsibilities, but it is not in your best interest to bring your child with you to an interview. I actually had a situation where a Job Seeker asked an employee walking by to watch their child while she was going to be interviewed. Most employers would prefer not having their lobby reduced to a mini day care center. If you are going to take the risk and bring your child at least have an adult with you that will watch your child while being interviewed.
· Get the Personalization Wrong – It is great to add a bit of a personal touch to your Cover Letter or Resume. It is important, however, to get the personalization correct or you run the risk of embarrassing yourself or (even worse) offending the reader. Over the course of this past year, I have had a number of instances where a job seeker did not have the attention to detail necessary to personalize correctly. Some of the errors included having the wrong company in the title of the resume document (forgot to update it) and having the wrong last name (did not spend the time to confirm the name was correct) of the Recruiter. Personalizing your Cover Letter or Resume requires additional effort and attention to detail (it is worth the effort!) compared to a mass produced generic document. Please make sure you take your time and have the document correct prior to sending.
We are now finished with another year’s edition of “Don’t Do It”. I hope you can make some “lemonade” over these lemons and remind yourself about what not to do during your job search.
As always, best of luck in your job search!