Monday, February 7, 2011

Stupid Mistakes People Make While Job Hunting

The poor state of the economy is not the only reason many people have trouble finding jobs. It is however a common excuse people use to justify their failure in the job market. Many job hunters don’t realize that their own stupid mistakes are prolonging their stay on the unemployment line.

These mistakes aren’t always obvious. Clearly if you are spending your days on the couch watching television, you shouldn’t expect a magic genie to plop down next to you and grant you three job offers. Since most unemployed people don’t think that they are Aladdin, they are probably making a painstaking effort in seeking employment. If laziness and the economy aren’t the culprits, what is going wrong here?

Mistakes that seem so minute that most job seekers don’t even notice them are often deal-breakers. These blunders can happen at any point during the job searching process. When searching for a job, the first task is to create and perfect your resume. Even though making a masterpiece out of your resume may seem like an elementary task, it is easy to butcher the document without realizing.

This is a resume, not an autobiography. When striving to create the most impressive resume possible, many people fall into the trap of including every detail of their lives. You can omit your lemonade stand endeavors from back in grade school without making yourself less marketable. Employers do not want to waste their time reading irrelevant information; the added reading is not going to make them more interested in hiring you.

Employers also do not want to read your spelling and grammar errors, so be sure to leave those out of your resume as well. Technology appears to assist with this, as most word processing programs have a tool to check spelling and grammar. However, this does not guarantee an error-proof document, and too many people make the mistake of relying on it to proofread their work for them. Sometimes spellcheck “corrects” words that don’t need fixing and ends up adding errors to a document that was flawless. People also make the mistake of relying on themselves to proofread. If you have a tendency to make a certain mistake in your writing, while proofreading, you might not even notice that mistake because you are so used to seeing it. Asking someone reliable to proofread your resume can help prevent you from submitting a resume that contains embarrassing errors that make you look unprofessional to an employer.

Additionally, never assume that if a certain company didn’t request a cover letter, it means that you shouldn’t write one. You should always include a brief note introducing yourself and supplying some of your credentials. Do not turn this into a novel; you are applying for a job, not applying for college.

Once you are sure that your resume is free of rookie mistakes, you need to make sure that you have chosen the correct audience. Never apply to a job if you don’t meet the qualifications. This accomplishes nothing and is a waste of your time and the employer’s time.

After you have found the appropriate audience, make sure that you come off as an appropriate candidate for the job. If you are sending your cover letter and resume via email, make sure to use a professional sounding email address. Employers are not likely to put their trust in Keep your email address simple; something containing your first and last name will suffice.

In addition to keeping your email address appropriate, you also must make sure to keep anything that you post online appropriate. Employers search for you on the Internet to find information that isn’t covered in resumes and interviews. You will have to face your facebook posts, so don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t want an employer to find.

Just like employers exercise precaution when researching potential employees online, you need to be careful if you are using the Internet to search for job openings. Watch out for scams; unfortunately they are becoming more widespread. Take it from somebody who had a man posing as a lawyer mail me random garbage because he got my address from my resume. You don’t want to send your resume to a scam artist, so make sure to do everything you can to make sure you are corresponding with a legitimate employer.

After doing all of that work to avoid making stupid mistakes on your resume and online appearance, it is crucial to take the same precautions at interviews. It is very easy to make stupid mistakes at interviews, but it is also very easy not to make them.

Before you even walk into the interview, triple-check that your cell phone is on silent. You don’t want your interview interrupted by your ringtone of the uncensored version of Bruno Mars’s “Billionaire.”

Make sure to dress in professional clothing and definitely not to appear exhausted and/or hung over. You don’t want an employer to think that you came to the interview straight from a party. While you want to come off as professional and confident, make sure your confidence doesn’t cause you to reveal too much information. An acquaintance of mine made the mistake of disclosing to her interviewer that she had taken a Xanax to calm herself down before the interview. Definitely avoid discussions about drugs, health issues, and other inappropriate personal information at job interviews.

Also, do not tell your interviewer that you are willing to do any job that is offered to you. You want to make sure that you convey that you have clear career goals. Desperation is unattractive in the dating world and it is also unattractive in the world of employment. You don’t want to come off as the type of person who will shack up with any job that comes your way; you want to display that you know what you want.

After the interview, make sure to send a thank you note, and be prepared in the event that you do get a phone call from your interviewer. Don’t download one of those idiotic ringback tones, for example; if your interviewer is calling you, it’s to talk, not listen to music. Also make sure that your voicemail message is appropriate; if you do miss the phone call, you don’t want a potential employer to be greeted with “yo, whatup, you’ve reached my phone. I’m busy so leave it at the tone.” Make a brief, professional voicemail greeting. There are also instances where it might be a better choice to purposely miss the phone call; you don’t want to have to scream at a potential employer because you’re at a bar or a concert.

All of these mistakes are easy to make, even for a responsible, hardworking person. Make sure you don’t let a stupid mistake ruin your chances at getting your dream job.

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