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Avoid These Common Job Search Disasters



1/16/2014 3:53:33 PM

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Avoid These Common Job Search Disasters January 23, 2014

Be mindful of these four things that can hinder your chances of getting the job.

By Angela Rose for BioSpace.com

With several Americans still unemployed, and many overworked professionals contemplating the pursuit of greener pastures, it’s easy to see why competition for jobs is fierce in most industries. Hiring managers and human resource professionals are looking for the best of the best within the resumes they receive and the interviews they conduct. Unfortunately, there are many opportunities for job seekers to go awry. If you’d like to avoid an extended unpaid vacation from the workforce, steer clear of these five ways to ruin your chances of getting the job.

1. Submit a sloppy cover letter and resume.

Employers are looking for go-getters, not candidates who put in minimal effort. So don’t submit a generic cover letter and resume unless you want yours to be among the first in the trash. Customize each piece you send for the company and position. This may mean reworking your goals, rewording your accomplishments, or even using different references. Then check and double-check your documents for spelling errors, punctuation issues, and problems with grammar. Don’t rely on the spellchecker in Word either—it doesn’t always catch what another pair of eyes will, so solicit help from a well-read friend or relative. For example, if you are applying for an R&D position at XYZ biotech, be sure to spell "research scientiist" correctly as well as the division you are applying to. It could be what makes or break your chances of getting the job.

2. Remember—first impressions are crucial.

Once you make it to the interview phase, there are even more ways to sabotage your chances with potential employers. Your best bet is never to do anything in an interview that you would not do in front of your grandmother. Show respect by showing up on time. Don’t chew gum or suck on candy or mints. Get a haircut and shave. Put your best foot forward and make sure it’s not a stinky one—a shower and deodorant are not optional. Make eye contact and use a firm handshake. Finally, dress professionally, project confidence, and always say “please” and “thank you.”

3. Speak before you think it through.

If a potential employer asks you a difficult question (and they will), consider your answer carefully. We are not suggesting that you lie; interviewers often appreciate candid answers. However, there are some things you should never say and others that you may be able to phrase diplomatically. Avoid ranting and raving or throwing blame. If you parted ways with your last employer on less than perfect terms, you can still find something positive to say. Think about this ahead of time and plan out your answer.

4. Stalk your interviewer.

Ask about next steps before you leave the interview so you’ll have an idea of the company’s timeframe for hiring. It’s polite and professional to follow-up your interview with a thank you note, by snail mail or email. It’s also perfectly acceptable to give your interviewer a call if you have not heard from him or her within the agreed upon time. However, if your interviewer does not return your call or respond to your email, it is generally not acceptable to contact him or her every day or make aggressive demands on voicemail.

Every job opportunity and every interviewer, are different. Use common sense within each situation and avoid these five ways to ruin your chances of getting the job. With perseverance and professionalism, you will find a new job.

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About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends, and workplace issues for BioSpace.com.

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