As part one of a two-part article by Barry Whelan, he details five of the ten most common errors made when searching for a new job
Jul 12 2012
It is hard to find work these days, however on occasions the market is not a valid excuse. When you are failing to secure a job interview or not getting that coveted job offer you may begin to question whether you did something wrong. While sometimes it is that someone else was just more experienced or qualified than you, at other times, yes, it is you and you did do something wrong. Unbeknownst to you, you may be jeopardising your own chances of employment by making one of ten simple but catastrophic mistakes in your job hunt.
1. You are not contactable
A messenger pigeon and smoke signals are generally not the chosen methods of contact when an employer wishes to call a job applicant for interview. It is imperative that you are fully contactable and that you provide the company with your correct contact details on your CV and cover letter. Many job seekers leave out digits in their phone numbers, misspell their email or home address and, often in the case of a hasty application, they will forget to provide any contact details at all. If an employer sees that you have not given your details, they will not hunt you down, and why should they when they no doubt received similar applications from people who remember to tell the employer how they can be reached? Another bad move from job seekers is neglecting to set up a voicemail service on their phones. If your phone rings out or is off they will most likely not try to contact you again and move on to the other applicants, but if you have a voicemail service, they can leave you a message, and then it is in your hands to call them back. Also, if you are looking for work while in employment, it would be a wise move to provide details of when you can be contacted i.e. on your lunch hour or your days off.
2. Big gaps between jobs
This is something you are told about in careers class in secondary school or by your guidance counsellor in college. If you have long periods of time without work it does look bad. As soon as you are made unemployed draw up a CV and start applying because the longer you leave it the worse it looks. It can generate two immediate reactions from an employer: This person is lazy or there is a reason why they haven’t been employed by someone else. Even if you have a valid reason for being unemployed for long periods of time throughout your working life, it can still conjure up these negative visions in an employer’s mind. If you have any gaps in employment longer than five months on your CV, be fully prepared to answer questions either before or during an interview about why you have not found work. Be sure to avoid answers that use the job market as an excuse in a nonchalant manner such as: “It’s tough out there” or “everyone is in the same boat”. If you were not given the chance to progress in your job, thereby failing to gain any extra experience, do not be afraid to admit this. If you feel that you have been lacking in job seeking skills, say so and suggest that it doesn’t reflect on your ability and that you are taking steps to improve your skills in job seeking. Another important point to make in your interview is how you have filled your time during your unemployment.
3. You failed to prepare for the interview
Nothing is more frustrating to a hiring manager or employer than someone who turns up unprepared for an interview. As soon as they realise you didn’t put the time and effort into understanding the role, the company and your own abilities, they will shred your CV and put a red mark on your application. Interviewers always ask potential employees why you want to work for them, if you don’t have an answer that specifically targets information about the company and is instead generic, they will think that you just want any job and you had no interest or knowledge of the company until you saw that they were hiring. Another tell-tale sign that you didn’t prepare is not having questions at the end or throughout the interview. If they have answered all the questions you had prepared, tell them and ask them to elaborate if possible. If you are unsure of what kind of questions to ask about the company, perhaps ask the name of the person you will be reporting to, what kind of progression you could gain over time, what the staff turnover is, if there are any education schemes... the options are endless.
4. You have no references
It is important to provide reference contacts of at least one person who is readily available to vouch for your professionalism and abilities in your career. If you don’t have one or two on your CV it tells the interviewer that either there is no one who would willingly give a positive account of your character, or that you are waiting to ask for references after you are offered a job; which screams unprepared.
5. You have nothing good to say about your previous job
We have all had jobs in which we have felt uncomfortable, frustrated and which we even despised, but you don’t have to tell your potential future employer. If an interviewer asks you why you left your last job, alarms will go off in your head and you will be compelled to tell them about the time they wouldn’t let you take a day off for your best friend’s wedding or that they lied about progression opportunities to get you in, or that the boss repeatedly flirted with you. Instead you can turn the negatives into positives. You could say that you felt you dedicated a lot of time and work to the company and it was time to move on and put your experiences into a new business that you could also learn from; you felt that you were not getting the progression opportunities and you wanted to move on to a company that you could develop with; you desired a change in atmosphere in the work place as you had spent a lot of time working in the same environment.
Barry Whelan will document another five mistakes that can prevent you from landing your dream job in next month’s issue.