10 Behaviors That Are Sabotaging Your Job Hunt

Posted May 15, 2015 by
Sarah Landrum photo

Sarah Landrum

So you’re on the hunt for the perfect job. You’ve written the perfect resume, spruced up your cover letter, and brought your A game to the interviews. But no one has offered you a position. What’s going wrong?

More likely than not, you’re making one small – but fatal – error. When applying to job after job after job, it’s easy to miss the small thing that’s turning employers away from you. We’ve collected some of the most common reasons for not being hired, so you can tune up your own techniques accordingly.

Not Reading the Job Description

Churning out generic resumes and cover letters may feel like you’re saving time, but they’re dragging out your job hunt in the long run. Employers can instantly see that you’ve not read the job description properly and sent them a cookie-cutter resume. Read the description carefully, and tailor your application to it. This will show you’re serious about the job.

Failing to Proofread

There’s nothing more annoying than receiving an application riddled with simplicity to avoid spelling and grammatical errors. It’s tempting to send the application as soon as you’ve completed it, but take the time to proofread it. Even better, have somebody else read it to pick up on errors you may have missed.

Using Buzzwords

Do you describe yourself as innovative or dynamic in your resume? You may well be these things, but if you can’t prove it, employers will pass over your resume. Instead of simply peppering your resume with buzzwords, provide concrete examples that illustrate your innovativeness. Check out this list of best and worst resume terms from The Muse, and revise your resume before sending it off.

Lacking Confidence

Going for any interview is always nerve-wracking, but try not to let those nerves show. An interviewee who lacks confidence can come across as inexperienced and unable to do the job on offer. Practicing your interview, either in front of a mirror or with a friend, can go a long way toward alleviating those nerves.

Poor Communication

In your interview, neglecting to address simple issues such as active listening and appropriate responses can kill your chances. Maintain eye contact, pay attention, and ask appropriate questions to show you’re listening to your interviewer and that you care about the job.

Your non-verbal communication is also important. Be conscious of your body language, and try these body language tips from Mashable. Smiling can also go a long way in showing you’re personable and easy to work with.

Having Poor Voicemail Etiquette

In the age of email and text, voicemail is often overlooked, but it could be an employer’s first interaction with you. If they meet with a full inbox or an inappropriate greeting, they may think twice about interviewing you. Change your greeting to a more professional one, and stay on top of your messages.

Answering Your Phone Unprofessionally

Once you’ve applied for a job, you must be ready for your potential employer to call you at any moment. Answering your phone without this in mind can hurt your chances at an interview. After all, would you hire someone who answered the phone with “Hey, what’s up?” Be ready to be professional at all times.

Not Dressing to Impress

Although many workplaces may implement a more relaxed dress code, it doesn’t mean that you can slack off on dressing up for your interview. Remember, you’re there to convince your potential employer that you’re the person for the job, and you want to make an excellent first impression. Dressing smartly and neatly will go a long way toward creating that impression. Be sure to follow the dress for success tips from this post on Forbes.

Saying – Not Showing

You have many skills to bring to the table, but telling your interviewer about them is not enough. Be able to illustrate your skills and qualifications in ways that go beyond your resume. If you need strong writing skills, for example, bring writing samples to the interview without being asked for them. Provide links to your blog and portfolio, if you have them. You can set up a written portfolio easily with Contently, so if your work has been published online there’s no excuse not to have one.

If you’re in a more hands-on field, try showing videos or photo blogs of what you have been creating. Even better, provide tutorials for how to do it. There’s no better way to show your in-depth understanding than to teach others. The experts at CJ Pony Parts do this very well on their YouTube channel about Mustangs. Try finding a company in your field that’s doing the same and mimic their style.

Not Knowing about the Company

A common mistake is not researching the company. Knowledge is always key. If your interviewer asks what you know about the company, being able to talk about what they do and how it’s relevant to you and your skills will be an enormous boon.

Failing to Follow Up

Many people don’t think to follow up after an interview, which means they may be well suited on paper, but forgettable in person. Sending a quick follow up note or email, thanking your interviewers for their time, can set you apart from the other candidates when it comes to selection time. Write a great follow up email or note with these tips from Forbes contributor Liz Ryan.

In today’s challenging job market, you need to use every trick in the book to make yourself stand out. Falling prey to simple mistakes, such as those listed above, can sabotage your chance to sell yourself before you’ve even begun. Follow this advice and have confidence in your abilities if you want to stand out in the job market.

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping young professionals realize happiness and success in their careers and live life to the fullest. Follow her and subscribe to her blog for more great tips.

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