This year, the job hunt has been brutal for millions of people. If you’re not too keen on getting back to the grind, here are 40 ways to put the nail in your career coffin.
If you do want the job, the career placement services advisors at Rasmussen College have some rules and resources on how to avoid common mistakes. Up to 44 percent of employers admit to "Googling" their employers before even interviewing them. Don’t be a negative statistic.
Before the Interview
“I hate my job @ Starbucks its so stupid” is an actual Twitter update from a Starbucks employee…or perhaps ex-Starbucks employee. This is from the same employee/ex-employee that stated: “I'm going to murder my hr officer.” So is this: “Is working and I hate it.”
We may not all love our jobs, we may not all get along with our co-workers, that is just fine and totally understandable. It’s one thing to write down these frustrations in a journal that is tucked safely under your bed; but another to put them out there for the whole world to see. Remember that 44% of employers who search your name?
Be careful what you put out into the universe my friends… it will return to haunt you. Twitter is an excellent way to let people know you are searching for a job - and what you are qualified for. Use Twitter as a way to draw GOOD attention to your profile from employers, not bad.
Posting photos that would make your grandmother cringe.
“A recent survey by Vault.com found that 44% of employers use social networking sites to snoop the profiles of job candidates” (foxbusiness.com). Uuuuhhhh, oops. For every 10 jobs you apply for, at least four employers are seeking out your online persona. This may occur right when they receive a resume, when they select their interview candidates, or after the interview.
Regardless of when it does occur, you need to be sure your online persona is in tip-top shape. When your potential employer finds photos of you looking less than professional, it could put your resume in the trash. Need to do some online damage control? Start with these small steps:
- Ask friends NOT to tag you in photos. If you are tagged in an inappropriate photo, remove it.
- Move your account settings to private. 10 Privacy Setting Every Facebook User Should Know
- Google your own name to see what comes up. If you find things that could be harmful to your future employment do the best you can to get them removed from the site. Career Development Transforms into Personal Branding
These 3 small steps can make a big difference in preserving your reputation and landing you that job.
Skipping the volunteer scene because it doesn't pay the rent .
A big part of networking is volunteering. People volunteer to help others, and employers like people who help others; it shows compassion, work ethic, drive and dedication. Let’s say you want to work at the County Courthouse.
Try to find a volunteer or internship opportunity within the courthouse. It might be sweeping floors or filing paperwork, but it’s better than being on the outside looking in. PLUS, it gives you access to jobs as soon as they become vacant AND it gives you a chance to m asmussen.edu/js/tiny_mce/themes/advanced/langs/en.js">eet people who may be in charge of hiring! Volunteering is also a great addition to any resume and could lead to great references.
Using an Email Address that Screams "Don't Take me Seriously."
Similar to what has been stated above, the need for a professional email address is a must when job searching.
It’s time to say goodbye to email@example.com and say hello to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For many of the same reasons stated above, a professional email address shows you are serious about your career future.
Skipping the small stuff. That's what spell check is for, right?
Spelling and grammatical errors also topped the list in terms of what will knock you out of the running… even for an interview. In this tight job market, if your resume is not 100% error-free, your chances of getting an interview drop drastically.
Be sure to check and recheck your resume for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. It’s also important to list your dates correctly (in order of present to past) while being sure the layout is consistent, easy-to-read and professional.
Only Applying to One Company Because you will Only Settle for the Best
The average job seeker is submitting anywhere from 10 to 20 resumes per week! Ideally, you should be finding two to three jobs per day worth applying for. The jobs that you pursue do not have to be ”the perfect job” or one that fits all your qualifications or skills.
Sending out one resume per week will not get you the results you desire. The more you apply, the more chances you have to get an interview. The more you interview, the more chances you have of getting an offer. Offers = jobs! Utilize your connections, seek out networking opportunities and get your resume out there!
Looking at the Same Job Sites and Expecting Different Results
Limiting yourself to only searching a few big online career sites is really limiting your chances of finding viable job leads. In fact, only using these searches limits your chances.
And other social networking sites to seek out job leads or employers to network with. Check out individual websites for local businesses, Chambers of Commerce, hospitals, schools, and your local newspaper’s online and print listings.
Utilize Indeed.com to send daily or weekly job leads directly to your email account.There are countless other job searching sites.
Using a "Baby Got Back" Ringtone or Voicmail Message that Tells Your Future Employers to "Holla at 'Ya"
When an employer calls you to set up an interview the last thing they want to hear is “Baby Got Back.” Trust me. When you are applying for positions PLEASE take the ring back OFF your phone.
An employer would much rather hear the old-fashioned ringing of a phone instead of the latest Top-40, Hip Hop, or R&B hit. Also, be sure your voicemail is short, concise and professional.
Use this as a script: “Hello! You have reached the voicemail of Jane Smith. I am currently unavailable but please leave me a message and I will return your call as soon as I can. Thank you and have a great day”. Now doesn’t that sound better than “I know who you called so say what you called to say”. I think so…
Spending a Lot of Time on your MySpace & Facebook Pages
We all love social networking, it’s a great way to stay in touch with family and friends. However spending too much time completing surveys, taking quizzes and uploading photos may give an employer the wrong impression of you. Spending five hours a day on your Facebook page may give an employer the idea that you will spend five hours a day at work on your Facebook page… which is generally unacceptable.
Not Following up after Sending your Resume.
There are about one million different things that could happen to your resume after it leaves your hands or computer. It could get lost in the mail, lost in cyberspace, orwarded to the wrong person, land in a junk mail folder, or even eaten by a printer.
For all these reasons, and 999,994 more, it’s very important you follow up after you send your resume. A simple phone call or email stating, “Good morning, I sent my resume to you on Monday for the accounting clerk position; I’m calling to make sure it has been received” is a perfect example of how you can follow up!
If you are applying via online application you will want to call the HR department and say something like, “Hello, I filled out the online application for the Pharmacy Technician position on Monday. Could you tell me the status of that application? I want to be sure it was submitted correctly”. This will ensure your resume made it to the Hiring Manager safe and sound.
Keeping your Resume Hidden
Keeping your resume all to yourself is just silly! Make it perfect, then make it viewable. The more people that can view your resume online the better - you can opt to leave your phone number and address off if you are worried about having that information online.
Do provide an email address or LinkedIn address where the employer can contact you if they are interested in your skills. Having good key words is key - so look up some job descriptions and include those words in your resume… as long as you know what they mean.
Ignoring newspapers altogether, only old people read them anyway.
While there may be less job postings printed these days, there are still great reasons to read the paper. Take time to review the Business section of your local newspaper - what businesses are coming into town? What businesses are leaving your town? Who got promoted (leaving a job opening)? Who is expanding?
All of these are insights into the future of the job market in your city… or whichever city’s newspaper you choose to read!
Search online for your local newspaper
Why use LinkedIn when I have a killer MySpace page with tons of new indie music?
LinkedIn is a powerful professional networking tool being used by about 40 million registered users. The site gives you the chance to upload a professional photo of yourself, provide information about your skills, past work history and education, and allows others to recommend your work.
The site also allows you to reach out to people in various industries by “connecting” to them or being “introduced” to them through another contact. This is a great new way to begin networking and searching for your next career. Once you set up your account be sure to use it.
Log in two to three times per week and get connected to as many people in your industry as possible. Networking doesn’t work if you don’t use it.
I don't really like talking to people (except in WoW), so I won't be attending any networking events .
I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but a job is not going to fall from the sky and land in your lap. I know it’s hard to believe, but finding a job can often be a full-time job in of itself. If you are not using all of the resources available to you, you are really missing out.
Attend a Chamber of Commerce event, talk to a Career Services Advisor, attend conferences, presentations and seminars, tell everyone you know you are searching for a job. Don’t discount the ole’, “My sister’s husband is an Accountant. He said his boss is looking for an assistant. You should call him.” The “friend of a friend of a friend” is often someone you need to know! At one time I was told that upward of 80% of jobs are never posted, they are advertised by word of mouth… if no one knows you’re looking how do they know to tell you about the next great opportunity? Don’t be shy, get the word out!
Preparing for an interview the same way you would get ready to go through the drive-thru .
You have no resume, you have no portfolio, you are underdressed
and you ran out of time to brush your teeth. Yikes. This is not a good way to start an interview. Yes, there may be times when you get a call at 2 pm and the interviewer would like to see you at 3 pm. If this is the case, do the best you can to look the part and try to gather as much of your materials as you can.
Being well-dressed and looking great is the top priority. Have your portfolio and resume ready to go at all times. Company research in this case may be difficult to do, but do the best you can. As you apply for jobs, take a moment to jot down three to five things about the company by searching its website. Keep these notes in your portfolio to reference during an interview.
Worst case scenario, ask the interviewer for an extra half hour or see if there is another day you can meet. This is really a last resort…but can be used if needed.
Wearing the same clothes you wore last Friday night when you were crushin' it on the dancefloor .
In the same Vault.com survey, 87% of employers stated that a candidate had “dressed inappropriately” for an interview. WOW! When you secure an interview, it’s important to dress the part. Subscribe to the old adage: “Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have.”
Another rule of thumb? Research the type of company you are applying for. For instance, a UPS recruiter one time stated that if you are applying for a Package Handler position and you come in wearing a 3-piece suit you are obviously not aware of the job.
However, if you come in wearing nice khakis and a wrinkle-free dress shirt it shows you have done your research. If you are applying for a job in an office environment- keep in mind that many companies are ‘business casual’ meaning ties are required for men and suits are welcome, but not required.
Women: be sure to wear something that is not revealing and fits your body type. For additional information on how to dress appropriately for an interview. check out Dressing for Success on Ask.com.
Why research them? They want to hire me, not vice versa.
“What do you know about our company?” Don’t let this question catch you off guard. Take 10 minutes to get on the company website and find three to five easy-to-remember facts.
For example, I interviewed at ING in Des Moines, IA quite a few years ago. When they asked me what I knew about the company I stated, “Well, as an avid runner I know that ING sponsors the New York Marathon.” DING DING DING! He said that is the first time anyone had said that to him!
Finding something that interests you about the company is a great way to ensure you will remember it in the interview.
Using references like the dude that lives down the street because he likes the parties you throw.
While I’m sure your mother has excellent things to say about you, she is not the type of reference an employer is seeking. The best choices include present and former co-workers or supervisors; people you have coached, trained, mentored or led; clergy member; internship supervisor or others who can speak to your work ethic, skills, abilities and personal traits.
Generally an employer will need three to five references to call upon. Remember to ask your References for permission to use their name before you do, confirm their contact information (phone, email, address), ensure they have a copy of your resume, and be sure they will say good things about you.
Applying in an industry you despise, but at least they will pay you a ton.
This goes hand-in-hand with not doing your research; it’s important to know what kind of job you will be doing. If you do not want to work with children, New Horizons is probably not the company you want to apply for. If you are allergic to cats, you may want to stay away from PetCo.
During the Interview
The first question you ask is: When can I take my two month European backpacking trip I have been planning since college.
Generally, these topics should be left for when a job offer is made to you. Do not discuss these items in a first interview, unless an impending vacation is going to fall during the interview process. (Then politely state you will be out of town, but would be happy to complete a phone interview, if needed ).
Remember that just because you have needs/wants/desires for the “perfect job,” does not mean an employer needs to cater to those needs/wants/desires.
Being professional and diplomatic when discussing money, vacation time or hours is the best practice here; for instance if an employer offers you a job for $14 an hour and you need $17, simply ask, “Is there any room for negotiation on the salary? I was thinking more along the lines of $17 per hour.” The employer may say “no way, Jose” or they may be able to give you $15.50 or $16. Be polite, patient and professional and you may get closer to what you want.
Believing there is such a thing as "fashionably late" for a job interview .
After polling staff, faculty, family and friends, this was by far one of the No. 1 reasons. In fact, in a Vault.com survey, 30% of employers stated a candidate “only needs to be 15 minutes late to be disqualified for a job.” A shocking 12% said a candidate only needs to be 5 minutes late to disqualify them!
Not asking questions because you know "everything" already. Duh.
82% of employers stated it is “extremely important” for a candidate to ask questions during an interview, according to a Vault.com survey. Many times your chance to ask questions will come at the end of the interview.
Come prepared with five to 10 questions ahead of time - type them out, and take the list with you to reference. You may only want to ask two or three, but chances are many of the questions you have on your list will be covered before you get the chance to ask.
Here are some good samples: “Could you tell me about the training program for this position?” “What company do you feel is your biggest competition?” “How did you get started in this industry?” “Is this an addition to the team, or a new position?” Asking questions re-affirms your interest in the position and shows you have prepared for the interview adequately.
Talking trash about your "lazy boss" or your "worthless coworkers" because you will never see those losers again.
It’s certainly possible that your last boss was “the worst boss on earth” or that the last company you worked for “failed miserably,” but it’s best to keep that to yourself. This goes for before, during and after the interview. (We’ll discuss your online persona in a moment).
When asked why you left your last position remain calm, diplomatic and professional, “It turned out not to be the position I expected” will suffice, or “I wanted to move on to a more challenging/more rewarding/more stable career field” would also do.
Being as Organized as a Junk Drawer
This is the worst way to conduct a job search. I once sent out a Social Work resume and cover letter for a corporate training job…Luckily, the employer was nice enough to call back, and I was able to send the correct documents to him.
Being organized also means keeping a spreadsheet updated with when you send your resume, where you send it, what the job is you applied to, when you followed up and who you contacted. It can be as simple as a table in a Word document, or as organized as an Excel spreadsheet.
As long as you are keeping track of the who, what, when, where and why’s, you’ll be much better off!
Sample Categories for Your Job Search Spreadsheet:
Avoiding Eye Contact Because You Don't Want to "Stare"
Remember growing up and you tried to lie to your parents and they always knew you were lying because you didn’t look at them? Or remember sitting in History 101 in college and the professor called on the students who were looking out the window?
These are two very good examples of times when you should have had eye contact with the person you were speaking with. It is also important to maintain good eye contact with your interviewer; this will show you are interested and engaged in the process…and telling the truth.
Writing that You Earned a Purple Heart on your Resume because it Makes you Sound Patriotic.
“One survey estimates that as many 80 percent of all job seekers submit applications and resumes that contain intentionally misleading information. The misrepresentation involves work experience, criminal history, inflated past salaries and education credentials.” (LansingBusinessMonthly.com)
Be honest at all times, don’t try to cover up any part of your work history, education or experience; it’s likely the interviewer will find out the truth anyway and the omission will be much worse than if you had been honest in the first place.
A Gentle Handshake
A firm handshake is the beginning of a good first impression. If you don’t shake hands confidently, you already have one strike against you.
You may be more nervous than you’ve ever been but it’s up to you to put on a brave face, a firm handshake, a big smile and fake your confidence level until you feel confident in yourself.
Lastly, avoid giving Dap no matter how hip the company; and please, do not try and shake hands for too long .
Showing too Little Enthusiasm because you don't Want to Sound too Interested
It’s important to give the interviewer some sort of non-verbal feedback when they are talking - smile, nod, raise your eyebrows - it’s also important to sound excited when you talk. Have some sort of energy behind your answers, but don’t go over-the-top.
There is a difference when saying, “I applied for this job ‘cause I’m interested in it and qualified,” and saying, “I applied for this position because it is just the opportunity I have been searching for. I’m also excited because it’s right in line with my skills and experience.” Which one sounds better to you??
Chewing Gum like a 14-Year Old Mall Rat
Spit it out prior to arriving at the interview. Please don’t spit it out in the parking lot or stick it under the chair in the lobby. Find an old Target receipt in your purse or wallet and dispose of your gum there. Chewing gum in an interview is the opposite of professional.
I almost lost out on a job due to this; it was my first interview out of college, and I was so nervous I moved around the entire tim
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Summer Hagy, LSW, is an adjunct instructor for Rasmussen College at the St. Cloud, MN college campus. In this role, she teaches general education for college students seeking degrees online and on campus.