Why haven’t you gotten a job, or the job you want? Do you find you’re second runner up or not even in the race? We are in the middle of a tough market where companies are drowning in resumes and layoffs are rampant. The competition is fierce and you simply can’t afford make a mediocre attempt at getting a job.
Your game plan has to be top notch and you have to go above and beyond what is expected to get the job you want. Be prepared to compete and do everything in your power to come out on top. Sadly, I’ve seen job seekers sabotage their chances of getting a job without even realizing it with one of the following:
10 reasons someone else is getting the job instead of you
1) Poorly written resume
If you botch this crucial step, as many do, preparing for the interview is wasted energy. Your resume is the first impression and if it’s not selling your skills adequately, you will not get called for an interview. You can have all the experience in the world, but if your resume doesn’t deliver that message, you’ve just wasted your time. Either work with a resume writer to create a job-winning resume or ensure you very carefully write your own resume making sure you promote yourself like a pro.
2) Showing up late for an interview
Okay, so you’ve managed to get an interview. Right off the bat, you’ve started out on the wrong foot if you’re late. This gives the impression that you have a problem with punctuality and your interviewer will most likely get annoyed that you’ve wasted his/her time.
Arriving too early is almost as bad. Try to make it to the reception area no earlier than 10 minutes before the interview. Any earlier and you will just sit around getting more nervous. If this is an unfamiliar part of the city, make the time the day before to make a trip to the office. This way, you ensure you won’t get lost on the day of your interview.
3) Dressed inappropriately
It goes without saying that ripped jeans and a t-shirt are completely unsuitable for an interview. Your clothes should be clean, professional and ironed. Stay away from loud colors and strong scents as many offices are starting to become scent-free these days. You may even have an interviewer with an allergy or a bad reaction to perfumes and colognes. Skip the perfumes, colognes and body sprays that day. Even some heavy scented deodorants may be too much for the interview.
4) Poor communication
So you’ve made it in front of the interviewer. Remember that communication is verbal and non-verbal.
First, start out with a firm handshake, not a limp one or what I like to call ‘the killer shake’. Make sure to make eye contact and this doesn’t mean starting at the interviewer the whole time. That’s creepy. We all get nervous during interviews, but resist the urge to fidget (playing with hair, obsessively link your lips, cross and uncross your legs, etc.). Stay away from one word answers and answer questions in a clear and concise manner with examples whenever possible. The opposite is also detrimental, don’t over-talk and forget that this is still a conversation. There is nothing worse than candidate who won’t stop talking.
5) Over confidence
Telling the interviewer how smart you are and that you’re better than your whole team is bad practice and makes you look conceited. It certainly doesn’t give the impression that you are a team player. Although you want to promote yourself and your skills, being overconfident is not the approach. Humility and confidence is key.
6) Knowing nothing about the company
I interview a job seeker a few months ago who why he wanted to work for the company answered with “I need a job, I’ll take any company”. While the honesty is nice, this is way too much. Take the time to learn a bit about the company. We’re in the age of the internet where everyone and their grandma has a website. There is absolutely no good reason to show up to an interview and know nothing about the company.
7) Asking about salary
“How much does this gig pay?” are words that should never, ever, ever be uttered in a job interview. The general rule of thumb is not to talk about salary, benefits or vacation during a first interview unless the interviewer brings it up. Your goal is not to give the impression that you’re completely preoccupied with the dollar figure, but to express your qualification and interest in the position and the company as a whole.
8) Badmouthing previous employers
Even if you hated your job, your boss, your co-workers, your cubicle or your office view, there is no need to inform the interviewer. It’s a very small world and if you’re interviewing in the same industry, there is a high chance the interviewer knows your boss or your co-workers. It’s unprofessional to comment negatively on people you’ve worked with in the past. Find something positive to say about the people and the company whenever possible.
9) Leaving your cell phone on during the interview
There is nothing worse than a phone that’s constantly ringing in an interview. Make it a habit of turning your phone off as soon as you enter the reception area. If it’s absolutely imperative that your phone remain on, then it should be put on ‘silent’ mode… not vibrate. Even if you put your phone on vibrate, it can often be heard in a quite interview room.
10) No follow-up
Many people don’t understand the importance of following up after a job interview. If you feel that you didn’t make the first impression you were hoping to make, this is your chance. Don’t pester the interviewer, but send a thank you note restating your interest in the position and the company as well as how you can add value.
11) One more for good luck: You’re not being a ‘goody two shoes’
The day before your interview, do something that will make you feel good about yourself, because that positive attitude comes out at an interview. Give a homeless guy some change, pay for the car behind you at the toll, buy one of those overpriced chocolate bars from the school kid selling them at the subway stations, help a little old lady cross the street. Do whatever you have to do, but do something nice that makes you feel like you’d hire you! When you’re feeling bad about yourself and discouraged, it shows.
Getting a job is rarely an easy task in an economic downturn. Sharpen your approach and get yourself ahead of the competition but whatever you do, don’t lose confidence. With every job interview you have, you’re one step closer to the job you want. Make each interview count.