Whether we like to admit it or not, we have all made some very dreadful mistakes during our job search at one point or another. Take Heather McNabb, for instance, who accidentally attached a Jamie Oliver chilli beef recipe to her application instead of her CV – yes, seriously. (Needless to say, she did not get the job.)
We often hear about horror stories like Heather’s but, fortunately, they’ve never happened to us. The kinds of mistakes that we might make, on the other hand, are far less serious: misspelling “manager” with “manger” on our CV, for example, or arriving five minutes late for an interview wearing mismatched socks. We are led to believe these mistakes are not that insignificant. But in reality, they could be just as disastrous as sending a chilli beef recipe to a Fortune 500 company.
To ensure your job hunting efforts are successful, we’ve rounded up the 50 most common mistakes you need to avoid to land your dream job (complete with a private office on the top floor, of course).
#1 Not Being Proactive Enough
Looking for a job does not simply mean uploading your CV to a couple of job boards and then sitting back until you get an invitation to a job interview because it might never arrive.
The first rule about job hunting is taking a hands-on approach and doing everything you possibly can to get the job you’re after. Go the extra mile and use your network to locate someone in the relevant company who might be able to help you out.
Employers love employees who are determined, and if you can demonstrate that ability from early on in the job search process, then you’ll no doubt be singled out as a viable candidate.
#2 Relying Too Much on the Internet
It’s the 21st Century and, with the internet so readily accessible at our fingertips, everything is done online nowadays: working, communicating, shopping and even job hunting. The problem here is that thousands of people are applying for the same jobs they find on the internet and uploading their CVs onto the same job boards, so competition is incredibly fierce.
And considering that some 80 per cent of jobs are not advertised, you might want to think about looking into other sources for opportunities such as through networking, attending trade fairs and conferences, cold calling and even directly contacting employers.
#3 Setting High Expectations for Yourself
Everybody wants to find their dream job, but we often focus on finding the perfect job rather than a position that will allow us to learn a great deal and where we’ll be surrounded by great people. This is especially applicable to new graduates who are on the hunt for their first job.
Even if you’re a seasoned veteran in your field, you should still set realistic goals for yourself. If you’re aiming for a £50,000 salary when you’re only worth £35,000, for example, chances are you won’t accept an offer of £40,000 – and this means you’ll end up needlessly dragging on your job search.
#4 Letting Others Control Your Job Search
If you’re struggling to win a job interview, you might want to consider enlisting the help of a professional CV writer who will not only be able to improve this all-too-important document of yours but also your chances of landing your dream job. Likewise, a career coach or job search expert might be able to offer you some well-informed advice about career choices and interview etiquette.
That being said, make sure you’re always in control of every aspect of your job search. Don’t let recruiters alter your CV without your permission, for example, and don’t let them approach companies on your behalf without your approval. You should have the final say in every decision pertaining to your job search.
#5 Not Using Your Network
A lot of people feel uncomfortable reaching out to contacts in their professional network because it feels like they’re ‘using people’. Firstly, no one expects you to ask for help so blatantly (‘Hey, person-I-haven’t-seen-since-high-school, can you help me out with a job in your company?’), and secondly, there’s no shame in asking for help.
It’s extremely important that you build and maintain a strong network of professional contacts and to enlist their help when you need it the most. Even if reaching out to someone in your network doesn’t directly benefit them right now, they will most likely gain something from the relationship further down the line. Also, chances are they won’t feel ‘weird’ about reaching out to you when they need something, so why should you? (Of course, we’re in no way advising you to milk the cow dry here.)
#6 Waiting for Employers to Find You
Imagine a world where job hunting meant sitting at home – just you, Netflix and your cat – and waiting for employers to find you. It would be awesome, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately for every job seeker out there, that’s not the case, and it will most likely never be the case.
Employers won’t look for you; they want to be found by you. They’re too busy reviewing the applications they received from candidates who bothered to answer their ad and who showed a genuine interest in their company, which is exactly what you should be doing, too.
#7 Not Knowing Your True Value
We explained earlier that it’s important that you do not set expectations too high and that you shouldn’t oversell yourself, but you shouldn’t undersell yourself, either. It’s just as bad, and maybe even worse, so find out what other people with the same experience, skills and qualifications as you are making, and use that as a benchmark for your market value.
And remember: if the topic of money comes up in your interview, then chances are you’ve been shortlisted as a top candidate, so don’t be afraid to ask for a little more than what they’re offering. Talking money is a very tricky business, but it’s important to remember that your negotiation skills (or lack thereof) will be taken into account when the time comes for a hiring decision – hopefully, in your favour.
#8 Not Having Any References Lined Up
You’ve probably heard (more than once) that you should never include references in your application, and you’d do well to follow that advice to the letter. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have any references lined up at all.
Contact people in your professional network (former employers, colleagues, clients, business acquaintances, etc.) and ask them if they’d be willing to act as references for you. (Don’t ever just assume they’ll be okay with you listing them as references without first asking them because they probably won’t.) A good reference can go a long way to helping you land your dream job, so make sure that you provide them with all the important information they’ll need to give you a gleaming recommendation.
Meanwhile, avoid using personal references, especially if Granny Elizabeth is just going to go on about what a ‘lovely young lad’ you are, and remember only to provide your references when a potential employer asks for them. And, whatever you do, do not put ‘References available upon request’ on your CV!
#9 Writing a Novel
A widely referenced statistic tells us that hiring managers spend just six seconds reviewing each CV that comes across their desk. That means you only have six seconds to stand out and convince the hiring manager to move your CV into the ‘yes’ pile.
A good way to do that is through a one or two-paged CV (ideally, the former) where you provide a concise summary of your skills, achievements and interests. If your CV is any longer than two pages, there’s a very slim chance that it will even get looked at for one second, never mind six. Only include your most relevant experience (which is exactly what employers want to see) and make sure you don’t list every single job you’ve ever had (because nobody cares you spent a whole summer in high school walking dogs).
#10 Including an Objective Statement
Objective statements pretty much went out of fashion at the turn of the century, so you’ll be doing yourself, and your job search a huge favour by removing it from your CV altogether. It’s highly ineffective and does nothing to show employers why they should hire you. Instead, opt for a summary statement which, essentially, summarises your skills and experience in a couple of sentences.
Alternatively, you could avoid this section completely, especially if you have a lot of experience worth mentioning and you’re afraid a summary statement will only waste valuable real estate. The only time you should ever include an objective statement on your CV is when you’re making a career change and have no relevant experience to speak of.
#11 Not Proofreading
Every single article you’ve read about CV writing on the internet has most likely advised you to double and triple-check your CV for typos. You’re probably tired of reading the same thing over and over (and over) again, but it’s all for a good cause: typos are among one of UK recruiters’ top pet peeves with 47 per cent of hiring managers saying they would ignore a CV containing just one or two errors.
‘Typos and grammatical errors can signal a lack of attention to detail and spoil a job seeker’s chance at making a good first impression,’ says Grammarly marketing analyst Michael Mager. ‘Even a strong writer can miss errors. Using a grammar checker provides a second set of eyes to help the resume [CV] writer catch and fix them’.
Enlisting the help of a human proofreader (a friend, family member or even a professional), meanwhile, is just as important. They will be able to spot any embarrassing mistakes a spellchecker might miss which are otherwise grammatically correct sentences such as ‘working in a busty office’.
Everyone can admit to lying on their CV at one point or another. Perhaps it was claiming to speak fluent French when the only French you knew was bonjour, croissant and ooh-la-la. Maybe it was just slightly extending your employment dates by a few months at a company you worked for 10 years ago.
Although they might seem like teeny, tiny, innocent white lies to you, rest assured that hiring managers and recruiters who uncover any discrepancies between what you’ve said you’ve done and what you’ve actually done won’t look favourably on you. Even if your lie gets past the hiring manager and you somehow land yourself a job, you won’t look good when the truth finally comes out – and it will come out.
Losing a job or blowing your chances of ever landing one are the least of your worries, though: you could also end up in prison. According to UK law, fraud by false representation (which includes lying on your CV) can result in up to a 10-year prison sentence, under the Fraud Act 2006.
#13 Not Tailoring Your CV to the Job
One of the most common CV tips you’ll comes across is tailoring it to the job you’re applying for. You want to stand out as the perfect candidate for the job and, sadly, a one-size-fits-all CV does not accomplish that.
Each CV you send should be tailored to the relevant company and the specific role’s requirements. It is advised that you carefully read the job description to identify any keywords or phrases that you can incorporate into your CV, and that you highlight any work experience and accomplishments that directly relate to the position.
Meanwhile, make sure you take the company’s tone into account, too. A major finance company might have a more formal culture, for example, and will, therefore, expect a more ‘professional’-sounding CV, whereas a gaming company might have adopted a more relaxed culture where such a tone will make you seem out of place.
#14 Including Irrelevant Hobbies
While it might seem like a complete waste of space, sharing your hobbies with hiring managers tells them a little more about you that your work history and qualifications wouldn’t normally be able to.
The issue here is that many job seekers fall into the trap of including hobbies that are of no real use to hiring managers or the companies they represent. Maintaining a rather large collection of Céline Dion records, for example, might be very impressive and all, but it does nothing to substantiate your eligibility in a leadership role – unless, of course, you’re applying for a job in your local record store.
It’s also important to note that you should never exaggerate hobbies as you might get caught out if hiring managers try to make small talk with you. In essence, if you say that you read 19th-century literature, make sure that you do indeed read 19th-century literature and not just referring to Pride and Prejudice which you read way back in high school.
#15 Adding Bad Action Words
To land a job, you need to write a CV that stands out to recruiters and tells them you’re the perfect guy (or gal) for the job – and that’s where action words come in. Certain ‘feel-good’ words (usually verbs) that are impactful and which make a stronger impression on potential employers.
Here are a couple of excellent examples of using action verbs on a CV:
- Consistently achieved high-quality assurance ratings.
- Improved office efficiency by updating company the database.
Take extra care with action words that can potentially harm your chances to job search success like ‘go-getter’, ‘detail-oriented’ and ‘track record’. Not only have they been overused but they also do nothing to show what you’re truly capable of.
Avoid overcomplicated technical jargon. Remember that your CV will most likely go through someone in HR before it reaches the relevant department head’s desk. That means that the language you use on your CV should be simple and easily understood by the ‘average Joe’.
#16 Including Incorrect Personal Details
If you were able to craft the perfect CV but response has been non-existent, it might be a good idea to check your contact information to ensure that everything is in order.
Make sure all your contact information is current and correct. Your house address shouldn’t be for the flat you used to live in. Your telephone number shouldn’t be for your mum and dad’s landline (especially if you moved out 20 years ago). Your email address shouldn’t end in ‘.com’ when it’s actually ‘.co.uk’. And your name shouldn’t be spelt John when it’s Jon or worse: when it’s James, Jacob or Justin.
If you can’t get your own name right, then rest assured that no employer will ever want to hire you – no matter how polished your CV is.
#17 Not Updating Your CV Regularly
As explained previously, the personal details you include on your CV should be current. That means that if you marry and legally change your name, you should change it on your CV, too. If you move house or change your telephone number, make sure those changes are reflected on your CV.
Equally important is immediately updating your work history, education and skills sections with new experience and qualifications that you acquire throughout your career, as well as adding, editing and cutting information wherever and whenever appropriate.
You just never know when an exciting opportunity might come up – and rather than freaking out and having to scramble to (very carelessly) update your CV at the very last minute, it will already be good to go.
#18 Sending an Unsolicited CV
There are two sides of the same coin here. While you’ve really got nothing to lose by sending an unsolicited CV to a few companies here and there (after all, only a fraction of all jobs are ever publicly advertised, so you might just be lucky enough to come across an exciting opportunity), most companies who aren’t actively hiring will only ignore your email.
In the off-chance that your email does get opened, hiring managers will simply file your CV away, which we all know is code for ‘We’re never going to contact you again, even if your skills and qualifications perfectly match the requirements of a future vacancy’. Ultimately, unsolicited CVs not only end up wasting employers’ time but also your own, and that’s why it’s encouraged that you abandon this job search tactic entirely.
The Cover Letter
#19 Not Sending One at All
A cover letter can be just as important as – or even more important than – a CV. After all, your CV is the shop window that displays what you offer to prospective employers, but your cover letter is the billboard that attracts them there in the first place.
For this reason, alone, recruiters and career experts advise you always to include a cover letter in your application, even if the job ad doesn’t require you to. You’ve got nothing to lose: worse comes to worst, the hiring manager will simply ignore it. On the other hand, though, you might just impress them by presenting yourself as a motivated candidate who is interested in the job and will go to any lengths to make it happen.
#20 Not Following Instructions
Before you send your cover letter, go back to the job ad and read it again – carefully. Are you asked to address a particular question or explain certain types of experiences? Are you requested to forward your application to a specific person by a specific date?
Make sure that you pay special attention to any instructions provided and, most importantly, that you follow those instructions to the letter. More often than not, job applications are rejected for the tiniest detail, like sending it to the wrong person or in the wrong file format.
#21 Using the Wrong Company Name
You’ll most likely send a large number of CVs, accompanied by a cover letter, before you find a job. It’s just a fact of job hunting. That means – especially if you followed our advice about customising your CV to every job you apply for – you’ll have a lot of files saved on your computer with variations of your CV and cover letter.
The issue here is the possibility of accidentally sending the wrong pair of documents to the wrong company. A simple and very efficient way to prevent this (as well as leaving the impression that you’re disorganised, careless and neglectful) is appropriately naming all your documents, for example: ‘CareerAddict Sep 2016 Cover Letter’.
#22 Using the Same Letter for Every Application
Your cover letter should be customised to every job you apply for, just like your CV. Doing so will allow you to focus on the specific job you’re applying for and confirm your genuine interest in the position to employers. On the other hand, a generic one-size-fits-all cover letter tells recruiters that you’re lazy and that you lack motivation – the polar opposite of what they’re looking for.
Some things to take into consideration when writing your cover letter is addressing it to the person responsible for hiring (try to avoid addressing it to a general department if you can help it), mentioning how you learned about the job and including keywords, phrases and skills you identified in the job description.
#23 Telling Your Life Story
If you go and on about your many professional accomplishments, the last thing you’ll succeed in doing is impressing the hiring manager. It’s not about you; it’s all about the company you’re applying to. What skills and type of experience do you bring to the table, and how can the company benefit from those skills and experience?
Meanwhile, make sure you stick to a few paragraphs, don’t go over one page and don’t go into too much (personal) detail. For example, if you’re applying for jobs in London when you live in Glasgow, you don’t have to (and really shouldn’t) tell employers it’s because you’re trying to escape your crazy ex-girlfriend.
Keep it short, straightforward and directly relevant to the position.
#24 Repeating Everything on Your CV
Let’s get one thing straight: your CV and cover letter are two very separate entities and should always be treated as such. Your cover letter is supplementary to your CV, but that doesn’t mean it should repeat every single thing you’ve put on there.
Your cover letter provides you with the unique opportunity to speak directly to the reader and elaborate on your skills, experience and qualifications in a way that your CV does not, so use it wisely. Explain why you want the job, what you bring to the table as well as how your skills and accomplishments are relevant to that one employer.
#25 Starting with Your Name
Ideally, your name should appear in the header of your CV, in your contact information and your letter’s signature. In effect, introducing yourself by name, especially in the opening paragraph of your cover letter, is a bit pointless – not to mention archaic!
Start with a passion relevant to the position, start with your love for the company you’re applying to, a professional attribute or accomplishment, or humour and creativity. Whatever you do, do not start with your name. It makes you look inexperienced, and it does nothing but waste valuable space.
#26 Being Too Aggressive
Confidence is a major turn-on for employers and you, therefore, want to convey your own confidence in your cover letter to convince the hiring manager you’re an excellent fit for the position. But, it’s so easy to cross the line and come across as overconfident and, ultimately, aggressive.
You’ll seem rude and arrogant, for example, if you close your letter with something like this: ‘I will call you on Friday to arrange a date and time for my interview’ – it’s safe to say you won’t get one. Instead, opt for something a little more easy-going like ‘I look forward to hearing from you to further discuss the position’.
#27 Not Being Clear Why You Want the Job
Whatever you do, do not simply say that you’re looking for a position in a company where you’ll be able to make a positive contribution. Such statements are old-fashioned, generic and they simply provide no insight whatsoever as to why you want the job you’re applying for and what exactly it is that you intend to contribute.
We all know that your primary motive for applying for this job (or any job, for that matter) is money (you have to keep a roof over your head and put food on the table, after all), but that really won’t go down well with prospective employers. Instead, think of why you really want this job: is it because the organisation’s ethics, teamwork and effectiveness match your own? Perhaps it’s because you’re looking for a job somewhere closer to the house you’ve just moved into?
In an Interview
#28 Smiling Too Much
Smiling makes you appear approachable, confident, relaxed, friendly and enthusiastic – traits that employers actively look for in potential employees. However, smiling too much won’t only make you look like a psycho but will also ruin an otherwise impeccable interview.
In fact, a 2014 study found that smiling in an interview negatively impacted interviewers’ perception of candidates’ suitability, especially those who were interviewing for jobs associated with a serious demeanour like newspaper reporters, for instance.
Smile but don’t overdo it. In other words: less is more.
#29 Not Preparing for the Interview
From rehearsing all kinds of questions that might come up in a job interview all the way to researching the company that you just might end up working for, you need to get interviewing for a job down to an art if you want to be seriously considered for the role.
Practice common interview questions with a friend, research the company on sites like Glassdoor, learn what the company’s goals and challenges are, and don’t be afraid to make small talk with your interviewer! In fact, hiring managers prefer hiring people who are more outgoing than those who aren’t. If you can show how much of a team player you are (the keyword here is ‘show’, not ‘tell’), then you’ll have given them yet another reason why they should most definitely hire you.
#30 Dressing Inappropriately
Your experience, skills and qualifications aren’t the only factors employers take into careful consideration when making a hiring decision: the way you dress and present yourself are just as important.
A survey conducted by TheLadders found that 37 per cent of hiring managers decided against hiring a candidate because of the way they dressed and that traditional formal interview dress is more likely to make a good impression while casual dress was a major turnoff.
That being said, it all depends on where you’re applying. Casual interview attire might be more appropriate for a small start-up company, for example. Whatever the case, make sure you dress professionally and respectfully - in other words: dress to impress, not digress!
#31 Bringing Your Own Drink
Imagine this little scenario: you’re 30 minutes early for your interview, so you decide to pop into the coffee shop next door for a cup of Joe and try to calm your pre-interview nerves. When you look at your watch, you realise you only have five minutes left and start panicking – what do you do?
- Grab your half-full cup of coffee and run to your interview, or
- Throw your cup of coffee away and run to your interview?
If your answer is A, then you might as well not show up to the interview at all. Bringing your own drink to a job interview signals that you’re not taking it seriously – don’t let something so simple come in the way of landing your dream job!
#32 Using Your Phone
We’ve all found ourselves in a situation where we’ve forgotten to put our phones on silent or switch them off altogether – like at the cinema, at a funeral or in a job interview. It can be a little embarrassing when your phone suddenly goes off at the most inconvenient of times but it doesn’t necessarily signal the end of the world. Apologise, switch your phone off and continue answering the interviewer’s question (and make sure you double, triple and quadruple check you’ve switched it off for your next interview).
There are far worse things you can do than forgetting to put your phone on silent, though. You could start tweeting about the progress of your interview or try to pass that especially difficult level you’ve been stuck on in Candy Crush Saga for the past week while simultaneously answering the interviewer’s questions.
#33 Acting Desperate or Submissive
On average, a fruitful job search takes about three months; it might take longer than that, sometimes even up to a year (or more). The longer the search drags on (no matter how proactive you are and regardless if you’re doing everything by the book), the more desperate you become. You have bills to pay, food to put on the table and a roof to keep over your head – it can be a truly taxing process.
The important thing to remember is that you should never, ever show how desperate you are to employers. It’s off-putting to many and the sad truth is that some employers will take advantage of your situation by offering you a salary way below your worth.
#34 Showing Up Late (Or Too Early)
Everyone knows that one person who always shows up at least an hour late for everything. (If you’re thinking ‘I don’t know anyone like that,’ then it’s probably you.) I’m sure we can all agree that it is extremely irritating, not to mention unbelievably rude and disrespectful. Imagine how things will work out for you when you arrive late for a job interview, even by just a few minutes.
These people have set aside an hour of their time from their ridiculously busy schedules to see you and, therefore, won’t take well to being made to wait any more than they should. Of course, things sometimes happen that are simply out of your control (a flat tyre, for example), but if you know you’re going to be late for whatever reason, call ahead and notify the interviewer of your situation.
Meanwhile, there is also such a thing as showing up too early, which is just as bad as showing up half an hour late: the interviewer might feel obliged to abandon whatever they’re doing just to check up on you, and they probably won’t be happy about it.
Aim to arrive five minutes before your scheduled interview. If you arrive earlier, just wait in your car or the coffee shop across the street until it’s time for you to go in.
#35 Having a Bad Handshake
You know what makes a great first impression? A good, firm handshake that tells people you are pleased to meet them and that you’re a confident and trustworthy person – two qualities that hiring managers everywhere look for in candidates.
You know what makes a terrible first impression, though? A limp handshake. Otherwise known as a ‘dead fish’, it shows weakness and a lack of confidence. Then there’s the ‘bone-crusher’ which may suggest you’re overcompensating for something.
Make sure you practise your handshake and get it down to an art because it could very well make or break your chances of ever landing a job.
#36 Not Doing Any Research
If you’ve been called in for an interview, it’s safe to say that your potential employers have done their research and know a great deal about you. And with Google at your fingertips, you’d be a fool not to look into the company as you’ll only seem disinterested in the position if you show up and have no clue how to answer ‘what do you know about us?’
Your research shouldn’t be limited to just the company, its mission and the job you’re applying for, but should also extend to the CEO, the head of the department you’ll be working under and even the person you’ll be interviewing with.
For example, if you learn that your interviewer is an avid Manchester United fan, you can use that to your advantage by mentioning that you are too. If you’re able to find common ground, you effectively form a connection with them, and this may lead them to look favourably on you when the time comes to make a hiring decision.
#37 Talking Too Much
As in: way too much.
More often than not, what would normally read like a 300-page novel can be summarised in a couple of lines. Employers want cold, hard facts; they want numbers; they want solutions – they don’t want every little detail and they certainly don’t want the extended disco remix of ‘I’m the Best Person for the Job (And These Are the Five Trillion Reasons Why You Should Hire Me)’. Answer questions as concisely as possible, and if pressed for clarification, only then go into further detail – but even then: keep it short and sweet.
#38 Badmouthing Your Previous Employer
Nothing raises red flags more than badmouthing a previous (or current) employer in an interview. Not only does it make you look unprofessional, bitter and definitely someone no one wants on the team, but it also makes interviewers assume that you’ll also talk ill of them to your next employer.
If you’re pressed for information about your work relationship with your old boss, keep things civil and respectful – try something like this:
I learned a lot at this company and I appreciate my time there. However, we had differing professional attitudes that were not conducive to a long-term relationship. So, I’m really looking forward to a position in a company whose mission is in line with my passion.
Keep any negative comments to yourself and your friends, and think twice about posting a full-length rant about previous employers on Facebook – remember that most recruiters today use social media as part of their recruitment efforts and that any incriminating evidence can and will be used against you.
#39 Not Acting Excited
IInterviews aren’t exactly the most pleasant situations to be in. They can be incredibly stressful and they create a thriving environment for personal self-doubt. That doesn’t mean you should act as though you don’t want to be there (even if you really don’t). If you don’t appear excited in the interview, hiring managers might jump to the conclusion that you’re not excited about the job – and that effectively gets your CV thrown into the dustbin.
This is especially true for phone interviews where interviewers are unable to observe your body language and facial expressions. You’re left with only your voice to convey your excitement for the opportunity, and this is no easy feat. Our in-house career expert Koulla Raouna offers some excellent advice on how you can persuade someone to hire you over the phone – don’t forget to check out what she has to say!
#40 Acting Too Casual
If the first thing you do when you sit down for your interview is put your legs up on the table, you might as well get right back up and show yourself out. This is a job interview, a formal meeting between a company and a potential employee where both parties can determine whether they’re a good fit for one another; this is not a little get-together with friends.
In other words, don’t chew gum, don’t drop the F-bomb (or any other expletive, for that matter), don’t ask to charge your phone, don’t talk about smoking marijuana… the list goes on and on. Basically, don’t do or say anything that can – and will – ruin your chances of landing a job.
#41 Not Asking Any Questions
You could be nailing the interview and flawlessly answer even the most difficult questions that are fired your way. But if you don’t have any questions to ask at the end of the interview, then you’ll appear to be disinterested in the job which may, ultimately, result in the interviewer becoming disinterested in you.
Even if the interviewer has already covered everything you wanted to know about the job, it’s a good idea to have a few backup questions prepared like ‘What do you like most about working for this company?’ or ‘What have past employees done to succeed in this position?’
Bottom line: even if you draw a blank, you might want to say something like ‘I can’t think of anything right now, but can I contact you later for any questions?’ It’s just so much better than ‘No, I don’t have any questions for you’.
#42 Asking about the Salary
It’s only natural that you want to know how much you will potentially be earning if you’re hired into the position you’re interviewing for, but whatever you do, do not bring up the subject of salary in a job interview yourself. It will only make you look like you only care about the money when you should actually be passionate about the job.
Avoid talking about the topic of salary altogether unless the interviewer brings it up, but be extremely careful how you approach any money-related questions. If you’re asked about salary expectations,
you could provide a range or choose the middle of your range. Make sure that you research how much people with similar experience and qualifications as you are making to get a better idea what you’re worth, and that you’re comfortable accepting the lower number you’ve named.
#43 Not Sending a ‘Thank You’ Note
‘Thank you’ notes are a crucial part of the job hunting process; according to a Reed survey of 300 UK employers, 82 per cent of recruiters said that it reflects well on candidates when they follow up on an application. That means you simply can’t afford not to send your interviewer a quick email thanking them for their time – just think of all the other applicants who have and who will be viewed as better candidates for doing so.
All you have to do is thank the person you interviewed with for taking the time to meet with you, then mention something you liked about the interview (‘I enjoyed learning more about the role and the company,’ for example) and, finally, repeat your interest in the job.
#44 Sending One Too Late
It’s critical that, whatever you do, you send your ‘thank you’ note within 24 hours of your interview. Any later than that, you’ll appear not to be very interested in the position.
If you decide to send a handwritten ‘thank you’ note, it should be supplementary to your email and should be sent within the same timeframe. That way, it’ll arrive a day or two after your email and will add a certain gravitas to your thoughtfulness – effectively making you stand out a little bit more from the crowd of applicants.
#45 Not Respecting the Process
One of the most important things you should have discussed in your job interview is the hiring process – even if the hiring manager never brought it up, you should always ask what happens next. When can you expect an answer? Will they contact unsuccessful candidates as well as successful ones?
Knowing all this information might keep you from going crazy with worry, especially if you learn that the hiring manager will be away on holiday for the next couple of weeks. The point is to make sure that you understand and respect the hiring process – even if it’s lengthy and exhaustive. That means no dropping by the office unannounced to check on the status of your application.
You might have come across a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and, quite naturally, you’ll really, really, really want it. While this enthusiasm is admirable, it could very well be your downfall, especially if you keep badgering the hiring manager about whether they have made a decision.
The best course of action is to send a ‘thank you’ note right after the interview (as we explained previously) and follow up after a week if there’s no news. Don’t flood their inbox with messages, don’t retweet everything they post to Twitter and just don’t be a stalker. This will only endanger your chances of landing a job, despite your best intentions.
On a side note, don’t give up your job search because you ‘found’ the perfect job, because you might not get it. Also, if you don’t hear back from a company within a month, then it’s, sadly, time to move on.
#47 Not Tailoring Your ‘Thank You’ Note
Your CV and cover letter shouldn’t be the only things that are tailored to each specific employer: your ‘thank you’ note should, too.
It should tell employers three things: that you’re thankful they took the time out of their busy schedules to see you, you really want this job and that you’ve got what it takes to succeed in the position. Meaning, you can’t just send a generic email here; you need to tailor it to the actual job you interviewed for. After all, a candidate who seems excited about the job is more likely to get hired than someone who doesn’t.
#48 Following Up on Social Media
We explained the steps you need to take when following up an application or an interview, and there’s a very good reason why we never mentioned social media: it’s simply the wrong place to follow up.
For one big reason, it’s incredibly impersonal. You’re meant to directly thank the hiring manager for meeting you – not the company’s 200 employees and 2 million followers! Also, it makes you look lazy: was it really that difficult directly emailing the person you interviewed with?
#49 Sending Gifts
As a ‘thank you’ for the opportunity of an interview, you’ve decided to send the hiring manager a little gift, like a basket of homemade cookies. You might think of it as a polite gesture, and if it were in any other situation, it would indeed be considered as such. In this case, it’s called bribery – and that really won’t make you look good. It’s simply inappropriate. Sending flowers to a female hiring manager if you’re a guy might be interpreted as sexual harassment, and that definitely won’t get you the job.
Bottom line: the only things you should ever send a hiring manager are your CV, your cover letter, your references (when they ask for them, of course) and a short ‘thank you’ note. Nothing more, nothing less!
#50 Not Returning Messages
We get it: you’re not a phone person, but that’s no reason not to return recruiters' calls, voicemail messages and emails. They might be trying to get in touch with you to verify your personal information for a background check or to inform you of any updates. Even worse, they might be calling you to make you an offer, but if you’re not picking up your phone, then they’ll quickly take you out of the running, and you just might end up missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Even if you’ve found employment elsewhere and you’re no longer interested in this job, the professional thing to do is to explain your situation rather than simply ignore them. You just don’t know when you might cross paths again with the hiring manager: you might apply for another position with them in future, and things won’t exactly work out in your favour if they remember who you are.
Sometimes, even the tiniest mistake can be disastrous to an otherwise successful job hunting campaign. Misspelling your name on your CV, smiling too much in a job interview and stalking recruiters on LinkedIn can ruin your chances to landing your dream job, but by incorporating these tips and tricks in your job search, you’ll no doubt find your application in the ‘definitely yes’ pile.
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