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Posted: April 19, 2012

Deadly dozen job search mistakes

These can kill your employment hopes

John Heckers

Even though we are slowly in recovery from the Great Recession, jobs still don’t grow on trees (unless you own an orchard). Now is not the time to get a false sense of security. It still is not 1999, and it is still an employers’ market. Here are a few of the really stupid mistakes that job seekers make. Make sure you’re not making any of them.

1). Not answering your phone. It is very irritating to get voice mail all the time. It is especially irritating when a prospective employer or networking contact is trying to get a hold of you. DON’T screen your calls. Unless you’re in a meeting, pick up your phone. It might be a job offer or a great networking contact. If they can’t reach you immediately, they might go elsewhere. If you absolutely can’t pick up your phone, call back absolutely as soon as you are out of your meeting. Don’t let it go a day or even a few hours.

2). Humor. Don’t try to be funny unless you’re a professional comedian. Even then, it’s risky. Laugh at the interviewer’s jokes, but don’t’ make any of your own. Humor is often misunderstood.

3). Talking too much. Extroverts talk themselves out of far more than the talk themselves into. Learn to be concise and say as little as you can. Of course, if you’re an introvert, learn some words other than “yep” or “nope.” Act like you’re on trial for murder. Answer the interview question, but don’t volunteer damaging information.

4). Not reading your emails thoroughly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given clear, concise information in an email and someone calls and asks for the same information I just sent him or her. It makes you look incompetent if you can’t read an email. Thoroughly read each email and check for the requested info before you call the potential employers.

5). Canceling. Canceling and rescheduling an interview is only acceptable if you’re very ill. Never cancel an interview unless there is no other choice. Don’t cancel networking meetings or other appointments. It makes you look like a flake. At most, move a schedule around a little bit.

6). Return favors. Networking for any reason can’t be a one-way street. If someone who has helped you asks you for a favor that is neither illegal nor unethical….DO IT. Don’t give some mealy-mouthed excuse or say “Well, I’m not sure…” If you don’t return favors, the favors to you will stop coming in a hurry.

7). Don’t text. Don’t communicate with a prospective employer via text unless they start it first. Even then, follow up with email and voice. Never, ever, text during an interview, even if the prospective employer is on a phone call or out of the office for a moment. Your friends will live if they don’t know what you’re doing every second of the day.

8). Don’t be a GBB (Great Big Baby). Some executives seem to be completely helpless without their mommies (admins) to point them in the right direction and take care of them. Get over it! You’re supposed to be grown-ups. Keep your own calendar, keep appointments and get things out without the crutch of an admin. Most unemployed people can’t afford the luxury of one.

9). If you have a coach, do what he or she tells you. I’m consistently amazed by the number of people who pay a professional career/executive coach and then don’t follow their advice. Put your ego aside and do what your coach tells you…to the letter.

10). Being stingy. You can afford to buy lunch or coffee. You can afford to pay for events that might help you. You may need to pay for professional help. Do these things!

11). Inappropriate attire. Buy a suit that fits and isn’t outdated. Get a good haircut. And look great for your interview.

12). Talking politics, religion or morality. Keep your political opinions, your religious beliefs, etc. to yourself. Do not assume that the interviewer holds the same views. It could cost you the job.

Most of all, be well prepared for any interview. Get interview training and practice hard. Know everything possible about the company. Follow up with the interviewer. For more interview tips, please join me here.

John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience  helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.

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Readers Respond

Thanks, Lori. Candidates also should be careful on the phone interview. Close to the end of one phone interview a friend of mine was conducting, she heard some pops, and the candidate seemed a bit distracted. A few minutes later, she heard the unmistakable sound of the toilet flushing. Needless to say, this guy did NOT get the job! A phone interview can be the MOST important interview, even if is with H.R., because, if you don't pass it, you'll never get to the face-to-face interview. By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2012 04 20
Great advice John! I often see candidate blow it on the simple stuff after they have worked so hard to get to the interview. Pick up the check for coffee, no off-color jokes to wrap up the interview because you think you've built such an awesome rapport with your interviewer and ABSOLUTELY pick up your phone! Returning a call two days later screams that you're not interested. By Lori Joy on 2012 04 19
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