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Posted: April 20, 2011

Top 10 ways to kill your job chances

Toss the cigs, and skip the perfume

John Heckers

Let's say that you've been out on a few interviews and that you still haven't gotten an offer. Maybe it's just the economy. Maybe you're in one of the fields that is over-saturated in your area. But maybe, just maybe, you're making of these 10 job-offer-killing mistakes.

1). You smoke. Many companies will not hire you if you reek of smoke. And, if you're a smoker, trust me - you reek of smoke. Now is a good time to quit, especially if you want a job. Many insurance companies pay for smoking cessation classes. There are a variety of new quit-smoking aids, including a new drug out there (Chantix). Ask your doctor. And remember, it is not only about getting a job. It's about staying alive to do a job (or see your children graduate, etc.).

2). You reek of cologne or perfume. Don't use cologne or perfume in a work setting, period. Some people are allergic to many of the ingredients in these things. It is not only rude, but it can cost you career advancement and, if you're looking, a job itself. But this doesn't just mean not to take a bath in your stinkum before the interview. Make sure your clothes are well-cleaned of all the perfume or cologne on them. It only takes one of your interviewers to get a blinding headache when you sit down across from him or her to derail your job chances. Don't risk it.

3). You were rude to a staff member. If someone is rude to our receptionist, they don't get the job...or even to see me for an interview. If you're rude to a staff member, or a waitperson at the lunch interview, you probably deserve to remain unemployed. Treat everyone like you'd like to be treated. You're not so important that you can't be nice.

4). You're invading personal space. Don't scoot your chair up to a desk or get too close to the interviewer. This is that interviewer's personal space you're invading. Give people their space.

5). You're not taking one or more of the interviews seriously. You might have thought that the CEO was the only important interview and that the rest were formalities. Shoot, the CEO might have even told you that. It isn't true. Every interview is important. Even the interview with your potential staff (if you have one) is important. And the most important interview of all? The telephone screening interview. Because if you don't succeed in that interview, you don't get any further.

6). You're dirty somewhere. Always carry an extra shirt in the car. Shine your shoes. Scrub your nails with a nail brush. Carry an extra set of nylons (if you wear such). Wear and refresh your make-up. If you get the early-afternoon shadow, carry an electric razor and shave at lunch. A travel toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste in your purse or briefcase are very helpful. Dirty nails, unshined shoes, spilled food on shirt or tie, or any sign that you're not a clean and prepared person can derail the interview. Be clean and be prepared.

7). You blew the group interview. Group interviews are brutal. When we give mock group interviews, we call them "murder boards." Prepare by having a group of peers around a table pepper you with questions, and see how you do. Put your ego on hold. Listen to what others have to say about your interviewing style and answers.

8). You're arrogant. If you go in swaggering, you'll come out with your tail in between your legs. Be humble, both at the interview and in life. No, you're not God's greatest creation yet. And you're not entitled to anything. Remember that the interviewer, not you, is in control.

9). You can't follow directions. Yes, you should go around H.R. (Why? See this!) But, otherwise, you should follow the directions given to you by the hiring authority.

10). You are being stupid. You should ask intelligent questions and have some intelligent answers to interview questions. If you're unprepared, don't know much about the company, or ask questions about salary, vacation, benefits or bonuses on the first interview, you truly deserve unemployment, as it improves the collective IQ of the workforce.

There are many other reasons why you might not be getting employed right now. For 18 more reasons, please go here. Good luck on your job search!

Not enough interviews? You need to network more, and here's how! Join up to 40 of your executive colleagues at our exclusive Executive Structured Networking Event on Monday, May 9. No vendors! Nothing sold or promoted! More info and required registration here.

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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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