Seven job-search horror stories

We’ve all seen someone at one time or another commit a cringe-worthy gaffe.  I’ve compiled a list of some of the more humorous social mishaps in a networking or interview situation I’ve seen or heard about. Job searching and business networking are usually not enjoyable for most people. Hopefully, these anecdotes will help you stay positive and remember that some people who lack social graces might be in a worse position than you.

1). Don’t tell an acquaintance that he looks like your dead brother (repeatedly).  Yes, I have actually seen this happen and to the same person from the same offending individual on several occasions when they attended different networking events.  Is the live person who looks like your dead brother supposed to take this as a compliment?

2). Don’t get drunk at a networking event and exhibit public displays of affection with strange men or women you’re attracted to.  I once knew a young woman who met a man with a terrible reputation for playing the field a very public and large business networking event.  After a few drinks, both of them walked around arm in arm, clearly inebriated, and proceeded to kiss and fawn over one another.  This can be a career-ending move, and Denver is a small town.  If you must be intimate, save the PDA for a spouse or partner in a non business  and, preferably, private setting.

3). Make sure you are properly groomed at all times.  I once ran across a man at a networking event who shaved only parts of his face.  The gentleman I was with at the event quietly pulled him aside and told him that there were razors in the men’s bathroom if he wanted to freshen up since he had missed a few spots.  The man apparently didn’t shave his entire face: because he couldn’t feel parts of his face due to nerve damage.  Fair enough.  But if this is the case for anyone with a similar problem…..use a mirror!

4). Take out piercings in strange but visible places for interviews.  I cannot count the number of times hiring authorities have told me that they are easily distracted by candidates with piercings, especially tongue piercings.  You want a potential employer to focus on your skills and accomplishments – not be mesmerized by a tongue ring.  Remove these types of piercings whenever possible.

5).  Don’t ask the interviewer or interviewee on a date.  I’ve heard of this happening both ways, although it was told to me that this actually led to marriage for one particular couple who initially met on a job interview.  Generally, this is risky for both people involved and could cost an employee a job or a candidate a potential job offer.

6). Be respectful during a job interview.  I’ve heard of many stories of the invasion of personal space of the hiring authority and rudeness of candidates on a job interview.  These stories range from candidates bringing in a Big Gulp to the interview, leaning back and propping their feet on the hiring authority’s desk, and one woman who damaged an interviewer’s desk from the repeated banging on the desk with her wild hand gestures and large rings on her fingers.  Watch your manners.

7).  Don’t give out too much personal information on your résumé or on an interview.  I could probably write an entire book just on this topic.  It’s 2012. and I still see résumés which list a candidates height and level of physical fitness.  I’ve also seen a résumé listing all the names of a candidate’s 64 cats.  And let’s not forget the man who responded to the question, “So – tell me about yourself,” with the facts that he raised goats, loved scuba diving and had been divorced three times.  If it’s not information you would share with a stranger or information appropriate for a first date, keep it to yourself!

Interviewing and networking can be brutal from time to time.  But even if you have your own personal job search horror stories in the end, you may learn something from the experience or at least have a great story to tell to others.