It seems obvious, doesn’t it, that being a smart person in a world of dumb job seekers would make finding work or changing employment pretty straightforward. And, at the risk of sounding just a wee bit harsh, the world is full of job seekers who make dumb mistakes. Yes, we know, you’re not one of them. But then, no one among us is perfect either. So, if you want to truly stand out for all the right reasons, there are some things you should remember just to be sure that, you know, you’re not making the type of mistake that would cause you to disqualify someone if you were doing the hiring.
- “It’s a small world after all.” Regardless of the size of the industry/municipality the job is in, don’t assume that people are strangers. If you’re going to drop names while networking, make sure that they’re names of people you know, who know you and who won’t object to being associated with you. Nothing will destroy your network faster than pretending it includes someone you actually don’t know. If the credibility of even one part of your network becomes questionable, your whole network becomes questionable.
- “Truthiness.” This word conveys the same meaning as puffery, prevarication and “exaggerating the truth.” In reality, these words all denote dishonesty. Lie in your cover letter, on your resume or during the interview and you are doomed. But wait, you say, you weren’t being dishonest. You really believed what you wrote or said to be true. Perhaps, but that won’t matter to the interviewer or H.R. department of your prospective employer. Research the information you intend to provide before you assert it to be factual. (Related: Unlike other areas in our lives, job seekers should not “fake it until they make it”.)
- Do your homework. Research the company, the industry, even the person interviewing you if possible. Know as much as there is to know and use this info to not only anticipate interview questions but to craft your presentation of why you are the perfect fit for the job.
- Cover your bases (i.e., your resume). With a cover letter, of course. Don’t send a resume in the mail or as a PDF or .doc attachment to an email without a note introducing yourself. Although your cover letter should never take the place of your resume, you can use it to help bridge a gap between your skill set and the required qualifications (if such a gap exists). If you claim to have “excellent written communication skills”, here’s your chance to prove it.
- Check, 1, 2, check…. Don’t think that spell checking is all you need to do before submitting a resume. Ensure that it makes sense too. Also be certain that the resume you’re sending is appropriate for the position for which the company is hiring. You do have more than one resume, right?
- Lose the “snarkasm”. A rapier wit and biting sarcasm may be appropriate for social media. Job seekers, however, should not try to demonstrate how hip or clever they are during a job search. This isn’t Twitter. If you use IDK, JK, OMG, etc. while looking for a job, your application will likely be DOA and any LOL will probably be at you, not with you.
- Be. On. Time. Really, we have to mention this? Okay, if you are going to be late, call to let your interviewer know. Plan ahead. Still… Don’t. Be. Late.
- Who are you? If you presentation is not outstanding, you can count on being quickly forgotten. Describe in detail who you are, what you want and what you can do for them.