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How Not To Get The Job

I am constantly surprised when I see job applicants make the same silly mistakes that immediately eliminate them as candidates for a position. Certainly a job interview is a very stressful experience, but a little preparation, self-control, and awareness of how you are appearing to the interviewer can eliminate angst and assure you get the job. Here are a few common mistakes that will assure you don’t:

  • Misspell my name – or the company name on the cover letter that you send with your resume. That one goes right in the round file (and you’d be surprised how often it happens).
  • Don’t bother to take the time to find out who is in charge of hiring – just send your resume to the “info” address on the website made out to “To Whom It May Concern”. It gets filed with the above resume.
  • Don’t do any research on the company, or have any idea who’s interviewing you. A few weeks ago a job candidate began the interview with the question “so, what do you guys do here?” If you want me to spend an hour interviewing you, make sure you know all about the company and all about me. I do not have time to conduct tours and I am not a career counselor.
  • Dress like you are attending a barbecue at Billy Bob Thorton’s house. How you dress is a reflection of your respect for the interviewer and the company. Rule of thumb – unless you are wearing black tie to a Starbucks interview, you aren’t overdressed. Serious applicants dress appropriately.
  • Say things like “I’m looking for a new job because I’m tired of making my current employer rich”. I have heard this one dozens of times, and my immediate reaction is to write a big “NO” across the resume. If you are so talented that you make your company wealthy, then be proud, not resentful. Ultimately that is your job, and it means you are doing your job really well! As a potential employer, I don’t want to hear that it upsets you to do a great job. I want people to make me wealthy! And if you are a Warrior, do a great job and just make sure you negotiate a decent piece of the profits for yourself. Make it a win / win and everyone will be happy.
  • Criticize your past / previous employer. I hear it all the time. You work for an arrogant, crazy, cheap, abusive, stupid, sexist, lazy, red-necked employer that is too old, too young, unsophisticated, uncaring…etc. If you criticize your ex-employer, I assume someday you will be criticizing me (and unfortunately, all the above adjectives could be used to describe me).
  • List a salary requirement 300% higher than what you would accept. One of the quickest ways to get eliminated from a position is to artificially inflate your real desired range in the hope that you “hit a home run”. Sure – it might rarely happen, but in most cases you will be eliminated from the race before you even have a chance to make your case.
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