By Arnie Fertig
Whenever you are rooting for your favorite sports team, nothing makes your heart sink more than when it loses due to its own ineptitude, fumbles or unforced errors.
Too often, people also fail to progress in their job search because they self-destruct, even when they would be quite capable of being successful in the job they seek. When you are searching for your next job, be careful not to sideline your efforts by making these errors.
1. Carelessness. The importance of mindfulness can't be overstated throughout your job hunt. But people are so anxious or frustrated by the process of applying for jobs that they just want to get it done before doing that one last proofread. Or they speak before they have fully thought out an answer in the midst of an interview. Failing to pay attention to what is before you or what is going on can take many forms.
A misspelling or grammatical error on your resume likely results in sudden death for your candidacy, no matter how well you might do on the job.
Sending a cover letter for one company to another, including the personalized address and salutation.
Not checking out in advance where you are supposed to go for an interview, and showing up at the wrong address or building.
Letting your guard down because you are feeling overly comfortable with your interviewer. You might reveal personal information to which a company has no right to have access, or even feel that you are confiding to a friend about the failures of your last boss or company.
2. Lack of research. Sure, all it takes to apply to a job is hitting the "apply here" button online and uploading your resume. But when you fail to take the time to adequately research each job opportunity before you submit your application, you minimize your chances of success.
How? Because you pay no heed to the possible ways you can make yourself stand out from the crowd of fellow applicants rather than blend in with them. Here are some examples.
The height of job-hunting incompetence is failing to learn all about a company's products, services and clients or customers. If you fail to check out your target company in Google News, Google Business and elsewhere, you'll be less likely to have a great answer to this question: "Why do you want to work here?"
If you don't bother to check out who among your LinkedIn connections works at your target companies,
you are forgoing the benefit of an internal employee referral that can get you to the top of the resume pile, and their insights about the company, its challenges, corporate culture and so forth, which can help you ace an interview once you get it.
3. Incorrect focus. There are two reasons to look for a new job: You are out of work and need a job to produce income, or you are working but feel the need to advance your career or change your working environment.
Either way, the core reason you are looking for a job is to fulfill your own needs. Obvious, right? In fact, it's so obvious that any employer assumes that the reason your resume is in his hands is that you want to be considered. But no employer hires people to meet any candidate's objectives. They hire because the top candidate fulfills the employer's need. That's why resume "Objective" statements are now entirely out of vogue.
Likewise, it is important to show your value and convince a potential employer of your worth before you ask for anything. You shoot yourself in the foot when you start talking about your vacation, pension, start date or salary before the employer has concluded that you are the best possible candidate. Otherwise, you are likely to steer him to someone else who will log more hours on the job for less remuneration.
4. Lack of common courtesy and manners. Even as the U.S. unemployment rate drops below 5 percent and the pendulum is swinging toward more leverage for job seekers than we've seen in several years, there is no excuse not to use your best manners and act respectfully toward everyone in the company you seek to join.
When you fail to recognize the receptionist's simple kindness of taking your coat and getting you some coffee or water, it won't go unnoticed and it will likely be signaled to the hiring authorities giving you a quick black mark next to your name.
When you fail respond directly to questions posed, it can be seen as either inattention or rudeness. Either way, it's not likely to endear you to your interviewer.
When you put all these things together, they may not get you the job. But neither will you be cast aside for avoidable reasons.