Top 6 Job-Search Gaffes and Goofs

The hiring manager may not explicitly give you feedback telling you these factors are why you lost the job – but these pet peeves may be the factors that made the hiring managers look elsewhere.

Remember the old saying, “The devil is in the details”? Think about how those details can be the devil in your job search! Of course you want to present the “big picture” by focusing on your breadth and depth of expertise and proven track record. But, in the same process, you may be overlooking the subtle details that drive decision-makers crazy.

Guaranteed, you will never get feedback telling you these factors are why you lost the job – but these pet peeves may be the factors that made the hiring managers look elsewhere.

Let’s take a look at some of these gaffes and goofs that can sink your ship:

1. Taking a screening call on your cell phone

Do not conduct a phone interview using a cell phone. When you are away from your desk and you receive a call on your cell phone from a recruiter or hiring manager who would like to conduct a phone interview, don’t take that call! Indicate you are in a meeting or with friends. Ask for his/her name, phone number and the best time to call back. You can then get organized and prepared for the phone interview; participate in this interview from a private, quiet office.

2. Making the recruiter hunt you down

Do not list more than one phone number on your resume. It should be your private land line. If you are not there to answer it, there should be a professional voice message greeting requesting he or she leave contact information. If you feel compelled to use your cell phone because you will go through withdrawal if you don’t answer every call, then list your cell, but follow tip Number One.

3. Recording an unprofessional voicemail prompt

Do not have a voice message that has been recorded by your children. It lacks professionalism, and the caller is frequently concerned that you will not receive the message. If possible, have a dedicated phone for your job search. It is amazing how many times family members do not tell the job seeker about an important call.

4. Ignoring filenames

When using email communications, always have a signature file at the bottom of your email message with name, phone number and email address. If you have an online resume or portfolio, include your resume URL. Use an email address that is professional, rather than a cute personal email addresses. Here is an actual e-mail address used by a job seeker (domain disguised):

5. Not giving extra consideration to grooming

Good grooming, positive body language, energy and enthusiasm speak volumes about a person’s motivation, commitment and performance. I could write an article exclusively on the horror stories I have heard about job seeker mistakes in personal appearance and social graces.

6. Being careless

You have heard it a million times, but it doesn’t hurt to hear it one more time. Proofread, proofread and proofread your resume. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t see terrible grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes. That’s why there’s a market for professional resume writers. Yes, it is easy to miss the typos. We all make mistakes. But you should make every effort to get your documentation perfect. Get several people to proofread your resume. Remember, no one will tell you that you didn’t get the job because of your resume errors.

Just to tickle your funny bone, here are a few actual sentences taken from resumes:

  • “Wholly responsible for two failed financial institutions.”
  • “Received a plague for Salesperson of the Year.”
  • “Failed bar exam with relatively high marks.”
  • “It’s best for employers that I not work with people.”
  • “The company made me a scapegoat, just like my three previous employers.”
  • “Objective: My goal is to be a meteorologist. But since I possess no training in meteorology, I suppose I should try stock brokerage.”

I have only scratched the surface. All of us can think of gaffes and goofs we have seen in others as well as in ourselves. You should make every effort to take care of all the details in your job search in order to become the candidate of choice.