Job searching can make even the most confident of professionals lose their cool. After all, going in for yet another interview can often feel like a first date. You worry about impressing the hiring manager or recruiter with not only your skillset but your personality, too. This can cause many otherwise competent leaders to make unnecessary mistakes or exercise habits that well, don’t send the right message. As difficult as it may be when you’re unemployed or unhappy in your current gig, career experts recommend avoiding these annoying practices when you’re job searching:
Following up too often
There’s nothing worse than having what you thought was a stellar job interview only to be ghosted for a week—or two or three. To understand where you stand in the application process or to receive critical feedback to improve your future performance, follow-up kindly. But how much is too much? And how often is too often? There is no specific formula that works across the board, but career coach and keynote speaker Carla Isabel Carstens suggests waiting a week to inquire. And another before touching base again. After that, call a spade a spade and consider it a loss. “Sadly, given the sheer amount of candidates applying for any given role, it is difficult for a recruiter to address every email they receive,” she continues. “Take the hint if HR doesn’t get back to you after a follow-up or two. Move on, and open yourself up to other opportunities.” And hey, if they decide to get in touch down the road, it’ll be a happy, welcomed surprise.
Pushing networking contacts too hard
Networking is an incredible tool to build connections, foster relationships, and get an ‘in’ you otherwise wouldn’t have. However, career coach Cheryl Palmer says all-too-often, job seekers are too persistent in asking for favors and introductions. “Contacting them too frequently can cause them to tune you out. No one wants to be hounded,” she stresses. “Give yourself a reasonable time frame in between contacts, and make those contacts as non-intrusive as possible.” As an example, she says you can send your contacts an article that is current and relevant to them so that your name stays in front of them without you calling them regularly to find out if they know of any job openings.
Having a poor self-image
It’s not only your actions post and pre-interview that can be off-putting. Instead, career expert Wendi Weiner says how you conduct yourself while answering questions is essential, too. If your shoulders are slumped, your voice is cracked and you seem anxious and unsure of yourself, why would a potential hiring manager want to add you to their team? It may be tricky to believe in your ability to snag a job after missing the boat on many opportunities, but remember, it is normal. “Self-pity and negativity will only increase your anxiety and it will show in your body language on interviews,” she continues. “Focus on the positive aspects of your job search, such as an opportunity for growth and change in your career. Don’t allow any rejection—whether by interview or job offer—to create a negative attitude.
Applying for jobs you aren’t qualified for (yet)
Especially when you’ve been going through the seemingly endless cycle of applying, interview, and being rejected, you may feel propelled to throw your hat in on any and every opening. This impatience, while expected, can cause a recruiter or interviewer to become frustrated, Carstens reminds. Going through one resume after another that is far-fetched from the opportunity at hand waste their time and doesn’t put you on their glowing list of considerations.
Though it’s okay to dream big and apply for the gigs you’ve always wanted, make sure you’re at least 80 percent qualified before applying. “Take the time to read the job description, thoughtfully consider each position, and if you’re truly a candidate,” she adds.
Having an application of cliches
Go through your resume and cover letter and try to locate keywords. Do you say you’re ‘self-motivated’? Do you discuss your ability to‘ work well in teams’? These phrases are incredibly common, and that’s why they’re problematic, according to career coach Fran Berrick. You don’t want to be a walking cliche as a job seeker but rather, you want to demonstrate your unique value proposition, experience and background. “Plan and prepare a professional value package that reflects the evidence-based skills and proficiencies that you bring to the table,” she recommends. “Get as granular as you can, and importantly take the time to assess where these skills align with the specific needs of the employer.”
Spamming LinkedIn contacts for opportunities
Since you’re spending so much time on LinkedIn these days, on the hunt for cool gigs and connections, you might as well reach out to your whole database, right? Wrong, Palmer says. Before hitting ‘send,’ try to put yourself in the recipients and shoes and try to think critically about how the message will be received. “Instead of getting you more job leads, it could lead to your contacts removing you from their connections,” she warns. “ A personalized approach is a much better way to address your contacts. Take the time to categorize your contacts, starting with the ones that you have close relationships with and then determine what the best way to approach them is.”
Writing how much you’ve always wanted to work at Hulu … in your cover letter for Netflix
This rookie mistake drives employers mad because it sends the message that you’re carelessly submitting the same cover letter template with all of your applications, rather than customizing the note to each job listing, explains career expert for TopResume, Amanda Augustine. You never know who is on the other side of your email, and while a cover letter might not matter to some, for most, it’s the first chance they have to see your writing ability. And perhaps, more importantly, your attention to detail. “Luckily, you can easily avoid this problem by carefully reviewing the job description and then tailoring your cover letter to highlight your relevant qualifications,” she shares.
Not prepping before an interview
When you’re working with a recruiter, remember you’re representing their services when you go in for an interview. So if you are positioned as the ‘perfect’ candidate but then you show up late or don’t have the skills you say you did, you’re putting a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. As Berrick puts it, there is no substitution for preparation. “This goes for every aspect of the interview conversation: from a killer answer to the often opener—’tell me about yourself’—to the insightful question you ask when your interviewer inevitably asks—’do you have any questions for me?’”, she says.
Lindsay Tigar is a frequent contributor to Ladders News.