Winning a new job is hard enough without the self-inflicted obstacles that some job hunters place in their own path. Many people are apprehensive that a job search may be an ego-puncturing experience and will go to elaborate lengths to protect their egos. This leads to some very non-productive practices that you should avoid in your job search:
Do not sit at home and wait for an offer. Some jobseekers intentionally narrow their prospects to the point that it becomes very difficult to get a new job. They sit at home not seeing people, which only draws out the process. You may be protecting your ego by avoiding the turndowns, but you are not going to get yourself on anyone’s payroll by waiting for the phone to ring.
Do not narrow your search to only one industry. Often, jobseekers have a fixed idea about what they want their next job to be. If they have worked in one particular industry throughout their career, they may think about looking for jobs only in that industry. The tendency is to stick to the familiar rather than facing the unknown. Regardless of what your previous jobs were, if you narrow your prospects to only one industry, you will limit your job search and probably prolong it as well.
Many people do not realize that a job’s functional skills are transferable to a wide variety of industries, which opens up a whole new world of opportunities. You should contact everyone you know, even if they are not in your industry, because they might require your skills or know someone in another field who does.
For example, if you are an accountant, you need not limit yourself to accounting firms in looking for a job. They represent only a small portion of the businesses and industries with a need for accounting expertise.
When the time comes to interview, do not apologize for your lack of experience in the employer’s industry. They would not have agreed to interview you if they did not see a potential for utilizing your abilities. Sell yourself based on your skills – gained from your experience and accomplishments on previous jobs.
Do not eliminate out-of-town opportunities. By refusing to extend the job search beyond your immediate metropolitan area, you reduce the possibility of rejection, but also limit the effectiveness of your search. Job hunters learned in the last recession that their chances of success increased proportionately with the area of their search. When nothing was available in their home towns, they looked elsewhere, usually successfully.
Do not accept an employer’s offer of a vacant office from which to job search. Such an office is probably the worst deterrent to a job search that exists. Rather than speeding up the search, it has the opposite effect. The office fosters the illusion that you are still working and the hope that the company may change its mind and take you back. It becomes a shelter protecting you from the necessity of getting out and attacking the job market.
Letters do not win jobs, people do. Fear of rejection may keep you at home writing letters in the belief that this is a safe way to search. Realistically, letter writing went out as a viable jobseeking method over ten years ago. Our studies indicate there is no better than a one-percent response rate on letters, even for the most talented letter writer. Some firms today discard without reading the vast number of letters they get from jobseekers.
Do not interview over the phone rather than face to face. Some jobseekers attempt to avoid face-to-face interviewing, operating on the theory that it is easier to take rejection from a disembodied voice over the phone. The great disadvantage is that this shortchanges both you and the interviewer. Face-to-face lands the job!
Do not arrive late for interviews. There are some people who pride themselves on being late. They think a late entrance is fashionable, a real attention-getter. It is an attention-getter when you are looking for work, but not the kind of attention you want. If you are late for your interview appointment, even for a good reason, you probably cannot recover.
Employers expect you to be on time. Know where you are going and how long it will take to get there, then add some extra time and plan on arriving at least ten minutes early.
Do not “turn off” in the middle of an interview. Some individuals decide prematurely that the job is not for them. They may forestall the possibility of rejection by disrupting the flow of conversation or failing to provide the type of answers that would keep the interviewer interested. The irony is that the person may have gotten a job offer if the interview had been kept on the favorable plane where it began. And the job is often better than it seems during the interview.
Dress well. You may be most comfortable in blue jeans and sneakers, but that is not the proper dress for a job interview unless you know the president of the company dresses that way. Many employers are conservative people who do not appreciate a job candidate showing up in casual or sports clothes. Men should wear business suits and women should avoid any extremes of apparel, jewelry or makeup. Even if it is not your usual style to dress up, you should do it for the job interview. It tells the employer that you think enough of the opportunity to dress well. You cannot make a mistake by dressing too well, but you can make an interview-ending mistake by dressing too casually.