Interviews, résumés, following up: Common job-seeker mistakes

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You might recall that on the first Monday of each  month, we hold a Twitter chat for job seekers and career experts to discuss job-search questions. Participating is easy: In Twitter type #cbjobchat into the search box, or just click this link, and you’ll see people having conversations about a few questions we pose.

Our goal is to let job seekers talk about some of those frequently asked questions with someone rather than just reading our blog posts and articles. (Although, we do hope you like them and continue reading them.)

This week we discussed common job-search mistakes and how you can avoid them. A lot of the great tips are simple to follow but often overlooked. Here are a few of the responses we received to the questions we posed:

Q1:

Job seekers, what mistakes have you made that you think have harmed your job search in the past?

Experts, what are the biggest interview mistakes job seekers can make–leading up to and during the interview?

“Putting too much on one page or making things too wordy.” – @tarl2357

“I once saw a résumé written on loose leaf. Not very professional…and also kind of sad.” – @CB_MLorenz

“Worst offense it to try and make it personal. Keep it professional. Don’t volunteer personal detail interviewer can’t ask legally [about]”-  @tombolt

“Not showing their enthusiasm! We love to meet candidates are keen and really interested” – @JLLCareersAUS

“First and foremost KNOW what the company does. I’ve interviewed people who didn’t even know what the company did.” – @DawnBugni

“Goes without saying, but the biggest mistake a job hunter can do is lie. Reference checks are so much efficient now.” – @khairyalonto

Q2:
Job seekers and experts: What are the biggest résumé no-nos you’ve seen or made yourself?

Experts, what common résumé mistakes are easiest to avoid? You know, the ones you can’t believe when you see.

“Please don’t include your health, marital status, if you are a smoker, your height and weight in your CV.”-@JLLCareersAUS

“Some résumé mistakes I see are spelling mistakes, not putting details of your previous position or dates of employment.” @Ashley_Beste

“NO to templates. They tell me you are lazy and will do ‘the minimum.’ I want serious effort to mold your résumé to job posting.” -@RésuméDrEliz

“I’ve seen résumés with a font size of 8pt. Share relevant information you put on a 1-page résumé (read the job description!).” -@khairyalonto

“An editing trick that works for résumés: Read things backwards- Helps catch spelling errors b/c you read slower” -@KaitMadden

“Writing résumé means self assessment to gather skills and accomplishments and arrange them. Templates make you think its filling out a form.” -@tombolt

Q3:
Experts, what mistakes on any application materials/forms are red flags for employers?

“Poor writing skills are the biggest red flag, And poor hand writing as well.” -@viravani

“Red flags: too many short length jobs.” -@Bamagirl_

I have one client who times candidates… if they take too long or look distracted, they’re gone! – @RecruitingMegan

Q4:
Job seekers, do you always follow up after an interview? Or after submitting a résumé? Or do you just wait to hear back?

Experts, what’s the difference between following up and being a pest? A lot of job seekers are afraid to bug the interviewer.

“Job seekers should also recognize that recruiting is just ONE function HR pros have in the day. Apologies for not responding!” -@PushJobs

“The candidate experience is all about setting expectations. If applicants are not told the rules for follow-up etc. always ask.” -@tombolt

“20 calls in a week is too much. When I know, you’ll know. Call at end of day is okay.” -@RecruitingMegan

“You should always follow up! It shows that you are really interested!” -@tarl2357

“In following up, you probably should wait 2-3days for a reply before following up again; no more than 2x a week.” -@khairyalonto

Q5:
Job seekers, do you usually accept the first offer or do you negotiate salary? How about perks?

Experts, when negotiating/accepting a job offer, what should job seekers NOT do? What impresses hiring managers?

“Start with ‘I’m excited’ and then ‘How much?’” -@incblot

“Don’t make the ‘power play’ and put employers in a corner… they want to feel in control.” -@RecruitingMegan

“Job seekers shouldn’t expect to negotiate too much in positions that have set ranges and little room for tweaking.” -@PushJobs

“Know what you’re willing to negotiate with job/salary offers and what you aren’t. Everyone’ll be happier in the long run.” -@CB_MLorenz

Please join us for our next chat, August 1, and every first Monday of the month at 7 p.m. CST. We’d love for you to participate, though you’re free to just read and soak up some knowledge.

We also encourage you to follow these Twitterers because they frequently post informative, helpful news and tips that job seekers can really learn from. And if you’re not following us on Twitter, you should, ’cause we’re a hoot. You can also read all of our #cbjobchat recaps here. Also, let us know what you’d like to see us discuss in future #cbjobchats.

25 Comments
  1. I seem to get some employers that tell me they’ll call me back and let me know or that I can call back if any questions. then I’ll never hear back from them again or and I can’t get in touch with them ever again. Should I be more direct while there in front of me towards getting the job ?

    • It’s always best Cindi, to wait until 3 business days after an interview before you call a potential employer to do a follow up. This gives the “so, so, busy H.R. people a chance to do their background checks and employment history checks. Which they have to do. Now if they’ve contacted you before then, you’re in pretty good shape. But if not, you’re in the same boat with everybody else and just have to hurry up and wait. But remember not to put all of your eggs in one basket. So while they make you wait, keep looking and applying. You never know, while you hurry up and wait for someone who doesn’t show you enough respect to call you back, something better may come along.

  2. Some of the recruiters reactions are unfair and silly. One said that they would reject an applicant if they were not quick to answer, “I have one client who times candidates… if they take too long or look distracted, they’re gone! – @RecruitingMegan.” What about taking time to find your words or the fact that job-seekers are nervous.
    And another point, HOW does one remedy 3 years of consultancy work which appears on paper to be this…“Red flags: too many short length jobs.” -@Bamagirl”
    The economy has made recruiters feel very powerful… because they are and whether or not I like that doesn’t matter because I need to make money and want to work.

    • Yeah it’s terrible Angie, but that’s what you have to deal with. The important thing is, to get the basics down pact. These people are rotten to the core, as thier comments reflect, but it’s what you have to pass through to get a good job now. One summer, I spent 3 days, 6.5 hours each day in a library that had the A/C set to “deep space”, putting together a world class resume. Only to go to my next 10 interviews and first be asked to fill out a lengthy application {mind you they want you to keep ur resume to 1 page} and then sit down with some twit that never took the time to read my resume. Every answer for the application was on the resume and every question that moron asked me was already answered on my resume. Turns out, they scan your resume into a software program that scans for “keywords” to figure out if you’re a match for what they are looking for! Problem is, they don’t always put into the template ALL of the proper keywords.
      {“NO to templates. They tell me you are lazy and will do ‘the minimum.’ I want serious effort to mold your résumé to job posting.” -@RésuméDrEliz}
      Why Dr. Eliz? You aren’t putting any effort into the hiring process! The short length job thing from bamagirl, is the dumbest thing I ever heard. This person made good use of their time, gained useful experience while keeping their skills sharpened as opposed to sitting around twiddling their thumbs. Sounds like bamagirl didn’t take the time to read the entire resume. But they don’t want YOU taking short cuts to get that job, right?

    • I know thats unprofessional on ther end. I think that recruters are selfish and dont look at reality. They dont consider the fact that the economy is realy bad now. Just because you may have a long gap in jobs or two or three jobs a year dose not mean its your falt! THey tend to take that personal on your end like something must be wrong with you. They dont even care to hear your sied of the story or why you are without a job because all they know is they have one they realy dont care about you!.

      • Hope you’ve found a job since you posted, Angie.  But, I personally stay away from recruiters.  Firstly, they can’t sell me as well as I can.  Secondly, they all have attitudes and think they’re better than you.  Thirdly, most recruiters don’t know diddly about the actual job they’re recruiting you for.  Depending on what your profession is, you can always fill the empty space with something like “self-employed” or “contract work” for various companies or firms.

  3. On Q4 – how do you follow-up after submitting a resume online when there is no contact information? It seems the only way to search for a job these days is online. The personal, face-to-face contact is non-existant. A job-seeker needs more avenues opened to them! The jobs are out there somewhere and the potential employee is out there, too. But, without the ability to actually connect the 2 it’s no wonder the jobless rate continues to rise! I’m a person with real skills not a piece of paper with a summary of that person typed on it! Job-hunting in this day and age is very frustrating and depressing!

  4. ?, I had interview with a company that I really want to work for. I inteviewed with two supervisors and two directors. They stated they would have a possible response by the Friday after next, which was last Friday. My question is, whom would I follow up with, them four, the supervisor’s or the director’s or the recuriter, please advise and thank you.

  5. Question for the experts: I will be 45, I am an Air Force veteran, and I am disabled and have been for nearly 20 years. I recently graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BS in Criminal Justice. I am trying to reenter the working world; what advice would you give those in my position? I have filled out and/or sent out over 300 resumes and have not heard from any employer.

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  15. If I had phone interview with a company two days ago (Thursday) and I have not recieved an email/letter as of today (Saturday) and I go to the website to view the posting and it is no longer availible…What should I think??

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  19. @David: I know how you feel.  Keep yourself busy!  Join in a organization and volunteer for now and talk with them and tell them that you are looking and tell them what you have tried and find out from them what they suggest.  Also, attend networking events and mixers.  These are a great asset in improving your communication and professional skills. Even the smartest person may need some work in something.

  20. Okay.  You’re not supposed to say anything negative about a current (or past) employer.  I’m currently working as a “progessional consultant” for a former employer – which means I’m on a 1099.  I worked for this person (actually his brother) for 3-1/2 years until poor health forced me to take a break, the bad health was perpetuated by the verbal abusiveness and his refusal to give me health insurance.  Anyway, he was looking and I needed a job, so I agreed to come back on a 1099 under the premise that it was with a view to putting me on permanent as an employee in May 2011.  On December 22nd, he told me he hired a hot young attorney who was going to do 75-80% of my & the other associate’s work and he was cutting my hours back to 20 per week.  (Oh, and threw in that I was runing his Christmas holiday…)  (The hot-shot attorney lasted two months before quitting.  Since joining their employ in 2007, I have seen at least 10-15 people come and go for various reasons.)  He has continually refused to put me on employee status, has responded to anonymous ads I placed on a website (he’s always looking), and has not upped my hours yet.  The bookkeeper told me it is “cheaper” for him not to hire me as an employee – doesn’t have to pay taxes, UEC, etc.  I have been on interviews and the question always comes up as to why this man refuses to hire me as an employee.  He called me back, so why not hire me?  The question is, how do I answer that other than he’s a mean-spirited, cheap SOB???

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