Finding Your Ideal Job 101 – What Not to Do (Part 7 of 8)

Don't Do These Things

This article is part seven of a series of articles that will help you get your ideal job. From developing a professional resume to acing an interview, this series will help you understand what it takes to get hired in a competitive job market.

10 Simple Ways Not to Get Hired

For many of us, the most stressful part of applying for a job is the spellchecking. With job markets becoming more competitive, and human resource and hiring managers increasing the stringency of how they evaluate resumes, even the slightest error in an application can lead to rejection.

While a history of HR would provide some amusing examples of how not get hired (like one applicant who decided to bring her dog to an interview to showcase her compassion, empathy and responsibility), today we’re focusing on common mistakes in today’s academic job market.

1. Applying for a Job You Are Not Qualified For:

The simplest way not to get hired is to apply for a job beyond your current skills and experience. When it comes to qualifications the numbers matter, and by numbers I mean the years of experience you’ve had in a certain career or field.

There is a reason some jobs have qualification filters, and the biggest reason is that most positions require intangibles like certain technical skills, relationship building, team management, and an ability to navigate through workplace politics that can only be acquired through time. If you don’t have the experience, then you can consider your resume duly trashed.

2. Sending an E-mail Application Without a Resume

You would be surprised at the number of e-mails that I receive that have neither a resume nor a cover letter attached. While the body content may be quite good, it doesn’t substitute for an actual CV. You can’t cross a political border without a passport, and your application will never gain consideration without a resume and cover letter. Some organizations don’t even open application e-mails without attachments.

This differs from sending an inquiry letter, which is quite common and generally accepted. However, if the tone of your e-mail goes beyond just questions about the application, then the hiring manager may think that you are applying for the job and that your application was sent without a proper resume and cover letter.

3. Sending an E-mail Asking About Salary

There is always a time and place for everything, and that goes for questions of salary. This is probably the most mysterious, nuanced and tricky question to ask, but it should never be done in an application or at any time prior to the end of a 1st or 2nd interview, when brought up by the hiring manager, or during the actual hiring.

By asking this question prematurely, the hiring manager will think that you’re only about the money. The first questions you ask should demonstrate your interest in the company and what it does, not how much it’s going to pay you.

4. Sending an E-mail With a Link to Your Online Resume

An online resume may seem like common sense today, but that’s not the case with hiring managers. Some organizations use parsing software and require a Word document, while other companies may centralize resumes for a particular position to assess later on.

Sending an e-mail with a link puts you in jeopardy of being overlooked. While it may seem like the modern thing to do, your email is at risk of getting lost in the hiring manager’s inbox. Furthermore, firewalls and IT systems in place today block any links and images that look suspicious. For most companies the protocol is to not open any links from senders they don’t know, which could mean your online resume gets fast tracked to deletion.

5. Sending a Poorly Formatted Resume

While we’ve covered resume formatting already, I would like to emphasize that resumes that are poorly formatted will never be considered. Forgetting to include your name and contact information, forgetting to summarize your skills and experience in bullet points, and excessive spelling/grammar mistakes will ensure that you don’t get a call for an interview.

Take your resume seriously. This means investing the time to go through it and make sure that all the formatting elements are there. Get several eyes on it, preferably those who have recently gone through a hiring process, and make sure that it reads well and is representative of the skills and qualifications in the job posting.

6. Don’t follow the application guidelines

Application guidelines are a strategic tool that hiring managers use to check that applicants have read through the job posting carefully. It also shows at the most basic level that a person can interpret, understand and follow through on simple written tasks. The response to application guidelines is actually quite telling because it shows a hiring manager how attentive a person is to detail.

Be sure that you read the application guidelines carefully and that you follow them precisely. Some job postings may require you to use a special subject line, which is often used to help hiring managers track e-mails. Some applications ask you to provide a brief write-up about a certain topic or include your social media profiles in your resume. If the application guidelines are complex, go through them multiple times and make a checklist. Check off each item as your complete it.

7. Phone the Employer and Leave a Voicemail Resume

Let’s say you call a hiring manager to follow up after sending your resume. But you get their voicemail. What do you do? You’re anxious to confirm that your perfectly formatted resume has reached the hiring manager’s inbox. So you start to leave a voice message about who you are and why you called. But wait, maybe they need to know more, so you start talking about your job history and who you’ve worked for in the past. Before you know it it’s been 5 minutes and the voice message service has cut you off.

Surely an awkward situation, but also a critical mistake. Hiring managers, like all people in gainful employment, have something called “due process” which they have to follow. A hiring process usually starts when you submit your resume, but after that the employer calls most of the shots moving forward. By leaving a voice message like the one above you’ve 1) annoyed the hiring manager by leaving a long message that they most likely have to listen to in order to delete it 2) disrupted the hiring manager’s due process.

8. A Mistake In Your E-mail Application

We’ve all had the experience of clicking the send button a moment too soon. Possibly you’ve forgotten to attach one of your documents, or at the last moment you realize that you spelled “Hello” as “Hell.”

Your cover e-mail, which is the e-mail that contains your attached resume and cover letter, should be as immaculate and professional as your resume. While it doesn’t contain more than an introduction, grammar mistakes, spelling the employer or organization’s name wrong, or having an irrelevant subject line is a mistake that will often cost you an interview.

Most email clients will give you a warning if you try to send an email without a subject line, so putting your subject line in last might be a good way to ensure you don’t accidentally press send before you’ve reviewed the email.

9. Call to Follow-up One Too Many Times

Follow-up calls usually happen after an interview and can be used strategically. By following-up, especially after a good interview, you maintain the positive sense that the hiring manager most likely got from you.

However, the process from the interview to the actual hiring can often take weeks depending on the organization. While this waiting time may be extremely agonizing, make sure that you do your follow-up call once, and at most twice after an interview. A better way to deal with the wait is to ask when you can expect a response from the hiring manager, which can help ease some of the anxiety.

10. Not Applying

You’ve probably heard the saying, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” This is the same with applying for a job. Be confident in who you are and the skills and experience you bring to the table. Confidence will take you a long way in writing a resume and particularly in an interview.

If the current job market is against you, you should still try, writing the best resumes you can write and applying for jobs with the knowledge that while you may not get a response, you’ll never get a response if you don’t press that send button.