November 15, 2013

Top Three Mistakes Common to all Job Seekers

manager reviewing workers job performance in an officeOne: Lack of Preparedness

The number one mistake I find in job seekers across the board is a lack of preparedness. This can manifest as having a mediocre resume or cover letter; showing up to an interview unprepared; or preparing too little or not at all for interviews. An astounding number of job seekers go into an interview knowing next to nothing about the company they’re interviewing with.

I had an experience where I coached a client before his interview, giving him information I was personally privy to about the company. Baffling, he didn’t read any of the information I’d prepared. When he showed up to his interview and was asked what he knew about the company, he said, “Absolutely nothing.” On top of this insult to the company, it reflected an individual who was willing to work someplace he knew absolutely nothing about. In romantic relationships, the equivalent to that would be marrying a complete stranger. If you think this analogy is too extreme, remind yourself of how much time you spend at work as opposed to how much time you spend with your spouse. In most instances, you see your spouse less than your coworkers.

So if you’re seeking a job, one of the most important foundations is to research the company you’re interviewing with, know the people that work there, and be able to discuss some of the key issues facing their industry, as well as professional trends and their competitors. It’s also important to have a plan for your first 90 days in the job and be ready to discuss it. Right away you’ll stand apart from the other interviewees who have not demonstrated their understanding of the company.

Another point that falls under the category of lack of preparedness is not being dressed appropriately or being distracted during an interview. In the electronic age, it is of utmost importance to turn your cell phone off completely before an interview. In the event that you’ve forgotten to do so and it rings during a meeting, promptly turn it off. Never, I repeat, never answer your phone during a job interview. Nothing will tell an interviewer you don’t respect her, her company, or her time more clearly than this one action. As long as I’m establishing the very basics, I’ll add these requirements: no smoking, chewing gum, or drinking anything besides water during an interview.

Having weak communication skills is another byproduct of lack of preparedness. Let me share a secret with you: Effective communication during an interview simply means being enthusiastic about the job. When you are enthusiastic, you communicate better.

Two: Focus on what they want and not what they have to offer the company

The second mistake job seekers make is that they become so focused on what they want, that they neglect to focus on what they have to offer the company. Many applicants fumble on this vital step. When you go in to an interview, you need to drive home the narrative that your skills, abilities, education, and personality fit the company’s needs perfectly. If you can persuade them that you are able to do this job for them effectively, it will go a long way to giving them the peace of mind they need to hire you.

Three: Negative Attitude

The third mistake is having a self-defeating, negative attitude. A bad attitude is by the far the worst handicap one can have. In the course of a long job search, it’s only human to get tired, discouraged, and to feel like you will never find a job. There can also be anger or resentment one feels at having been fired or laid off.

Ask yourself these questions: Did you hate your last job? Was your last boss a jerk? If so, keep it to yourself. Or at least, to yourself, your friends and family. Despite the challenges you’re facing, it’s important to stay positive when communicating with networking contacts, recruiters and hiring managers. Nobody likes a complainer, even if your complaints are legitimate. Never bad-mouth a current employer, a former employer, any past or present co-workers, or even your competitors. It will make people too uncomfortable to help you, and even if they agree with you, it will make you seem tactless and potentially difficult. So regardless of what’s transpired, make it a priority to come across as a positive person in your interviews and in all your professional interactions.

Above all else, remind yourself that you are hirable. You’ve worked before and you’ll work again. Or if you’re brand new to the job market, you still possess strengths and talents that someone will pay you for, regardless of how long you’ve been looking. If you feel discouraged and need to “psych yourself up” before an interview, do it. Whatever process works for you to feel that you can walk into a room and show your desirability to a potential employer, embrace it. This can even be a fun process where you play your favorite song on the way to your interview. Or it can be something that you know will clear your head, like talking to a trusted friend or going for a walk someplace that’s special to you.

But wherever you see yourself with regards to these three mistakes, it’s absolutely vital that you change this behavior. As long as you’re doing these things, you will stay stuck, battling the same limitations that have been holding you back from a more enriching path.

Once you’re able to turn over a new leaf, you’re on the road to getting the job that you desire.

Read more in Interview Tips

George Egbuonu (MBA) is the best selling author of the book - How To Get A Job In 30 Days Or Less! He has been studying how people get jobs for the last 20 years and loves to impact his knowledge to transform people's lives.