What Not to Do While Job Searching

by Stephanie Leigh Taylor, Head Editor, INALJ British Columbia

What Not to Do While Job Searching

Everybody has a piece of advice that they like to trot out when somebody they know is searching for a job, likely because they feel it’s how they got their job. I’m no better, and have been known to word-vomit all over someone who’s job searching with my advice and stories and reminiscences. But there are definitely things you should never, ever, in a million years do while job searching, such as:

Tracking down recruiters and HR professionals on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and contact them. While it may allow them to get an idea of who you are before interviews, it’s really creepy and stalker-y, it can come across as threatening, and people will not appreciate their personal accounts being targeted by strangers who want something from them.  LinkedIn is different and in a professional context, ok.

Tracking down recruiters and HR professionals at their home addresses or personal phone numbers. Again, really creepy, kinda threatening, not appreciated; for sure if you contact someone who is making hiring decisions at their home they will not select you for anything except the round file. Unless the job is for a private investigator, in which case you are beyond doubt on the wrong site.

Failing to follow instructions for applying.  You may simply miss something important while applying (which is bad in another way), but if you deliberately fail to follow the employer’s instructions in order to stand out by submitting a different format or not all the required documents (or extraneous, unasked-for documents), you are going to annoy the employer. If you can’t even follow the instructions they’ve provided on how they prefer applications to be done, they’re going to think you can’t follow any instructions.

Gettin’ gimmicky with your resume. Keep it classic and easy to read; coloured papers or backgrounds, kooky fonts, lots of logos and pictures, sending just the cover letter with an invitation to ask for the complete resume if interested, sending along  treats or gift cards – this smacks of hubris, and a tiny, unacknowledged part of recruiters hate people who do this. Sure, everyone wants to stand out from the crowd, but do this with your achievements, experience, and education.

Repeatedly contacting potential employers. If they’re not contacting you, there is a reason – they don’t think you’re right for the job. While it is commendable to contact places where you’ve applied to ask if hiring or interview decisions have been made or to ask if you could speak to a member of the hiring committee to see if they have any questions, repeatedly contacting a potential employer after submitting an application or an interview suggests you don’t know when you’re beat. Don’t get in a huff and fire off an angry email about their lack of contact either – you’ll be “that dork who got all angry” over something that is extremely common in today’s job market.

Lying on your resume. I’m not sure who would ever actually tell you to do this but don’t. Ever. It’s been said before on INALJ and it will be said again, because you shouldn’t do it but people do. So we have to tell the Internet again. Don’t. Do. It.

Asking hiring managers or HR staff at potential employers for advice on job searching. This was so bizarre to me that I couldn’t believe it actually happened, but I’ve been assured it does. Just…what? Don’t do this – people in hiring positions or in HR have jobs, and theirs don’t include helping you get one unless it’s with them, for a job they are hiring for.  This is not an informational interview with a librarian which is OK.

For more tips on what not to do, refer to Alison Green, who writes the Ask a Manager blog. It’s invaluable as an insight to blunders job searchers make and what hiring staff are really thinking.

  1 comment for “What Not to Do While Job Searching

  1. Freethinker33
    September 26, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    “Failing to follow instructions for applying.”

    This, very very much! My department has hired several staff in the past few months and a good third to half of the applications get knocked out of consideration by the fact that the applicant has failed to submit one of the four basic things we ask for: a cover letter, a resume, a list of references (which can be part of the resume, we’re not THAT picky), and an online application form. It’s a shame because some of them look otherwise very good, but if they don’t realize they’re supposed to (or can’t be bothered to) write a cover letter, or fill out the online form, or whatever, then we don’t want them working for us.

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