Especially in a tight job market, candidates have to carefully not to put themselves at any extra disadvantage. When employers have many great candidates to choose from for a single position, sometimes it’s the little things than can knock you off the shortlist. Here are some things to watch out for when conducting your job search.

  • Leaving your name off your voice mail. Put your voice and first or family name on your voice mail. A person calling for the first time does not know if they have reached the correct person when they hear “We’re not in right now.” Recruiters have told me they do not leave a message when they don’t hear the name.
  • Leaving your name and phone number too quickly or incorrectly. People often speak too quickly in voicemails. Leave your phone number twice in every message, at the beginning and at the end. Spell your name if it is uncommon or has multiple spellings. It can be very awkward to call someone back if you couldn’t make out their name in voice mail message.
  • Leaving messages yet calling back anyway. Don’t leave voice mail messages unless you absolutely can’t reach the person after several attempts. When you do leave a message, be prepared not to call back but to wait for their call.
  • Calling too often or with too little time between calls. It is truly difficult to reach most people today and returned calls seem to have the way of the dodo bird. All the same, if you are persistent in calling someone give them at least 48 hours to return your call before you start calling and leaving messages again.
  • Leaving your objective off your resume. State your career objective on your resume that is the title of your job, period. If the posting is looking for an Administrative Assistant or a Senior Operations Manager, that is your Objective.
  • Only listing trite, non specific accomplishments in the Highlights or Profile section. Mention a couple of professional success stories or special knowledge areas that are unique to you or specialized in your field.
  • Listing too many strengths and not enough skills or accomplishments. Keep the list of personal strengths to a minimum. Strengths are who you are or how you do your skills like creative, humorous, tenacious, ambitious. Try to be unique and don’t make a grocery list.
  • Not qualifying yourself or selling yourself properly. When asked for “excellent communication” skills, tell the reader or interviewer what they are with examples. Just saying you have “Interpersonal skills” is not sufficient. Give an example of teamwork projects, or client relationships built and maintained.
  • Appearing beat up or desperate in the interview. Present yourself like you already have a job. Fake your confidence until you make it! Leave any desperation you may possess at home, under the bed. Dress, walk and talk like a winner.
  • Not being personable. Smile. Engage in some chit chat at the beginning of the interview. Take your personality to the job interview with you.
  • Assuming the hiring manager knows you are interested in the position. When it comes down to two candidates, the candidate with the most enthusiasm usually wins out, tell the interviewer you are keen for the job.
  • Failing to ask the most important question. As the interview is winding down, ask the interviewer, “Is there anything I have failed to tell you that is preventing you from making a positive hiring decision?”
  • Not asking the follow up question. Don’t leave an interview until you have ascertained what the next step is.
  • Not sending a thank you card or letter. Write a simple thank you letter to interviewers thanking them for their time and recapping one of your professional highlights or skills.

Take your work search seriously. There is no point in doing anything by half measures. Looking for work can be hard work. Give 100% of yourself every step of the way, and if nothing else you will feel proud of a job well done at the end of each day.

Best of luck out there!

Colleen Clarke, Career Specialist & Corporate Trainer

Author of Networking How to Build Relationships That Count, How
to Get a Job and Keep It

Co-author of The Power of Mentorship; The
Mastermind Group