You have more control over your job search than you might think. Especially with regard to the image you portray to employers. You select the precise format and words used in your resume. The clothing you wear. The stories you tell at networking events. The answers you give to interview questions.
It’s true that you can’t control the decisions made by hiring managers. But when it comes to your actions, behavior and presentation, you are in charge.
This is why it surprises me when job hunters make poor choices in response to simple, no-brainer decisions. As if they don’t have any power over typos in their resumes (misspelling of common terms, job titles or their own email addresses), inappropriate clothing (mismatched socks or skirts that are too short for the workplace) or the words that pour out of their mouths during interviews.
Think of it this way. If you present yourself with competence and professionalism, employers will gladly consider your qualifications. Since most hiring managers are seeking career-minded individuals to join their teams, your solid presentation earns you a first look. Of course, if you take your marketing presentation to the next level — really knock it out of the park by showcasing your high-value skills and achievements — doors will fly open for you. You’ll leave mediocre candidates in the dust.
Whether you are a new graduate or seasoned manager, you will have better success if you avoid these silly (but surprisingly common) pitfalls:
Answering your cell phone in public
Don’t let background noise be your downfall. Once you launch your job search, be aware of your environment when answering the phone. If you’re in a public place (at the theater, supermarket or restaurant) or if the phone rings while you’re driving, let it go to voicemail. Call back from a quiet place.
Listing your Facebook page on your resume
Unless you use Facebook exclusively for business and networking — this means absolutely no family vacation photos and zero ‘friends’ who could post unsavory photographs or information about you — do not include your Facebook page on your resume. While you’re at it, check your privacy settings for all social media sites. Tighten the reins if necessary to ensure that your personal life stays under wraps.
Music, partying or kids on your outgoing voicemail message
When you send out your resume, you are inviting hiring managers to contact you for a discussion about your professional strengths and attributes. Do you really want their first impression to be a rock-and-roll hit from the 90’s or the giggling voice of a toddler? Protect your image by creating a clear, to-the-point voicemail message that keeps employers on the line.
Bad email addresses
With so many choices for free, web-based email, there is simply no reason why a serious job hunter should use an unprofessional address. Resist embarrassing labels (such as HandsomeRob), shared emails with your spouse (BillandKathy), family gatherings (TheSmiths) and any other strange or off-putting usernames (I’mtheGreatest, MyJobSearch, YoMama). In my opinion, if the address is not dominated by your name or initials, it is not appropriate for your job search. Seriously. Your next job hangs in the balance. Stick with your name.
Eve can be reached at Eve.GetaJob@gmail.com.