Avoid Committing Job Search Suicide


I hate stepping in gum.  But it’s the same feeling I got this week from someone who violated several rules of an effective job search. 

Major issues:  Name dropping of “mutual friends” who recommended that he contact me, no resume attached to the lengthy email following up on initial phone call, and blatant overconfidence during the informational interview.  Turns out that he did not know my friends; they had simply mentioned my name/blog during phone conversations with him. 

As I reflected about this experience, I came across an excellent post by marketing consultant Danny Flamberg.  He cites the bleak nature of the current job market with growing angst among job seekers, but he cautions that freaking out is a waste of time and energy.  Danny calls our attention to 5 Ways to Commit Job Search Suicide from recruiter Kimberly Bishop.  Kim advises candidates to differentiate themselves and “stand out from the crowd but not by being obnoxious or by being a jerk.” 

Kim’s Top 5 search killers are:

1. Don’t force yourself on someone’s calendar.  Don’t invite yourself using Outlook. Don’t pressure an assistant. Don’t show up unannounced. Don’t make threats or demands. Don’t send gifts, novelties or packages. Don’t beg.

2. Don’t pretend you have a relationship with a recruiter.  Don’t drop executive names. Don’t say you are a distant cousin. Don’t masquerade as someone else to get through the phone screener. Don’t pretend someone the recruiter knows referred you. Don’t pretend to be a survey-taker or a customer service representative.

3. Don’t spin or spill a sob story. Don’t discuss your conditions, your medications, your mortgage, and the state of your relationships, your immigration status or your creditors. Don’t suggest that there will be dire consequences if you don’t get an interview. Don’t whine. 

4. Don’t go over the top.  Don’t send over-the-top letters, videos or creative presentations comparing your career to famous actors, professional athletes, national political figures or Nobel Prize winners. Don’t exaggerate or claim credit for others’ work. Don’t brag.  Don’t use profanity. Don’t sing, recite, rap or whistle. Don’t make up heroic or mythical stories. Don’t denigrate co-workers or former employers. Don’t share information or materials that are proprietary to former employers.

5. Don’t ignore the basics. Craft a perfect resume. Prepare for the interview.  Anticipate the questions.  Have your elevator pitch ready.  Cite examples of how your experience matches the job description.

Building on Kim’s points, don’t indicate someone is a friend if they don’t know you, and  “read the room.”  If you’re lucky enough to land an initial interview, don’t over hype your experience or over stay your welcome.  And don’t chew gum.

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