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6 Mistakes Job Seekers Make That Scare Away Potential Employers

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It’s the season for all things spooky – especially today on Halloween! And while we may love our tricks and treats, we often see job seekers make some scary, but entirely avoidable, resume and interview mistakes that can harm their chances of landing a job. So we asked some recruiters across the Allegis Group network of specialized staffing and recruiting services companies to offer some tips and treats to help job seekers scare away the competition rather than a future employer.  

Mistake #1: Writing Overly Lengthy Resumes with Irrelevant Details

Resumes are designed to offer a quick snapshot of who you are, explaining to a potential employer why you’re the best candidate for a job. But don’t feel the need to include every occupation you ever held. Instead, “ensure your resume contains information relevant to the job you’ve applied for,” suggests TEKsystems IT Direct Placement Lead Anthony McElroy. “If the skills from your previous positions cannot be transferred to the position you are applying for, then shorten or adjust appropriately but don’t delete them. You don’t want to imply a break in your employment history, even if the job was at the beginning of your career.”

It’s also important to be concise and use bullet points when crafting resumes. Many job seekers believe the myth that a longer resume increases their chances of landing a position. However, Allegis Group Corporate Recruiter Alex Hendricks says, “Recruiters typically know within three to five seconds if we’re going to continue reading a candidate’s resume. So don’t fill yours with information that does not relate to the position you’re applying for.” 

Allegis Group Lead Corporate Recruiter Emily Hermann echoes the sentiment, noting, “Including inappropriate information like hobbies that do not relate to the role or too much information is a frequent mistake I see on resumes.”

Mistake #2: Showing Up Late or Underdressed to an Interview

While the interview stage is your chance to seal the deal, it’s also where job seekers make the most mistakes, beginning with failing to dress appropriately or arrive on time. Both actions can be seen as unprofessional and can minimize chances of being hired. “When in doubt about attire expectations for an interview, ask the recruiter or another established point of contact about the office’s dress code,” says McElroy. “Even then, dress a level above that to impress. Remember, your first impression is important.”

Mistake #3: Being Unprepared

The third mistake job seekers often make is arriving at an interview unprepared, which potential employers can perceive as a lack of enthusiasm. Some examples of poor preparation include having limited knowledge about the company you are interviewing with, not coming prepared with thoughtful questions for the interviewer, and not being in an environment suitable for a phone or video interview.

Hendricks suggests that job seekers always conduct some basic research. “Use LinkedIn to see if you have any connections with people who work at the company to gain insight into the team, managers, and company culture before the interview. Then, during your interview, incorporate some information you learned to demonstrate a genuine interest in not only the open position but the company as a whole.”

Also, while the job candidate is the one being formally interviewed, interviewees should always ask the interviewer questions, as well. “If the job seeker does not have any questions to ask, they might as well say that they don’t want the job,” implores McElroy. “This is the job seeker’s chance to interview the manager and company.” Make the most of it by preparing great questions to demonstrate intellectual curiosity and ensure the role is right for you.

Another way job seekers show up unprepared is when they can’t discuss specifics about their resumes or previous jobs. Hermann says job seekers should be able to “highlight how they used previous challenges as learning and developmental opportunities, relate any experience to the role they are interviewing for, and articulate why they want to work for the company.”

Mistake #4: Getting Tripped Up Over “Gotcha” Interview Questions

Aerotek Senior Professional Recruiter Matt Wiehe coaches job seekers he works with to study, study, and study some more before facing a job interview, so they’re ready for some typical interview questions. Examples Wiehe says to be prepared for include explaining your greatest weakness, a time you failed, why you want to leave your current company, whether you’ve ever been fired, and where you see yourself in 5/10/20 years. Wiehe urges candidates to recall specific details with facts and, where appropriate, data to make a lasting impression, show vulnerability and honesty, talk about lessons learned, and spin anything negative into something positive.

Mistake #5: Speaking Negatively About Past Employers and Team Members

Along those lines, recruiters and hiring managers cringe when job seekers complain about their current or former bosses and people they work with. Why? “Speaking negatively leaves too much up to interpretation,” says McElroy. “For example, the interviewer may wonder whether the job seeker is a team player or simply part of the problem. There is very little way to make the situation sound good and effectively explain your side once you start with a negative.”

Mistake #6: Forgetting Your Manners

Finally, don’t forget that simple etiquette and small acts of gratitude can impact whether you’ll be selected for a position. Therefore, always thank the interviewer and the recruiter for their time after the interview. “While less than 10 percent of people I’ve interviewed or helped to secure an interview send thank-you notes, doing so via email or, better yet, with a handwritten card will leave the interviewer with a positive memory and help you stand out among the other applicants,” says McElroy.

As you can see, there are many ways to scare away potential employers. However, these mistakes are preventable if you are aware of them and know some tips to avoid them. Good luck, stay positive through your job search, and check out our Jobs Page to discover your next great career opportunity!

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