Saturday, September 14, 2013

8 ways to knock yourself out of the running for that new job

In a word, interviewing for a job is tough. In fact to some it can be downright intimidating and frustrating. The process can sometimes be a long one. After the fact you are relieved the interview is over. You feel it went well and you are optimistic. Then you get the call, or worse yet, no call at all. If you do get the call and hear the dreaded, “We decided to go another direction,” it can be disheartening. If you’ve never been disheartened in your job search, congratulations. You are definitely in the minority.  

The question becomes how can you avoid finding yourself in this situation? If the truth is told, sometimes it is just not possible. There are things beyond your control. Sometimes the employer has a candidate in mind before you even cross their radar. Other times they do ‘decide to go another direction’ and promote from within. Sometimes the job description just changes. Sometimes it’s just not your fault.

The trick is to not do things that might get you eliminated from the competition. Getting the phone interview is half of the battle; getting to the next round of interviews is another milestone. In no particular order, below are ways you can sabotage yourself and knock yourself out of the running. You may think these are just common sense ideas, and they are but common sense can be fleeting these days, in the best intentioned candidates.

  • Not Researching the Company and the Role: I’ve said it before but it is critical that you research the company you will be interviewing with. Yes, the Industry appears to be all the same but every company has their own culture and way of doing things. If you want to show yourself to be onboard with their philosophy, you will need to get a feel for how they operate. Know the key executives, the company and their financials, as well as their product. Look for legitimate news articles on the internet so you can be informed. Be articulate about how you will fit in with the direction their company is going as a key team player.
  • Coming Across As Abrasive or Overly Confident. You can look stellar on paper but if you come across as obnoxious it is a no-brainer that this is a huge turn-off. Your resume can be perfection but if you are not a good culture fit you won’t make the cut. Showcase yourself but do so in a humble fashion.
  • Not Being Able to Explain Employment Gaps. Let’s face it, in the industry it is difficult not to have gaps woven within your resume. There may even be instances when you are just not an ideal fit with a company and felt the need to move on and cut your losses. Stay in good stead with former employers and in contact with your peers. If you cannot do this, it could spell trouble. Be prepared to explain the gaps, honestly. Others will be able to empathize and understand, especially in the economy that we have experienced.
  • Being Inflexible – Saying, “I don’t want to move my family for my families’ sake but would like to commute back and forth every two weeks,” may sound like a fine plan to you but if the employer isn’t on board, this just won’t fly. Stating you don’t want to do a certain part of the position the way the company would like you to, will not earn points either. 
  • Don’t Say You want $15K More Than You Know They Can pay - Companies are on a budget. If you ask for more than you know they are capable of paying, you won’t get called back. A common sense idea is to do a Cost of Living Analysis (Google Sperling’s) before you even go to the interview so you can have an idea of where your salary needs to be. If you realize early on that the salary range will not sustain you, there is no need to waste your time or your prospective employer’s time.
  • You Can’t Do the Skills on Your Resume –You will probably be found out, sooner or later. Don’t say you’ve been a Sales Manager for 15 years if you haven’t been one.
  • Not Acting Excited About the Position and the Company – This is one that is truly shudder worthy. It is not unheard of for a candidate to have an amazing resume but the employer senses that the candidate would rather be anywhere else but with the interviewer. Get ‘jacked up’ on your morning Joe, before you go, take notes and listen intently. Be engaged in the conversation. This prospective employer has graciously given their time to talk with you because they ‘hope’ you will be a good fit. Show them the respect they deserve. Also, remember to send that hand-written ‘thank you’ note, as well; also make sure your spelling is correct, too.
  • Bad Mouthing Your Former Employer – This one is an absolute, OMG, don’t do it! Do not come across as bitter about your past employers; it will taint you. Use it as a learning experience. If you bad mouth a former employer, their first thoughts are, “Wow, they’ll do it to me!” Just explain what you have learned from the company and how it helped you in dealing with a certain situation. Never say anything negative. If you do, and you are neck in neck with another candidate, who do you think will come out on top when it comes to hiring time?               

Sometimes it is out of your control when you do not make it to the first phone interview or the second level personal interview. It may be all about the prospective employer and not you. Plans change, job descriptions change, there are promotions from within, as well as budget cuts. It’s important to remember that if you have ever been disheartened in your job search, take heart. You are certainly not alone. Others have been there too. Hopefully these tips will help you.        

Cathy L. Sage is President of Robert Sage Careers, LLC; an Executive Search Firm and Job Board Publisher who specializes in the Factory-Built Structures Industries. Cathy can be reached at  727/504-5350. For more information about the company and to visit the job board, access        

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