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Seven Job Search Mistakes to Avoid

How many times have you heard that “first impression counts”? Many job seekers believe that a professional resume package is all that’s required for a successful job search. They don’t realize that an email address, the message on an answering machine, or the inappropriate use of cell phones could severely derail their job search.

The seven mistakes outlined below are real situations culled from unsolicited information that either arrived in my Inbox or was mentioned in conversations with an individual or two. None of the individuals are clients, so the element of confidentiality does not apply.

1. Email Address. Cute email addresses should be used only with your cute family and friends. They will not be considered cute by potential employers. All correspondence that pertains to your job search should have your real name or something that demonstrates professionalism. Consider the young woman whose email address was lazygirl@xxxxx.com. (The domain name has been changed to protect her identity). This young lady was looking for a job in a restaurant where they required someone to work in a fast-paced environment. Why would an employer hire someone who is announcing that she is a ‘lazy girl’?

2. Voicemail. Your voicemail should convey your professionalism. In your absence, it becomes another tool to market yourself. Give yourself a call and listen to your message. Is it short, clear and businesslike? Don’t be like this other young woman I met at a job fair who wanted to know what she was doing wrong why she couldn’t find a job. When I called her home to follow-up, part of her voicemail message said “If you got this message, you may be someone I don’t want to talk to, and if you are someone I don’t want to talk to, you know what to do”. Why would a hiring manager give her a second call after such a message?

3. Résumé. Don’t be a part of the ‘cheating culture’ by submitting someone else’s résumé as if it’s your own. That is never acceptable, particularly when you didn’t take the time to remove the other person’s name. A man sent me an email asking me to hire him. The name on his email address was different from the one he had as his signature, and the name on the résumé was also different. Three aliases! When I wrote back suggesting that he decides who he really is, his reply was “do u think i am dumb?”

4. Cover Letter. Take the time to write a proper, professional cover letter to accompany your résumé whether you are applying by email or sending it by snail mail. Your cover letter is another opportunity to market yourself to the employer; an opportunity to draw attention to your special skills or to explain something that was not covered in your résumé. The majority of hiring managers still want to see a cover letter whether or not the job posting asks to “fax a résumé”. The man referred to above (the one who wanted me to hire him) had as his subject line “looking 4 work”, and his one-line cover note said “I am looking for permanent work. Please hire me”.

5. Interview. Your résumé and cover letter brought you to this important stage. It is now time for you to shine; to tell the interviewer why you are the best candidate for the job. It’s inevitable that you are going to hear the question, ”Do you have questions?” You should be prepared with a few good ones. Do not be like the candidate who answered “No” to the question, then went home and sent an email with a long list of questions to the interviewer.

6. Job Offer. If you have reached the stage where you have been offered the job, it means the company really wants you. While it is normal, and sometimes expected, that a certain amount of negotiation will take place, don’t blow your chances by asking for the impossible. One young man, fresh out of graduate school, thought he should push the envelope by informing the interviewer that the other company was offering him much more money. He lost out on an opportunity as this company could not match the offer, and the other company didn’t exist.

7. Cell Phone. Watch your cell phone manners. One of the last things you do before going into an interview is to turn off your cell phone. Do not put it on vibrate, but turn it off. Not only will it be embarrassing to you if it rings during the interview, but it could spell disaster to your job search. A salesman was at an interview when his boss called. In the midst of the interview he told the boss that he “was meeting with a client”, and could he call back.

Your job search is much more than a resume and cover letter. It entails honesty and professionalism starting with your first contact with the company. Overlooking proper job search etiquette could be detrimental to your career success, so beware.

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Daisy Wright is Chief Career Strategist at The Wright Career Solution and author of No Canadian Experience, Eh? A Career Survival Guide for New Immigrants. Email: careercoach@thewrightcareer.com.

Radio Interview with Canadian Business Consultant & Venture Capital Expert

Do you have a great business idea and would like to find out how to raise capital to fund the business? Are you an aspiring entrepreneur under 30? Would you like to hear from someone who decided to create a job for herself rather than work for somebody else?

If so, join me on my radio show, The Career Achiever, on Wednesday March 25, 2009 at 3:30 pm, when I will be interviewing the Founder and Principal of Lemonade Capital, Prerna Chandak, a young woman who took a giant leap to move her career forward and start a venture capital and business consulting firm working with SMEs and young entrepreneurs across Canada. Prerna was honoured as one of Chatelaine Magazine’s 80 Amazing Women to Watch in Canada and in 2007, was a recipient of the National Top 20 Under 20 award by Youth In Motion.

Stay tuned for additional shows on career and job search topics.

Daisy Wright’s Interview with CHUM 104.5 FM

Interviewed this morning by Sara Konings of CHUM 104.5 FM for a new job search series about how to survive job layoffs. I will post the date the series will be aired as soon as I am advised. In the meantime, listen to an earlier interview at http://www.chumfm.com/podcast/MP3s/Interviews/Career%20Coach.mp3

Speak Well with Composure

Second in the series: Presidential Poise

This segment talks about being ‘well prepared and well practiced’ in order to deliver an effective speech.

“Not all of us need or have the opportunity to make a public speech. If we did we could certainly learn many lessons form Obama. Most importantly to be well prepared and well practiced. I’m certain he didn’t write a few notes on the back of his hand and just “wing it”. In fact he has been learning the craft of public speaking for many years and so can you. Even if you just speak up in meetings or conference calls being at ease in these situations is the sign of control and confidence.

Having a powerful, persuasive voice helps. Again this trait can be developed through being aware of what your voice sounds like, eliminating the ums and ahhs, you knows and perhaps getting some voice coaching.”

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As an aside, Toastmasters is a great organization to help you eliminate the ums and ahhs and deliver an effective speech. Visit www.Toastmasters.com and find a club near you.

The next post will be Being Well Mannered.

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Sue Currie, the director of Shine Communications Consultancy and author of Apprentice to Business Ace – your inside-out guide to personal branding, is a business educator and speaker on personal branding through image and media. To learn more about how you can achieve recognition, enhance your image and shine, sign up for free monthly tips at http://www.shinecomms.com.au