5 Common Job Hunting Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

One of my best friends’ works as a recruiter which means his job is to get you one. He often shares his experiences about common mistakes people make when looking for work, and, well—it’s gold, Jerry. I can’t just keep it to myself, so without further ado, here is an amalgamation of what I’ve learned thus far:

Your CV

What it really is
A checklist HR people use to gauge whether or not you have the basic requirements needed for a job.

Common Mistake
Merely listing skills you’re good at. This is not verifiable, ex. saying you’re an excellent translator if you have zero experience in it on your CV.

Instead…
Make sure any skills you claim to have are backed by concrete examples.

The Interview

What it really is
A test to see if you’re a good fit in terms of personality and a way to assess your language skills. They want to see if you can answer questions directly and pertinently.

Common Mistake
Speaking negatively about your past employers and why you left your job, and listing your qualities without giving examples.

Instead…
Talk about the things you did learn at that job, how it was a valuable experience, explaining that it ultimately wasn’t really what you wanted for x or y reason. Make sure to back up your claims to be a good listener or a fast learner with concrete examples of times this came into play in the workplace.

The “Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?” Question

What it really is
A way for employers to determine if you plan on staying with the company long-term after getting hired, i.e. whether it’s worth it for them to invest their time and money and effort in training you.

Common Mistake
Saying you want to be in upper management in 5 years. It smacks of impatience and arrogance since you don’t know what the company’s internal process is and you don’t know how people get promoted. It might also seem like you’re gunning for the position of the person interviewing you.

Instead…
Focus on being assertive but vague: you want to do well at this job. You want to be an asset to your colleagues. You’re enthusiastic about what kinds of opportunities management sees fit to offer you.

The “What is your greatness weakness?” Question

What it really is
A way for employers to see how self-aware you are and try to extract any warning signs that you won’t be the right fit for the team.

Common Mistake
Calling yourself a perfectionist. It’s clichéd and indicates you either don’t have a weakness and you’re trying to be clever, or, you’re admitting that you’re high maintenance and will get angry at coworkers if they don’t work up to your standards

Instead…
You want to give an example of something that’s highly trainable that has nothing to do with the job whatsoever, like a piece of software, ex. “I’d have to say my greatest weakness in an office setting is Microsoft Access. I’m good with Excel and Word and Powerpoint and Outlook, but Access is something I would need some training on.” Choose something that doesn’t reflect on your character and that’s not in the job description or requirements.

The “Do you have any questions for me?” Question

What it really is
A chance for you to show off your interest level in the company and how much research you’ve done on them.

Common Mistake
Answering “no.”

Instead…
Do A LOT of research on the company prior to going to the interview. When prompted, humanize them as a company by asking them questions, ex. “What separates your good performers from your top performers?” or “What’s the most common question you get asked?” or “How are tasks delegated?” This will help you cut ahead of other candidates since employers will have already begun the training process with you.

Knock ‘em dead, guys.

1 Comment

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    October 27, 2014

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