Avoid these job-hunting mistakes

February 4, 2010 at 11:19 am Leave a comment

Job hunters often wonder about what they should do and how best to do it: how to craft a resume, how to prepare for an interview, and how to network most effectively. I applaud that and as you know, recommend staying affirmative and positive.

Yet sometimes those looking for work ace the big things and then trip up on seemingly minor details — but those details can cost one a job offer. In this hotly competitive job environment, you need to pay attention to the proverbial forest AND the trees throughout the job-hunting process to ensure you win the prize — a good, well-paying job — at the end. So here are some more-common-than-you’d-think mistakes that job hunters make and how to avoid them:

*Rambling on non-stop in a job interview. Out of sheer nervousness or from a desire to make sure the interviewer is familiar with one’s ENTIRE background, job hunters sometimes launch into a “Resume Monologue,” giving the interviewer little chance to ask their questions. Obviously, this can lead to disastrous results, as the interviewer may think you are rude, unedited and worst yet, will make a lousy colleague. To avoid this, answer questions politely and conversationally with details but in a succinct fashion, and take your cues from the interviewer about when they want more detail. Listen as much as you talk in an interview situation (which is good advice for journalists when interviewing sources as well)!

*Becoming too familiar in an interview — or at any point in the job-seeking process. Sometimes, especially when a job applicant has done a lot of research on the organization (a good thing!) or when the interviewer appears to invite it, job seekers make mention of personal things or ask too familiar questions of the hiring manager. This is a big pitfall. Always, always, stick to professional and job-related details about yourself and only ask questions in this vein in the interview process. The interviewer may seem to want to “get to know you as a person,” yet you should only provide details that show off your skills and experience. You don’t want to give them any potential ammunition against you (even if it may not seem like it — for instance, if you mention where you live and it’s somewhat of a distance, they may worry about your long commute) and guard against trying to make them your friend. You need a job, not more friends — keep that in mind.

*Placing too much emphasis on relatively minor items in job negotiations — and mentioning these too soon in the process. Though benefits and working conditions are important, you first need to land the job and salary is usually the top consideration. Though you’ll want to discuss salary expectations fairly early on in the process (and a good hiring manager will inquire about these) you shouldn’t be asking for too many details about benefits or other matters such as where you would sit and what your hours would be until they make it clear you are a finalist for the position. And don’t dwell on the proverbial “trees.” Your asking about certain matters may give hiring managers pause and may make them wonder about your professionalism. For instance, I’ve been asked after an initial interview about how many personal and sick days the organization offered, and whether one could “bank” them year-to-year. Obviously, this made me wonder if the applicant was planning on being sick often and having a lot of personal matters to attend to — why this emphasis? Another hiring manager I know tells the story of a job candidate who made it clear — several times — that they had certain specifications for the type of computer equipment they required (this was for a standard reporting position). Neither of these candidates made it much further in the process.

*Having others lobby too hard for your candidacy. Though it’s favorable to have someone inside the organization who can initially get your resume to a hiring manager and useful if one of your contacts can make a phone call or send a recommending email on your behalf, make sure it doesn’t turn into an all-out lobbying campaign. It’s human nature — hiring managers want to make their own decisions in filling a position and if outside forces seem to be pushing too hard, it can be a turnoff. Also, they may wonder about your aggressiveness and if you’d make a good colleague — even if you haven’t shown signs of too much assertiveness, you could be affected by the “company you keep.” Though it’s tough to do, you must keep your inquiring phone calls and emails about the status of your candidacy to a minimum, and tell those helping you to do the same. Recruiters’ No. 1 pet peeve is job-seeking “stalkers” who won’t let up — that’s often a recipe for them to place your resume in the “no thanks” pile.

*As always, some good D.C.-area leads to pursue:

*The Nuclear Energy Institute in D.C. has an immediate opening for a staff writer:

Staff Writer
Nuclear Energy Institute http://www.nei.org
Washington, DC (Farragut West metro)


As the need for alternative energy sources increases, the Nuclear Energy Institute (www.nei.org) is at the forefront of communicating the benefits of building clean-air nuclear power plants and promoting the safety of existing plants to Capitol Hill staff, policy makers, media outlets and NEI members.
As one of six writers in a 20+ staff communication services department, you will have the opportunity to contribute your writing skills in a variety of forms including newsletter articles, fact sheets, policy briefs, web updates, reports, issue briefs, presentations, brochures and other collateral material.
Bring several years experience in journalism from a newspaper, public relations or magazine setting. While a background in nuclear energy or scientific writing is not required, the ability to grasp complex issues is. Accordingly, a homework assignment will be administered prior to interviewing demonstrating your research and writing ability on new subject matters.

· Serve as a contributing writer for NEI’s daily compilation of industry news, Nuclear Energy Overview, and for Nuclear Energy Insight, as assigned.
· Maintain overall responsibility for tracking issue developments and key events related to NEI’s essential activities.
· Coordinate activities with other department staff to maintain timely Web postings for news items.
· Retain strategic focus on beats in coordination with NEI issue managers.
· Write, edit and position NEI fact sheets and policy briefs to serve NEI’s strategic needs in keeping with its annual plan.
· Develop copy and content as needed for NEI’s public and member Web sites, reports, issue briefs, presentations, brochures and other collateral materials as assigned.
· Assist senior NEI management in developing speeches and presentations as needed.


Minimum three (3) to five (5) years journalism experience in news writing, public relations or magazine writing.
Two (2) to three (3) years experience in producing and writing for electronic media highly desired.
Knowledge of HTML preferred.
Ability to write compelling copy on complex, often technical, subjects under tight deadlines, translating technical concepts into everyday language.
Ability to express ideas effectively through a wide variety of communications materials, with a concentration on Web-based platforms.

Bachelor’s degree in journalism (preferred), public relations or English.



E-mail resume, cover letter and at least two writing clips (minimum 500 words) to Shira Harrington, Managing Director, Association & HR Practice, Armstrong Franklin at sharrington@positionsincwdc.com with subject line: “Staff Writer.” (Owed to recent job transition, please use this email rather than Armstrong Franklin email below.) NOTE: after initial screening, two editorial tests and one writing assignment will be administered during interview process with NEI.

*Courtesy of journalismjobs.com, as are the next several leads, GolinHarris in Arlington is looking for an account supervisor specializing in energy and environment:

Company: GolinHarris
Seeking an Account Supervisor, Energy and
Arlington, Virginia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Negotiable
Ad Expires:
March 10, 2010
Job ID: 1147302
Website: http://golinharris.com

Golin Harris is a leading international public relations firm and winner of PRWeek’s 2007 Editors’ Choice, Large PR Agency of the Year 2007, The Holmes Report, PR Agency of the Year 2007, and numerous SABRE and PRWeek Awards.

Currently, the DC office of GolinHarris is looking to hire an Account Supervisor, Energy and Environment for our growing Public Affairs/ Government Relations Practice.

Position Profile

We are looking for an account supervisor to drive communications efforts in the climate change, energy and sustainability space. Working on a diverse set of accounts, the account supervisor will develop public relations and public affairs plans, execute on work with minimal supervision, and support new business.

The account supervisor is accountable for delivering contracted work on time and within budget, producing high-quality work and excellent results, and supervising junior staff.

Job Requirements Qualified candidates must have superior written and oral communication skills and at least 3 years experience on Capitol Hill or in the public affairs/communications field. It is essential that candidate have a solid understanding of environment and energy issues. The ideal candidate will have a proven track record in driving successful public affairs programs and relevant relationships on and off Capitol Hill. An ability to think strategically and have a demonstrated analytic ability is required. Preference will be given to candidates who have worked on sustainability, have experience in third-party relationship building and/or have hands-on experience connecting consumer, corporate or non-profit brands to the world of Washington influencers.

How to Apply

Please e-mail your resume with salary expectations to GHDCJOBS@golinharris.com referencing ASEEDC in the e-mail subject line.

*The American Bar Association in D.C. has an opening for a director of media relations:

Company: American Bar Association
Experienced Division Director of Media
Washington, D.C., District of Columbia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: More than $100,000
Ad Expires:
March 10, 2010
Job ID: 1147329
Website: http://www.abanet.org

Division Director Media Relations

Develop and oversee the implementation of the Association’s strategic communications efforts to reach core audiences, including – but not limited to – ABA members, the media, funders and policymakers.

Direct the Chicago and Washington staffs of the Division for Media Relations and Communication Services in discharging the responsibilities to: further establish and maintain the role of the ABA as the national representative of the legal profession;provide public relations leadership to the Association and all of its entities and projects and activities serving the public and the profession, promoting justice, professional excellence and improving understanding and respect for the law; coordinate all of the Association’s media relations and public outreach and serve as National Press Secretary for the Association, providing the primary link with the media, coordination of all Association media contacts and the dissemination of information and the development of public relations strategies to ensure ABA’s voice gets heard.

Education Masters Degree

Experience Master’s degree equivalent experience would be acceptable (an additional 5 years in professional communications). This position requires 15-20 years professional communication experience in public relations and association or corporate communications department settings. This position requires a minimum of 7 years management experience developing national strategic communication plans, directing professional staff in their implementation, making client presentations and proposals, and directing annual planning efforts and managing budgets. Front line issue-based breaking news experience essential.

We are proud to be an EOE/AA employer M/F/D/V.

*And last but not least today, NPR in D.C. is looking for a national security correspondent (who should be busy these days!):

Company: National Public Radio
Correspondent, National Security
Washington, District of Columbia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
March 10, 2010
Job ID: 1147322

Identifies and reports stories on military, intelligence, and national security issues for all NPR News programs. Responds to breaking news, initiates and develops short-term news and feature stories and in-depth enterprise and investigative reports. Files news spots for NPR newscasts and reports for Digital Media. Will involve extensive travel, including to Iraq and Afghanistan. Correspondent may serve as substitute host for NPR news programs.

Required Skills:

Education: Bachelor’s degree or equivalent combination of education and experience. Required: At least six years’ experience in journalism. Demonstrated expertise at developing a major journalism specialty. Experience producing stories on national news issues. Willingness to undertake extensive foreign travel under difficult filing conditions. Experience working on deadline and working independently. Experience in long-form journalism. Excellence in analysis and interpretation. Demonstrated experience and success breaking news, developing sources and reporting original, enterprise stories. Ability and willingness to work varied shifts. Ability to handle multiple and complex projects simultaneously under stringent timeframes and changing priorities/conditions. Ability to work quickly and efficiently under deadline pressure. Incumbent must be able to report breaking stories for both newscasts, major programs, and Digital Media. Proven ability to work well with others, demonstrating at all times respect for the diverse constituencies at NPR and within the public radio system. Understanding that reporter may be reassigned after defined period of time. Ability and willingness to relocate. In the future, NPR may choose to transfer employees to other geographic locations. Severance provisions of the AFTRA collective bargaining agreement will apply should you choose not to accept a transfer. Preferred: Experience in broadcast journalism. At least four years’ background in radio. Demonstrated experience producing stories on military, intelligence, and national security issues. Experience covering conflicts such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Experience in use of microphones, recorders and telecommunication equipment. Demonstrated expertise in all aspects of broadcast journalism – reporting, voicing, editing, producing full radio pieces, live interviews, use of microphones, recorders, computers and telecommunication transmissions via ISDN lines, satellite phones and/or Internet. Experience in online journalism. Familiarity with blogging and Web 2.0 functionalities.

Submitting a resume online at a job site could cause valuable screening information to be missed.

Please apply directly at:


We are an Equal Opportunity Employer

Happy hunting!


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