Little flubs can turn into a big miss in job hunting

April 12, 2010 at 12:52 am 1 comment

Whether you’re seeking an executive job, a mid-level position or an internship, it remains extremely competitive out there these days. And in this kind of job market, you need to pay attention to every single detail of  your job search. While one misstep may not end your candidacy, it certainly doesn’t help — and recruiters these days are often looking for easy ways to separate the resumes they’ll consider from those they’ll toss in the recycling bin.

While I aim to stay positive in my blog posts, today’s will focus on what NOT to do — the flubs or slips that can turn into a big miss while job hunting, whether you’re unemployed or are part of the growing army of those looking for a job while still employed. And I’ll point out some ways to correct these errors or at least to prevent repeating them in the future. Many job hunters will say this isn’t fair — and it’s not, as much is often unfair in job hunting where they have the positions you want and you have to accept their rules. Yet a job hunt is not a time for righteous indignation but rather to put one foot in front of the other and pay attention to each step of your candidacy.

Here are some job-hunting mistakes to guard against:

*Making it difficult — in any way — for hiring managers to reach you. Your resume should include a current telephone number (and if you have a land line at home in addition to a cellphone number, include that) and at least one email address that you check regularly, and during a job hunt that preferably should be hourly or at least several times a day. (It’s no longer necessary to list a home address on your resume, unless you want to show an employer that you live in the area and you won’t need relocation assistance.) If you list a link to your LinkedIn profile, a Twitter handle or a blog or Web site address, make sure you are checking those regularly for messages as well. Most hiring managers won’t try to trip you up by making sure you are updating these regularly, though some — especially if you profess social-networking expertise — may do so. Yet it is imperative to list basic ways to reach you, and then to return messages and phone calls right away. Though it seems unfair, hiring managers often will turn to the next candidate if they don’t reach you that day or the next — figuring that if you’re not responsive during a job hunt, you may not be terribly efficient or responsive as an employee. (And another reminder, while job hunting make sure all outgoing messages on answering machines and VoiceMail, including on mobile phones, are professional. You’d be surprised how often as a recruiter I’ve gotten a “You know what to do,” or similarly cutesy VoiceMail message. It doesn’t score a candidate any points.)

*Sloppiness in spelling, grammar or usage in your resume, cover letter or any correspondence with the organization you’re seeking to join. There’s no excuse these days with spell-checkers and other computer-aided help to have any mistakes in your written communication with a hiring manager, and believe me, such errors are a big red flag for employers — especially, for obvious reasons, with journalism positions. Double- and triple-check all correspondence before you hit the send button. Bookmark a few sites that can help (I like not only for spell-checking but for usage tips) and rely on them. Another old-school tip: Print out correspondence, and proof the letter before you send it electronically. The eye sees things differently on the printed page and you’re more apt to catch mistakes that you may have missed on the screen. And if you realize after you’ve sent an email or cover letter to an employer that you made a mistake, send them a follow-up email noting it and apologizing for it. They likely will appreciate your diligence in catching the mistake and your honesty. Just don’t do it again.

*For those job hunting while employed, handling any tasks related to a job search from your current workplace (see Nov. 19 post, “Searching for a job while still employed.”) It’s a particularly bad idea to send email with your current employer’s email address or make phone calls from work on your company’s phone lines. First, it’s easier than you think to get caught at work doing this. While many employers won’t fire you on the spot (though some may) they will lose respect for you and your future there may be jeopardized. (I know of one employee whose boss caught him — as he was hardly being subtle about it — writing job letters from his work computer. She was going to consider him for a promotion for which he would have been well-suited and that he wanted. Yet once she saw this behavior, she decided not to consider him, and he unhappily stayed in his current job for months as it took him some time to find something else with another organization.) Also, your prospective employer may well notice that you’re job-hunting on another company’s time and likely won’t be impressed by this — wondering whether, after a while, you’ll be doing the same thing to them. Though it’s difficult to job-hunt on your own time, while you still have a job you must do so. Use your weekends to send out letters and emails to prospective employers, and then at lunch (or early or late in the day), check and return job-hunting messages away from your workplace. Use vacation and personal days for interviews.

*Not showing enough interest in this particular job. One of the quickest ways to get your resume tossed is to mistakenly refer to one organization by another’s name, or misidentify the position you’re seeking. (For instance, when applying to MNO Communications for a marketing job, referring to the company as XYZ Inc., for a PR job, as that’s where  you sent your resume 15 minutes ago.) Don’t send out robo-cover letters; a sharp-eyed recruiter can easily tell them apart from letters that have been crafted with a particular job in mind. If you’re interested in a position, show it — throughout the hiring process. And if you’re not, apply elsewhere, and don’t waste your time — or the time of the recruiter or hiring manager — by faking it.

*Though many deadlines have passed for applying for summer internships, some organizations are still looking for folks (and some are starting their search for fall interns as well). Before I provide a few leads here, I’ll pass along a good tip: If you can’t find an internship where you’d like, seek an opening with an organization where you can gain knowledge in a specific subject area. For instance, if you haven’t been able to land an internship at a newspaper but you’re interested in energy policy, try to find a non-profit or a think tank where you could learn about energy; the same with the Hill — think of what groups influence members of Congress, and try to get in the door there if you haven’t gotten an internship in a member’s office. Especially if you’re a freshman or sophomore, you could use this kind of internship to gain better ones in the future; most recruiters for competitive internships look hard at what internships you’ve held in the past and how you did there.

Here’s a few leads worth pursuing for some internships and unpaid contributor openings:

*Americans for the Arts in D.C. has an opening for an intern to assist with its Arts Action Fund Web site:

Arts Action Fund Intern
Americans for the Arts – Washington, DC
Action Fund website. Assist with fundraising efforts. Assist with communications to Federal candidates and campaign staff.  Draft articles for Arts Action…From Americans for the Arts

*Breaking Tweets Entertainment is seeking contributors; this could be a good way for students to gain experience with social media:

The innovative and exciting Breaking Tweets Entertainment is seeking contributors. Founded in April 2009 as part of the Breaking Tweets Network, which has received notice from well-known organizations and Twitterers such as Poynter and Ashton Kutcher, focuses on the latest entertainment news and the Twitter feedback on that news. The site covers four main areas of the industry: television, music, movies, and celebrities. Content includes reviews, reactions, controversies, concerts, award shows, castings, and appearances/sightings.  We are looking for contributors to post 2-3 times a day (which amounts to about an hour of your time), at least one day a week. You should be well-versed in Twitter and have a passion for international news or pop culture. This is an unpaid position as we’re just a startup and are all doing this on a volunteer basis. If interested, please tweet or DM @BTentertainment.

*And this lead (with paid travel to Iraq) may be just the right thing for a new graduate or grad student with video skills looking for an adventure, and some experience overseas:

The Tiziano Project (, is looking for a video/documentary mentor to join us on a project in Northern Iraq this summer. This is an amazing opportunity to teach and also have time to produce your own work, which will be promoted as a package to partners at major news organizations. The project will run between the beginning of June until the end of August. Here’s the full description below. Please forward full resumes to the email address at the bottom.

Video Mentor
Location: Erbil, Iraq

The Tiziano Project provides community members in conflict, post-conflict, and underreported regions with the equipment, training, and affiliations necessary to report their stories and improve their lives. We strive to develop and encourage first-class collaborative journalism on a global scale.  This summer, The Tiziano Project will be completing a two-month intensive workshop in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. During the program we will teach skills in photojournalism, documentary film making, multimedia production, and social media to local youth and aspiring journalists. The ideal candidate must:
have a strong background in journalism and digital storytelling;
be well versed in using professional video recording equipment;
be able to edit video and teach using Adobe Premiere.

Additional qualifications include:
being able to work on both Windows and Mac platforms;
experience teaching video, editing and multimedia;
experience traveling in adverse and sometimes difficult environments;
a proven track record of being up for adventure and open to whatever may come your way.

This is a volunteer position with potential for further opportunities based on future funding. The Tiziano Project will cover expenses including transportation to/from Iraq, housing in Iraq, medical evacuation insurance, and a small living stipend. To apply or for more information, please send your resume and a link to online clips (five minutes or less) to:

*And here are some job leads to pursue or to pass along:

*Communities In Schools in Arlington is looking for a vice president of marketing and communications:
Vice President of Marketing and Communications
Communities In Schools – Arlington, VA
VP of Marketing and Communications will lead day-to… communications professional with visionand a distinguished track record in using marketing/communications…
From Jobfox

*Conservation International in Arlington has an opening for a senior director of corporate communications and marketing:
Senior Director, Corporate Communications and
Conservation International – Arlington, VA
and Global Communications Leadership, implement high profile marketing and communications campaigns with… communications staff to ensure open communication

*Fleishman-Hillard in D.C. has an opening for a digital and social media project manager:
Digital and Social Media, Junior Level, Washington, D.C.
Fleishman-Hillard – Washington, DC
Inc., one of the world’s leading strategic communications firms, has built its reputation on creating… and other specialty communications services to more…

*This may be worth pursuing for someone (including a transitioning journalist!) with a background in energy policy — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in D.C. has an opening for a senior director of energy legal and regulatory affairs:

Senior Director of Energy Legal and Regulatory Affairs
U.S. Chamber of Congress – Washington, DC
develop policy recommendations that strengthen regulations; excellent communication skills; solid connections to the utility regulatory community; and ability…

*The American Institutes for Research in D.C. is looking for a deputy project director:

Deputy Project Director
American Institutes for Research – Washington, DC
the state understands their roles and deadlines, and that clear lines of communication are established. Developing meeting agendas, chairing meetings, and…

*The American Pharmacists Association in D.C. needs an assistant editor:

American Pharmacists Association
Assistant Editor
Location: Washington, D.C.

Prestigious association has an immediate opening for an Assistant Editor. The ideal candidate will provide innovative news and feature stories; take the lead on planning and writing interesting, high-quality, accurate, and timely articles for periodicals and web site; work with department staff to ensure adequate editing, review, copyediting, and quality control of articles; attend and participate in interdepartmental and staff meetings to keep abreast of Association and professional news and events. Bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, or related field, and experience on a health-, science-, or medical-related publication is required along with a minimum of 3 years’ experience developing leads and story ideas, and reporting and editing articles for periodical publications. Candidates must also have excellent oral and written communication skills, excellent computer skills and proficiency in MS Office. Knowledge of association-based/trade publishing and interest in moving with us into e-media are a big plus!  E-mail resume, cover letter, and salary requirements with Assistant Editor in the subject line to  EOE

*The Animal Welfare Institute in D.C. is looking for a writer-editor:

Salary: $30,000 to $60,000 annual. Offer will meet experience level.
Education: Bachelor (BA, BS, etc.)
Location: Washington, District of Columbia, 20003, United States
Posted by: Animal Welfare Institute
Job Category: Editing & Writing
Sector: Nonprofit
Last day to apply: May 1, 2010
Type: Full time
Language(s): English
Area off Focus: Wildlife and Animal Welfare


The Animal Welfare Institute is seeking applicants with strong writing and copy editing skills to fill a writer/editor position. The right candidate will be capable of working independently and taking initiative, as well as meeting tight deadlines and bringing a fresh approach to the table. Good organizational skills and attention to detail are essential. This is a full-time in-office position located in Washington, D.C.

Additional Qualifications:

Bachelors Degree (a plus if in English or Journalism).
Minimum two years writing and editing experience.
Demonstrated interest in animal welfare.

How to Apply:

Reply to this announcement by email to or by mail to Animal Welfare Institute, Attn: Lucy Enniss, 900 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, Washington, DC 20003. Applications that do not include all of the requirements listed below will not be considered. PLEASE include:
1. Cover letter
2. Resume (including references and salary history/requirements)
3. Two-paragraph writing sample on an animal-related topic of your choice

*And to wrap up today’s job leads, the Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) in D.C. has an opening for a part-time media relations specialist:

Part Time Media Relations Specialist Friends of the National Zoo, Washington, DC:
Friends of the National Zoo, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the education, research, and conservation mission of the National Zoo, is seeking a part time media relations specialist to conceive and execute media and public relations activities in support of the GONZ and Zoo mission; to include promotion of events and programs. The Media Relations Specialist will develop media plans, maintain media list, write and distribute publicity materials (press releases, advisories, fact sheets etc.),  tweets and other social media public service announcements, and calendar listings for FONZ special events. Ideal candidate must have a bachelor’s degree and 3-5 years of experiences, along with excellent written and verbal communication skills, and be willing to work evening and weekend events. How to apply: Interested applicants please apply at Application deadline: June 7, 2010.

Happy hunting in this new week!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Unemployment’s silver lining: Getting off constant deadline When looking to the past may make sense

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Alexis Grant  |  April 12, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Hey Jodi,

    Great to find you! Dina Cappiello suggested I check out your blog because I’m a journalist job hunting in DC. Great resources here — Thanks!


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