Avoid These Job-Hunting Sins at All Costs

August 18, 2010 at 11:41 am Leave a comment

August seemed like a good time to check in with a few recruiting Web sites and blogs, and with some hiring managers and recruiters about what makes them crazy about job hunters. (Don’t worry, job seekers, you’ll get your turn to gripe soon as well!) And while they each have their own pet peeves, the most-mentioned sins fell into these categories: arrogance, ignorance, sloppiness and a catchall that I’ll call bad attitude and bad form.

We all make missteps in managing our careers and a few mistakes won’t take you off course too much. Yet over time, if you regularly fall into one of these categories, you’ll likely have trouble getting ahead in your career. Here are some tips on the job hunting sins, why hiring managers worry about them and what you can do to avoid them:

*Arrogance. This is a sense that just because you’re job hunting, the job is yours. It is displayed in a job search through a haughty attitude, overly generous (and inflated) descriptions of your abilities in a resume and cover letters and in the interview itself. The arrogant job hunter interrupts the interviewer, doesn’t really answer questions (he or she is so above all that), wants to know about salary, benefits and opportunities for promotion right away, drops names and tries to use connections to get around the hiring manager and go over his or her head because they aren’t important enough. Why recruiters hate this: Because if hired, this person would likely be insufferable to work with, and is usually more of a legend in their own mind than in reality. How to avoid this: Simply put, don’t be a jerk. (See July 8 post, “Why It’s Smart Not to Turn into a Jerk While Job Hunting.”) Be respectful and friendly throughout the hiring process, and always thank anyone involved (including secretaries and assistants!) for their time. Respect the process, even if you don’t always agree with it. Don’t presume someone isn’t important or a decision maker — if you’re talking to them at any point as you make your way through the hiring gauntlet, they likely are involved and you ignore them at your peril.

*Ignorance. Not knowing much about the company or the job, and failing to take the time to find out. This is shown through poor preparation, substandard interview skills, a lack of questions or silly questions about the company, presuming things about the organization that aren’t true or were true years in the past, and a lack of curiosity. Why recruiters hate this: Because why would they want to work with someone who isn’t competent? A lack of preparation during the hiring process is presumed to indicate that you wouldn’t be able to handle the job’s duties if hired. How to avoid this: Research, research, research (the company, the job and even the interviewer) and preparation — and showing that in interviews through your ready answers and good questions. Be careful not to make assumptions based on outdated information. Rehearse your interview answers and prepare all materials with care.

*Sloppiness. Hiring managers say this sin will end your candidacy faster than anything else — perhaps because it’s so glaringly obvious. It’s displayed through errors on your resume (ugh!) and cover letter (which are more common than you might think) and in other materials. It’s also shown through dressing inappropriately or sloppily for interviews and through bad habits like being late for an interview, having poor phone interview skills, or not responding right away to a hiring manager’s requests. Why recruiters hate this: They think you’d be sloppy with your work product, if hired, as well. How to avoid it: Pay attention to all details during a job hunt. You don’t have to be Miss Manners or a beauty queen, but you should show enough respect to the organization to be careful in your dealings with them and not to be sloppy about anything important. Networking helps — ask your friends and contacts about interview etiquette if you’re unsure of anything.

*Bad form/bad attitude. This sin is shown through being a pest, acting as though the recruiter has nothing better to do than deal with you (it’s especially annoying when you repeatedly remind them that they said they’d get back to you by a certain date and haven’t done so!!) and the No. 1 sin in this category is talking badly about past employers or colleagues. Whining, showing you feel sorry for yourself and living in the past (talking excessively about your previous job during an interview, especially if you were laid off or bought out by that employer) also fall into this area.  Why recruiters hate this: Again, they worry that these traits are a telltale sign that you’d be a bad or short-term employee. If you’re complaining about your former employer to them, they will ask themselves: How long before they’ll be out looking for another job and complaining about me to that hiring manager? How to avoid it: Politeness always works in your favor and part of that is speaking well (or not at all) of others. Treat each potential job with the respect it deserves and put your past experiences in perspective. Don’t engage in would’ve, could’ve, should’ve thinking — the past is the past. Focus on what you can do going forward.
*And as promised, I’d like to focus an upcoming post on job hunters’ pet peeves about recruiters, hiring managers and the hiring process these days in general. For obvious reasons, I’ll keep responses anonymous, but would love to hear from dcworks readers about this — and I promise to share this post with recruiters for their edification! Maybe we can help each other to improve the hiring process at D.C. area organizations, at least. Please send along your thoughts on this topic to me here, or on Facebook or to my personal email at jodifs@verizon.net.

*Poynter.org has a good, realistic piece that should hearten unemployed journalists (and others) — it’s NOT your fault and you shouldn’t be blamed is the message:

Blaming Joblessness on the Jobless is Wrong

*Check out these fresh leads:

*The Defense Department’s Defense Human Resources Activity (DHRA) Office in Falls Church has an opening for a communications program specialist:

Communications Program Specialist
Defense Human Resources Activity – Falls Church, VA
The Communications Specialist supports the Communications Program Manager in executing the communications… communication mediums. Supports the Communications… $89,033 – $115,742 a year
From usajobs.gov

*Ogilvy Public Relations in D.C. is looking for an account director:

Ogilvy Public Relations – Account Director, Business Solutions Group
Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide – Washington, DC
creative, achievable communications programs that… 7 years work experience in public relations, communications or a related field; previous experience in a…
From Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

*An Alexandria company is looking for a proposal writer:

Proposal Writer Company Confidentialhttp://monster.moving.com/jumpresults.asp?Zip=22312” target=_blank title?Alexandria, VA, 22312?>Alexandria, VA, 22312

2-5 Years

Posted today
We have a great direct hire Proposal Writer position in Alexandria, VA (metro accessible). Our company is MI is a prominent Data/Records, Facilities, and Program Management Company. MI mission is to provide management and support services utilizing…
See details or apply

*Kforce Professional Staffing is looking to fill a short-term (two to three-month) contract position — with a possibility for extension — for a technical writer in McLean:

Technical Writer Kforce Professional StaffingMcLean, VA

Posted today
Kforce is seeking a skilled and experienced Technical Writer for a 2-3 month project with the strong possibility for extension. For immediate consideration, please forward your Word formatted resume to cdavis2@kforce.com! Technical Writer must be s…
See details or apply

*A-TEK Inc. in Bethesda is also looking for a technical writer:

Technical Writer
A-TEK, Inc.Bethesda, MD
5+ to 7 Years
Posted 1 days ago
Primary responsibility includes business and technical writing for correspondence and technical documentation. Writes, in clear and concise language, such technical documents as procedure manuals, and related technical publications. Acquires or veri…
See details or apply

*Stephen James Associates in Herndon has an opening for a tech writer/business analyst to work on the Making Home Affordable program:

Tech Writer/Business Analyst Stephen James Associateshttp://monster.moving.com/jumpresults.asp?Zip=20170” target=_blank VA, title?Herndon, 20170?>Herndon, VA, 20170

5-8 Years

Posted 4 days ago
This resource will support the Making Home Affordable (MHA) program office and be responsible for drafting and coordinating the release of communications between the MHA program office and participating mortgage servicers. Those communications will …
See details or apply

*Here’s an opportunity for someone with a broadcast background — with a hat tip to dcrtv.com, WSVG Radio in Mount Jackson, Va., is looking for a talk radio host and salesperson:

TALK RADIO HOST AND SALESPERSON – WSVG RADIO. WSVG 790 AM, a talk radio station in Mount Jackson, VA, seeks entertaining talk radio host willing to sell his/her show in the Shenandoah Valley. Our 1K signal reaches both Winchester and Harrisonburg metros, with further clearance in Woodstock, Luray, Staunton and surrounding communities. We are old-fashioned small market radio just an hour + outside DC. This is a commission-only opportunity – aggressive commission paid immediately upon collection. Must be self-starter, with contemporary interests that appeal to P25-54 demo. Show concept must be entertaining and locally-oriented, serving the communities of the Shenandoah Valley. Applicants must be proficient at conducting interviews, gathering and editing audio, and producing a professional show with a major market sound. Those with new and different perspectives encouraged to apply. EOE. Email resumes and airchecks to: radioshen@gmail.com.

*And with a hat tip to poynter.org (for these next two positions), the International Reporting Project (IRP) has an opening in D.C. for a communications coordinator:

About International Reporting Project (IRP)

The International Reporting Project (IRP) is an award-winning non-profit journalism organization that provides grants and other opportunities to US journalists to cover international news. The program, based in Washington DC, was created in 1998 and has sent more than 330 US journalists to more than 90 countries to do in-depth global reporting that has appeared in all major news organizations. The IRP offers fellowships and grants to editors and reporters and is a pioneer in the rapidly growing ….more info

View all our jobs

Job Description
The International Reporting Project (IRP) is seeking a Communications Coordinator to oversee the program’s national outreach and partnership efforts with news organizations and journalism groups. The coordinator will work closely with the program director and deputy director to promote the IRP Fellowships program to journalists, editors, and news executives around the country, to forge new collaborations with leading media organizations and also to organize occasional events and communicate with program alumni. The coordinator will also act as webmaster for the IRP web site at www.internationalreportingproject.org, which showcases the work of the IRP Fellows and IRP Gatekeeper Editors. In addition, the coordinator will design, edit and produce the program’s publications, newsletter, DVDs and other projects, and manage the IRP’s social network sites on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.

The International Reporting Project (IRP) is an independent non-profit journalism organization based in Washington D.C. at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Created in 1998 to encourage U.S. journalists to report on important but under-covered international stories, the IRP has provided opportunities for more than 330 U.S. journalists to report from more than 90 countries around the world. Stories by IRP Fellows and Gatekeeper Editors have appeared in all major newspapers, magazines, TV and radio and online news organizations and have won many journalism awards, including Emmy Awards, Overseas Press Club Awards and others.

NOTES: Local Residents Preferred (No Relo).
Additional Salary Information: Salary commensurate with experience
Candidates for the Communications Coordinator’s position should have 3 to 4 years of communications experience, including hands-on experience editing and producing publications, maintaining web sites and promoting non-profits in the media. Professional journalism experience is a plus, as is some experience and knowledge of international issues.  The ideal candidate would have knowledge of HTML and CSS. He or she should be proficient in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, video editing (either Adobe Premiere Pro, or Sony Vegas), JavaScript and PHP and Microsoft Office. Qualified candidates would have some knowledge of database programs like Filemaker Pro and be adept at maintaining databases, listservs, and mailing lists and have some experience in managing and optimizing social networks. Salary is commensurate with experience.

*Wrapping up today’s leads, National Geographic in D.C. is looking for an energy news content producer:

About National Geographic

Created by visionaries who embodied an era of exploration, discovery, invention, and change, National Geographic is now the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational institution. The organization is guided by a growing awareness of the critical need to protect the planet’s natural resources, and the realization that young people must better understand the world if they are to become its future leaders. National Geographic’s headquarters is located in the heart of Washington, D.C. ….more info

View all our jobs

Job Description
National Geographic is seeking an Energy News Content Producer to develop and deploy multimedia content for NationalGeographic.com and other digital platforms focusing on the Great Energy Challenge.

This is a regular, full-time staff position with benefits.  Employment is limited to a 12-month contract maximum.  If the assignment is canceled, shortened, or terminated for any reason, employment may be terminated.

We offer a comprehensive salary and benefits package. To review the full job description and to apply, visit www.nationalgeographic.com/jobs and search for Producer, Energy Content (Job ID: 4292).  National Geographic is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Required qualifications include a Bachelor’s degree and a minimum of 3 years in multimedia content production in an editorial enterprise; must have demonstrated success in creating, building, and engaging a large web audience; experience in extending content from web to emerging digital platforms such as mobile and tablets is a must; must be able to work with CMS for multiple digital platforms and audience tracking tools to track, report, and modify consumer behavior to achieve goals for page views, visitors and engagement.

Good luck on the hunt!



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