It’s a tough economy. Jobs are scarce and becoming harder to find. The talent pool is extremely deep especially given the abundance of MBAs we’ve minted over the past few years (although everyone knows I don’t care about your degree).
To land that new job, it’s increasingly important to stand out from the crowd and have truly distinctive capabilities to offer. But I don’t want to talk about that today (I know – once again I’ve let you down). No. Instead I’m going to talk about the easiest ways to blow your opportunity. The overarching message of this post is don’t be stupid or lazy. Today we’re talking about the job search equivalents of having spinach in your teeth (hence the photo which I also included and forced the tie-in to the post because I think the picture is hilarious).
“Gee Mike, again, that seems like an obvious point. Why are you writing about it?”
To be honest? It’s because I see plenty of stupid and lazy out there and I want to keep my loyal readers from making some of these mistakes.
Now let’s start with stupid and lazy.
Stupid & lazy mistake 1: don’t research the company you’re interviewing with.
You wouldn’t believe how many interviews I’ve been in where candidates ask me “So can you tell me what you do? Can you tell me about your products?” The only choices I have at that point are answer the question (no), slam my head off the desk (no), or ask them what they’ve learned from their research and if they have more specific questions (yes). This last one gets uncomfortable if they haven’t done their homework. There’s no excuse whatsoever not to know a ton about the company or organization you’re speaking with. Do your homework. If you don’t, I won’t be interested in hiring you.
Stupid & lazy mistake 2: sloppy use of copy & paste.
Word processing and email productivity tools are awesome. They can also make you look like a complete clown who can’t proofread. On several occasions I’ve received emails that were clearly forwards of a copied email sent to someone else. First hint? The subject line was “FW: Thank You.” Gee. I feel special that you’re forwarding me a regifted thank you note. Really. Oh and all the bother you’ve gone to instead of writing a handwritten note? Incredibly touching.
Even worse is when you say “Dear Mike, thank you for the opportunity to interview with Jimmy Bob’s House of Paints.” Ummm hey pal, I run thoughtLEADERS, not House of Paints. It’s pretty transparent I just got a recycled thank you note.
Come on folks. Take the time and let the interviewer know they’re special. Write them a handwritten note and splurge on the stamp. It makes a big difference.
Stupid & lazy mistake 3: don’t proofreaed stuf.
There’s know excuze four not profreadsing stuff. If your resuma haz a speling eror I’m thrownig it away. Period. The statement you’re making with spelling or grammatical errors: “I’m lazy and I really don’t care enough about my career to use spellcheck. I plan on maximizing my utilization of my laziness when I’m ungainfully employed by your company.” Yep. Trashcan.
Give it to a friend. Make sure said friend can spell. Have them proof it. It’s an extra 10 minutes folks.
Stupid & lazy mistake 4: don’t prep your references.
People will want to call your references on occasion. Be lazy. Be sure not to let those references know you’ve given their name out. This way when Joe Employer calls and says “Hi, I’m calling to get some background on Mike because he’s interviewing with us” your reference can say “Um okay. Gee, I’m not really sure what to say here. What job is he interviewing for?” Reference fail.
Call your references. Ask them if they’ll act as a reference. If they say yes, coach them for goodness’ sake! Let your reference know what role you’re interviewing for. Tell them what skills and experiences you’d like them to highlight. It’s okay to send them an email describing the job you’re seeking along with “suggestions” on projects or skills they might discuss in a reference call to best highlight why you’re perfect for the role. While you may remember everything you’ve done and know exactly why you’re wicked awesome for a particular job, your reference might not remember that project from four years ago. Coach them. Give them the background to set them up to be a successful reference.
In summery (yes, I deliberately misspelled that – annoying, right?)
If you’d like some additional tips on how to be stooooopid on your resume, check out some other resume writing boo boos. Beyond that, realize in an exceedingly competitive job market, employers have less and less time to screen candidates. They’re doing more with less. They’re looking for any excuse to not waste any more time on you (spelling errors, regifted thank you notes, etc.). At least avoid these stupid and lazy mistakes so you can be rejected on the merits of your performance…