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Erin Daruszka Headshot

Want a Job? Then Do Not Do This

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Sure, after you've done a job interview, you want to know whether or not you got the job. But have you ever wondered what your interviewer thought of you? I started my HR career in recruiting. Naturally, I always wondered whether I was an excellent interviewer (the answer is -- of course -- yes!) or people were really that clueless about what to say or not say in a job interview. For example, I asked a candidate once what his manager would tell me about him. His response, "He would say I was good when I showed up." Thanks for the honesty, but I'll be moving on to the next candidate. Obviously, you should not be dishonest, but I believe you should also not let your guard down, even in a peer interview. Regardless of whom you are speaking with or which round of interview it is, you are still being interviewed. Here are some dos and don'ts based on my experience:

Do not overstate or blatantly lie about your work experience. Applications are not the proper place for creative writing. If you falsify information on an application, it can be sufficient grounds for not hiring you. I placed a blind ad once for a Sales Director and a person who applied for the job stated that they were already in that role. Upon investigation, they did work at the company, but as a custodian. Needless to say, they did not get contacted for the job.

Do not apply for jobs if you do not meet the qualifications. Numerous times, I recruited for bilingual roles. These were roles with specific language requirements and yet I inevitably received resumes of people fluent in languages other than the ones I needed. It is great that you speak Russian, but that won't get you the job if my job posting clearly states that I need someone who speaks Spanish. I recommend using the 80/20 rule -- apply if you meet at least 80 percent of the criteria, but if it says that something is required (i.e., degree, certification, language, etc.) and you do not have that skill or experience, please do not apply.

Conversely, if you are an employer, do not list every possible qualification in an ad. Instead, list the qualifications that are essential for someone to succeed.

Do not hang up on the recruiter. I cannot tell you how many times I was in the middle of a telephone interview and someone hung up after I asked a question (presumably one they do not like or could not answer). I often called back because, in this day and age of cell phones, calls DO legitimately get dropped. Yet, not once did someone answer or return my call after I left a polite message stating that we seemed to have been disconnected.

Do not send a nasty email to the recruiter if you are not selected for a role, it only solidifies their decision. I received both paragraph-long tirades about how awful I am and short and sweet notes telling me, "you're an idiot."

Do not keep contacting the recruiter to check on the status of your candidacy. A good recruiter or employer should have a closed loop process to let you know their decision either way.

Do send a thank you note or email. Make it thoughtful and specific. This helps you stand out in the crowd. Even if you are not selected, it shows that you are thoughtful, and you never know in the future if another opportunity at that employer may open that will be a better fit.

Do use a work appropriate email address. I know this seems like common sense, but some people use very creative, random, or sometimes weird/inappropriate email addresses when applying for positions. It is not hard to open a free email account that is just your name as the address.

Do check your social media settings. Google yourself. See what information is out there about you. Update your privacy settings in your social media accounts. Employers look at Google search results and your public social media profiles, so you should make sure that nothing exists which might raise a concern.

Do align your online profile and resume. They should be accurate and similar.

Do not include references up front. It is no longer necessary to list references or even write "references available upon request" on your resume. That is implied. You will be asked for them if/when the employer needs them.

Do not include reference letters (unless you are specifically asked to do so and it is a field which typically requires them, like academia). As a hiring manager, I do not put much weight in a reference letter because I do not know who actually wrote the letter and I prefer to call for a reference.

Do make your resume easy to read. Do not make it more than two pages long. Do not include your high school degree if you have a college degree. It takes up space and is implied by the college degree.

Do not include personal information on your resume. No photos. No date of birth. No marital status.

Do write a compelling cover letter. If asked to provide a cover letter, describe what you can bring to the role and why you are a good fit; do not just reiterate your resume. For example, if you are personally aligned with the employer's mission, then state your connection to that mission and why you want to work there. Do your homework and find cover letter examples on the Internet to get your creative juices flowing.

Do not say inappropriate things to the recruiter. I looked very young when I started recruiting and, as a result, in interviews I was occasionally asked if I was old enough to be working or whether I lived with my parents. None of these questions are appropriate and none of these people were hired.

Do not be a PITA (pain in the ass). Arrive on the dates and times agreed upon for your interviews and/or assessments. Be on your best behavior throughout the interview process and be considerate to the interviewers.

Do not try too hard. I know someone who provided their resume on a sheet cake. Points for creativity, but I'd rather have someone more genuine. Of course, if you are applying to be a baker, this may be acceptable.

Do dress appropriately for the interview, even if you know the employer is casual. You do not necessarily need to wear a suit (again, it depends on where you are applying and how "corporate" they are), but be presentable. Do not go to the interview with wrinkled clothes, wet hair, too much perfume/cologne, and keep your outfit work-appropriate.

Do your research. Know enough about the employer to ask some thoughtful questions. Check their website. Know their products/services and Google to learn some recent news about the employer.

I hope these hints are helpful in your next or current job search. While I think of them as common sense, my experience showed me that many people are unaware of them and it is my hope that these tips can only help land you an appropriate job for your skill set.