7 Ways to Sabotage Your Job Search

Obnoxious man sticks out tongue
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Hiring the right person for a job is difficult, and there is much at stake for employers. If the company hires the wrong person, it could be stuck for years with an unqualified worker.

That’s why everything an applicant does is closely scrutinized, from the wording of their resumes to the clothes they wear to interviews.

Job applicants often do things that sabotage their own efforts to find work. Here are some things to avoid if you want to get on the payroll.

Dressing inappropriately

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The quickest way to send a message that you’re not interested in a job is to dress inappropriately for an interview. Strive to fit in by dressing like the people you’re seeking to work with.

Don’t forget that it is possible to overdress. If you’re trying to get a job on a construction site, showing up in a suit and tie won’t be appreciated. Your goal should be to dress as if you were going to be hired and put to work immediately.

Also, there’s evidence that the color scheme you choose makes a real difference. Check out: “70% of Successful Job Candidates Wear This Color.”

Not tapping into your personal network

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Use your network of friends, acquaintances and business contacts to find openings that might be appropriate for you. One survey reported by LinkedIn found that 85% of jobs are filled through networking.

It may be embarrassing to ask friends if they’re aware of job openings, but if you don’t you’ll be missing out on an important source of information.

Check back with friends and acquaintances every few weeks so they’ll immediately think of you when they hear of a job opening. Here’s more on that subject: “9 Tips for Successful and Painless Networking.”

Failing to take a job interview seriously

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Bad jokes and flippant remarks can cost you a job by calling into question your character, or your ability to fit into the workplace.

Once people are hired, letting them go can be a cumbersome process. That’s why employers don’t hesitate to pass on applicants who don’t seem to be taking interviews seriously.

Speaking of interviews, consider some of the curveballs you might get: “20 Bizarre Job Interview Questions, and How to Answer Them.”

Not following up

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Your job search doesn’t end after you’ve filled out an application. Getting the attention of prospective employers usually requires polite persistence.

The goal is to stand out from the crowd as the best person to hire. To do this, follow up applications with emails and phone calls.

Make sure employers know that you’re eager to join their team. Stand out by displaying a can-do, ready-to-work attitude.

Trashing your previous employers

Angry businessman lashing out in a meeting.
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Criticizing past companies you’ve worked for, even if the criticism is deserved, can give the impression that you’re disloyal. Your interviewer may decide that since you don’t like past jobs, you won’t like the new position you’re seeking.

Employers are looking for people who are eager to fit into new surroundings. They don’t want to hire workers who will leave the company unhappy and tell unpleasant stories about their job.

Covering up a layoff or a dismissal

Man lying
Chanwoot_Boonsuya / Shutterstock.com

Be prepared to honestly explain employment gaps in your work history caused by dismissals or layoffs. If you try to cover up a past problem and your interviewer learns about it, he or she isn’t likely to hire you. And you will raise concerns about your honesty.

Instead, acknowledge and briefly explain the situation. It’s better to deal with such issues openly than to have your employer discover them later.

Using inappropriate language

Africa Rising / Shutterstock.com

The use of profanity is increasingly common, but it has no place in the job-seeking process. Your peers may not care if you drop an occasional curse word into conversations, but foul language is likely to cause a job interview to end badly. It will be interpreted as disrespectful, regardless of your intent.

Most employers will assume that you’re on your best behavior when seeking a job. If you swear during your job search, they’ll conclude that your language will be worse after you’ve been hired.

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