Fashion Choices, Word Choices and 5 Other Moves That Will Sabotage Your Job Search

Looking for a job is challenging. Don't make it harder by making these completely avoidable mistakes.

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Hiring the right person for a job is difficult, and there’s much at stake for employers. Reading resumes and meeting with applicants take time and effort. 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 who fail to view the hiring process from the perspective of employers often do things that sabotage their own efforts to find work. Here are seven of those things — to be avoided if you really 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. If you’re applying for a job in a bank, coming to the interview wearing blue jeans indicates that you don’t understand what the job is all about.

Don’t forget that it’s 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. For more on how employers view your attire, see “What You Wear at Work Still Affects Promotion Chances.”

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

Not tapping into your personal network

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When looking for a job, it’s very important to use your network of friends, acquaintances and business contacts to find openings that might be appropriate for you. A survey reported by LinkedIn found that 85 percent of jobs are filled through networking. It may be embarrassing to ask your friends if they’re aware of job openings, but if you don’t you’ll be missing out on an important source of information.

The more people you contact about your job search, the better the chances you’ll make an important connection. Be sure to 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 Simple Tips for Painless and Successful 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. It may take time for supervisors to document the problems that make workers unfit for their positions. That’s why employers don’t hesitate to pass on applicants who don’t seem to be taking interviews seriously. If you give the impression that you’re not truly interested in the job, your application is likely to be tossed in the trash.

Speaking of interviews, consider some of the curveballs you could be pitched: “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. Your goal is to stand out from the crowd as the best person to hire. To do this, you’ll need to follow up your applications with emails and phone calls.

Make sure employers know that you’re eager to join their team. Credentials are important, but to really stand out you need to display a can-do, ready-to-work attitude.

Trashing your previous employers

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Perhaps the fastest way to get placed on the “don’t hire” list is to criticize past companies you’ve worked for. This easily can give the impression that you’re disloyal. Your interviewer may decide that since you don’t like your 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

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If there are employment gaps in your work history caused by dismissals or layoffs from previous jobs, be prepared to address them honestly. 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.

A study by University College London found that job applicants who were honest during interviews had a better chance of winning jobs. If asked about a past dismissal or layoff, acknowledge it 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

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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 very 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. Once you land a job, you’ll still need to keep a civil tongue. CNN reports that in some cases, swearing at work can get you fired.

Do you have a story about bungling an interview? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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