Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Small Things That Could Cost You the Job

There are, of course, major things that can keep you from getting employed. I have addressed these major mistakes, along with how to correct them, in the free YouTube video series titled “The5 Deadly Sins of the Job Search”.  

There are also small, careless things you might be doing that lessen your chances of success or flat out get you eliminated.

I work with job seekers every day and I see these careless mistakes all too frequently. It is my job to bring them to your attention so you can be sure you are not doing something that eliminates you from consideration for employment. 

1.      Not Following Instructions


This world is moving fast and you are in a hurry to land the right job. But if you do not take the time to read and follow the directions, it can cost you the job.


There are an unusually high number of people who obviously do not read the directions. These job seekers come across as poor candidates. Fast is not necessarily better especially when you are trying to present a good first impression.


What can be Behind It?

There can be any number of reasons people are missing out on important information. Here are just a few possibilities.


Small Screen: If you read your e-mails on your phone, you will want to wait and read the important correspondences when you can easily read the entire e-mail on a larger screen (like on your PC) so you do not miss what is being said.


Trying to be Quick: People shoot off a reply without reading the entire document or assume what is being said in the rest of the message. By missing a key detail in a job posting or e-mail, you can be ruled out as a candidate just as quickly as you replied.


Multi-tasking: Some people are proud of being able to multi-task. In fact scientist have done studies that prove that people cannot multi-task activities that require brain power.  Pay attention to the important tasks.


Just Ignoring the Instructions: There are times people read, but ignore, the instructions. This conveys that you cannot or will not read and follow directions. If this is how you operate when you are trying to make a good first impression, hiring authorities know it will not get better when you are onboard as an employee.


There is one time, and one time only that I can think of, where I encourage job seekers to not follow instructions and that is when the company asks the candidate to include salary information in the cover letter. My suggestion instead is to write “I need to understand more about the job before I can address the question of salary. In addition salary is only one part of the compensation package. I would need to know more about the other aspects.”


Other than in that situation, job seekers need to know that by not following the instructions, they are possibly eliminating themselves from a job opportunity.


More than just not following directions can cost you the job. Here is a list of them.


      2. Not spell checking your documents and e-mails


With the advent of spellcheck, there is no reason a document should be sent out with a spelling error. Word and Outlook, as well as other document software, have settings to automatically spellcheck a document before it is sent or as you type. 


      3. Misspelling the person’s name


When corresponding with a person, it is vitally important to spell the other person’s name as they spell it. It amazes me that people with unusually spelled names commit this mistake as often as others.


    4. Calling to get the date / time or address after that information has been sent to you


When information has been provided to you, it is your responsibility to keep track of it. To interrupt someone else’s day with a call or e-mail to request information that you were previously provided indicates that you are not responsible enough to keep track of important information or that you believe their time is not valuable.


     5. Rescheduling, canceling, showing up late, or not showing at all for an appointment
         Critical issues come up time to time that make it impossible to keep a set appointment: illness  
         or death in the family, car accident, etc. Not showing at a party is one thing. Not showing for a
         professional appointment, showing up late without calling, or canceling at the last minute
         indicates lack of commitment or respect for the other person.
         With professionals who schedule appointments, canceling or not showing may not only cost
         the professional money but more importantly keeps others from using that time.


      6. Not coming prepared to take notes


One of my favorite expressions is that “Memory does not get better with age”. When  you go into a meeting without the tools to take notes, you clearly give the impression you are not prepared or that you do not believe anything worth remembering will be shared.


      7. E-mailing a Google Docs or drop box link instead of attaching the resume


The advent of the cloud for storing documents provides the capability to access documents regardless of where you are. However, do not require the recipient to go through extra steps to receive a document you are sending them. If you are e-mailing the link, you can just as easily e-mail the document. 


      8. Bringing a jump drive (or computer) and expecting the other person to print your resume for


When someone asks you to bring a document with you, bring the document.


      9. Bringing your computer and assuming the company will provide access to their secured


Most companies have policies in place that limit who can access the company’s internet. Although some companies provide public Wi-Fi access, do not assume all companies do. Either e-mail documents ahead of time or provide your own Wi-Fi (many smart phones can serve as a hotspot).


     10. Not demonstrating manners and interpersonal skills


Fifty percent of what an employer is looking for in a candidate is skills and abilities; the other 50% is a fit for the organization. Whether you are male or female, hold the door for someone who has their hands full, greet the receptionists professionally, and demonstrate other strong interpersonal skills. Otherwise, you have given them 50% of the reasons not to hire you.


       11. When following up with someone, asserting the other person’s fault for not getting back to
              you as expected.

“You said you were going to call on Friday” “I’m still waiting for an answer to my question I sent weeks ago”.


When following up with someone, asserting their fault for not responding only puts them on the defensive, making it so they do not look forward to working with you. You do not know what has transpired that has kept them from replying as they had hoped.


The best approach is a soft approach. Send the question again without indicating you sent it before. Do not remind them of when they said they would get back to you, just send them an e-mail or leave them a message that expresses your continued interest and that you hope to hear from them soon.



        12. Waiting until the last minute to prepare; expecting others to make accommodations for you
             at the last minute because you failed to prepare.


I love the quote from Coach Wooden, in fact I made it a part of my e-mail signature block “When opportunity knocks, it is too late to prepare.” Do not wait until the last minute to prepare. If you are unemployed, you have time to prepare BEFORE you need that resume or to prepare for an interview. Do not waste today. Get ready now.


        13. Not turning your phone OFF completely during a meeting.


Some people have become numb to the sound of a ringing or vibrating phone. If there is an emergency situation requiring you to leave your phone on, let the other person know. Otherwise, turn it off completely when in a meeting.


        14. Not being in a quiet location for a business call.

When you arrange to take a business call, be sure you are in a quiet location. Do not drive while talking on a business call. Find a quiet location without distraction of animals, children, household noises - you get the idea.


Keep in mind that you do not need to take an unscheduled call at that moment if you are not prepared, that is what voice-mail is for. No one expects you to be 100% available for unscheduled calls.



You are detailed oriented, a people person, and have strong interpersonal skills so do not do anything that proves otherwise. You may be in a hurry to land a job but pay attention to the small things that can set you apart.




Judi Adams is the Affordable and Successful job search coach. Go to to see how to get 4 hours of coaching for as little as $175.