How NOT to Get a Job

by Kevin M on January 22, 2013

in Career

Most of us are very interested in how to get a job, but since that doesn’t always work in a tough job market, it might be helpful to take a look at the situation from the back side. As in how not to get a job. Sometimes the best way to get a job is to identify the factors that are hurting your effort, and then do your best to reverse the situation.

What are some of the ways that you can sabotage your efforts get a job?

Job Search

Not Customizing Your Resume And Cover Letter To Match The Job

It can be tedious, but it’s extremely important that both your resume and your cover letter match the position you are applying for. In every job posting, there are certain specific skills, credentials and experience requirements that are critical to the job. If your resume and cover letter don’t address those requirements, your application will be passed over.

An application that does not fit the job description is worse than sending no application at all. It’s not just that you will not get the position, but that you will have taken yourself out of the running for a position that you may in fact have been qualified for had you done a better job of matching your qualification with the required skills.

Carefully study any job ads or postings, and do your best to identify the most important qualifications the employer is looking for. Then do your best to match your resume and cover letter to those qualifications. If you have the qualifications, the job may be a good fit and you could very well be a candidate in contention. If you don’t have the qualifications required, it’s probably best that you don’t even apply.

Applying For Jobs You Aren’t Qualified For

Which brings us into another dilemma for job applicants. There sometimes the thought that you can use the “shotgun approach” to applying for jobs. You might think that if you apply for a thousand jobs that surely someone will hire you. Unfortunately, the qualifications required for most jobs today are so specific that a mass application effort will probably be a massive waste time.

If you’re not qualified for a job, there’s no point even applying for it. In more robust job markets, employers will often hire someone who is at least partially qualified. But in the market we’re in today, there’s no shortage of skilled employee prospects, and you’ll have virtually zero chance of landing a job you are not qualified for.

Save your time and energy for more productive activities.

Sloppy Resumes, Cover Letters And Job Applications

There is sometimes a tendency to believe that resumes, cover letters and job applications are little more than a formality. But that’s only true if you have a strong reference from an influential person within the company. In virtually all other situations, your candidacy for any job will rest entirely upon the information that you present.

Your resume, cover letter and job application should not only be complete, but they should also be as neat as possible. They’re hiring a whole person, not a collection of skills and qualifications. They want to know that you are organized and that you can communicate intelligently. Your application documents will either confirm or deny that.

Be very careful in preparing your resume and cover letter, and make sure that you have a knowledgeable third-party review it for you. No matter how may times you review it yourself, you could still have glaring mistakes that someone else will pick up.

For job applications (especially on site), it may help to have a detailed list of information that includes your education, employment history, references and specific skills. Take this information from your list and transfer it to the job application. Never rely on your own memory.

Weak Interviewing Skills

Many job applicants have very strong resumes and convincing cover letters, but they fall short during the interview process. Often this is not because of a lack of credentials and qualifications, but because of poor interview skills.

You should be fully prepared to provide intelligent answers to questions that you would reasonably expect to face at a job interview. In addition, it’s important that you have a list of relevant questions that will further demonstrate your understanding of the job and your ability to get the job done.

Resumes and cover letters are written lists of your abilities. Interview skills are way of demonstrating those abilities. Invest some time in improving your interview skills with a strong emphasis on being able explain why you are the right person for the job.

Looking For The Perfect Job

People who are looking for the perfect spouse often end up…single. People who look for the perfect job often end up…stuck in a crappy job or unemployed!

Don’t let that be you.

There are no perfect jobs out there, but you can waste an awful lot of time looking for one. In the process you may turn down a number of perfectly good jobs. A less than perfect job may not be exactly what you are looking for, but it could be the very steppingstone to the perfect job that comes later.

You should hope that the next employer you work for doesn’t have perfectionist tendencies. At the same time, you need to keep your own tendencies toward perfection in check. Unless you have the perfect job right now, finding one that is can be an endless search. And if you do have the perfect job already…just stay where you are.

© 2013, Kevin M. All rights reserved.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Julie @ Freedom 48

I’d heard recently that something like 75% of people lie on their resume. I was shocked! It had never occured to me to lie about my qualifications… but I can understand why it’d be tempting to do so.


2 Kevin@OutOfYourRut

Hi Julie–Maybe this is splitting hairs, but it may depend on what is considered to be a lie. Most people embellish on their resume. That’s not necessarily lying, but more of portraying yourself in your best light. A resume is, after all, more of an advertisment than an affidavit.

To my thinking, lying would be making up experience and credentials out of thin air. I wonder if the 75% is about that or it includes embellishing?


3 Julie @ Freedom 48

You’re right Kevin – I believe it did include “embellishing”… or exaggerating.


4 Brett @ wstreetstocks

Great advice! It’s important to have a good interview. Many people fall short when it comes to this. Don’t be over confident during an interview!


5 Chris

Good round up Kevin, from being in the workplace it’s quite clear employers are still hiring based on education and their CV rather than their aptitude in real world scenarios. Too many people fall short at the most basic of organisational skills!


6 krantcents

Occasionally, I would apply for jobs that I was not qualified. Of course, I adjusted my resume to fit as best I could the requirements. It is a gamble, but worth the effort.


7 Kevin@OutOfYourRut

It could be a viable strategy if you are unemployed, but it’s harder to pull off now than in the past. Employers have become extremely specific in their requirements, so it could lead to a lot of wasted time in interviews that will reveal a lack of ablity. I’d tread lightly here, if only because you could blow a shot at a job with the same employer at a later date for a job that you are qualified for.


8 TB at BlueCollarWorkman

As a blue collar dude, when we apply for jobs there isn’t a resume thing or anything like that. There’s usually a little application and interview, nothing fancy. Certainly don’t need to dress up. But on the application, even for blue collar stuff, I agree, man, you’ve got to fill it in right! But the date in the date box, your name in the name box….I talked wtih my boss the other day and he said that lots of people don’t even put the right stuff in the right boxes! SEems like a no brainer, but…


9 Kevin@OutOfYourRut

Hi TB–Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I think that kind of sloppiness can kill your chances of getting a job, whether it’s white collar, blue collar or even contract. It shows a lack of attention to detail that could indicate the same attitude being carried over to the job itself.


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