I’m all about supporting hard-working job seekers who’ve been pounding the pavement but getting no where. Yes, the economy stinks right now and with the unemployment rate still hovering at 9 percent it’s hard to find a job. But some of you are sabotaging yourselves.

Are you all just sick and tired and ready to give up? That’s what it seems like when I talk to hiring managers who go on endlessly about job candidates who just don’t put in the effort.

One hiring manager got so frustrated with the job applicants she’s been seeing that she wrote an essay about it. Thankfully, she decided to share it with me and agreed to let me publish it here.

sarikasl2.jpg“I didn’t have anyone particular in mind when I wrote it,” said Lynne Sarikas is director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University and recently she had a job opening for an administrative assistant that required a college degree. “I was frustrated by what I seeing and realized how many people were hurting themselves in their job searches.”

Here’s her first-hand account of trying to fill this position and others:

Given high unemployment and an unstable economy, you would expect job seekers to be doing everything possible to put their best foot forward in their job searches. In a competitive market they need to differentiate themselves from the many others seeking the same positions.

Imagine my surprise when I posted an open position in my department two weeks ago and began to review the mountain of applications I received. More than half of the applicants were immediately eliminated from consideration. They were making basic errors to sabotage their own job search efforts.

Don’t Follow Directions
If you can’t follow the directions in the hiring process what makes an employer believe you will be able to follow directions on the job? If it asks you to attach a resume, do it. If it asks for references, provide them. Demonstrate that you are prepared and capable of following directions.

Make Errors
As an employer I have little patience when you attach the wrong cover letter indicating your interest in a different job at a different organization. I am not impressed with your attention to detail. Blatant typos or grammatical errors also demonstrate poor attention to detail and land that letter and resume in the reject pile immediately. Do not send me your resume or cover letter in edit mode so I can see the changes you made.

Don’t Show Me Your Lack of Effort
Form letters are easy to spot. If you are not interested enough in the job to customize a letter, I’m not interested in you either. Don’t assume you know what the job responsibilities are based on the title. Read the job description and refer to the job accurately in your cover letter. Go online and check our website. Demonstrate that you took some initiative and learned something about us. I happen to know that my name is all over our website if you just look. The fact that you found it shows me some initiative rather than yet another letter to Dear Hiring Manager.

Don’t Cause Me Extra Work to Consider You
Many applicants don’t bother with a cover letter if it doesn’t indicate that it is required. They often feel their resume is all that is needed and that their experience speaks for itself. Guess again. Don’t make me try to understand how your experience relates to what I am looking for. Don’t expect me to figure out what it is you really want to do next and why. Write a customized cover letter to address what I am looking for and how your experience fits my needs.

It is NOT All About You
The current record is 34 “I”s in a single cover letter. First of all it is not a good example of strong business writing to start nearly every sentence with I. More importantly it is not all about you. I have a business need I am trying to fill. Your letter should demonstrate how you can help me address that need. It shouldn’t be a summary of your resume or a dissertation on what you really want or need.

Don’t Skip Your Homework
Information is available at your fingertips via the internet. There is absolutely no excuse for not doing your research. Learn about the company or organization. Know what we do and who our customers are. See what you can learn about the department you will be interviewing with. Often you can also learn about the person interviewing you. Don’t come in and waste my time by asking what we do.

Don’t Ignore Me
If I go through the mountain of applications and identify a few for phone screens you should be flattered and then step your preparations into high gear. Don’t ignore my request. Don’t wait more than 24 hours to respond. Demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm by being responsive.

Don’t Forget to say Thank You
This is the easiest way to stand out from the competition. Say thank you to everyone who interviews you. Send a quick email thank you and follow it up with a handwritten thank you note. Personalize each note to reference something specific you discussed. This is a great opportunity to reaffirm your interest.

An Interview Invitation Doesn’t Mean You Got the Job
I’m not going to interview just one person. Don’t assume that when I ask you to interview that you have the job. Leave the cocky attitude at the door. It has no place in an interview.

Don’t Forget to Network
If you claim to be so passionate about this organization or this role, who have you talked to who works here or in a similar organization? Who have you talked to in order to learn more about this role? Demonstrate your interest by showing initiative.

Absolutely Don’t Blow Me Off
If you have an interview scheduled, either in person or by phone, you are expected to keep it. If for ANY reason you are not able to do so, you should call as much in advance as possible to notify the interviewer and ask for an opportunity to reschedule. If you are not available for the scheduled appointment and I don’t hear from you at all until three days later, you have convinced me that you do not have the customer service skills or common courtesy to work in my department.

Wow, she slapped us around.

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