8 Mistakes That Make Hiring Managers Cringe

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They meet more people in an afternoon than most of us do in a year. But what faux pas do human resources pros see again and again during the interview process?

We picked the brains of two high-profile executives to find out what you definitely shouldn’t say—and what they secretly think of your resume. (One was so brutally honest about her just-don’t-do-this advice that she preferred to remain anonymous.)

1. Not Knowing When to Stop Talking

“Talking over your interviewer is the biggest mistake that interview candidates don’t realize they’re making,” says Stacey Hawley, a career and leadership development coach and compensation specialist. “This is usually from nervousness, but as a result, the candidates outtalk the interviewer and don’t engage in active listening.”

Amy Michaels (name has been changed), a human resources director at a high-tech firm in New York City, agrees: “The inability to listen is huge. That person who’s always trying to have the exact right answer, but can’t stop talking? He or she ultimately won’t be a success.”

Instead, listen up and watch more subtle clues—like your interviewer’s body language. If she’s shifting back and forth or clearing her throat, it’s time to let her get to the next question.

2. Bad-Mouthing Your Ex (Job)

While it may seem like a no-brainer, putting down your current employer happens all too often, says Michaels, perhaps because the bad feelings are still fresh. If you’re tempted to trash your present company, stop right there.

“When I ask why you’re leaving a place, I don’t want to hear you gripe about your current manager or badmouth your situation,” she says. “Be creative enough to come up with a tactful reason as to why you’re leaving. Otherwise, to me, that’s a huge red flag that you’re not mature enough to know not to do it. Not to mention that it makes me nervous about how tactful you’re going to be externally if I hire you.”

3. Not Acknowledging Your Mistakes

A couple of interview rules of thumb: “Be well-groomed and be on time,” says Michaels. “Or email if your train is running late. That happens in New York.”

While one minor transgression may not deep-six your prospects of landing the job, you should still acknowledge it and move on, says Michaels. Hawley will also pardon small errors: “Mistakes are OK and acceptable. No one is perfect—or needs to be.”

The bigger red flag, both say, is someone who can’t admit their missteps. “The people who make me nuts just act like being late never happened,” says Michaels. “If you make a mistake, own up to it.”

4. Neglecting Your Cover Letter

Our experts were adamant about this. “To be honest, I don’t read objectives, and I don’t care if you fence,” says Michaels. “But I do read cover letters.” Hawley agrees: “Absolutely write a cover letter. It’s an opportunity to highlight your understanding of the business, and what you can do for the bottom line.”

And, even in the digital age, there’s no excuse for a quickly dashed-off email—take the time to compose it with care. “Demonstrate your knowledge of the company,” says Hawley. “And link your past achievements to the position, showing how you can contribute to their future success.” That, she says, will always make a candidate stand out.

Mistakes 5-8 and the complete article

Five Steps To Move Forward From Job Search Rejection

 Author, ‘Finding Work When There Are No Jobs’

Maybe it’s not you.

Were you rejected? Take a closer look at what happened.

Did you have a face to face conversation with someone? Was it someone who needs what you have to offer? Someone who has the power to get you the job?

Did you talk about why you’d be the perfect fit? Not just what you have done, but what the hiring person needs. Did you leave that discussion feeling like both of you were seeing that your talent spoke to exactly what was needed? Did all that happen and then someone told you “No?”

Or did you send a resume and cover letter, have an interview with a gatekeeper, and then check “networking” off your to-do list by sending a Linked In invite to a stranger?
Was it you that was rejected? Or was it your resume?

Glossing over any kind of rejection never helps. Any rejection is bad. And positive thinking can get old.

But a factual answer to the question, “Did someone reject me OR did someone reject my resume?” can be useful to the job seeker going forward.

The brutality of constant rejection can easily drive the applicant into a tailspin of self doubt. A self doubt that is kind of a first cousin to the idea of “blaming the victim.” The job seeker endlessly combing over what she could have done to make a better resume or check more boxes on the networking to-do list. Or try some expert’s tip on getting past gate keepers. Or somehow work harder.

But as all of us know, the best resume doesn’t get the job. In these troubling times, “getting a job” and “doing a job” have become two very different activities. Getting a job is like a trip down Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole. Only the rabbit hole is stuffed with all the old resumes that no one really reads.

Standardized, mass production hiring is tremendously efficient, easy to measure and cheap. It’s the kudzu of the corporate cubicle farms.

In contrast, the talent drain of the laid off lawyer, director of marketing, and bank vice president standing in the job search line and all being told “no” is a very difficult picture to paint on the canvas of a balance sheet.

Hard to measure what it costs when the perfect fit for a job isn’t hired because she did not include the right key words on a resume never seen by human eyes.

So handling and learning from rejection in today’s irrational system of job search is no longer about expert advice — its about posing the questions that will lead each individual to come up with their own plan to handle and learn from rejection.

In Finding Work When there Are No Jobs, there are dozens and dozens of questions clustered around each of THE FIVE, our five guiding principles for finding work. THE FIVE also prompt questions for each job seeker to use as they take a breath and pause from the barrage of rejections and come up with their own answer to the question, “What’s Next?”

Remember — there are NO right or wrong answers here.

These are questions you ask yourself. Some will be useful and prompt your own personal way forward. Some will make you scratch your head and go “Huh?”

Use the ones that work for you!

Using THE FIVE To Move Forward From Rejection

I. Tell Your Story
Did my resume and cover letter tell my story? Or was it just data?
Have I shared ways that I’ve made a difference?
Did I express how others see me?
Where do I want honesty to figure in my story?
Was my story balanced?

Two – Five and the complete Huffington Post article

10 Ways That You Are Screwing Up Your Job Search

Susan Adams

1. Giving out references that don’t sing your praises

You don’t want a reference to damn you with faint praise. Ask if the person is willing to say you walked on water. If not, find another reference.

2. Laying out your résumé in a microscopic font

Too many candidates think they need to fit all of their qualifications onto a single, illegible page. Either cut down the word count or let the copy flow onto a second page.

3. Failing to say glowing things about your former employer

Even if you were laid off from your last job, find a way to say positive things about your last employer. Hiring managers identify with your former boss, not with you.

5. Talking too much at the start of an interview

It’s fine to give a 30-second summary of your accomplishments, but then you should go into questioning and listening mode, and respond to the interviewer’s cues.

See all 10 ways plus the complete Forbes article

Is Your Resume 6-Second Worthy?

In a time when recruiters and hiring managers are getting inundated with applicants for job postings, one technique they quickly learn to master is the art of “skimming” resumes. They just don’t have time to read each resume word-for-word. Instead, they glance at it quickly and look for key info. If they don’t see what they need, you’re tossed.

You’ve Got Six Seconds
I was recently told the average recruiter spends about six seconds on a resume and then decides whether to keep reading, or toss it in the ‘no’ pile. Additionally, their eye works in a Z pattern, meaning left-to-right across the top of the resume, and then back down the left-hand side.

Top-Fold = Prime Real Estate
This means the top part of your resume is where all the action is. If you don’t, “Get them at Hello,” you won’t be moving on. So, here are a few tips:

1) Don’t waste the top-fold with a long-winded, self-serving promotional paragraph. It won’t get read. Objective statements and overly salesy intros don’t work either.

2) Create an “Experience Summary” that lists quantifiable skills and the key information required to even get a shot at the job.

3) Don’t use a font smaller than 11 point or in a fancy style. Too hard on the eyes.

For a total breakdown of how to create a resume that will pass the six-second test, you can watch a video I did as part of our CAREEREALISM TV weekly Q&A show. It’s the very first episode on this page, just scroll to the bottom and you can watch it here: http://www.careerealism.com/careerealism-tv-archives/

Remember, Resumes Don’t Get You Hired!
Even if you create an effective resume, please don’t assume it will greatly improve your chances of getting a call from an online application. These days, 8 out 10 resumes aren’t even seen by human eyes. Most online applicants never get a shot at the job they apply to. Why? 80%+ of all jobs filled today can be attributed to referrals. Someone inside the organization refers the candidate that gets hired. Hiring a referral is a lot easier than going blurry-eyed reviewing hundreds of online applicants. Plus, the referral makes them more credible, as compared to an online applicant nobody has worked with.

More tips and the complete post

5 Innovative Ways for Job Seekers to Stand Out

By Adam Lewis

As soon as people learn that we help Fortune 500 companies and leading brands recruit their teams, I’m usually asked one of two questions.

Those looking for shortcuts ask whether systems can be manipulated to get them selected. The answer is: Don’t be a fool.
The more honest and resourceful job seekers (or their parents) ask if there are things they can be doing to stand out. The answer is yes.


Here are the five things I recommend:

1. Find Ways to Let Your Creativity Shine

As every HR manager will tell you: resumes say very little. How much information can people really fit in onto a single piece of paper? Once you achieve satisfactory grades, undertake relevant internships and participate in impressive extra-curricular activities, your resume blends into others just like it. Resumes in their traditional form made sense before technology allowed people to express themselves in other ways. Today you can do better.

This means: utilize technology. Do something that makes you stand out. Do something that lets your qualities shine. Videos are a great way to do this. In a video you can show enthusiasm and passion for a position or product in a way no resume can. It also lets you highlight other qualities employers prize. U.K. jobseeker Graeme Anthony put together a compelling video that successfully attracted many viewers -– in order to get the attention of PR companies. “It shows off my personality in a way a paper CV can’t,” he said. And it worked.

Don’t send an hour-long monologue, though. Remember that recruiters only have a limited time. Ideally, employers will already have a video or audio option built into their hiring process. If they don’t, keep it short and compelling.

Find a way to highlight your talents. Otherwise your application will sit alongside hundreds like it. The bottom line is: stand out by letting those qualities that can’t be seen on your resume, but that you want the employer to know, shine.

And, of course, as David Roth, CEO of the Store WPP, points out, companies will question: If you can’t market yourself, then how are you going to market your products?

2. Think Outside the Box

Go against the grain. Alec Brownstein created an online ad that would appear every time employers he was targeting (New York creative directors) searched their own names. It cost him $6. He got hired.
Ads won’t necessarily get you a job, but doing something people aren’t expecting, or that hasn’t been done before, will get you noticed.

Demonstrate that you are willing to learn new things, undertake challenges, and have different experiences. In the weeks leading up to an application, do something you’ve never done before and mention that.

3. Social Media Espionage

Facebook is for friends, Twitter is for catching news, and LinkedIn is for job seeking — right?
Wrong. Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools allow you to study, connect and interact with prospective future employers and colleagues.

Learn their likes, dislikes and priorities. Interact. Seize the opportunity to get noticed and even build a relationship, before you’re officially interviewed. Remember, likeability has always been a key factor in people getting hired. Positive social interactions can only help.


Of course, your social media interactions can work against you, too. Most college guidance counselors remind you to delete those embarrassing Facebook photos before applying, but also remember that foolish post-college tweets are just as damaging. A good HR department will know. 

Ways 4,5, and the complete Mashable article

Top 6 Reasons Your Job Search Isn’t Working

 By Matthew O’Donnell for BioSpace.com

Mistake #1: Failure to network

When it comes to job searching, it often comes down to who you know. Professional networking is a great way to get your foot in the door with a potential employer. Making these connections is the key to getting your resume directly into the hands of the person making hiring decisions. Don’t be shy! Visit career fairs and sign up with professional organizations to get to know other people in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Mistake #2: Skipping the cover letter for online applications

The more information you provide during the application process, the better chance you have of landing an interview. Today, many applications and resumes are sent via online web forms that ask for specific information from job candidates. Even if it’s not strictly required, send a cover letter with every online application you submit. Doing so will not only make an impression, but it will give the hiring manager more insight into your background and put you one step ahead of other applicants. Two instances where sending a cover letter is not advised is when the job description specifically states not to send one, or there is no section in the online application to submit a cover letter. You might think this is a test of the hiring manager and brownie points will go to the applicant that goes above and beyond the requirements, but it isn’t. In fact, sending a cover letter when the job description explicitly says not to could be used to help weed out the candidates that don’t take the time to read the entire job description or lack attention to detail.

Mistake #3: Sending a generic cover letter

First impressions count. Viewed from the perspective of a hiring manager, sending a generic cover letter is lazy. With this shotgun approach, you may as well send your cover letter out to every company in the biopharmaceutical industry. Instead of sending a canned and generic letter, tailor the letter to your reader by focusing on the needs of the specific company and the details of the specific position for which you are applying. Do your homework and use your cover letter to demonstrate how your skills and experience could benefit the company. In today’s competitive biopharma job industry, your cover letter must be so compelling that the hiring manager immediately sees you as their future employee. 

Tips 4-6 and the complete article