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Companies usually rev up hiring in January thanks to new budgets and the expiration of hiring freezes, which means if you’re a job seeker, you have an opportunity right now.
But as a recruiter for a private employment agency, I can tell you that so many applicants are disqualified because of one wrong move. I interview droves of people and yet only want to refer about 10 percent to companies we work with.
What disqualifies so many applicants? Usually it comes down to how you market yourself to the hiring authority. Many job seekers don’t even realize they’re doing something that could cost them the job.
Here are three easy-to-make mistakes that job candidates should avoid at all costs:
1. Getting your dates wrong
This is a big one, people. If you can’t keep your past employment or school dates straight, it seriously hinders your credibility, not to mention confusing the interviewer. By the same token, not having any dates on your resume will probably get it sent straight to the trash bin as well.
If you get called in for an interview, make sure to know the dates (at least the month and year) of your past jobs like the back of your hand. If a recruiter sees you hesitate, they might become skeptical.
2. Sharing way too much personal information
Look, recruiters understand that everyone has hardships and different reasons for being unemployed; after all, we’re all human. But recruiters don’t need to know, nor do we want to know, the intimate details of your personal life. Job candidates often mistake sharing this kind of information as being honest, but in reality it makes you look like a liability.
For instance, avoid telling the recruiter that medical school didn’t work out and you don’t really know what you want to do with your life. Or that you got into a bitter legal battle with your ex-partner and you need a job because the settlement fell through.
Companies mostly want to hear about how you triumphed over hardship, not how you’re still damaged from it.
3. Giving vague answers
During an interview, I often ask, “What did you do in that position?” Most candidates go on and on about what the company does and not what they actually did for the company. When I clarify, they tend give me vague answers I could have figured out on my own.
Candidates also tend to get tripped up when I ask what they want to accomplish within their next company. Some stare blankly and shrug their shoulders. Others say something like “sales” or “marketing” and can’t find the words to explain how they intend to accomplish that or why they are qualified to do it.
Companies want to know what makes you an asset – so tell them! They want to hire go-getters who know exactly what they want, how to get there and how they can help the company succeed. They want confident people who are proven problem solvers – so don’t be shy in tooting your own horn a bit.
Some of these tips may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised just how common these mistakes are. By avoiding them, you can seriously increase your chances of being called back for a follow-up interview.
Amanda Abella is a personnel administrator for a Miami-based employment agency and a freelance writer. She also runs Grad Meets World, a popular Gen Y blog where she discusses health, career, personal finance, entrepreneurship, and more.