How to Not Get a Job Interview

This one goes all the people who don’t count as unemployed, the many more who are underemployed, and the millions more discouraged workers across the nation who don’t count as unemployed because they have given up on finding a job at all. May it also help those who are officially counted as unemployed.

Have you ever wondered why when you send a monster stack of resumes, you might only get a few replies? And why if you talk to company recruiters on the phone you then don’t necessarily get called in to interview? I’d like to give you a few warning flags that make a prospective employer put your resume on the bottom of the stack.

I barely know you.

Don’t follow instructions. If the ad says to send a resume with cover letter, send a resume with cover letter. Without a cover letter, your prospective boss does not necessarily know what job you are applying for. Even if all the letter says is that there is a resume, you are applying for X job, you can be reached by Y means, and are looking forward to interviewing, write it and send it! If it says fax, fax it. If it says e-mail, e-mail it. If they want it sent in the regular mail, do it. Never ever hand write your cover letter unless the ad specifically wants a hand-written cover letter — and then ask yourself why they want it hand-written.

Carpet Bomb the Universe with your Resume Back in the old days, sending a resume meant spending most of a dollar by the time you added the cost of a printed resume, a cover letter, an envelope, and a stamp. This made you really think twice about whether you stood any chance at all of getting that job, particularly when you have no job and income. Faxes and e-mail makes sending a resume virtually free. As a result, people have the tendency to send resumes for positions wildly above and wildly below their capabilities. Resist this temptation. The odds of the HR manager looking at your resume and saying both “This person isn’t qualified to be Information Technology Director!” and “But it looks like they would be great for that opening as a Computer Technician” is very low. By the same token, do not send a resume for a job that you won’t take if it is offered to you.

Don’t bother checking the grammar and spelling in your resume. Everbyody mkaes tupos own adn thn. I mean, Everybody makes typos now and then. However, a resume is a document that is supposed to sell you to a company. It has to be right. Anyone who looks at this document will be thinking about how it demonstrates your command of English and your attention to detail — in short, your ability to do the job well. If you happen to hit one of the hiring manager’s grammatical pet peeves, you can just forget getting an interview. In case you are curious, mine is s versus ‘s. Be sure to run that cover letter through the spell checker, too.

Go ahead and put your wildest dream job in the “objectives” blank of your resume template. Objectives are a great place for a candidate to shoot him/herself down. Why should I hire you if your goal is to go back to school across the country? Unless your job search focus is very narrow, it is very difficult to write an “objectives” statement that will mesh with even half the positions to which you may send your resume for consideration. Just delete that paragraph. Microsoft did you no favor by putting it in the template.

Don’t leave a way to contact you. Right now, double check that your current phone number and e-mail address is on your resume. It is not Human Resources’ job to track down your contact number. And remember to check your answering machine and e-mail regularly. Which brings me to the next point….

Don’t bother to return messages. You sent a resume. They called! They want to talk to you! But they just missed you. They aren’t calling again; it is your job to call them.

The Phone Interview

Treat it as no big deal. Even if the phone interview is nothing more than setting up a time for a sit-down interview, remember that your phone skills and ways of speaking are being noted. Oh, and try to talk from a quiet place. Turn down the TV. If you are out and about, do what you can, but nobody wants to listen to your shopping trip while asking you about your resume.

Get moral support Don’t ask people in the background to help you answer an interviewer’s questions. Odds are that the interviewer is not interested in hiring you and your friend. For that matter, if you need help answering questions on the phone, the interviewer will suspect you need help answering questions in real life. Like, say, at work.

Offer to stiff your boss. If you say you can take some extra time off for an interview, or that you can bring confidential materials from your current job, it is hardly a logical leap that you are willing to treat your next boss the same way.

You don’t need directions, you’ve got MapQuest! If the person on the other end of the phone offers directions, take them. Those internet mapping tools do not always know the best and easiest way to get someplace. On the other hand, the person you are talking to is sitting there, in the place you are going. He or she goes there every day, and knows how to get there and little details like “avoid such-and-such road because they are doing construction.” Go ahead and download a map in case you have a problem finding the place, but use the directions of someone who knows how to get there.

I hope this frees you to go that extra step and get that job interview… and give you the opportunity to embarrass yourself in person.