When applying for jobs, we all know the obvious moves you should absolutely avoid. Whether it’s typos in your resume, showing up late for an interview or dressing inappropriately, there are things a professional collegiette just never does. However, there are a lot of things you may not have given a second thought to that could be deterring employers. Her Campus spoke with the experts to find out employers’ biggest pet peeves that could be hurting your chances of landing the job.
1. Talking about money before you get the job
Of course, money is important. If a position doesn’t pay enough, you may not be able to take it. However, Lesley Mitler, president of the career coaching service Priority Candidates, Inc., says if you haven’t gotten the job yet, don’t talk about money! Mitler says that saying things like, “I wouldn’t take this job for X amount” or even bringing up money at all in a first interview is a real turnoff for employers.
Not only is it presumptuous to bring money up so early, but it also tells the employer that money is your priority, not doing a good job. Express your interest in the job and the company, and wait until you’ve landed the position to discuss the salary!
2. Being unprofessional on social media
Social media is an easy way for employers to learn about you, whether you want them to or not. While you probably know to hide those photos from last night’s party from the public, you might not think about the subtler things you’re doing online that employers find unattractive.
According to Neal Schaffer, author of Maximize Your Social, “You are what you tweet.” While you might think you’re fine as long as there’s nothing blatantly bad on your social media profiles, you should rethink the messages you’re sending out to the world. “Your branding, the way employers perceive you, will be based on what they can find [out] about you in your social media profile,” Schaffer says.
For example, Schaffer says, “You may be really upset that you had to deal with a customer service issue with a major brand, but if you complain a lot about that issue, some employers may see that as a sign of immaturity [and] impatience.”
You may want to express your frustration and tell your friends to avoid a brand that’s given you trouble, but it’s best to tell them in person instead of whining online. Before posting anything publicly, ask yourself, “What will an employer think when they see this?” If you’re about to tweet about how little motivation you have to get your homework done, look at it from an employer’s perspective. Why should they hire someone who lacks drive? Even a seemingly harmless tweet can send a bad message.
Schaffer says that to catch an employer’s attention, “[Share] content that is compelling and very relevant to your industry, so that when a potential hiring manager sees you, they see that you already ‘get it.’” If you’re passionate about fashion, share news about your favorite designers or your thoughts on a recently released collection.
Engage with people and brands that inspire you. If you tweet an article on your favorite blog, mention the blogger in your tweet. Emily Miethner, founder of FindSpark, a community for young, creative professionals, says to “follow companies in the industries you’re interested in long before you apply.” By getting started early, you can build up your knowledge of these brands and the industry as a whole, which will prepare you for any future interviews and applications.
The moral of the story? Think before you tweet, collegiettes! Putting some extra effort into your online presence will really help you stand out. Always approach your public profiles from an employer’s point of view and share content that would make you want to hire you!
3. Taking notes
You may think taking notes is a good thing to do during an interview; in a way, it shows you’re organized and you care about details. However, Mitler says the impression it gives off is just the opposite.
“I think that’s really off-putting, first of all because you’re trying to form a relationship with the interviewer, yet, you’re acting like you’re in a classroom,” she says.
Mitler says to think of an interview like a date. You wouldn’t take notes on a date, would you? “You’re supposed to be able to listen and remember things, and if you still have questions about things that were discussed or things that were said, you can always ask those questions later on,” she says.
So next time you go to an interview, leave your notebook behind. Pay close attention, try to take mental notes and form a bond with your interviewer. That will do more to help you get the job than note-taking ever could!
4. Disguising a strength as a weakness
Answering the “What’s your biggest weakness?” question can be difficult. You always feel like you have to recover from your weakness to save your image and show the employer you’re worthy of the job, but Mitler says trying to spin a weakness into a strength is one of her biggest pet peeves. “I want to hear about a weakness, a true weakness,” she says.
If you typically answer this question with something like, “I’m a perfectionist,” it’s time to reconsider. We all know perfectionism isn’t really a weakness—what do you genuinely struggle with?
If employers ask about your strengths, they want to hear about your strengths. If they ask about your weaknesses, they want to hear about your weaknesses! Show them that you can acknowledge your flaws.
Rather than trying to humblebrag by giving a weakness that’s obviously a strength, tell the interviewer about your real weakness, and then tell him or her how you’re improving upon it. If you struggle with organization, tell your interviewer how you’re training yourself to set reminders and enter events into your phone. Even if your weakness is that you have difficulty admitting to your faults, tell potential employers what steps you’re taking to try to fix that!
Admitting that you aren’t perfect can actually make you a more appealing candidate in the eyes of a potential employer; it shows that you know when to seek help and take actions to fix your own mistakes. Employers don’t want to hire someone who is going to try to cover their own tracks and glaze over issues.
5. Always having all the answers
Similarly, an inability to say “I don’t know” when you really don’t know the answer to a question can be unappealing to employers. “If you’re somebody who can’t say ‘I don’t know,’ you’re probably somebody who’s going to work there and try to cover up anything you don’t know by pretending that you do,” Mitler says.
Employers want to know that if you truly don’t know how to do something or if you need help with something, you’re going to ask for help. They want you to be independent and self-sufficient, but not to the point of coasting along without knowing what you’re doing and potentially harming the company as a result. “Sometimes employers will actually ask questions that they don’t think you know the answer to just to see if you can say, ‘I don’t know,’” Mitler says.
For example, if an interviewer asks you about software that he knows you have zero experience with, don’t pretend like you know exactly what he’s talking about. You don’t want employers to think you can do something that you have no idea how to do, and they can usually tell when you’re bluffing. Don’t be afraid to say something like, “I’m not familiar with that particular program, but I’m a fast learner and I do have experience with X, Y and Z.” Don’t lie to your interviewer; tell him you don’t know but show him how you can make up for it.
6. Not being on LinkedIn
We cannot stress the importance of LinkedIn enough. According to Schaffer, not having a LinkedIn profile is one of the biggest mistakes college students make when it comes to social networking. “That’s where most employers are, and a LinkedIn profile gives you the ability to say, ‘Hey, this is what I’ve done, these are the people I’m connected to, these are the recommendations I have,’” he says.
Imagine this: You are one of hundreds of applicants for a job. An employer picks up your resume and is interested enough to do a quick Google or LinkedIn search to find out more about you. When she comes up with nothing, she’ll think you aren’t putting in the effort to get yourself out there professionally.
Miethner says LinkedIn is a great resource for students. “If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you’re missing out on huge opportunities to tell your story and share your experiences,” she says.
It’s the easiest way for an employer to find additional information about you. Be sure to include links to any special projects you’ve done at work or at school, articles you’ve written, videos you’ve made or anything else relevant to your field. And definitely don’t be afraid to ask your managers for recommendations so potential employers can see how awesome you are!
Reading recommendations on LinkedIn is so much easier for employers than calling your old boss. If they can’t access that information easily, they’re probably going to move on to the next resume rather than digging around to find out more about you. Setting up your LinkedIn profile shows employers that you’re in the know and you really care about your career.
Miethner says that if you’re going to use LinkedIn, you have to be smart about it. She says to “always send a custom LinkedIn invite message.” This shows employers and connections that you’re putting some thought into it and not just mindlessly adding everyone you meet. Plus, if you’re connecting with someone you don’t know very well, you can remind him or her whom you are. But Miethner also warns against adding connections through the app on your phone—it doesn’t let you customize the message!
If you want to go a step further, think about starting your own website. Platforms like WordPress offer reasonably priced domain names and are pretty straightforward to use. You can post your resume and a portfolio or other information that employers might want. Plus, it shows that you take initiative and you’re tech-savvy.
7. Not doing your research
You should always prepare for an interview by doing research on the company beforehand. You should never ask a question in an interview if the answer is easily accessible online! But the real question here is, are you researching the person who might be employing you?
You might think that by asking an interviewer how she got to her position, what she studied in school or anything else about her background shows interest. But Mitler says this could work against you in an interview. “You don’t ask them about their background if they’re on LinkedIn,” she says.
These days, pretty much all this information is available online. Plus, employers are typically notified when you check them out on LinkedIn, so they know you’re doing your homework. Even if they can’t see you’ve viewed them, you can show them you know your stuff by asking about their specific experiences. Instead of asking, “How did you get to where you are now?” try asking something like, “How did working for Company X prepare your for your current position?”
So, collegiettes, before you send out any more applications or go to interviews, take a moment to reevaluate your job-search strategy. Filter your social media, fill out your LinkedIn profile and prepare answers and questions for interviews. We’re sure you’ll blow those employers away!