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6 Mistakes Costing You the Interview and Job
By Debbie Christofferson, CISSP, CISM

What mistakes are guaranteed to hold you back in your job search?

You're Not Connected

Jenny joined an after-work dinner with a small group of former colleagues. When asked to schedule the next get-together, Jenny said, "Why we don't we make it just once a year?"

Jenny isn't interested in cultivating a network. She's busy, and doesn't see connections as important. Jenny hasn't had to look for a job in a long time. In the spirit of Covey's 7 Habits, her bank account is dry, and when she needs a withdrawal, there won't be any deposits to tap.

You Over-Reach and You're Out of Touch

Allen was downsized from a large company where he was employed for more than 20 years. He's interested in a CIO job. Allen has extensive IT management experience, but not at an executive or CIO level. His locale doesn't offer many big companies that would use his level of IT experience.

You Ask for Help You Don't Want

Bella's resume isn't getting any call-backs. She started looking when the market was hot. Her degree and experience are in high demand for any market.

Her resume is five pages, excessively detailed and lists a large gap as a "stay-at-home soccer mom". We updated her resume to show who she is and why she's a perfect hire. It was shrunk it to two pages of high-impact content.

Last week when asked about her job search, she's still looking, and didn't use the new resume, because "... People like you may not understand it, but recruiters really like all the detail."

You Focus on What You Can't Do, Instead of What You Can

Tim's resume shows impressive skills and offer a perfect fit in a company where I have contacts. He was introduced personally to the recruiting manager at their holiday party, with a 10-second thumbnail of his background. The manager asked Tim to call next week about an opening for certified ITIL experience. Tim responded with "I'm not actually ITIL certified ..."

You Don't Walk the Talk

Kelly bills himself as an executive recruiter, but exhibits no skills or maturity typically seen in the role. He lacks basic communication and social skills. Kelly habitually arrives late to meetings and fails to recognize professional boundaries in personal behavior and space.

Darla "sells" herself as a CIO in her job search. Her conversations don't demonstrate that experience. Darla's been "packaged" with help from an "Executive Coach". She can't articulate what kind of position she wants, or describe in a nutshell, who she really is.

Tonia was fired from a long time job and is filing an age discrimination suit. Tonia screamed loudly in a group discussion about age's role in a job search: "I don't care if I look old, I am old, and if anybody doesn't like it, they know where to go, and I don't want to work for them anyway."

You're Only Looking in One Place

Jenna's been laid off. Her company has lost money for two years, and let go a third of their workforce. She's always been able to find a job. The last time Jenna spent four hours a day on job leads. Now it takes 20 minutes, because "nothing's out there". Jenna hasn't kept up with the outside world because she never had to. She has no leads.

Conclusion: Packing More Power in Your Punch

  • Be clear on your value and who needs it. Showcase what you bring to the table, not what you lack.
  • Inspire confidence in the way you present yourself on all fronts. Look and act the part.
  • Get out there and connect in places where the people visit who hire for the kind of job you're seeking.
  • Build relationships before, during and after you need them, not when you find yourself suddenly needing a job.
  • Tap every avenue possible to make contacts and to submit your resume and sell yourself for potential openings.
  • Maintain current skills, and stay in touch with colleagues. Get involved outside of your current workplace. Actively engage in your field.
  • Give before you need to get. Build now, to cultivate the contacts and expertise you need to find the next job.


Send career questions via, email to "Ask Debbie" at DebbieChristofferson@cox.net.

Coming Next: Green pastures for green careers.


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