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7 Ways Job Seekers Self-Destruct

By Meridith Levinson, CIO
July 13, 2011 02:00 PM ET

CIO - The IT job market is improving, and CIOs are once again looking to hire permanent, full-time IT staff. But because the labor market is saturated with IT pros looking for work, IT hiring managers are being choosey, say IT staffing industry experts.

Make one mistake on your résumé, and you can forget about being called for an interview. Fail to impress during the job interview, and the hiring manager may cut your meeting short. Go dark on a prospective employer after a job interview, and you can kiss your chances of getting a job offer good-bye. Yes, my friends, the stakes are that high.

Experienced and inexperienced job seekers alike make mistakes before, during and after job interviews that can sink their chances of landing a new job. Tracy Cashman, partner and general manager of the information technology group at staffing firm Winter Wyman, says she has seen candidates get eliminated in the past month for making such mistakes as speaking ill of a previous employer and asking about vacation and benefits too soon.

Most of the missteps job seekers make are common and can easily be avoided with a dose of common sense or preparation. Here are seven ways job seekers self-destruct.

1. They lie about their qualifications. If anything will kill your chances of getting a job, it's lying, whether on your résumé or in a job interview, whether about your skills, employment history or educational background. "Lying on a résumé will get caught on a background check," says Cashman. "We had a candidate, a fresh graduate, lie about their GPA, and the employer rescinded the offer."

2. They come to the job interview unprepared. Todd Collier, a director with IT recruiting firm Eliassen Group, says his firm spends time prepping candidates for job interviews. He says Eliassen briefs candidates on the project they'll be working on, the employer's business and culture, and the manager's needs and style so that the candidate knows how to sell him or herself during the job interview. "People miss out on job offers when they don't fully understand the company's needs," he says. Adds Cashman, "It's so easy to do [research on an employer] these days that if you walk in without knowing basic information about the company, you just look stupid or like you're not interested in the job."

3. They're negative. Having a negative attitude or speaking ill of a former employer is a common mistake job seekers make during job interviews. It's one that Sam Aruti, managing director of DIBJ Enterprises, made in the past when he was looking for a job, and it cost him an offer.

When a job seeker speaks poorly of a past employer, prospective employers wonder how long it will be before the job seeker begins denouncing them, says Cashman. It also causes employers to worry whether the candidate will ever be satisfied.

Cashman advises job seekers to use caution when speaking about their reasons for leaving an employer, which can easily come across as negative. State one reason and keep the explanation brief.

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