Where a Candidate Goes Wrong

So, you’re a candidate in the job market.

You’re checking out job boards.

You’re talking to recruiters.

Your resume is in with several companies.

How can you mess it up?

More easily than you think!

Please don’t get desperate and:

Fluff or overstate your resume.

Sure, you’re up against good candidates for the jobs you like. Which means you want to look as good as possible on paper. Right? Right. But, not at the expense of embarrassing yourself (and being cut loose in a heartbeat) when it comes to light that you’ve embellished your titles, responsibilities and education.  Your credentials are what they are. Sell what you’ve got!

And definitely don’t pad your resume with fluff or jobs you never had.   One full page is great. Two full pages are perfect. Anything more than that and you really should consider getting an agent.

Make sure the dates and locations are consistent and easily readable.

Use ONE font. Don’t use colors or graphics. Seriously. It’s not a billboard or a children’s book.

And speak honestly and with conviction about gaps in your career.   Honesty as a candidate is compelling and relatable.   Padding and covering can look sneaky.

Fail to pay attention.

 If a Hiring Manager or Recruiter tells you that they will follow-up with you when they have something to share, for the LOVE OF GOD don’t email or call them.   You aren’t the only item on their plate. Let your interview (and your BRIEF thank-you-note) stand on their own.

Don’t be a pest. And show them that you know how to take direction and follow instructions.

No matter how smart you think you are, this is not your process. And you can kill your opportunity if you don’t pay attention to what the drivers tell you.

Shotgun Your Resume.

The odds are very low that you are reasonably qualified for more than 1 or 2 positions on the website of a company or recruiter. Slapping your resume and application on multiple jobs with the same organization can stink of desperation.   And that can be a smell that you can’t shake.

Most internal and external recruiters will pick up on this as soon as they see your resume popping up all over the place.

You know what you’re qualified for. Don’t dilute your candidacy by throwing your resume around where you aren’t.

Sit Around.

Gaps between jobs are understandable. Explainable. Part of life.

But when your unemployment begins to stretch into months, creating a larger and larger gap on your resume, it’s time to do something about it.

I have 2 suggestions:

  1. Consult for a former vendor , customer or competitor. Or even an unrelated business.   They get the advantage of your expertise without the FTE commitment.   You get to keep working and you keep getting paid. And it shows more initiative than just staring at a laptop in your den every day.
  2. Start your own company. Risky? You betcha (ask me and I’ll tell you about starting something in September 2001).   But you’ve seen how companies run and you have a skill set that brought you this far in your career.   Sell yourself and your expertise to one client.   And you’ll be surprised how that can turn in to a brand. Your brand.

While there’s plenty that you SHOULD do as a candidate, what you just read is my opinion on what you should NOT.

Happy Hunting!

Bruce Martin
About the author: 

Bruce Martin is the President of Broad & Pattison, Inc., the leading management and executive recruiting firm serving the U.S. automotive industry. He also leads Exit 17, Inc., the parent company of Driven.  His career includes executive assignments with Chrysler Group, GE Capital and Adecco, NA. Follow Bruce on Twitter and LinkedIn