Updated 01 July 2011

Mistakes job seekers make

Do these things below and you are sure to lower your chances of success in the job stakes.


You’ve been looking for a job for a while now. You’ve sent out your CV, gone for an interview or three, and your money is close to running out. Besides, there’s only so much you can watch on TV.

The pressure is now on, jobs are scarce and you’re getting to desperation stations. But cutting corners when applying for jobs or going for interviews will see to it that you don’t get any job at all. Not even the one for which you are overqualified. Steer clear of doing any of these things below.

Ignoring application requirements. If you are required to fill in an online application, do it. If they ask for a two-page CV, don’t hand in twelve pages. There are few things that irritate a prospective employer as much as a CV that looks like the Hong Kong telephone directory. A CV should be brief. If they want to know more about you, they can invite you to come in for an interview. Oh yes, and if you omit references, you also look as if you are hiding something.

Handing in a faulty CV. Mistakes (such as spelling errors) on a CV bode ill for your chances of getting the job. If you cannot even be bothered to get things right on your CV, what is your work going to be like? More than likely they’ll have no desire to find out.

Phoning your prospective employer. Do not phone the company to whom you have applied for a job. They will contact you if they are interested in employing you. Most job adverts clearly state that if you have not heard from them by a certain date, you should assume that your application was unsuccessful. Pestering them continually, both before and after the closing date, will result in your not being short-listed.

Trying to pull strings. Even if your uncle is working in the accounts department, don’t ask him to pull strings to get you a job. It makes you look unethical and desperate. And besides, if they employ you, they don’t want to have him breathing down their necks constantly.

Lying about your qualifications. Prospective employers often check up on qualifications. Especially if they look too good to be true. Lying about your qualifications is a criminal offence, and being caught doing this will give you a criminal record. And once you have one of these, getting a job will be even more difficult. Just don’t go there.

Dressing sloppily. Borrow an outfit for the interview if you have to, but look neat and unobtrusive. No high fashion, no bling. You want the interviewer to remember you, not your outrageous Paris-Hilton-wannabe outfit. And forget the idea that they must just take you as you are - they have hundreds of other people from which to choose.

Being late. This is a killer. If you cannot even get it together to be on time for the interview, at what time are you going to arrive for work if they do give you the job? If you are late for an interview, no excuse short of a car accident or a near-fatal injury will do.

Omitting references or criticising previous employers. There’s a reason why there is a space for filling in names of people who can attest to your character and working style. If you leave these out, it will look as if you have something to hide. Also, criticising a previous employer, however bad they were, makes you look disloyal and overcritical and somehow to blame for the sad situation. Just don’t go there.

Being cheeky. There are few things more irritating to an interviewer than someone who is arrogant, and who has nothing to be arrogant about. You don’t have to be entirely meek and mild, but being cheeky in a job interview is not going to count in your favour. It is also not good to be so shy that you become almost invisible.

Handing in a late application. Unless you have a very good reason (such as that they asked you to apply for the job after the closing date), handing in a late application makes you look disorganised and a bit unreliable. Not what most people want in a prospective employee.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated October 2012)


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