How to Totally Ruin Your Job Search Resources

Career advice tends to center on what you should do. But sometimes it pays to know the opposite.

In an insightful U.S. News & World Report post titled “8 Things That Make You Look Like a Weirdo to Hiring Managers,” writer Alison Green offers some crucial warnings about behaviors to avoid at all costs. The first two have to do with how you approach hiring managers. First, don’t send gifts like flowers or candy. If you’re qualified for the position, you don’t need these things, and if you’re not, it won’t make a difference. Also, it’s “tacky and ineffective,” as Green says.

You also don’t want to show up at a hiring manager’s office without an appointment. People are busy, and they schedule interviews at specific times for a reason. If you simply arrive unannounced, you’ll signal one of two things: you don’t know the rules, or you think you’re above them. Either is bad.

Green’s next tip is to avoid warnings in cover letters — sentences like, “Please don’t contact me unless you’re willing to offer a competitive salary.” Such requests might not be unreasonable, but you don’t want to taken an accusatorial tone in your initial approach.

Speaking of that initial approach, don’t email from an account you share with a spouse. Email accounts are free, and any potential employer is going to want to feel like he or she is communicating directly with you — not two people. Also, when you send your resume, don’t include a photo. While this is common in some countries, Green says, America ain’t one of ’em.

If you manage to land an interview, be sure to answer questions without reading from a script. While it’s OK to bring notes, you should glance at them only if you need to refresh your memory about something. The idea is to have a natural, free-flowing conversation, and that can’t happen if you’re working from a prepared text.

Finally, Green warns against saying you’ll “do anything” to get a job or offering to work for free. Ideally, when an employer makes a new hire, it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement based on the idea that the worker can contribute something valuable to the operation. You don’t want to signal that you’re desperate, or that you don’t value yourself enough to require proper (and legally mandated) pay.

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