Remember that Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey movie, "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," in which Hudson purposely did wacky things to ditch McConaughey in the spirit of article research? You might be similarly self-sabotaging your chances at a job. If you follow these quick and easy steps, you too may put the kibosh on your candidacy before you even had a shot:
1. Leave a voicemail without saying your last name. Bonus points if you also don't leave your phone number. In-house corporate recruiters are extremely busy managing relationships with countless hiring managers, not to mention internal employees as candidates, systems concerns for compliance purposes and meeting their numbers. Yes, they work closely with candidates, but the number of them could hike into several dozen.
When you leave a voicemail with a recruiter, speak slowly, say your entire name, and while you're at it, leave your phone number. Even if you've been speaking frequently with the recruiter and think he or she recognizes your voice and has your number on speed dial, provide it anyway.
Or you can do the alternative: Mumble, omit pertinent information and wonder why you never got a call back.
2. Every day, follow up via email regarding your status. You should indeed follow up if you haven't heard back, but every day? Too much. You start crossing the line to stalker when it's on a daily basis (add some phone calls without leaving a message, a tweet here and there and LinkedIn profile view, and you've reached scary status.)
Instead, be assertive and professional. Follow up a week later, and if you don't hear back, ping them again a few days later. It's actually a good gesture, because it's like saying, "Hey, remember me? Eyes over here." Especially when a recruiter's eyes are here, there and everywhere else.
3. Be rude with your follow-up. Want to lose a recruiter's interest just like that? In your follow up email say something unprofessional and brazen like, "I would have expected a response by now, this is unacceptable."
We know job searches can be stressful, we get it. But turning off the recruiter, your first point of entry in the process, your ally and confidante? Not too prudent. Even if you've made up your mind to not proceed, remain polite and professional. Plus, so many scenarios occur behind the scenes accounting for delays - hiring managers could be out of town or stuck in countless meetings; the job may be put on hold, an internal candidate emerged out of the blue, you name it.
4. Write, "Dear Sir" in your cover letter. OK, this probably won't cost you the interview or the job, but it's not exactly warm and fuzzy to address your cover letter only to men.
The best scenario: "To Whom It May Concern," "To Human Resources Representative" or "Dear Sir or Madam." When it's a non-issue, our eyes glance right over the top and devour the letter itself, but when it's a "Dear Sir," it may end up being cringeworthy.
5. Go directly to the hiring manager with questions. This one's a judgment call but if you have basic questions, you can vet them through your recruiter.
Here's why: If you have a question about benefits, training, personal time policies and more, and call the hiring manager for everything, he or she may start thinking you're high maintenance. The recruiter won't know what's going on since he or she's out of the loop and in turn, the hiring manager - no matter how approachable - may question your tactfulness.
In another instance, let's say you've interviewed and the hiring manager tells you the salary is one amount but his or her boss quotes another. Instead of calling one and pitting one against the other, let your recruiter do the work. Reach out to your recruiter, again - your ally - and inform him or her of the situation so he or she can sort things out behind the scenes. The more you get to insert yourself in the process, the more you're deemed as high maintenance.
In sum, recruiters are your champions and advocates; we really are pulling for you. Recruiters want you to do well and they want to close out their requisitions sooner rather than later, but if you commit certain faux pas, they could end up costing you. Don't be that guy or gal, OK?
Vicki Salemi is the author of Big Career in the Big City and creator, producer and host of Score That Job. This New York City-based career expert and public speaker possesses more than 15 years of corporate experience in recruiting and human resources. She coaches college grads individually with an intense Job Search Boot Camp, writes and edits the MediaJobsDaily blog on Mediabistro, and conducts interviews as a freelance journalist with celebrities and notable names. BlogHer named her one of the country's top 25 career and business women bloggers worth reading.
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