Some of the smartest people do some of the dumbest things when looking for a job instead of going to one everyday. They are especially susceptible to this temporary loss of common sense if they are:
Nervous about something in their background and worry they’ll have a lot of explaining to do
Worried they’re an “older” worker
Believe they need to take what they can get
Haven’t looked for a job in awhile
If you fit any of those categories, beware. At a time when you must be particularly savvy in discovering positions and presenting yourself to interviewers, you can’t afford to make these mistakes.
Here are some of the not-so-smart things you might do and how to overcome them:
Talk too much. You discuss your frustration with the economy, your inept boss or stupid company. You share unsolicited information about what happened in other jobs that opens up a can of worms. Or you bore the interviewer to tears with endless details of your jobs.
Instead, create a three-minute commercial with an overview of your career, strengths, knowledge, education and objective. Be prepared (when asked) to go into two minutes of detail on each of these items that supports the job you’re after. Stop talking after that.
Discuss money at the wrong time.
The only time to get into a salary discussion is when the company offers you a position. But, because you may feel desperate or that you have to take what you can get, you could be tempted to say, “I’m willing to take a pay cut,” before that time has come. You’ve now invited them to ask, “What were you making?” or “What salary would that be?”
Promise yourself you won’t discuss salary until offered the position. Have two figures in mind: What you want and what you’ll settle for. Practice what you’ll say when asked premature questions about salary: “I’m sure we can come up with a satisfactory figure when we’ve both decided I’m right for the job.”
Get defensive when you think the interviewer feels you’re “overqualified” for a position. For example, let’s say you sense an interviewer will think you’re overqualified. Or they say, “I’m afraid you’ll be bored.” Your first reaction might be, “No, I won’t!” This sounds defensive and can turn them off, even strengthen their belief you’re not right for the job.
The smart thing to do is address their concern. It’s a fear they have about your ability to do the job and denying it won’t make their fear go away. Acknowledge it: “I can see why you might think that.” Then clear it up: “I didn’t mean to give the impression I was looking for a decision-making role. My goal now is to contribute my technical skills”
Look for jobs instead of problems to solve. Companies are not looking to give you a job. They are looking for people to solve their problems which include finding and taking care of customers and creating and distributing their product or service–all which leads to the profitable operation of their business.
The smart thing to do is to forget about your problem–to find a job that pays well and offers benefits. Instead, think: “What is this company’s or industry’s problems? What skills do I have to solve them?” This helps you think like a problem solver–which is what companies hire.
Hopefully you’ve been a problem solver throughout your career. The smart thing to do is put on your thinking cap and apply those skills to your job hunt as well.