When looking for a job most seekers spend the majority of their time focusing on the major things – résumés, networking, updating that all important LinkedIn profile, etc. when in fact it really is the little things that really need to be looked at first.
It truly is the little things that can have the biggest impact on your personal brand and your job-search. Here are a few things that often get overlooked that require your immediate attention -
Phone and voicemail etiquette - People make huge mistakes on the phone and when they are setting up their own voicemail and leaving messages for others. Here is what I would consider:
- When you leave a message for someone else start off with your name and phone number (said SLOWLY), your brief message, and then your name and phone number again (again said SLOWLY).
- When you set up your voicemail make sure YOU leave the outgoing message. Not your kids, not your grandkids, not your favorite musical selection.
- When you call someone ask them if they have a minute to speak before you go into conversation.
- Always tell the person who is calling who you are and say your name SLOWLY. Don’t just assume that they recognize your voice.
Your ‘off the clock’ stage presence - When looking for a job how you present yourself at all times is super important. Everyone knows the importance of being ‘on’ during an interview but how you act outside of that encounter can also have a big impact on your search. Consider the following:
- You are running a little bit late to your latest interview so you blow by the two stop signs in the parking lot. The HR person (who also handles safety) is looking out their office window, sees the whole thing, watches you walk in the building, and then puts on a fake smile when he shakes your hand as your first stop of the day. Guess how this one is going to turn out?
- You go to the grocery store in your nastiest sweats without brushing your hair or your teeth or you are looking at an inappropriate magazine at the bookstore and the person who interviewed you yesterday walks by. What do you think is going to happen with that opportunity?
- You go out to the local watering hole and have about five too many and a recruiter you have been working with shows up. Not a good situation.
- You teach the guy that allegedly cut you off how to count to one on both hands and blow on the horn to make sure he sees you. The next day you walk in to an interview with your dream company and he is the hiring manager. Not good.
Email address- It’s fine to have a cutesy email address to use with your friends but they definitely don’t fly when you are looking for a job. Here are some of the most common types of email address mistakes I see:
- firstname.lastname@example.org – Age discrimination does exist in the business place today and you don’t want to advertise something that can be used to weed you out. DO NOT (I repeat DO NOT) put your birth year in your email address.
- email@example.com - This one is self-explanatory and shouldn’t need to be mentioned but I still see ‘that’ person pretty regularly
- firstname.lastname@example.org – Some people don’t like kids or people who have them.
- email@example.com - What if the person reviewing your resume or information hates your favorite sports team? I have seen people not move forward in the process for less.
What you name your job search documents counts – You can name the documents you create anything that you want and what you name your résumé and other job-search documents can count against you. The vast majority of job-seekers name their resume ‘resume’, reference sheet ‘references’, etc. which does not help you stand out as a professional candidate. Here’s what to do:
- First step – give your document your name. Some recruiters prefer first name last, last name first and others prefer the opposite. Either way you look at it, it is a much better start than giving your job-search document the same-old, same-old that every one else does.
- Second step – describe what the document is. If it a reference sheet put ‘reference’ in parenthesis (References), if it is a résumé put ‘résumé’ in parenthesis (Résumé), etc.
- Third step – put it all together. John Doe (Résumé) and John Doe (References), etc looks so much better.
- Also – pay attention to the spelling of résumé (it is not spelled resume). Everything in your job-search documents needs to be spelled correctly, including the names of those documents.
I know I am just scratching the surface with the things listed here and will add to it as time goes by. Good luck and good searching!