Of all the social service capacities, “Employment Services” feel like the mid-point where people from every walk of life and experience come together for a common purpose. As an Employment Specialist, I’m involved in assisting clients through a myriad of career-related options to enhance and develop their overall potential. This includes self-marketing activities like résumé and cover letter writing, to methods one can use to access the Hidden Job Market, as well as skills enhancement through retraining programs (e.g., Second Career). It affords me the privilege of meeting many fantastic people with as many far-ranging experiences. It also affords me a firsthand look at the disastrous – if sometimes comical – mistakes many job seekers make.
The following list, through tears of merriment and exasperation, was jotted down over a single 15-minute period as I assisted my colleagues in reviewing applications for a Hospitality Hiring Event.
Failure to read the job posting and/or tailor your application to it
For one, the hospitality sector is unrelated to hospitals and mechanical engineering. A strong job search requires the job seeker to read the details of a posting and tailor their application as closely as possible. Moreover, hospitals are very competitive work environments to enter. If your goal is to work in a hospital, one needs to know what hospitals generally expect. If you can’t see the difference between ‘hospitality’ and ‘hospital,’ you are wasting more than just your own time.
The same applies to engineering. Even if you’re an engineer looking to change career paths, a mechanical engineering résumé will not assist you in applying for work in hotels, restaurants, or tourism. For this, you need to craft a skills-based résumé to show that you have the transferrable skills to enter an industry in which you have little to no experience.
Refusal to consider logistics
A “willingness to relocate” is an attribute many employers will appreciate. However, the Hospitality Hiring Event I’m referencing was set to take place in less than a week’s time. If an event is taking place in Toronto and you live in Calgary, a conservative estimate puts the drive to Toronto at 33 continuous hours across 3,419 kilometres (and that’s with taking a route that crosses the American border). It’s certainly a much shorter flight, but is it really worth it – especially if you don’t end up getting a job offer?
For those applying outside of Canada, you need to factor in the visa requirements of working in Canada if you are neither a citizen nor a permanent resident. Has this been factored in, along with the cost of a flight, accommodations, food, and the duration of your travel? Unless plans to relocate are directly addressed in an applicant’s cover letter, the employer will likely assume that out-of-area applicants don’t actually know or understand what they’re applying for.
Questioning employer antics (or simply being rude)
We’ve probably all had that dream where we’re at school giving a speech or taking an exam on a subject that we know nothing about. It’s terrifying. However, with regards to job search the best advice is quite simple: if you don’t know why someone is calling you, play it safe and remain polite at all times. It’s fine to ask polite, proactive questions as needed. I was taken aback at the number of applicants I called who became hostile because I was calling them at school, at work, or while they were sleeping (it was around 10:30 a.m., for the record). This anger seemed exacerbated by those applicants who also had no idea why I was calling them, despite my simple straightforward introduction.
Hostility within a job search is wrong at every level! It’s not the employer’s responsibility to keep a record of your job search – that’s your responsibility. The world is small, and burning bridges anywhere is ill-advised. Remain courteous at all times and keep a list of all your applications, including the employer’s name and address, the position applied for, and the date of your submission.
Using the wrong name and/or wrong phone number on your résumé
Just don’t do that. Use your name on your résumé. If you have more than one name, you should make life easier for the employer (and you) by using the same name on your résumé and in your email address. The same philosophy applies for your phone number. This includes having a clear voicemail message with your name in it and no one else’s. Many companies, banks in particular, have strict privacy policies regarding messages left on voicemail that do not clearly state who the recipient is. A simple, clear, and friendly message with your name is the best policy for job seekers. This is a simple yet highly important rule to follow.
Lack of attention to detail, practicality, courtesy, and common sense seem to be an Achilles’ Heel for more than a few job seekers! However funny these mistakes seem, they are really and truly only fun to giggle at when you are employed. So take a breather, adapt to the best practices, and brightly move forward! You’ve got this (We hope…)!
Jason Douglas Smith is a Training Application Coordinator with The Career Foundation, and has successfully directed clients in not only developing personalized job search strategy plans, but in circumnavigating the rigorous demands of applications for provincially-funded retraining. When not working, this self-professed Futurist can often be found reading, writing and barbecuing in his native Burlington.