When you're looking for a job, about the last thing you want is to have your resume or your tactics sending up red flags indicating a bad attitude. However, some IT job seekers unwittingly express their anger, frustration, and sense of entitlement in everything they do in their job search, according to Linda Matias, a Long Island, NY, outplacement expert, interview coach, and resume writer who has been working with IT job seekers for five years.
A bad attitude comes across in cover letters, resumes, e-mails, and even networking opportunities, says Matias, president of The National Resume Writers' Association and also president of Long Island Outplacement.
Little snafus add up to big failures in terms of the job search, so Matias has this advice to share about resumes, cover letters, e-mails, and attitude.
Tips for resumes
Most people write their own resumes, and it may be a matter of pride that prevents them from turning their resumes into really effective marketing tools. A sharply done resume conveys much more about a job seeker's skills and abilities and says everything about your attitude and professionalism.
The delicate balance between including appropriate content and having a cleanly organized resume continues to baffle most people; so, the job seeker (and his or her resume) end up suffering the consequences by failing to land job interviews. Although the resume isn't everything, it is an important tool in the job search and should be treated as such.
Common resume mistakes include:
- Failure to highlight accomplishments
- Failure to address the attributes employers are seeking
- Confusing and obscure language and phrases
- Poorly formatted resumes that convey laziness or lack of professionalism
- Arrogant language or an overabundance of words that fail to simply and concisely describe real accomplishments
Matias, who deals with hiring managers directly in her outplacement business, says that they want to know that a job candidate can go into an IT system and hit the ground running. The resume should demonstrate this. Many people should face the fact that they aren't able to effectively create their own resumes; they get professional help.
Unfortunately, negative attributes of a job candidate also catch the attention of hiring managers. At times, a job seeker can convey obvious hostility in his communication to hiring managers.
Matias had one client who came to her after being unemployed for three years. "In one cover letter he had written: 'Don't waste my time if you can't meet my salary requirements of $85,000,'" says Matias. "Unemployed for three years, he was demanding, felt entitled, and was angry. But no one should ever write that on a cover letter."
Another client had written to an executive about the possibility of doing an informational interview. Although it was clear that the executive wasn't interested, the job seeker shot off a missive in which he asked: "Are you ignoring my questions about meeting with me?" With this aggressiveness, the job seeker lost all chance of even getting a referral.
"He put them on the defensive and he saw nothing wrong with that. He said, 'He was ignoring me and I'm a human being,'" says Matias. No one is going to hire someone with excess baggage like that.
The importance of networking
Lastly, bad attitude can even hinder job seekers chances with the most effective form of job seeking—networking.
The old adage "misery loves company" can play out in network meetings between the unemployed. Instead of being mutually productive sessions where people share contacts, they can turn into a gripe session. "If that's the case, get up and leave. Don't waste your time," says Matias.
Instead, look for opportunities to openly share your own contact base and insider information at networking activities, and you'll walk away with some new leads of your own.
"I should be saying the resume is the end all and be all of everything," says Matias. "But I really don't feel that way. I've seen people with poor resumes that get jobs, and I look at the resume and think, how did that happen? "
It happened because they knew somebody and had a healthy outlook about the job search.