Sometimes you do absolutely everything right, but in the end, you don’t get hired—and you feel absolutely lousy. But thankfully, there’s a flipside to the “What just happened?” job-search coin. Have you ever received a call for an interview and thought “Uh oh?” because you didn’t quite have your ducks in a row when you applied?
Finding a new position’s a whirlwind experience and everyone occasionally botches things; but sometimes the hiring managers may not even notice.
You heard me right. You might still get called for interviews even if you haven’t done all your homework. So if you’ve landed that big meeting and are worried that you’re starting off on the wrong foot, don’t. Here are four common job search mistakes that you don’t need to lose any sleep over—plus ways to get up to speed before the interview.
1. You Didn’t Find an In
It helps to know someone who-knows-someone-who-know-someone when you’re a candidate, no question there! But not everyone lands their job through a backdoor and it’s still entirely possible to move through the process without someone on the inside singing your praises.
And luckily, you still have time to browse LinkedIn and identify who you know at the company to demonstrate your interest and get some inside scoop before you go to the office.
Will your message seem a little out of the blue? Yup!
Could it be too late to ask for a good word? Maybe.
It’s still worth a shot to start a dialogue and get whatever inside scoop about the team that you can. Say something to the effect of “I know I could’ve reached out sooner, but I’m very excited about the company and I’d love to ask you a few questions before my interview next Tuesday.” Assuming you’re on good terms with this person, he or she will likely be understanding.
2. You Didn’t Follow the Company on Social Media
If your career’s based in the PR, communications, or social media space, not following a company is a clear faux paus. For the rest of us, it’s a survivable job hunt misstep. When I was a hiring manager, I Googled every candidate I met with and skimmed their social profiles.
Meaning I didn’t have time to trip over the finer points of their profile activity. If I was excited to about a candidate, I didn’t really care about whether or not she followed the company.
Of course, once that interview is on the books, go ahead and get stalking! Scan the company’s web presence and take note of the things they talk about and how they talk about them, so you’ll be in good shape. Follow, like, and share some of their posts and you’ll be golden. The idea is to be able to talk about what they’re up to if it comes up during your interview. You want to appear informed about their happenings.
3. You Applied Without Doing Any Research
Truth talk: A hiring manager probably won’t know if your application was the culmination of an arduous 20-point job search strategy in which you determined this was the perfect role for you or if you figured “Why not?” So, if you briefly looked at the ad, thought, “sounds pretty good,” and clicked the submit button in a matter of seconds, you’re not necessarily in hot water.
Whatever the case, you can apply on a whim, just don’t ever expect to interview on a whim.
Make sure to take time before your interview to dive deep and really get to know the company. You’ll want to be able to provide your interviewer with firm logic on why you’re drawn to the team and the position at hand.
4. You Didn't Tell Your References You Listed Them
You haven’t mentioned your job search to your references because you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself. However, you did list them on the application form because it required you to.
Don’t freak out!
Odds are they won’t be called until the hiring manager decides he or she likes you. So, you still have time to contact your references. Be sure to fill them in on more than just the fact you’ve listed them as a reference. Give your reference a solid idea of what the company does, the role you’re being considered for, and any strengths you hope might shine through in what they share with the hiring manager.
If you’re contacting your reference by email, try this script:
I hope you’re enjoying life in sunny Florida! I’m being considered for a Sales Director role with Odyssey and I’m writing to ask if you would be one of my references. It’s a social content platform that reminds me of the project we collaborated on last summer, so I was hoping you could drive home the fact that the strategies I recommended made a huge impact.
Please let me know if you need more details and thanks for your help.”
You’re human, you’re not perfect, and that’s OK. Hiring managers may have you underneath a lens, but they don’t see everything. Swap the nail biting for activities that will make you appear ridiculously well-prepared come interview time.