Job hunting can be a stressful experience. So most, if not all, people will be understanding if you express some frustration as you’re writing cover letters, prepping for interviews, and waiting to hear back from employers.
But, if you want to conduct your search gracefully, there are some lines you should definitely not cross. To avoid coming off as rude, self-defeating, or desperate, or raising any red flags among your contacts and hiring managers, make sure you’re not saying (or in any way conveying) the five following sentiments.
1. “I’ll Take Anything!”
Whether you’re saying this to a recruiter you meet at a networking event or just to yourself in your head, it’s still a bad idea. Hiring managers prefer candidates who are passionate about and who specialize in a particular area, not people who’ll do anything to get a foot in the door. If you say this, you’ll sound desperate (and if you think it, you’ll feel desperate). Worst of all, even if people want to help you, they won’t be able to because they have no idea what you’re looking for.
Instead, take the time to figure out what you’re looking for or most interested in—even if it’s just the types of companies you’d like to work for. The more specific you can be, the easier it is to narrow your search and enlist others to help you.
2. “I Hate My Current Job”
Even if you have a perfectly legitimate reason to dislike your job, it’s best to avoid this topic. Recruiters hate hearing this from job candidates—who wants to hire someone who says negative things about his or her employer? Plus, you never know if you’re discussing, say, your distaste for being micromanaged with a micromanager. It’s best to stay focused on what you’re looking for in a future role—not what you’re trying so hard to get away from in your current.
3. “Nice to Meet You—Can I Send You My Resume?”
Many companies have perks for employees who forward resumes for interested candidates along, but it’s still presumptuous to assume someone you’ve just met, regardless of how you connected with him or her, would want to vouch for you. Your best bet is to wait for your connection to be invested in you and offer to send your resume to a hiring manager unprompted. You can certainly make your interest in working at your connection’s company known, but hold off on actually requesting to have your resume forwarded.
4. “I Know I Emailed You Yesterday, But…”
Along those same lines, it’s not great business etiquette to follow up with a contact too frequently. Of course, persistence can pay off, but tread lightly—Elliott Bell’s article offers some excellent advice on doing just that. You obviously don’t want your contact to forget about you, especially if he or she has offered to help you in some way, but push too much and that initial interest in assisting might turn to annoyance.
5. “What Kind of Exit Opportunities Do Employees Have?”
People actually ask this all the time with the best intentions of trying to learn more about a particular career path, but if you’re actively job searching, this might not be sending the right message. No matter who you’re talking to during your job search, you want to make sure you’re not solely focusing on what you can get out of an opportunity or connection. Don’t forget to think about it from your contact’s or a hiring manager’s perspective. Something along the lines of, “What does a typical career path at your company look like?” will go over much better.
It’s easy to get discouraged during the job search, but keep your head up and, crucially, keep your language anywhere from neutral to positive. You’ll save yourself from raising any red flags to possible future employers, and you’ll leave a great impression on anyone you meet.
Photo of speech bubbles courtesy of Shutterstock.
Lily Zhang serves as a Career Development Specialist at MIT where she works with a range of students from undergraduates to PhDs on how to reach their career aspirations. When she's not indulging in a new book or video game, she's thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author