John Wasserman wants to help you find work. Yeah, you. A Philadelphia-based division manager for Vector Marketing, Wasserman has spent more than two decades recruiting and training college students. In that time, he’s interviewed thousands of people for their first “real” work experience. He knows a thing or two about what it takes to go from résumé to interview to wow-I-feel-like-a-grown-up because I wear a suit to the office. In his book, "No Shorts, Flip Flops, or Sunglasses – How to Get and Make the Most out of Your First Real Job," Wasserman shows how to avoid some common job-search mistakes.
1. Putting all your eggs in one basket
An interviewer can get thousands of resumes and pick three to review, says Wasserman. Do you want to boost your odds of someone actually taking a look at your credentials? Then you need to get those credentials to as many companies as possible. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” he says. “Your goal shouldn’t be to find your dream job as your first job. What you need is experience. Go after the experience and upgrade to your dream job in the future.”
2. Unpolished résumé
Don’t let some dumb grammatical error screw up your chances of scoring an interview. Have someone with legit editing skills review your résumé for accuracy, correct grammar, and completeness. And don’t be THAT GUY (or girl) who sent out a résumé with no contact information. You need to make it ridiculously easy for interviewers to find you.
3. Inappropriate attire for the interview
“Leave your leopard print jumpsuit at home,” says Wasserman. Same with big, flashy earrings, short skirts, or grungy-looking clothes. Men should wear a tie to an interview. Ladies should wear a blouse with sleeves. (Armpits aren’t professional.) Dress better in your interview than you would dress for work every day. The interview is the time to be impressive. “You aren’t Mark Zuckerberg,” he says, “You can’t just show up in a T-shirt.”
4. Don’t be gimmicky in the interview
So you’re awesome. Of course you are. And any position you take? Clearly, you’re going to rock that job. If you’re considering bringing an actual rock with your résumé, think long and hard about the cheesiness factor. “You want to be memorable for your skills, not gimmicks,” says Wasserman. Really, you’d be surprised at the things people do in an attempt to stand out that are actually a turn off.
5. Inadequate preparation
I bet you’ve heard this before. Take some time to visit the company’s website before the interview. Put together some intelligent questions. “You have to do your homework before you go to the interview,” says Wasserman. Take an honest, sincere interest in the company. Often you’ll find interviewers will take that same sort of interest in you.
6. Involving your parents
In his 20-plus years on the job, Wasserman says he’s seen parents call to set up interviews or negotiate pay for their children too often. And that’s all kinds of wrong. Leave your parents out of your search for work, says Wasserman. It’s ok for them to help you in your decision making process. But remember, it’s YOUR decision. Involving them in the actual interview can be a huge turnoff to recruiters.
7. Acting arrogant or unprofessionally in the interview
No matter how great that party was last weekend, keep that information on the down-low, says Wasserman. (Way, way down-low.) Have a firm handshake, wear a big smile, and leave any trace of arrogance at the door. Instead, be honest and polite to everyone you meet at the company. “You are interviewing the moment you walk into the building,” he says. “Your goal is to get the interviewer — and everybody you meet— to like you.” If you are polite and enthusiastic, chances are they totally will. Remember, the person that greets you could be a decision maker, too.