There are a few habits we all know can send a potential candidate straight to the bottom of the barrel, such as typos on a resume, showing up late for an interview or avoiding eye contact. And then there are the habits we’re not necessarily aware of. Sure, no one is perfect and we all have occasional slip-ups. But that’s why it’s important to check in with ourselves, and ask: are there things we’re consistently doing that could be hurting our job search? Here are a few tips for acknowledging bad habits and tweaking our behavior in order to maximize our chances for landing a great job.
1. Using profanity
This one is fairly straightforward, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t abide by the “no swearing” rule in the workplace. It’s common sense in an interview, but think about other circumstances: a networking event, a casual coffee meeting, even at an existing job. You never know where your current employees will end up in the future, or if they’ll have an opportunity for you down the road. Would they keep in mind someone who curses often and appears unprofessional to refer to their next employers? If you’re constantly using swear words as adjectives, it can come off as lazy and lacking in creativity and intelligence. Here are a few simple ways to train yourself to stop swearing (we particularly love #5: pretend your grandmother is always within earshot).
2. Being inarticulate
While some people struggle with shyness or nerves, especially in an interview setting, being inarticulate is another thing entirely. The inability to get to the point in conversation can impact your chances in a negative way, as you may come off lazy, unfocused and less confident. Think about how often you use words such as “like” or “um” everyday. It may be more often than you realize! If you’re a “likeaholic,” here are some great tricks to catch yourself and correct course.
3. Over-promising and under-delivering
You may think this one’s more suitable for the time after you’ve gotten the job, but it’s relevant for your search as well. While you want to make the maximum promise you can, you need to be able to deliver. That may involve showing up on time (don’t schedule an interview if you’re not positive you can prioritize it), submitting a task or project (while ensuring it’s high quality), or rejecting employment terms you promised you were comfortable with (negotiating happens and circumstances may change, but going back on your word can be a bad sign). The worst thing you can do is promise something but not deliver results. It shows your potential employer you’re not dedicated or trustworthy, and gives them a solid reason to move on.
4. Being flaky
Similar to under-delivering, flakiness can leave a bad taste in the mouth of employers. If you’re unsure if you’re flaky, ask people close to you for an honest answer. Do you regularly make plans and cancel them? Do you tend to bail out of commitments, simply because you don’t feel like following through? Once you become more aware of your habit, you can begin to improve. If you have an appointment, show up. If you have a task to complete, don’t blow it off halfway through. While this trait is trickier to distinguish in early stages, potential employers can usually gauge whether you’re flaky or you’re likely to follow through. Guess which one will land you the job?
We all have habits that need to be improved upon or broken altogether, so it’s a good idea to check in regularly and evaluate these patterns. There may be one that’s standing out and holding you back from your perfect job. All it takes is a little reflection and occasionally a tweak or two!