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Entry-Level Job Advice: How Not to be a Jobseeker Horror Story

Entry-Level Job Advice:  How Not to be a Jobseeker Horror Story

Carolyn Mansfield

October 08, 2009

Last time, I talked about how to ace your entry-level phone interview. However, it’s important to be sure you’re getting noticed for the right reasons — the way you interact with people is a great demonstration of your judgment and social wherewithal, and how you might fit in with a company. The first impression might be the only impression you get to make — and you’d be shocked how quickly word travels in the tight-knit community of both green businesses and the larger hiring sphere.

We know you’re new to the job search process, and people are throwing advice at you from all angles on how to succeed. However, since we all have a morbid fascination with horror stories, here’s a list of people you really DON’T want to be remembered as.


- “The guy who looked vaguely homeless.” If you’re meeting people in person, dress nice. The green sphere is generally somewhat more casual, but people expect you to look neat and well put-together, even if you are currently living in a tent to reduce your carbon footprint. - “The girl dressed for a frat party.” To state the obvious, don’t be showing too much skin – especially if you’re competing with a bunch of other students or recent grads and trying to present yourself as older and more mature. - “Wait, which guy?” Everyone tends to wear muted colors or dark clothes when they interview or go to job fairs. Wear something unique — a bright color or an interesting necklace/accessory which might make you more memorable in a sea of jobseekers.

In conversation avoid being:

- “The guy who talked forEVER.” If you’re at a schmoozy event, don’t corner someone for 25 minutes, and, as tempting as it may be, don’t recite your senior thesis from memory. Converse. Ask smart questions. - “The girl who asked me point blank for a job.” Be confident; don’t be too brash. If you have a good conversation with someone, get their card and follow up with an email the next day saying something along the lines of, “Great to meet you, enjoyed the conversation, I’m interested to hear more about your company and employment opportunities that might be available.” You’ll do even better if you have a favor to do for them in return — connecting them to someone you know, lending them your lawnmower, etc. - “The guy who kept interrupting me.” As your mother always says, have manners and be a good listener. Also, make sure your conversation is relatively P.C. – if you don’t know the person that well, better to err on the side of not offending them, given that you don’t know their sensitivities.

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- “The guy who fibbed.” Be honest! We can’t emphasize this enough: if there’s one thing that will automatically get you ruled out from a job, it’s getting caught in any sort of lie, even something that seems totally innocuous. As recruiters, we’ve dealt with this as candidates have tried to tell the company different stories than they’ve told us — and, given that there’s a lot of information sharing going on, it won’t go unnoticed.