5 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Job Search

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: January 27, 2014

Don't Sink Your Own Ship

It’s a small world, right? Getting a job is hard enough, so doing something to damage your reputation, or your karma, is probably not a good idea when you desperately want or need a new one. If you think the careless way you have managed your communications with a would-be employer or recruiter hasn’t hurt you, you are very wrong.

Ask any recruiting professional or hiring manager whether they remember the candidates who have accepted, then declined, an offer over email or text. Or what about those “failure to show” people who blow off their first day at a new job? Undoubtedly, they will launch into at least one personal experience featuring a bad apple by name. And even though it was upsetting at the time, they will likely reflect that it was probably for the best.

No one really wants these people polluting their workplace. This bad behavior demonstrates a sheer lack of courtesy and common sense, and will make the average person grimace in disgust. But poor decorum is just one example of how a promising career can end up tainted by the simple and stupid act of “dialing it in." Here are a few others.

5. Don't Badmouth Former Employers

It doesn’t matter who stole your lunch from the office refrigerator, or how many times your boss made you look bad in front of a potential client. The only one who will be remembered spreading the negativity during the interview will be you.

Giving a hiring manager a detailed description of the toxic environment you endured for the last five years will only cause them to wonder why you stayed so long even though you were unhappy. They'll worry about you bringing this attitude with you to the new job. Don’t expect a second round to blossom if you did nothing but spread manure during the first one.

4. Don't Delay Job Interviews

Keeping track of where your resume has been sent/presented is your responsibility.

When a recruiter asks which companies you have already approached, or how many different recruiters you are working with, you can either be honest or play coy. Just realize that not disclosing the truth could come back to haunt you. Duplicate referrals/representation can cause confusion, and if this is the only way you feel you can get complete market coverage, then you’re not doing enough on your own to maintain traction.

Recruiters aren't naive, and they expect you to have other relationships. But putting them at odds with each other and their clients will not make you the “hot” candidate, it will make you look untrustworthy and unprofessional.

If you do end up declining a hard-fought/hard-won offer; tell your recruiter first! If you go over them to the hiring manager, you risk damaging their relationship, too. The egg on their face will last a very long time, and they won’t easily forget the person who broke that shell.

3. Consider Truth in Compensation

There are arguments on both side of this coin, but I think it's better to be specific about what you earn when asked.

The likelihood of compensation verification by a hiring manager or through a recruiting agency is higher for sales-related positions, but is also increasingly popular in engineering and operations positions. Be as forthcoming as possible, but also give insights as to why you are seeking an increase beyond 10% of your current base. You may have a very good reason, and the hiring manager may agree. But they won’t go to the mat for you if they get false information.

2. Don't Be Stupid

This should go without saying, but unfortunately we see common sense tossed to the wayside time and time again. So we'll say it one more time -- don't be an idiot.

For instance, don’t decline a position over email. And for all that is sacred, don’t ever give notice if all you have is an offer via text or phone call. Nail everything down before you make a move. It is a wise person who waits for legal documents, and a fool who runs to give notice with nothing more than a verbal agreement. You need an offer letter in hand, before you give formal notice.

You can’t enforce it if something goes wrong, and you’ll look like an idiot if you have to go to your boss and beg for your job back. So don’t jeopardize your current relationship until you have a tangible offer.

1. Maintain Integrity

Lastly, and this is for those of you whose careers are just starting, I do not endorse lying about or concealing competing offers.

If you get a better offer after accepting another one, be proactive and call the recruiter or whomever you are working with directly. You may actually get an even sweeter offer than the original. But handling this properly and with respect for all parties will have the dual impact of showing your maturity AND leaving them with a sense of respect for you as a person. This can also result in a future offer that could come when you’re ready to make the next big move.

It’s not such a big world anymore, people are constantly connected, and they have longer memories than you think.

When You Get the Offer, Salary.com Can Help You Negotiate

When you finally get through the interview process you'll be made an offer. But before you even get to that point, Salary.com can help.

The first thing you should do is research, so you're able to come to the table armed with the knowledge of what your job is worth. Use our free Salary Wizard below to find out what's a fair salary for your position. You can enter your location, education level, years of experience and more to find out an appropriate salary range before you negotiate.

Good luck.