7 Common Sense Job Search Tips That Get Overlooked

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: February 12, 2013

Don't Forget the Basics

For years I have taught innovative job search tactics. I figure as long as you do not lie or misrepresent, anything goes in job search. As a former sales guy I learned to be very crafty and successful with my get-past-the-gatekeeper/get-to-the-buyer techniques.

There really are no rules when it comes to job search. I promote my one-page, short-form resume in order to "game" resume filtering software. Other than that I propose being as creative as possible in order to break through to the other side. Seeking a graphic artist position? Blow 'em away with your graphic resume -- assuming you can get it in their hands. Thinking about placing your resume in place of a label on a bottle of wine? It’s been done. Delivered successfully by courier. If you have the moxie, go for it! There are no rules to job search as long as you know and understand your target company’s culture. 

There are, however, basic protocols to job search that can’t be denied regardless of the type of enterprise. And unfortunately, many people worry so much about the minute details of getting a job they forget what should be common sense.

7. Be Courteous

Basic courtesy counts for a lot when discussing job search protocol.

Be on time. Be polite. Turn off the cell phone. Focus all your attention on the business at hand. These are all ways of expressing professional courtesy, and should serve as the foundation for everything else you do. This always includes treating the receptionist and any other support staff with the respect they have earned. You just might end up working with them. By the way, I know for a fact lots of jobseekers have not been offered positions specifically because of how they treated the staff prior to interview.

One more point regarding basic courtesy: "Thank Yous" are always heard even if not directly acknowledged. And if it's a note, even better.

6. Be Professional

Upon accepting the job, you represent that organization in public and even in private settings. So the best thing you can do is adopt that mentality during the job interview as well. How you act during the interview (or any other events organized for candidates) is a reflection of how the company can anticipate you will interact with clients in any setting.

Professionalism includes not only the courtesy noted in #7, but also your appearance and demeanor.

5. Dress for the Part

I don’t fault young people for showing up at an interview or networking opportunity not dressed to sell. Many years ago, "Casual Fridays" were invented which led to casual every days. As a result, young people have grown up with parents who have been going to work in a form of business casual that sometimes doesn’t even meet that standard.

My advice is to check out the work site prior to any appointment if possible. Then dress just a little bit better than you need to. Make the impression. You can always dress "down" later.

4. Be Honest

I already mentioned no lies or misrepresentations in the opening to this piece. But keep in mind that if any person in the "hiring chain" detects even a glimpse of a misrepresentation, everything you have said previously or say next is suspect. And the bottom line at that point is you won't be getting the offer.

3. Be Prepared

One of the most professional of job search protocols that cannot be overlooked is preparation. Preparation for an interview is not difficult -- it just takes some time to do it right. If you are not certain where to start, check out Salary.com's Job Search section. 

In addition to that, there are all kinds of resources online to help. For starters, if you arrive at an interview without a written list of questions that's an indication of your lack of respect for the interviewer, the company and their time. I can’t overstate how many times I have heard this from recruiters/hiring managers/business owners. Don’t think you can wing in on the spot. You can’t.

2. Be Optimistic

A smile is a picture worth a thousand words. You can "hear" a smile on the phone. Radio personalities are taught to smile while on the air even though they may be alone in the booth.

Smiles come through and they are even gold in job search.

The hard truth is no one is going to hire your problems, so leave them at the door. No matter how tough things might be in your life, it’s showtime as soon as you cross over the curb into the parking lot or get off the train on your way to that first meet and greet. Don't give your interviewers any reasons not to hire you.

1. No Typos

Seriously. I shouldn't have to even say this, yet it happens time and time again. You. Must. Proofread.

If you're screwing up to, too and two and your resume says you "want to obtain a position at a no-profit job," you're just being lazy. And you're certainly not putting your best foot forward. After all, it's not like gremlins get into your documents rite -- er, I mean right -- after yu, um, well...upon completion. So be safe and have a trusted second pair of eyes review any document you submit during the job search process.

This includes email you might write in support of a submission.

Common Sense -- Use It!

Yes, this is a simple list with common sense tips. But there is value here, and too many otherwise intelligent people have ignored or forgotten these things during their job search. As they say, "the devil is in the details."

The old US Army slogan was "be all you can be." During job search you have to be all that on the way in the door! You can do it. As always I wish you good job hunting!

Let Salary.com Work for You

If you're talking about common sense, it doesn't get any more basic than research. So before your interview, use Salary.com so you know what you're supposed to be paid before you receive an offer.

Use our free Salary Wizard to search for your job title, so when you come to the negotiating table you'll be armed with the information you need to be compensated fairly.

Good luck!