Job Search Series – Going For The Gold

“Not that you root for failure,” Vasgersian said,
“but he needs one more crash to guarantee a spot in the next round.”
~ NBC 2014 Winter Olympics Announcer Matt Vasgersian   

The above-captioned statement was uttered during the men’s freestyle aerial ski jumps last week in Sochi during the play-by-play commentary. The speculation was that for American Mac Bohonnon to qualify for the finals one of his competitors would have to make a mistake, thereby making Mr. Bohonnon’s point score sufficient. No sooner were these words spoken when Renato Ulrich of Switzerland took his turn at the aerials and crashed.

Isn’t it often the case in a competition when one person wins because of another’s mistake or mishap? So it is that in going for the gold in that competition we know as the job hunt, often the successful candidate is selected for the position not because he was the best suited, but merely by the process of eliminating the other candidates. But why are some candidates eliminated when they might well be just as qualified as the one who was hired?

Below is a list of 25 job search “crash,” situations; some have been addressed in previous entries — a few very recently — or will be addressed in future entries. Any one of these missteps can cause your “judges” – those recruiters, human resource reps and hiring managers – to eliminate you from the running:

  1. Constructing a resume using an outdated and ineffective format, or failing to customize your resume and cover letter to each position
  2. Overlooking a typo in your resume or cover letter
  3. Missing a deadline to submit your application and / or associated documents or failing to follow instructions
  4. Failing to return a call or respond to an email or other communication promptly
  5. Arriving late for an interview; failing to call ahead if you are unavoidably detained
  6. Failing to prepare thoroughly for your interview, job fair or networking event
  7. Being caught in a lie – on paper, online or in person
  8. Dressing inappropriately, incompletely or untidily and being poorly groomed
  9. Ignoring or offending the receptionist, assistant, secretary, and other staff
  10. Shaking hands improperly, or not at all if you are physically able to do so
  11. Not smiling and avoiding eye contact
  12. Failing to rise when the interviewer (or anyone else) enters the room, or being seated before others are
  13. Slouching, frowning, fidgeting or chewing gum — or your nails
  14. Forgetting to bring the proper interview items (resumes, completed application, letters of recommendation, identification, work permits, writing samples, references, etc.)
  15. Interrupting while someone is speaking or engaged in a conversation
  16. Exhibiting poor table manners when interviewed over a meal or coffee / tea
  17. Drinking alcoholic beverages at networking events or interview dining affairs
  18. Failing to market yourself effectively online (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  19. Not having attractive and professional appearing business cards, and not using them effectively
  20. Using your smartphone at inappropriate moments (and there are a lot of those!)
  21. Not saying “excuse me,” “I’m sorry,” “I apologize,” “after you,” or “thank  you”
  22. Sending LinkedIn invitations without a personal note attached
  23. Failing to connect with each person in a panel interview
  24. Neglecting to ensure that the references you have listed are fully on board
  25. Not sending a thank-you letter following an interview

While this is only a partial list, it illustrates how focused and diligent you must be when in competition. U.S. Olympic champion Lauryn Williams missed winning a gold medal in the bobsledding finals by one-tenth of a second when she and her pilot Elana Meyers fumbled their first-day lead with some ill-timed bobbles, allowing the Canadian team of Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse to sail past them to victory.

To make sure that you don’t lose your dream job, a major client or anything else on your wish list by committing the business version of being one-tenth of a second behind victory, pay close attention to those devilish details. And, I hope you’ll continue to follow my Job Search Series for more tips and ideas!

Until next time,


2 thoughts on “Job Search Series – Going For The Gold

  1. Jeanne Nelson says:

    Thank you, Sarah, for posting your question here. It most certainly is appropriate!To answer your question, if you have received a concrete offer from the first company and have officially accepted it; the deal is signed, sealed and delivered; and you have a start date by all means you should notify the other company as soon as possible. From your description, it appears that you did not fly out to take the interview with the second company and have no interest in doing so; therefore, I suggest you call your contact and try to speak with him or her first. Calling is always a friendlier and more effective way to make an impression; you should then follow up with a short, typewritten snail mail letter of appreciation — or send a thank-you email instead if you feel that would be more acceptable under the circumstances. On the other hand, if the first offer is not set in stone and there is a possibility that it might fall through, you might want to keep the interview appointment with the second company if the timing works out. Whichever you decide, all the best to you.


  2. Sarah Wiegman says:

    Great Articles Jeanne! Hopefully posting this question here is appropriate. Can you advise?Situation: I was interviewing for 2 jobs in another state, both offered to fly me out for interviews and both set up plane tickets for the interviews. I went to the first interview and accepted their offer. It's fantastic and I really wanted that job.Dilemma – Do I phone or email the second company as to the fact that I have accepted another offer. Up until this point we have done all of our communicating mostly through email, but I want to not burn any bridges with this company as Charlottesville is a small community. Is it better to call them and let them know? What is the best way to handle this situation. Thanks so much!!


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