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tips for job applicants:

the never nevers.

By Shari Barnes

When you're looking for employment, everyone tells you what to do. The next-door neighbor, your third grade teacher, and Uncle Harry offer opinions. Bookstores devote entire sections to inside information and magic career formulas. No matter what relatives, friends, or experts advise, avoid these deadly job search traps:

Never make a pest of yourself with repetitious phone calls. If you're the person the company wants to hire, they won’t forget you if you don't call every day.

Never disdain the receptionist. Make the person at the front desk your ally. The boss values her opinion, and she can seal your fate with a roll of her eyes or the turn of her thumb.

Never take a friend. Job search is an awesome task, and even though your self-esteem could stand a boost from a friend, save the hand holding for a coffee break after the interview. If you can't survive an interview on your own, the boss may wonder how you'll ever make it through an eight-hour day. Significant others, children and pets should stay at home.

Never dress down. It's Friday, and the rest of the world wears jeans and T-shirts. No, it is not okay for you to go casual. Get the dress-for-success suit out of the cleaners, and shine your shoes. Wait until you get the job offer, and then maybe you can relax your dress code when you know the new company’s standards.

Never mass mail your resume. This is a sure-fire way to delude yourself that you're actually doing something to get a job. You have a better chance of winning the lottery than obtaining employment in this random fashion

Never ask about salary and benefits. Of course you're interested in how much money you'll make and when you can take a vacation, but save those questions until you are offered the job. Eagerness for a position is a good thing, but greed for money, vacation time and benefits is not.

Never avoid the personnel office. Yes, I know the career books tell you to disregard official gatekeepers. But why antagonize them? Be smart and use the dual approach of contacting the department head and the human resources department. When you're looking for a job, you need friends, not enemies.

Never be intimidated by “tests.” If you want to land the right job with people to whom you can relate, and with a boss that understands your capabilities, “tests” can actually help you find the perfect fit. Look at tests as tools to communicate your strengths. Companies really want to hire people who will be happy and grow with their company. Tests are not meant to exclude so much as they are designed to identify the right person for the right job. A test may actually help you avoid getting into a situation you may regret!

MindData Hint:
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Attach a MindData Self Evaluation.

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Sharon (Shari) Eurich Barnes is Director of Employee Relations for Texas Christian University. Complementing her human resource career, Ms. Barnes writes for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Working Mother, Women as Managers and Management Review. She also conducts private and court-ordered mediations.

In addition to hosting Books in Review on cable television, Ms. Barnes speaks on employment issues for professional associations and conferences.

Ms. Barnes received her Bachelor's degree from California Baptist University and Master's degree from Texas Christian University. Among other affiliations, she is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, American Society for Training and Development, American Association of University Women, Fort Worth Human Resource Association Board of Directors (past), College and University Personnel Association, Fort Worth Mayor's Committee for Disabled Persons, and Tarrant County Association of Mediators Board of Directors. Ms. Barnes has also been named to Who's Who Among American Women.

Comments and questions about this article: Shari Barnes.

The opinions expressed in articles by this author do not necessarily represent the opinions of MindData. These articles are provided as a means of informing you of current events and opinions that impact employers and the workplace.

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