Aurora Magazine

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How to Make Sure You Never Get a Job

Usman Yousuf Butt lists how candidates can improve their chances of being hired.
Published 18 Mar, 2024 02:49pm

Given my 25 years of experience in HR and Learning, I have realised that candidates, including the bright ones, tend to easily let go of golden job opportunities. Here are some of the most common ways they consciously and unconsciously close the doors open to them:

1. CV: A CV is a professional reflection of yourself. Firstly, it is very easy to lose your chance of being noticed and called for an interview if you send the same CV to dozens of companies without tweaking or customising it. By not tailoring your resume, your chances of not being called for an interview are stronger. Secondly, a CV without a proper chronological hierarchy of your experiences, or one that has not been updated or carries an old profile photo, can easily be skipped. Thirdly, a CV that fails to highlight previous experience or achievements relevant to the advertised position reduces your chances of being called. Finally, I see many exaggerations on CVs, which is acceptable to a certain extent. However, be careful not to lie; you will be caught.

2. Cover letter: Bloopers include using 2023 instead of 2024, forgetting to put the correct name of the company you are applying to or the wrong designation of the position. This shows a casual approach.

3. The interview: Most candidates are given the location pin and the time for the interview in advance, but in my experience, over 90% of candidates view the location an hour before the interview, only to realise that there is a traffic jam in the area and thus arrive late. 70–80% of candidates seem confident enough to not read up on anything about the company they are applying to – background, products and financials – relying only on past experiences and skills. There are no excuses for not preparing. Although the client has the CV, there is no harm in bringing a copy. If you have previously worked on a project for the same or similar company, bring a copy.

The actual interview is where your persuasion skills are put to the test. So why, as it sometimes happens, does a normally confident candidate suddenly become tongue-tied? There was an engineer who claimed to have worked on a project in Qatar that was mentioned in the Guinness World Records but failed to share this information during the interview. When asked about this, his reply was, “I forgot, but I’m sure they must have seen it on my CV.” These days, most interviews are conducted online and candidates create a bad impression if they fail to appear on time, are unsure about connectivity issues and, most importantly, are unfamiliar with the features of Zoom or Google Meet. I once interviewed a candidate who did not know how to unmute his mic and another one who did not know how to enable the video conferencing feature. Both were strong candidates but ended up making a poor first impression.

4. Dress for success: Professional attire, whether in person or online, is the safest bet. Even for an organisation with a casual culture, dress formally for the interview.

5. Professional presence on social media: Of the many professional social media platforms available, LinkedIn is the most commonly used. As a recruiter, I browse through many profiles. I believe that a candidate’s profile photo should be professional and they should be dressed accordingly. I have seen many display pictures taken in selfie mode or with the candidate sitting on top of a car or in front of a coloured wall. More importantly, are you aware of what to post on LinkedIn? Photos of you on Hajj and Umrah, your political views, jokes, birthday greetings, love for your spouse, the birth of a child and vacations have a better place on other social media platforms. Be professional and only post stuff that lends to your credibility as a professional.

6. Avoid confusion: There are many options available to work online and freelance like Upwork, Amazon, Shopify, Google Ads and content writing. If you are looking for a nine-to-five job, be sure about it. It is very difficult to sail in two boats, so apply only if you are certain you can give your 100% to the job. Many candidates decide not to join at the last minute when they learn that they will lose their freelance income by accepting a full-time job, leaving both the company and recruiter in the lurch. Many candidates who back out at the last moment come back to me after a few weeks asking for another job opening, which is a definite ‘no’ in my dictionary.

7. You have the talent, so cultivate the right attitude and professional mindset!

Usman Yousuf Butt is the CEO/Founder of Level Up – People and Learning Solutions.