Communication Breakdown: 3 Avoidable Mistakes Job Seekers Make

communicationNo matter how hard we try, what you say isn’t always perceived the way you intend. From Hannah Morgan, here are three examples of communication mishaps job seekers make far too often…

Have you really considered what people think when you talk to them?

In other words, what is the real interpretation of your message? Do you know what judgments or assumptions the listener jumped to because of what you’ve said and how you’ve said it?

Whether your excuse is that you were taught not to brag about yourself, you were nervous, or something else, you can and should be mindful of the words you use!

Here are three communication problems that hurt job seekers and three fixes to improve the quality of your message during networking conversations, job interviews, and on resumes.

Tada! I am Unemployed!

You don’t need to introduce yourself by confessing you are laid off! Sharing this information about yourself too early in the conversation can distract the listener. The person either makes assumptions, feels sorry for you or worse, reminds them of their own job search saga. They may be thinking one of these things:

“Poor thing, this is a terrible time to be unemployed.”

“Wonder what they did to get laid off?”

“How are they ever going to find a job right now?”

“Wow, it stinks to be you!”

Your introduction is about sharing the best information about YOURSELF!

The Fix …

Focus your introduction on why you’re great at what you do and what makes you unique and memorable. Summarize how you have helped previous employers by highlighting specific skill sets or including an example of a problem you have solved. Remember, this is a marketing campaign. You want your communication to include a distinct message that will catch attention for the right reasons—you are talented at what you do.

When asked what you do, keep it short and positive. For instance, you could say: “I help nonprofits gain greater awareness in the community by building partnerships with similar organizations. This collaborative approach grew membership by 25 percent last year.”

Me, Me, Me

In a job interview, you can send the wrong message by putting too much emphasis on your own needs and wants. Here is an example:

Interviewer: I am afraid you wouldn’t be content with the salary we could offer.

Job Seeker: It is less than I used to make but I could probably make it work within my personal budget.

It is human nature to take care of our financial needs and make sure we have food and shelter. However, putting your needs before your potential employer is like asking to see the engagement ring on a first date.

The Fix …

Don’t be afraid to tell the employer what they want to hear. Your interest in the job comes across in the words you use and the tone of your voice. Be the most enthusiastic you can be, and be convincing.

In the first example, for example, you could politely ask the interviewer:

“I am very interested, so may I ask: What did I say or do that made you feel that way?”

You could go on to explain why you’re interested in the position and provide a specific example of what you will do to solve the employer’s problem. Money usually isn’t the only concern in hiring.

Ummm, I’m Good with Communication

You know you should use keywords from the job posting in your resume. However, you must select the right words to get the interview.

None of the statements below would differentiate you from the hundreds of other candidates; they are trite and even worse, unsubstantiated. And by the way, aren’t these minimal work requirements?

  • “Excellent interpersonal skills, both written and verbal”
  • “Adept at problem-solving”
  • “Work well as a team player or as an individual contributor”

However, you are great at building teams by soliciting feedback and also at creating accountability. Focus on that!

The Fix …

First, use the right type of keywords, such as specific job skills and technologies. Second, include specific benefits or outcomes of your work. Develop and use STAR stories. For example:

  • “Created monthly accounts receivable report for management and requested to present to senior management during a committee meeting.”
  • “Identified unnecessary forms and implemented solution for copying cost reduction, resulting in $2,000 in monthly savings.”

Say What You Really Mean

As you craft your answers to questions, pay attention to what the receiver of your message really cares about. Incorporate both their interests as well as your own.

And always be sincere and truthful in all communication.


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Career Sherpa.


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Hannah Morgan hiring prosAbout the Author: Hannah Morgan is a career sherpa, guiding new job seekers through the treacherous terrain of job search. If you are looking for no-nonsense advice, check out her site Career Sherpa. And follow Hannah on Twitter for the latest job search news and trends!



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