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How to Keep a Mistake from Costing You the Job

The good news: You just found a job listing that seems like the perfect fit. The bad news: You accidentally sent the hiring manager an outdated version of your resume, leaving out more than a few of your key selling points.

While you want to follow up by sending the correct version, you worry that doing so will just call attention to your mistake and completely eliminate any chance of being called for an interview.

As every job candidate knows, first impressions are critical. But don’t automatically assume a mistake during the job search has ruined your chances.

In the example above, it makes sense to send the proper version of your resume with a very brief note explaining the error. The hiring manager may or may not consider the new resume, but it’s worth a try. After all, a willingness to promptly admit and correct one’s mistakes is a desirable characteristic in any employee.

Not all job search mistakes are created equal – and they’re not always fatal. By anticipating some of the most common job search errors, you can improve your odds of avoiding them — and of overcoming them if they do happen.

Mistake #1: Bad timing

No one plans to be late for a critical appointment such as a job interview. But if you find yourself in any danger of missing the appointed time, take action immediately. Call the hiring manager to briefly apologize and explain — not to excuse — the delay. Provide your best estimate of your arrival time. A calm, honest assessment of the situation will carry more weight than an emotional apology.

Showing up too early might not sound like much of a mistake, but it can come across as inconsiderate. Your presence in the reception area long before it’s required can add to the pressure the hiring manager may be feeling during a tightly scheduled workday.

If you do arrive early, wait in your car or outside the office. Use the time to relax, review the major points you want to convey, or freshen up in the restroom. Arriving five to 10 minutes before your interview time is ideal.

Mistake #2: Imperfect interviews

Few interviews flow smoothly from start to finish. When you realize one of your responses is veering off course, don’t be afraid to pause and think for a moment about what to say next. Barrelling ahead with an answer you’re unsure about can suggest an attempt to mask your uncertainty. By contrast, pausing to get your thoughts in order shows that you’re genuinely considering the interviewer’s question.

If you realize during the interview that you may have botched an earlier question, ask if you can revisit it. A thoughtful revision of an early statement can demonstrate your ability to think critically on the fly.

Of course, the best interview answers tend to spring to mind on the ride home afterwards. If you neglected to mention an important point, consider briefly addressing it as part of your thank-you letter.

 Mistake #3: Money mishaps

What if you’ve discussed salary with a hiring manager and later discover that you cited a figure well below the going rate? First, keep in mind that revising your request is risky; you should do so only if you’re sure you would feel underpaid working at the salary you mentioned. If that’s the case, promptly contact the hiring manager and explain that, after performing further research, you think the number provided was too low. Back up your assertion by citing a source.

Of course, the best time to address any of these errors is before they happen. Prior to each communication or contact with the employer, take time to review what you plan to send or say.

If you do stumble, treat it as an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to honestly and skilfully correct your mistakes. To an employer seeking clues about your real-world job performance, that ability can be just as impressive as sailing through the hiring process without a giltch — er, glitch.

This article was brought to you by Robert Half Technologya leading provider of technology professionals for initiatives ranging from web development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support. .

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