Often at the end of a presentation to jobseekers, people will come up to me and ask me what I think of some piece of advice another coach has given them. I’m always taken aback by some of the things I’ve heard over the years.

A presenter advised jobseekers going for an interview to not bring anything with them.

Not a coat, not a purse, not a notebook/pen or a copy of their resume.

Huh?

I asked my client why the coach gave that advice, and they said that they felt that the applicant should look like they just walked down the hall for a meeting, I’m guessing implying that they already work there.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I was in the corporate world I always brought a notebook and pen to a meeting. I rarely took notes, but it made me look like I was prepared to swing into action should the opportunity arise. (I also could use it to write a HELP – THIS MEETING IS SUCKING THE LIFEBLOOD OUT OF ME! note and toss it out the open window…but that was just in my fantasies.)

So the advice to not bring anything makes no sense. I actually interviewed someone who did that, just walked into the interview with absolutely nothing, and my impression was that he didn’t really care and was completely unprepared.

And yet job seekers will hear the advice from that coach, and implement it because that person must be the “expert.”

Let me tell you this. There is no “gimmick” to getting a job. There aren’t tricks, secret knocks, hidden codes, special handshakes. Taking advice that flies in the face of common sense just because someone claiming authority told it to you isn’t doing you any favors.

I guarantee each and every one of you, at one point has been in the position to hire someone, whether it’s a contractor for your home, a mechanic, hairdresser, or person to sell you a car. You knew what you wanted them to do, and you hired the people that gave you the most confidence that they could do it. It was just that simple.

Chances are that the person you ended up hiring did something to differentiate themselves, and they were qualified for what you wanted them to do. Differentiated and qualified. Also, the way that they differentiated themselves was relevant to the position. If you were looking to hire a painter, one who came dressed as a clown “just to stand out” would seem a little odd. Another painter who came dressed neatly (rather than showing up in his speckled painting clothes), would subtly give you the impression that he would also be neat when he worked in your home. A good thing.

However, if the painter was dressed neatly (differentiated), yet didn’t have as much of or the type of experience that you were looking for, you wouldn’t hire him-because he wasn’t qualified for what you wanted him to do.

So being different just for the sake of being different won’t get you the job if you’re not qualified. Showing that you’re different from other candidates in a way that relates to the job, while also being qualified for the job, will work.

Before you adopt some truly creative approaches to your job search, always do a common sense test to evaluate someone’s advice. Hiring managers and recruiters don’t come from different planets with odd rituals that they’ve devised to trick job seekers. Every hiring manager and recruiter is a person, just like you, and they go through the same decision-making processes you do when looking to fill a position-regardless of what that position is. Put yourself in their shoes and look at how you would react to determine if someone’s advice is sound.

 

By Melanie Szlucha, Redinc, LLC. www.redincllc.com

Melanie Szlucha has been a hiring manager for over 10 years. She founded RedInc, LLC to help job seekers by writing effective resumes and coaching them through job interviews. She is available to teach classes as well as work with individual clients improve their results at any phase of the job search process. Find out more at www.redincllc.com

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