The Master List of “Don’ts”


It’s true that I’m a realist, but I’m known for my positivity. Most of my Tooling Up columns focus on must-do items that combine to make a successful job search. I rarely if ever write “Do not do this.”

However, I see people making the same mistakes over and over, in the networking process, on job-interview day, and in that critical period after a successful interview—and it is starting to drive me crazy. These are “rookie” errors, but more senior prospects make them, too, like the prospect for a director of research position who doesn’t remember the best way to answer a salary expectations question, or the vice president-level business developer who walks away from an interview thinking he’s done with the process.

This month I’ve decided to abandon my customary positivity and share the best of the “don’ts” from my ongoing dos and don’ts list, which I’ve been updating for years.

This month I’ve decided to abandon my customary positivity and share the best of the “don’ts” from my ongoing dos and don’ts list, which I’ve been updating for years. “I was inspired to take this darker path by an excellent book,(Amacom, 2013) by Andrea Kay. I’ve always enjoyed her newspaper column in USA Today, and Kay makes some excellent points in her book, which uses far more of the “don’t do this” approach than I usually do.

Before the interview

We’ve had many articles on Science Careers over the years about the preinterview part of your search. Here are some of the biggest and most damaging of the don’ts for this stage.

  1. Don’t let typos, misspellings, or missing information make you look sloppy. Review even spellchecked application materials at least a couple of times.

During the interview

  1. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking every opportunity is a do-or-die situation. These are tough times, and one interview can be important, but you can’t afford to put all your eggs in that basket. Thinking that way will harm your performance in the interview and close your mind to new ideas that can get you to your next interview.

After the interview

  1. Don’t be a pest. If your enquiries don’t yield an answer, resist the impulse to call every week. Relax and focus on something else for a while.

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