Getting a Foot in the Door

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Job seekers walk a fine line when they are trying to get in the door to be considered for a position. Persistent can become pain in the neck. Eager can be mistaken for desperate. Enthusiasm is a main ingredient in getting hired. Many hiring managers cite enthusiasm as the trait that leads them to greenlight somebody's application, but is there such thing as showing too much enthusiasm? Are there times when it's better to turn it down a notch?

Getting in the door is critical to landing a position because without getting noticed you won't get an interview. Here are tips for capturing the attention of employers and turn offs for hiring managers.

Professional vs. Personal

Job seekers are repeatedly told "It's not what you know - it's who you know." Problem is, most of the time you don't know the person you are addressing a cover letter to even if you are aware of their name and title. "I've received cover letters that cross the line into overly friendly territory," says Stan Grant, an Accounting Hiring Manager. "When people who you've never spoken to skip formalities and address you by your first name, it's a red flag." It's better to maintain a professional distance during correspondence before you meet in person. There will be time to touch on the personal later during your interview. Of course, if you are fortunate to meet someone face to face, you want to be warm and friendly and to try to get to know them.

Showing Up Unannounced

Another big mistake is showing up without an appointment. Job seekers believe it can be a way to display their initiative, but it usually backfires. At best, you may get a few minutes to remind someone about you face to face. Realistically, your timing will have to be impeccable because the odds are you will end up being disruptive. At worst, it sends a message to a person in a position to hire you that you don't respect their time. Especially if you show up at their place of work unannounced.

Giving Gifts

"Have you heard the saying that someone who gives advice is doing it more for their own benefit than for the one they are trying to help?" asks Karen Shuttlesworth, an IT Manager. "That's the way I feel when job candidates give me gifts - they aren't genuine and are more for the giver's benefit." She recalls how someone interested in a position at her company recently sent her a jump drive. "It felt like a bribe and I ended up sending it back." Again, giving gifts is a friendly gesture, but hiring managers are not your friends. Know how to differentiate between being professionally persistent and being plain pushy.

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