Unexpected things that could affect your job search

by Feb 24, 2021

Having to search for a job can be overwhelming and stressful. But, the more you know about certain factors that could impact your search, the easier it can be. By now, most people know that your social media presence and having a “clean” online footprint can make a difference. Simply put, if you don’t have a professional presence on your platforms, you may not get hired. 

But, what do you know about other unexpected details that could affect your job search? There are many reasons why job seekers fail to land a position. Unfortunately, you may not think about some of those reasons until it’s too late. 

So, what can you do to go beyond your resume? How can you make sure you’re putting your best foot forward on your job search, and that your efforts don’t go unnoticed because of something unexpected? 

Let’s take a look at a few of those unexpected items that are sometimes easy to ignore, but could be factors that make or break your chances of landing the job you want. 


Past Legal Issues

Some employers will run a background check before deciding whether to hire someone. Most job applications will also ask you to disclose whether you’ve ever been convicted of a felony or any other type of crime. Keep in mind that according to the Australian Human Rights Commission, employers should only ask about your criminal record if “there is a connection between the inherent requirements of a particular job and a criminal record.” [x]

Aside from any major issues that may have caused you to build a criminal record, some employers might look at any other legal issues you’ve been a part of that weren’t necessarily “illegal” but may be cause for concern. 

For example, if there has ever been any public news coverage of a legal matter you were a part of, it won’t be difficult for employers to find. You might think that sounds like an interviewer crossing a line. But, thanks to everything from social media to most news outlets archiving their stories online, it doesn’t take much work or “digging” for an employer to learn about your public legal matters without it being an invasion of privacy

If you were in a car accident that gained attention on the news, or even if you were wrongly accused of something, it can show up publicly and influence a potential employer’s opinion of you. Think about it; if you saw someone’s mug shot on the internet or television, you might be hesitant to hire them, no matter the circumstances. As a result, you’ll want to be as upfront as possible if you are called in for an interview. 

That doesn’t mean you should openly bring up any legal matters. But, if you’re asked about it, the best thing you can do is be honest and transparent. If your employer realises you’re still the best person for the job, they may be willing to overlook any preconceived notions based on something they read or saw. 


Long-Term Potential

In most cases, it can take a small business at least 2-3 years to make a profit. And, most don’t consider themselves to be truly successful until they’ve hit at least the 10-year mark. What does that mean for you as you’re searching for jobs? 

It means that you should show long-term potential. If your resume states that you’ve had five jobs in five years, a potential employer might not be so eager to hire you, unless they understand the valid reasons for your departures. 

If you get a chance to go through an interview, one of the best things you can do is to market yourself as a long-term employee from the start. You can do this by: 

  • “Practising” what you’ll say when asked where you might see yourself in five years
  • Bringing up your plans for the future
  • Having skills that go beyond the basic job description
  • Expressing a desire to grow within the company

By confirming to a potential employer that you want to be successful within their company, you’re showing them that you’re willing to be committed and dedicated to long-term success. Not only does that benefit you, but it benefits their business. 

Get more interview advice on the UTS Careers resources page.


Your Digital Footprint

We mentioned it before, but it’s always worth reminding people on a job hunt to be aware of their online presence.  

Social media is a great way to develop your personal brand. You can utilise platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Twitter to give employers a better idea of who you are. They are also fantastic networking tools when used the right way on your job search. 

But, even if you’re not using your social media accounts to help you get a job, make sure they aren’t hurting your hunt either. We live in a digital world. There is a strong chance that any potential employer is going to search for your name online. Think about what they might find and how it could affect your chances of landing a job. 

If you want a good idea of what a potential employer will see about you online, do the same thing they’re likely to do by Googling yourself. Simply type your name in the search engine and see what comes up first. It could be your social media accounts, past jobs with your name still on their website, any newsworthy content that features you, or something someone else has said about you. Do your best to correct any inaccurate information or something that may paint you in a bad light.

If necessary, clean up your social media accounts as much as possible, or keep them ‘private’ to only your friends and family. It’s also a good idea to keep them up to date, so potential employers know you don’t have a problem keeping an active presence online. 


The Right Skills

When you’re looking for jobs, you’re undoubtedly going to search within industries where you have experience. You’ll probably narrow it down even further to specific jobs that allow you to use your skills put your education to good use. That’s a good practice and one of the best ways to quickly narrow down the list of jobs that would be a good fit. 

But, if you’re just focusing on your hard skills for a specific career path, you could be sabotaging your own search. 

Most people include hard skills on their resume and change or adapt them based on the job they’re looking for. Examples of hard skills include everything from Microsoft Office experience to project management. 

While hard skills are important and will let a potential employer know that you can do a specific job, soft skills are starting to step into the spotlight more than ever. Soft skills include: 

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Work ethic
  • The ability to problem-solve
  • How well you communicate

Consider the healthcare sector: hard skills such as medical training and technical acumen have long been the focuses of hiring in the sector. However, healthcare employers now look for more empathetic providers because empathy helps create connections to patients and clients. Not only does this connection improve care, it improves marketability. 

Soft skills like empathy are more like a part of your personality rather than the skills you’ve learned through education or experience. But, soft skills can be learned if you’re weaker with some of them. You may not have considered putting any of your soft skills on your resume before, but it’s something employers are starting to look at more than ever to get a full picture of the person they might hire. 


Your Attitude and Outlook

Obviously, no potential employer is going to get a full picture of your demeanor from a resume or through an application. You should make any cover letters you write as pleasant as possible while remaining succinct. Remember, employers typically only spend a few seconds looking at each resume. They aren’t going to read a long, drawn-out cover letter. 

You will, however, have the chance to speak more if you’re called in for an interview. 

An interview is really a way to make a solid first impression with a potential employer. So, every word you say and your general attitude should count.

No employer is going to want to hire someone who seems bored, sarcastic, or condescending or someone who thinks they are “entitled” to a certain position. Would you want to work with someone like that? Hiring managers have to think about their business and their entire team when they consider hiring someone. If you don’t have the right attitude, they are more than likely going to move on to another qualified candidate. 

Thankfully, it isn’t difficult to portray a positive attitude. Be yourself, of course, but keep things positive by: 

  • Engaging actively with the interviewer
  • Showing confidence
  • Never criticizing or complaining
  • Lightening the mood, when appropriate

Interviews don’t always have to feel so ‘stiff’. By showing who you really are and bringing a smile to the situation, you’ll stand out to the hiring manager and it will show that you’re likely to get along with others. 

Your attitude should also reflect how much you want to work at the place of your interview. Don’t be afraid to talk about where you see yourself within that company and what you plan on bringing to the table on a long-term basis. The more you can integrate yourself into the business and its culture through the interview process, the more a hiring manager can start to see you in that position and have confidence in what you can do. 


Making Your Job Search Successful

Like most other actions, there are a few things you should and shouldn’t do when looking for a job. For example, your job search should include networking, showing off a strong resume, and preparing yourself for potential interviews. 

The things you shouldn’t be doing can be a bit less obvious. Often, they’re the things you don’t think will ever end up being a problem. But, as you can see, there are plenty of opportunities for unexpected items to affect your job search. 

Thankfully, most of these unexpected issues are things you can take care of relatively quickly, even in an interview.


While these unexpected items won’t necessarily keep you from getting a job, some of them could be red flags to an employer. If they have a stack full of resumes and qualified individuals, you’ll want to make sure your track record looks as clean as possible, so they won’t move on to someone else. 

Keep these unexpected factors in mind while you’re searching for a job and remedy the ones that could impact you the most. Doing so can help you to land your dream job and kick off a long-lasting career. 


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Charlie Fletcher

Charlie Fletcher

Freelance Writer

Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer from the lovely “city of trees”- Boise, Idaho. Her love of writing pairs with her passion for social activism and search for the truth. You can follow her work at charliefletcher.contently.com