GNcareers, from Gulf News

A helping hand need not always be to your benefit

A helping hand need not always be to your benefitImage Credit: Supplied

When job hunting, your friends probably will be curious and eager to help. From recommendations about job boards to interviewing tips, you should often find help wrapped in good intentions from almost everyone.

These friends, however, may unintentionally hurt your prospects by providing conflicting tips or too much advice that doesn't apply to your particular situation. It is not their fault; always filter what you hear to ensure that your way of handling your job applications, interviewing and the entire hiring process is the best for you. This requires common sense and also the ability to go against the wisdom of trusted ones.

In particular, there are four areas one must think twice before following advice from friends blindly.


If the job is advertised without a salary, be advised to push for a number or a pay range before you invest in time in an extensive interviewing process. While friends could be concerned about you wasting time chasing a job that doesn't pay enough to be consider, any attempt to get more information about the salary so early in the process can simply undermine viable opportunities.

Think of it this way, how much do you really mind spending time on job hunting? If unemployed, any interviews or applications may actually be a good experience in itself. If not, then limit yourself by applying only for jobs that seem to be a good fit.

In all cases, if you decide to bring up the money factor before the employer at any stage of the interview, you may be risking the job.

Dress code

You know your industry best. Unless your friends are in the same industry or aware of it, don't take their fashion advice. What you can get advice on is the fit of the clothes. However, if you're determined to dress to impress, don't take a well-meaning advice to stand out for your attire. In fact, your dress should only be remembered for being professional and tidy – nothing more.

If you're remembered for the short skirt, strong cologne or red shirt, you probably have crossed the safe line of dressing for an interview.

Again, some industries are more forgiving than others while some may require a show of your familiarity with latest fashions. But for most office jobs as well as many retail and customer services roles, go with the tried and tested solid colour business suit and a clean appearance.

Personal life

If desperate for the job, a friend may advice that sharing personal problems – divorce, illness, family loss, etc — you're more likely to get the employer's empathy and the job. That approach can turn risky.

Unless the personal life issues come up naturally in a broader context, plugging personal issues in the conversation may backlash. First, you make the employer feel morally obliged to help you, and no one likes to be pressured. Second, the personal life problems may simply concern the employer – even if they officially can't be held against you. Whether struggling financially or emotionally, you may be presenting yourself as someone who won't be able to offer the employer undivided attention.


So you've applied for a job, and someone offers to do insider research on your behalf. Say ''No''. Unless you're fully aware of who is talking to whom, you don't really want to get this kind of help.

If a friend of your friend is checking on your application and that person isn't popular within the company, the application may simply be tossed as a result. If that person is popular, the hiring manager may feel pressured.

Again, unless you know the person and know you will be getting a positive recommendation, don't authorize any help. Collecting insider information on your behalf may seem to help, but in reality is often inaccurate and misleading. Think twice before letting anyone do what they think will push your resume to the top of the pile.

Find out what to do when the past haunts your job search

Source: Rania Oteify, Special to

The writer is a former Gulf News Business Features Editor and currently a Seattle-based editor