6 Small Things that Can Have a Big Impact On Your Career


Kathy Lavinder, CFE
Owner and Executive Director of Security & Investigative Placement Consultants

When it comes to the job hunt, sometimes it’s the small things that have the biggest impact. After 15 years recruiting anti-fraud specialists I’ve seen countless instances when attention to detail and good manners have carried a candidate over the finish line. Here are some small things that you should not overlook when searching for a job:

Be responsive: When a recruiter, an associate, a professional contact, or a hiring manager calls or emails about a position, respond in a timely fashion. It’s shocking how many candidates take days or even weeks to reply after an initial contact. That’s a surefire way to miss out on what could be a great opportunity. It’s equally shocking how many people have voicemail boxes that are full and won’t accept messages. Opportunity may not come knocking twice, so be ready.

But don’t be too hasty: If you’re responding to an overture in writing, thoughtfully compose your reply. Make sure to avoid grammatical or spelling mistakes. Don’t expect anyone to overlook issues just because the reply is sent from a smart phone. Attention to detail is important in even the most basic of communications. Also, avoid jumping to conclusions about the role you’ve been contacted about. Make an informed decision once you’ve learned more, as opposed to a knee-jerk response.

Be on time: Just to state the obvious, being late for any interview – phone or in-person – is unacceptable and almost always a deal breaker. Strong organizational and time management skills are essential for all fraud fighters and job seekers.

Be a good listener: Anti-fraud practitioners should have well developed listening skills, so make sure those are on display during any conversations about a potential career opportunity. Avoid asking questions that can be answered by a careful reading of the position description. The hallmark of a good listener is in the quality of follow-up questions he or she poses. Not only will you glean valuable information, but you’ll impress the interviewer when your questions reveal thoughtfulness and an insightful understanding.

Dress the part: Your clothing, makeup, and grooming choices all communicate things about you.  Polished shoes, trimmed nails and hair, ironed clothing and business-appropriate attire are expected. Candidates who miss the mark on any of these will be at a disadvantage should their skills and experience be comparable to other candidates who are suitably turned out.

Good manners rule: The use of social niceties, such as please and thank you, is expected. Good manners reflect a respect for others and indicate not only an awareness of social norms, but the likelihood of being a good team player. A carefully crafted thank you note, either hand-written or via email, is essential after any interview. It not only communicates your appreciation for the other person’s time and attention, but is a great way to reiterate your interest in the role. Even if you have decided not to pursue the opportunity further, remember to say thank you. 

Hiring decisions are based on multiple factors and calculations, but any job seeker would be wise to get the little things right. They can only help your chances of getting hired.