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Five Don'ts for Auto Applicants

Parking ticket (State of New York photo)
(State of New York photo)

Auto technicians are in demand. That means you, with your automotive skills and knowledge, should be able to find work. Still, there are many ways you can miss out on landing that ideal position. Here are five don'ts for auto technicians:

Don't Underestimate the First Impression

Many managers who hire technicians say they want to feel confident that the person they hire will fit in on the shop floor and be willing to take direction. The interview is often your one chance to convince the manager you bring the right combination of attitude, skills and work ethic to the job.

A good resume can reinforce that message. Michael Ochoa, formerly of the Los Angeles Technical College, notes that employers want you to create a favorable first impression and that your resume can contribute to that. Work history and a candidate's skills and knowledge also contribute to the impression you leave.

"A proper presentation is very important," says Ochoa. "It includes a well-written resume, proper attire and the use of proper language." In other words, avoid slang.

Don't Be Late

Vince Lombardi, the fabulously successful coach of the Green Bay Packers, was a stickler for teamwork and attitude. One of his many obsessions was punctuality. If a player was asked to report for practice at 8 a.m., Lombardi actually expected him there at least 15 minutes early.

Today, more than one successful business has adopted "Lombardi time" for its employees. It means be early, and you'll always be on time. The same can be said for your job interview. While you are at it, be sure to offer a firm, but not crushing, handshake and make eye contact during the conversation that will follow.

Don't Oversell Yourself

"When I ask an applicant, ‘Are you an A tech?' I find that the really top people have a lot of humility," says Gary Briggs, former service manager for Lia Honda in Enfield, Connecticut. "They don't do a lot of boasting."

Unfortunately, Briggs finds that more boastful applicants frequently fail to measure up to their bravado. While boasting that is not based on fact is always damaging to your career in the long run, it could also serve as a warning to your interviewer that you might deliver less on the shop floor than promised. Even if you are great, it sometimes pays to be just a little humble.

Don't Get a Driving Record, and Address It If You Do

Previous driving escapades sink many applicants.

"This isn't like the old days," Briggs says. "We check driving records. If you have a few accidents and tickets, if you come back uninsurable, that's it. You don't get the job. We lose a lot of young technicians who would probably be really good because of their driving records."

While you can't do anything about the past, you can do to a great deal about mending your driving record in the future. If you have turned over a few cars, two to three years of ticket- and crash-free driving suggest you have turned over a new leaf.

Don't Dis Past Employers

"What's the worst thing about the job you have now?" is a favorite interview question. If you're asked it, do not treat it as an open invitation to vent on the problems you currently face at work.

Few shops are perfect. The one run by your interviewer probably has its share of faults, too. Strongly worded negative comments about your current employer could sink your chances for a new job. The service manager of the shop where you would like to work will wonder what you might say about his operation a few months -- or years -- down the road. Your mother was right. If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all.

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