Because I’m an Employer Counsellor, I deal with people who are seeking employment on a daily basis. In addition to success stories where people get interviews and employment, again and again I also hear job seekers blaming interviewers and companies in general for rejecting them. However, if truth be told, I completely understand the employers point of view, and not only understand it, agree with their decision.
I have just met a client I’m working with in a group who is in his mid-twenties. He’s well-groomed, in good physical condition, has no transportation difficulties and has a decent resume. However, he is a most intense guy. He seldom smiles; his eyes seem to bore right through people he talks to, and his answers to mock interview questions demonstrate an articulate and wide vocabulary, but also are delivered with an arrogance and intensity that is unsettling. That intensity is never turned off and instead of coming off as self-motivated and serious about job searching, his self-portrayal is that of possibly being a walking time bomb.
Another person I am working with is a young man who claims he only owns and wears jeans. He’s (no pun intended) attached to his facial hair which he doesn’t keep trimmed but rather has let grow wild and patchy, and he’s resistant to making a change in either. Now while the job he’s going to eventually land is one in which he’ll probably be allowed to wear jeans to the workplace, the jeans he’s wearing daily aren’t even presentable in an interview situation. But as is the case with so many young people – and we’ve all been there – he knows best of course. I wouldn’t be interested in hiring him upon first impression, and an employer’s mind might be made up before he even takes a step forward to shake their hand.
Sometimes it takes rejection upon rejection for some people to realize maybe they don’t have the right answer, and that what’s really required is an attitudinal adjustment between the ears. Sometimes it’s not them….sometimes it’s you. Now don’t get me wrong. There are many people out there doing all the things right and still not getting interviews and employment. So how does a person know whether it’s them or not? Sadly, sometimes the people doing all the things right doubt themselves first and try new things when they should carry on while those that should definitely change their attitude and appearance or behaviour assume it’s not them that needs to change.
If you are working with the aid of someone who is trained professionally to provide employment assistance and is prepared to give you personal feedback, it would seem too obvious to state but you really should listen to all the advice you are given. Yes it’s true that some of that feedback will be flattering and reinforce your ego and your self-esteem. However, it is equally true that some of the feedback you may get is perhaps not what you want to hear, challenges you to change in ways that you may not have expected or don’t even agree with. To what extent you are willing to hear the advice and act on it, will determine the willingness of the person to give you further help too.
So what exactly does that mean? Well suppose you were given a major re-write of your resume which the person you were working with suggested. Rather than being appreciative, if you get defensive and revert to carrying on with your original resume because you think you can do a better job than the professional, why would they be interested in providing you with further suggestions on other aspects of the job search?
Remember that in trying to get an interview, it’s all about marketing yourself with your resume; your resume is therefore a marketing tool that presents you in the best way possible. The best way possible means that you come the closest to what the company is looking for. How you know what they are looking for is by reading job posting requirements, researching websites, reading company publications, meeting with company employees and asking questions. Read newspapers, listen to the radio, ask some of the companies clients and customers what they like or dislike about a company. If there are enough people telling you common dislikes, that may be an opportunity for you to fix that problem by presenting yourself as someone who can turn things around in that area.
When at an interview, give solid well-thought-out answers that show some interest and enthusiasm for the possibility of working there. Be aware of your posture and sit up and slightly forward in your seat. Look like you actually care about the prospect of being hired rather than the interview is an inconvenience and the interviewer doesn’t measure up to your intellect. This too is what another person I was doing a mock interview with tended to do; he looked totally exasperated and frustrated that he was being made to ‘make believe’. He thought he should just be able to walk in and tell them he could do the job and get hired. The chip on his shoulder is enormous.
Employment Counsellors and Career Advisors aren’t always right. Any of us that might say, “Do it my way and you are guaranteed to get a job”, are people to be cautious of because I don’t think we can ever make that claim. What we as professionals can do however, is increase your odds of getting interviews and job offers. Of course, that is if you are open to hearing and acting on the advice you receive.