Feedback For Jobseekers

“What am I doing wrong? I’m so frustrated with this job search!”

Sound familiar? I imagine if you are looking for work, you’ve uttered something like the above more than a few times in your job search. So it’s odd that so many people who are looking for work don’t solicit feedback as they go about seeking employment.

Now for starters, I don’t want to assume you are doing anything wrong as it were, but I do wager there are things you could be doing better, and there may be more things you might try that you don’t. It could be that you genuinely don’t know something you could be doing, (and therefore how could you be expected to be doing it?), or you do know what you should be doing perhaps, but aren’t because it’s unpleasant and difficult.

Here’s an example: Unless you are extremely fortunate, you probably are having to apply to several positions, and have will have been passed over or rejected for the job. It may be after coming close in at the interview stage. So what now? For most people you see will strike that position off their list and move on. That seems like the best use of your time. However, a rare 1% of job seekers will choose a different course of action.

1% of people will compose a letter to the employer via the person who interviewed them or the person who made the hiring decision. In that letter, they will express their acknowledgement and disappointment that the position is now filled, but express their ongoing interest in being considered for a similar position, or in fact the same position should a vacancy occur. After all, not everyone hired actually works out, or someone else might up and quit. While other applicants have moved on, you will stand in a very small select group of people who clearly want the job badly and are tenacious but professional. It may be cheaper to call you back then to re-advertise and interview all over.

One of the core job searching strategies that any professional will tell you about is to do your very best to get feedback on your efforts. So whether it’s after an interview, or seeking advice on your resume from a professional already working in your specific field, it’s critical to get feedback and be open to it.

So why is it then that companies are so reluctant to provide feedback in the first place? Part of that answer lies in the large number of applicants that apply in the first place. Were everyone who applied to call up and ask for feedback on their resume, the company might spend days tracking down all those resumes in HR, scanning them all, and then coming up with carefully considered feedback that both helps you and protects them. It’s just not reasonable to suggest they go through that process.

Still, it’s worth it to make the attempt at contact, express your sincere desire to get their valuable feedback because you want to increase the odds of securing a position with the company in the future. This could be requested on the phone, and you’re likely to get a positive reaction this way over say, asking for something in writing. That may raise red flags to the interviewer, like you are proceeding with some court action where you feel you were wronged in the process.

The least threatening way to get feedback on your resume is to request a meeting with someone in an organization when in fact there is no advertised position at all. Hardly anyone does this however. After all, if there isn’t a job to apply to, it seems like a waste of energy to someone out of work and looking for a job. However, if you have identified a company you want to work for, asking for a twenty-minute meeting with someone already in the position or their supervisor may yield you valuable information.

The process discussed above is known as an information gathering interview. The roles are reversed however, and you the job seeker become the interviewer, and the person who works for the company becomes the interviewee. It will start perhaps with them saying, “So what do you want to know?”, or “How can I help you?” Be ready with your questions on paper, pen and pad of paper in hand for notes. You’ll want to start with questions other than, “Here’s my resume what do you think?” but eventually as the interview nears an end, produce it and either ask to leave it behind or at the very least ask for a summary impression.

You really are seeking answers on what will move your application past the resume stage and into the interview process where you can best sell yourself in person. If this is a phone interview, have everything laid out in front of you like your resume, date book, cover letter, blank paper, perhaps the company website up on your computer, and remember, you’re asking questions that should not be able to be answered any other way. So something on the website shouldn’t be something you ask about; that would indicate you haven’t done your homework.

Every contact involves making an impression. How enthusiastic do you sound? Enthusiasm is often among the top things employers seek in new applicants.

Remember to dash off a card of thanks. State your appreciation for their time, help and support.


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