“Why can’t I get an interview? I know I can do the jobs I apply for.”
Sometimes; okay quite often, I’m asked that question in my job as an Employment Counsellor. With rare exception, I’ve got a pretty accurate idea of exactly why the person I’m working with isn’t getting hired, or often even interviewed.
It’s usually at this point that I pause for a few seconds and look squarely at the person whose just asked the question. In these few seconds, what I’m really doing is making a quick assessment of how to answer the person in such a way so that I’m truthful, but address them in a way where I’ll get through to them. In other words I’m trying to speak to them at a level they’ll understand and in words that they understand. It’s reading your audience 101.
Now this might remind you of your own experiences when dealing with others. Take a child who asks, “Where do babies come from?” Don’t you immediately think to yourself, “Oh my…uh….” and then quickly assess the age of the child asking and what their brain might be thinking and what they are capable of understanding? Not very likely you take a 4-year-old and start telling them about the human reproduction experience and the usually nine month gestation period. Have a version of that question posed in a medical student course, and you’d get an answer from a health care professional instructing his audience on what’s going on inside including the journey of the sperm and it’s going to deal more with anatomy and biology and a powerful microscope or two will be introduced. Different audience, different levels of understanding.
So in that few seconds when someone says, “Why can’t I get an interview?”, I start assessing the person’s age, how well or little I know them, whether they have a sense of humour or not, how fragile or strong their ability to handle constructive criticism might be, and is this a public or private setting in which the person is about to receive the information.
For some people, it’s just the resume. Their resume isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on quite frankly. Other than their name at the top, there isn’t one thing – one thing mind – that doesn’t need an overhaul or adjustment. Spelling errors, grammatical errors, improper wording, false information, misleading and tired phrases repeated over and over, entire sections missing and the order of the resume confusing etc. With others, the resume is only needing small revisions.
Ah but the resume itself is but one part of the application process. Maybe the person has never heard of a cover letter, can’t be bothered to write one, doesn’t possess the vocabulary to properly compose one, or has one but it’s actually better if they didn’t use one at all because it’s so atrocious.
Oh and in that few seconds I’m looking at the client, I’m checking out their posture, their clothing, personal grooming, cleanliness and listening to their voice. Everything from their language skills, slang, accent, eye contact and mannerisms is sized up. I even quickly look at how disorganized or neat the table they are working at is arranged. Are they sitting there alone working with focus and I was in the area, or did they bring along their mom, a friend, a spouse or their children while working on finding a job?
Yep. All that goes on in the few seconds that it takes for the person to ask the question and then take a breath or two and decide how to respond. Now please don’t think that I’m under some illusion that I’m playing God and have some superiority complex where I’m treating this person like the 4-year-old I mentioned earlier. If you’re thinking that, you’d be off.
The quick assessment is something developed over a long period of time and interacting with people on a continuous basis; years. I and others who work in this field get better at it with every interaction and while we might assess incorrectly sometimes, most of the time the approach settled on is the best one because it’s worked well on others of similar presentation.
So here’s why no one will hire you. Rarely is it one single thing. It’s several individual things that when compiled together, form the overall impression your creating. That overall impression is not attractive to the companies you’ve been applying to. If you go about job searching and applying for jobs in the same way you’ve been doing things unsuccessfully, the results are likely to be the same only a small possibility of success.
Being open to doing things differently is the first and most significant thing a person can do in the short-term to increase the probability of being successful in the future. Yes it’s like saying, “It’s not working your way; try another way.” Be warned; the other way usually doesn’t mean just a re-written resume. Like I say, it’s likely you might actually benefit from learning how to interview better, maybe an honest chat about looking and acting like the people who work where you want to get a job. Doing some research on the job and the company too might be suggested.
All of the ideas and suggestions you might get are meant to be helpful. They just have to be given in a way that doesn’t offend the person but rather starts a relationship that will eventually produce desired results.