You May Never Get Hired


As my line of work brings me in daily contact with job seekers, I get to be a first-hand witness of how they behave. In addition to pure observation I also get into conversations; the deep meaningful ones and surface conversations, both of which where I do much more listening than talking. Over the course of many years, this has allowed me to have an informed opinion on what works and doesn’t work when job searching.

A word of caution about the list of behaviours and actions before we begin; you might find some of the things on this list fantastic, incredibly foolish, and laughable. Then, just as you can’t believe people would act so silly, you read something that you yourself are doing. If so, don’t be offended and defensive; even though becoming defensive is a normal reaction. If you do find your behaviours or actions in the list, it might be time to pause and reflect; possibly even consider making a change.

One of the most foolish things I see people do and do often is to apply for employment positions and then make it impossible for employers to get in contact. If you have a cell phone, make sure you’re able to receive calls. Initialize your phone, make sure you’ve got minutes available, even if it means diverting some money from the small pleasures in life at the moment to your phone. Check and clear your messages so you have room for more messages.

As far as the phone goes, if you’re using some form of an answering service, identify yourself. When that automated voice tells the caller, “Hello, you’ve reached, _______” don’t leave that space dead. Fill it in with your name and while you’re at it, sound upbeat and positive. Put a little life into your voicemail and in addition to identifying who you are, tell callers you’ll get back to them as soon as possible, and then follow through.

If you’re an Employment Counsellor or hold any number of other titles where you work with the unemployed, call those you’re helping and purposely ask them to let the phone ring without picking up. It could be you pick up a big clue yourself about why your job searcher is having problems getting interviews.

Body art is becoming more mainstream, acceptable and in some cases even desirable. There are some very highly skilled artisans out there doing highly detailed and tasteful work. However, there are even more people out there learning the trade of tattooing, and some really questionable tattoos being engraved. Think carefully about what you’re getting and where you’re getting it. I recall clearly and always will, the one guy who had the 4 letter curse word that begins with, “F” tattooed right on his forehead. I suppose 4 letters costs much less than getting, “Unemployed for life”.

Watch the words you use both when speaking and writing. Asking, “What is it youse guys do? You hiring?” sounds like you’re hanging out on a street corner with your best buds, not at a place of employment. “Youse” isn’t a word for starters and “guys” is way too informal. Instead try, “What is it your organization does?” Talk in the barest number of words like, “You hiring?” and you might come across as crude, abrupt, curt. Ask, “Are you accepting applications for employment at the present?” says the same thing but with a little more professionalism and shows your manners.

Most importantly, put some effort into your outfit. If you’re not sure what to wear to an interview or even to drop in to check a place out as a potential place to work, ask. Wearing your jeans low enough that 8″ of your underwear is showing, or your top is designed in such a way that the back of your bra is completely on display aren’t good ideas. Even thought you might not care what others think, employers do. Get over this idea that you’re  good to wear whatever you want and if others don’t like it that’s their problem. You want a job? That first impression people keep talking about is important. If you don’t get it now, you will; eventually.

While the list could go on and on, let’s end with the attitude thing. Employers don’t owe you anything – especially a living. If you’re mad at the world, life is hard and you’ve got a history of being let down and disappointed, you might have a case to feel the way you do. So be it. However, to think that this gives you the right to be rude or entitled to a job when you do nothing to prepare for an interview? Well, this just shows you’re not the right person for the job.

While job searching often means being rejected several, or even many times, it doesn’t make sense to tick off a potential employer who doesn’t even know you because of your poor attitude. Still, I see a lot of people with chips on their shoulders, who feel hard done by and who could otherwise be very employable. That their attitudes are negative and the behave poorly is a shame because they’re missing really good opportunities.

Look, if you want to work, take control of the things you can control. Behave and act like the person you’d like to hire. If you’re not having success, get some feedback and think about the advice you’re getting.

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