No Job Interviews? Here’s Your Problem


So the assumption here is that you’re applying for jobs and you’re not getting anywhere; no interviews. Without being invited to the job interview, you’re not getting offers, and so you feel increasingly frustrated and discouraged. It would seem to make no sense at all to just keep on plugging away doing the same thing and expecting different results. To see a change in things – the result being you land interviews and do well enough to get offered a job – you’re going to need a change in how you go about things.

If you don’t like the idea of doing things differently from what you’re doing now, stop reading. So we’re clear here, a change in things means putting in the work to get the outcome you’re after. Hence, if you’re not ready to put in that effort, again, stop reading here.

To begin with, you need an independent and objective look at how you’re going about applying for jobs. If you’re mass producing a single resume and submitting it to all the jobs you apply to, the good news is we’ve quickly discovered one major thing you need to change. That was how you applied for jobs back in the 90’s when there were more jobs and fewer people to compete with for them. Today you need a résumé that differs each and every time you submit it. No more photocopying; no more mass printings.

As I’ve said time and time again, employers are generous enough to give away most if not all the job requirements in the job postings you’ll find these days. Any résumé they receive and check must therefore clearly communicate that the applicant has the qualifications, experience and soft skills they are looking for. It’s no mystery; a targeted resume (one that is made specifically for the single job you are applying to and never duplicated for another) will advance your chances.

Now are you writing a cover letter? This is something you’ll get differing perspectives on from Employment Coaches, Recruiters, Company Executives and Employment Counsellors. Some will say you should include them while others say the cover letter is dead. Unless the employer specifically asks you NOT to include one, my vote goes with including one. Why? The cover letter sets up the résumé, shows your ability to communicate effectively, tells the reader both why you are interested in the job with the organization, what you’ll bring, how enthusiastic you are about the opportunity and why you’re uniquely qualified.

Whether or not you go with the cover letter, please make sure you get your résumé and / or cover letter proofread by someone who has the skills to pick out improper spelling and poor grammar. Also, even if the grammar and spelling are correct, it might not be communicating what you really want to say. Unfortunately then, it could be doing you more harm than good; especially when applying for employment in positions where you’d be creating correspondence yourself, such as an Office Administrative professional.

Once you have applied for employment, what else – if anything – are you doing to stand out from the other applicants you’re up against? If your answer is nothing; that you wait by the phone for them to call if they are interested in you, well then you’ve just identified another area you need to up your game. Following through with employers indicates a sincere personal motivation to land that interview. After the interview, further follow-up is advised to again separate yourself from those who do nothing. In other words, how bad do you want it?

Recently, someone I know applied for a job and then took the steps of actually job shadowing someone in the role with a different organization so they could gain first-hand experience themselves. While this is a great idea, they failed to communicate this to the employer they were actually hoping to work for. So this initiative went unknown, as did their sincere interest in landing the job. In short, they just looked like every other applicant; applying and then sitting at home waiting.

Look, there are a lot of people who will claim to be resume experts, cover letter writers extraordinaire and so it’s difficult for the average person to know the real professionals from the pretenders. Just because someone works with a reputable organization doesn’t make them immediately credible. Some pros charge for their investment of time working on your behalf while others offer their services free of charge as their paid via the organizations they work for. You don’t always get what you pay for as I’ve seen some $500 resumes that had spelling errors and layout issues that won’t pass software designed to edit them out of the process.

Do your homework. More important than anyone you might enlist to help you out is the effort you yourself are ready to invest. If you’re happy to pay someone to do your résumé and you don’t have an interest in sitting down with them to give advice yourself and learn from the process, don’t be surprised if you still don’t get the results you want. Should you actually get an interview, with no time invested in learning how to best interview, you’ll likely fall short of actually getting the offer.

Applying for employment today takes time and effort, but the payoff is the job you want. Make the effort; put in the work.

Advertisements

Experience Alone Won’t Get The Job


Are you looking for work and counting on your extensive experience to tip the scales in your favour over other applicants who have formal education but less experience? Do you think it’s unfair that you’re being rejected time and time again because you haven’t got a Certificate, Diploma or Degree? There are good reasons behind those decisions organizations are making to go with other candidates and best you should not only understand them but accept them. Better still though is turn your frustration, resentment or bitterness into action and go get the training to complement your experience.

How long has it been anyhow? You know, since you’ve been applying unsuccessfully for jobs and getting passed over because you don’t have the required academic requirements. What’s kept you from heading back to a classroom and coming out the other end with that document? Pride? Financial investment? Fear? Stubbornness? A lack of appreciation for the training or the process? Whatever the reason, it says much about your attitude and apparently you’re spinning your wheels and going nowhere without it. How does it possibly make sense to keep trying to get a job you really want when you don’t meet the key educational requirement and are doing nothing to change the situation?

If experience alone was enough to qualify people to excel in their professions of choice then consider this: every Addictions Counsellor would be a former addict, all Divorce Lawyers would have failed marriages, every person Prison Guard would be a former inmate. Does this seem logical or even preferable? Certainly not to me.

Experience is a tremendous asset and I acknowledge that unreservedly. However experience alone I’m happy to say doesn’t qualify you and that’s a good thing. Many people with experience are poor communicators for example, and so just because they’ve  got extensive first-hand experience, (such as a victim of abuse), there’s no guarantee that’s going to translate into making them a brilliant personal Counsellor or Speaker.

In fact, in many cases a person having experienced trauma first-hand is a poor choice as an employee. Without any training in place, they themselves could be incapacitated and unable to help others if in the course of their work they find working with other victims triggers their own memories. They could also think it helpful to share their own stories instead of validating the individual experience of the person there for the help who wants and needs to be heard telling their own.

Oh yes, there’s tremendous value in getting back into a classroom and learning techniques, theories, best practices, communication styles, giving value to differing perspectives and emerging with an altered and improved appreciation for higher learning. I can think of quite a few people over the years I’ve personally known who adamantly refused to see any real value in returning to a classroom until they actually did. Those same people only later admitted that they were glad they did because once there, they understood what I and others had been saying. In short, they came to value the EXPERIENCE of formal education in their field. How’s that for irony?

Still there are many who place their own experience high and above anything they could ever learn by graduating with a Certificate, Diploma or Degree. They don’t have a full appreciation for time spent there; certainly not at any rate when weighed against life experience. Here’s something though; your experience as real and valid as it is, without education could cost a company a lot of money, their reputation and possibly destroy them utterly.

Suppose for example a childcare centre hired all their front-line providers who had babysitting experience alone; no Early Childhood Education Diploma’s, no membership in organizations that ensure standardized practices and adherence to legislation and pertinent acts. Now let’s further suppose that this centre was YOUR centre, where YOUR child attends and something tragic goes wrong because their extensive babysitting experience didn’t prepare them. Are you likely to sue the organization for hiring incompetent staff? Are you going to hold the Board responsible as well as the Director who hired that employee? You sure are. Yes, you’re suddenly going to want to ensure that every employee there has both experience AND formal training with something as precious as the care for your child in the discussion.

Same thing goes with the people who build the houses or apartments and condo’s we live in. We hope and trust that not only do they have experience but, we also trust they’ve been taught a thing or two, that they have safety certificates, that the tradespeople have their tickets qualifying them to do the work. We don’t want to find out later on that the Gas Fitter has zero education but has been, ‘doing it’ for years.  Oh well then, that’s okay then when you come home to find an explosion has leveled your abode because they didn’t do the work properly.

Look, if you have extensive experience I think that should be recognized, and it is by employers. However, you’d be well-advised to admit – even if grudgingly – that there is also value in formal education. One isn’t better than the other but together they improve your chances of being a successful job applicant. You will gain an understanding and appreciation for your field of choice and most importantly learn more than you’d expect.

Education; something perhaps to reconsider.

 

 

“Sorry, We Just Don’t Think You’ll Stay”


When you’re out of work and experiencing the frustrations of applying and being rejected only to apply and be rejected again, it’s tough to keep positive. One thing that can really be upsetting is when you’re told by a potential employer that you’ve been rejected because in their opinion, you won’t stay long because you won’t be happy to stay in the job they might have offered you.

The most annoying part of this message you receive is that the company has essentially ruled you out by thinking for you. Rather than believing you when you say you’ll stay and sincerely believe you’ll be content with the job they are offering you for the foreseeable future, they reject you based on what they themselves believe.

Ah but they aren’t unemployed are they? They don’t experience the ups and downs of unemployment; hopes raised and hopes dashed. They don’t therefore know the point you’ve reached where you will be truly grateful for the opportunity to work for them in the position you applied to. Given that you put all your previous work and academic qualifications on your resume and they were good enough to get you the interview, what changed between the offer of the interview and being removed from the hiring process? Did you somehow oversell yourself?

At this point many job seekers become confused. On the one hand the job seeker wants to put down all their experience and qualifications that match the job they are going for and certainly want to show a passion for the work they’d be doing. On the other hand, the job seeker now feels they have to conceal or downplay some of their long-term plans or additional skills so they don’t market themselves out of the running and end up rejected; again.

When you’re in this situation don’t you just want the opportunity to tell them flat-out that you’d like them to respect your honesty and yes thank you very much you’d appreciate being believed when you say that you’re making a commitment to them and won’t depart in weeks for something better? If that was honestly the case, wouldn’t you have just waited the few weeks and accepted that better job? They don’t know though that you’ve been out of work and searching unsuccessfully for such a long time that you have in fact re-evaluated how important work is and you’ve a new appreciation for whatever organization will hire you.

The company of course knows none of this. From their standpoint they see an applicant who has held positions with greater responsibility and salary than what they are offering, and they’re fully convinced despite your assurance that you’re going to jump at the first opportunity that pays more and uses more of your skills and experience than their own company can at the moment. They do not want to be re-advertising and re-interviewing applicants in a very short time or in the position of calling back people they’ve previously rejected to offer them the job.

Of course the other thing going through the head of small-minded employers or interviewers is that you could possibly not only do this job exceptionally well; you may actually come up in discussions as a suitable replacement for their own jobs with your wealth of experience. The last thing these small-minded folks want to do is be responsible for their own demise by hiring you!

Ah, but what’s a job applicant to do? Some people give the advice of, “dumbing down your resume” and in an interview, avoiding coming across as passionate, intelligent and highly self-motivated. I think this is terrible advice. After all, even if hired, you’d have to carry on this charade until your probationary period is over. Are you going to be happy or even capable pretending to be someone you’re not for 3, 6 or 9 months? Are you going to go in each day trying to remember what you’ve told or not told co-workers and your boss about your past experiences?

No stay true to yourself I think. Be genuine and authentic. If an interviewer or Manager rejects you out of hand – not because you can’t do the job but because you are more than capable of doing the job with skill and expertise and they believe you’ll depart soon, you probably wouldn’t thrive in the culture.

One strategy I have employed myself and I’ve recommended with success to others in this situation is to state your position at the conclusion of the interview in lieu of asking a question. Before you shake hands and walk away leaving the decision entirely in their hands, make your best pitch summarizing how hiring you will benefit them. There’s no harm adding how truly appreciative you are for the opportunity of working on their behalf and representing their business. Tell them straight out if they’ve communicated doubt about your commitment that you are a person of integrity and character; that if you are offered the position and accept you can be relied upon to honour their confidence in you with a reciprocal period of employment that will reward their decision in hiring you.

You do get to accept or reject a job offer and the employer gets to offer you a job or not.  If you’ve done all you can to communicate an honest intention to repay a job offer with your own commitment, it truly is out of your hands.

2 Goodies For Your Job Search Toolbox


The norm it seems for many job seekers these days is to be rejected by employers several times prior to landing with a company who is willing to take a shot and offer you a position. This can be both disheartening and offer some hope for those of you in the job application game.

Another truism these days is that because a large number of people are out of work, all these unemployed people are applying for multiple jobs. Therefore it stands to reason that after having gone rejected time and time again, it’s equally probable that more than one employer is going to offer you a job around the same time. That’s ironic isn’t it? Moving from no job to multiple job offers!

One skill you had best brush up then that I suspect you may not have given a great deal of thought to is the art of writing both the rejection letter and the, ‘no thank you’ letter. In both cases, you’re communicating with an employer in an effort to come off looking professional. The rejection letter by the way is the harder of the two you’ll find. Let’s have a look at both.

The Rejection Letter

Okay so you’ve been rejected by a yet another company – again. Presumably you were quite interested in working for them, so the job and the company must have had some level of appeal. Naturally therefore, to find out that they aren’t interested in you and chose others over you to interview or hire should be disappointing. The last thing in the world you may be motivated to do then is write them a note asking them to keep you mind for future opportunities.

Only 1% of people typically write these letters, and it’s precisely this extremely low percentage which can make you stand out and in a positive way, giving you an advantage over 99% of the others who have been similarly rejected. However, it is precisely because the applicant hunt is over for the company that the vast majority of job seekers lament, “Why bother? I’ll put my energy into applying for jobs still open.”

This letter goes something like this:

“Dear ________. Today I learned that I was unsuccessful in applying for the position of ____________.  While disappointed, I am expressing my ongoing strong determination in working for _______________. Should this position or one similar in nature become available, I am extremely interested and would like to be considered.

With enthusiasm,

__________”

It’s not a long letter to write, but still it requires an envelope and stamp, a sheet of paper and the time to compose it. My counter argument to the investment of your precious time is that if you can’t be bothered to invest this bit of time, what on earth can the company expect of you when you run into barriers should they hire you? Show your determination! Be tenacious!

Look not everyone works out. Some who accept a job right after all the other applicants have been rejected, turn around themselves and accept what to them is a better offer elsewhere. The company then may re-post the position or go back to those they were likewise considering making a job offer to. If you were one of the few they were strongly thinking of, the impact on the company your rejection letter creates may get them thinking, “She really wants this job, maybe we should have hired her in the first place.”

True it doesn’t often result in a job. Then again, it sometimes does. Aren’t you looking for an edge over your competition?

The Thanks But No Thanks Letter

This is the letter you’re writing to thank company for their faith in offering you a position; one you’re rejecting in favour of a preferred job elsewhere. Bear in mind this letter is going to now be a permanent record in your file if they maintain one on you. This is why it’s preferred over a quick and dirty phone call that might be effective with the single person at the other end, but will be subject to their interpretation once the phone is hung up. Others who look at your file in the future might just be left with the impression you interviewed for and were offered a job and just walked away from it without a thought; and they won’t want to repeat that experience. So this letter keeps doors open.

It goes:

Dear _____________

Thank you for your confidence in offering me the position of ______________ with _______________. During my job search, I applied to several positions of interest, and although I ceased such applications once accepting your kind offer, I have subsequently received an outstanding opportunity and must therefore advise you that I am not able to proceed with our arrangement at this time.

It is my sincere hope that this does not greatly disrupt your plans, nor cast our relationship in a negative light moving forward.

Sincerely,

______________

Whether the people at the company truly understand and appreciate your predicament or not is out of your hands. You have however, done the right thing and are attempting the best way you know how to move on but keep the parting amicable. You might just meet or need them down the road or reapply.

There you have it; two letters to add to your toolbox; professional, brief and to the point.

“You’re Not What We’re Looking For”


Rats, rejected again. So now what do you do? Looking for work takes its toll, especially if you really invest yourself in the process. It can be mentally draining attempting to show the world a positive face, a smile and exude confidence at a time when you feel vulnerable, stressed and anxious.

If you think about the title, “You’re not what we’re looking for”, there could be some valuable clues in those six words that you’d be smart to think about and then do something about. The most obvious question to ask of the person making that statement is, “Why am I not what you are looking for?” In other words, what are they looking for that you lack.

You see it could be that if you hear this once, you were a wrong fit at that company. It’s not your fault, nor is it theirs. In fact, finding fault at all is the wrong thing to do. You may have all the qualifications on paper, but during an interview, the interviewer(s) made a decision that based on your personality for example and how you conducted yourself that someone else with equal qualifications would just fit in better. That’s fair I believe.

After all, the company and the person representing it know the culture and the kind of people who thrive and those that don’t or might put that culture at risk. You and I, we don’t know that, and they might have done you a favour from being hired and then shortly fired when you didn’t fit in as well as another candidate would.

Let’s suppose now that you hear, “You’re not what we’re looking for” frequently. What message could really be behind those words? Hearing it often could well mean that you just don’t have what it takes to compete with other applicants period. Say you got a job 8 years ago through a family friend in an office setting. You were let go a year ago due to downsizing and you’ve been looking for work for over a year.

In a situation like this, you may not have the credentials required by a new employer, such as certificate in Office Administration. You may have a working understanding of the software that company used, but perhaps employer’s are looking for people who have experience using newer programs, and face it, there are many people over those years who have upgraded their formal education in school and are now graduating with training in the latest and best practices.

You see that job you held in a small firm of 10 people was good while it lasted, but it has left you unprepared to compete with other applicants with more recent education or experience with larger companies. If you were one of those applicants, you’d be arguing that you’re a better fit and you might be absolutely right.

Now the above is just a scenario that I’m presenting. It does illustrate however that the experience you may have is valid and good so far as it goes, but it falls short of the experience other applicants have which may mean they are consistently hired where you are not. Frustrating? Absolutely. Understandable however? Yes, completely.

If you can determine therefore why you are not the best fit and what they are looking for, then you are in a position to do something about it if you so choose. If the message is that you don’t have experience working in large organizations, maybe you should confine your job search to smaller companies where you’ll be a great fit based on your work history. A job in a larger firm where you have to interact with many people in different departments may be something you’d have to learn but why hire you when other applicants know it already?

Recently I read a reply from a reader pointing out that it is companies not job seekers that are to blame when things don’t work out. I read their post and sensed bitterness, anger, resentment and a lack of full understanding when they have been passed over for others. I don’t think job seekers are to, ‘blame’ for their unemployment any more than I think employers are to, ‘blame’ for making the decisions they do.

Just as a job applicant can turn down a job because they don’t like the money offered, the travel involved or the work location, a company can turn down any applicant. In both cases, from either way you look at it, one or the other could decide it’s a bad fit. In fact, an applicant could withdraw from the application process and the company decide to hire someone else at the same time.

My advice is to respectfully ask for some clarification of why you are not presently what they are looking for in order to better compete in the future. If you need more experience get it. If you need a specific kind of experience, seek it out volunteering or take some upgrading if that’s the suggestion.

You may not of course get the real feedback that you’d like. If your personality and attitude are a bad fit, they aren’t going to tell you that. Some outfits don’t give feedback at all if you don’t work out. Be as objective as you can, open to feedback as you can and then pause to consider any feedback you do get before responding.