No Job Offer? It Might Be You-Part 1

There is no such thing as a perfect candidate or perfect hire because people are…well, imperfect. But there are certain things that are red flags for us recruiters. If you keep them in mind you just might clear that first hurdle and land a spot in the interviewer’s chair.

First things first. We all know you only get one chance to make a first impression. There are some things you just can’t recover from in the interview process, so make that first impression a good one.

Your Resume

Your resume has a tough task. It has to grab attention quickly and be set up in such a way that the recruiter will keep reading. This might mean having multiple resumes for different jobs. But make sure the resume you submit speaks to the job of interest. Receiving a resume for a marketing job with absolutely no marketing experience listed leaves us scratching our heads. Similarly, never send a resume to Bob’s Building Materials stating in your objective or cover letter that you’d like to obtain a job with Michael’s Mechanics. The only thing you’ve shown us at this point is a lack of attention to detail.

Second, if your resume extends beyond a page, your experience should warrant that. Two to three jobs under your belt does not fall into this category. Concise is key. Remember, we really don’t need to know every single task you performed, only those that are relevant.

Job hopping

Moving from job to job–averaging less than two years–is a clear sign you have no idea what you’d like to do for a living. This might not be an issue if you’re searching for another ‘job’, but if you’re searching for a career recruiters are leery you’ll stick around for the long haul. Be choosey about where you decide to apply. Is it a place you can stay for a while and move up the ladder or even make a lateral move? If not, it could be wise to keep looking.

The exceptions for what may appear to be job hopping are, of course, lay-offs, summer jobs and seasonal jobs. In recent years, however, some people have been using the term “laid-off” instead of what really occurred on the last job: termination. These are not synonymous. One is a result of performance and the other is beyond your control. Be up front about a termination. If it comes out in the interview the recruiter is going to be skeptical of hiring someone who is dishonest.

Written Communication

Professionalism doesn’t stop with the resume. Spelling counts on the application and any follow up emails. An email like the one below is not going to get you moved on in the interview process.

            Thx so much for the interview i feel i am a good fit. I look forward to hearing from you.

Punctuation and the ‘shift’ key are your friends. If you have to have a friend proof-read an email before responding to the recruiter it is well worth the time.

Verbal Communication

What will the recruiter hear when he calls you for an interview? Trust me–we’re not hoping for Bieber or Beyonce. If it sounds like anything other than a good old fashioned ring it’s time for a change. In addition, ‘cute’ voicemail messages—‘At the tone, you know what to do.’—(yikes!) have no place in a job search.

Okay, you’ve made it through the application process and phone conversations and now you’re scheduled to meet with the interviewer face to face. Here are a few more points to remember to ensure at least a good start to the interview.

Tardiness

Let’s face it. Life happens. So if you show up late, after greeting the interviewer your next words should consist of an explanation. ‘I got a flat tire on the way here’ or ‘there was an overturned tractor trailer on the highway’ might be acceptable excuses. ‘I overslept’ or ‘I wrote down the wrong time/address’ probably aren’t. In order to avoid this, check out the location in advance and leave home early. If you find you’re running late pull over and give the interviewer a call.

Body Language

This includes posture, expressions, fidgeting, eye contact and your handshake. I’m sure your palms are sweating as you read this. Don’t over think it. These are all nervous habits. The good news is, if you practice before the interview there is no reason to be nervous. (More about that in Part 2.)

Attire

Wear something that can become business casual in a hurry—by removing a jacket or even your tie. If you opt for khakis and a polo there is nothing you can do to magically change them into a business suit. I have seen jeans, Ugg’s, and white sweat socks with dress shoes in interviews. Believe me, no matter what you say in the interview after falling so short in your dress, there is little chance of recovery.

Congratulations, you’ve made it into the interviewer’s chair. More on how to ace the interview in my next post.

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Didn’t Get the Job? It’s Not You…

You got the interview. And then you got the rejection letter. This is why you shouldn’t take it personally.

When you’ve needed a job in the past it was usually to pay the bills, so you took whatever came along. Fine. Suffering through a tough job or two builds character. Plus, it can help you figure out what you do or don’t want to do for the rest of your life.

(My character-building job was quite a memorable experience at an insurance company where I stared into a machine for 5 hours a day searching for medical claims copied onto microfiche. Fun times.)

But now it’s time for a career, and that’s a whole different ball game. This is the place where you’ll be spending 40+ hours a week for the next few years of your life. Trust me, you don’t want to do that shaking your fist at the heavens every morning and gritting your teeth.

We recruiters make decisions daily about who to bring onboard which means, inevitably, candidates get turned down in favor of another applicant. We can tell you that at some point—perhaps even weekly—we’ve received the following email:

Can you please tell me how I can improve or be a better candidate for this opportunity in the future?

A valid question perhaps, but consider this: sometimes the position just isn’t the right one for you. There is no class to take, nothing to practice and no magic wand to wave and change your personality. It simply isn’t going to be a win-win situation. For a company and employee to have a happy marriage so to speak, you should be able to meet the company’s goals and they should also be able to meet yours. That’s right, you’re interviewing them too!

Often times what you’ve envisioned the job to be doesn’t come close to the reality. Trust that the recruiter knows the job and, therefore, after having an interview we know if you’re a fit…or not.

If you want to be a teacher and the company is hiring accountants…it might be a bad fit.

If you want to work weekdays only and the position requires that you work weekends…it might be a bad fit.

If you prefer to finish Task A, before you move on to Task B and the position requires you to multi-task on a daily basis…it might be a bad fit.

If you don’t like people and you have to resolve customer complaints…

You get the picture.

This doesn’t mean you should try to snow the interviewer. Telling us what you think we want to hear (aka lying) could land you shoveling frozen cow patties in Antarctica because of your stellar, yet embellished, answers. We can only make the right decision when we get to know the real you.

By all means go to a mock interview at your college or local career center, have your resume reviewed and think about your answers before you go to an interview. But be honest. In some cases, if we get to know the real you, another job could become available where you’d be the perfect fit and we can reach out to you later on.

No, you might not get into your dream career right away, but in choosing, at least pursue a job that will help take you in that direction. If you’d like to be an Outside Sales Rep, take an entry-level job in retail where you have to meet sales goals. You’ll learn some selling basics and might even find out if you love (or loathe) selling. If you want to be a Sports Commentator, take a job in ticket sales for a sports team and learn the business from the ground up.

It all boils down to this quote: Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.

So choose wisely.