FAQ Friday – What do I do when I can’t get an interview?

Sometimes the answer may be simply that there are many applicants to choose from. Remember there are a lot of employers out there and maybe getting an entry level job elsewhere could help you get a job with their perfect employer at a higher level in the future. In the meantime…Computrol

Get a Second Opinion on how you present yourself to prospective employers in a résumé, cover letter or in person. Ask an Idaho Department of Labor consultant to review these items and how you can better portray yourself to the employer.

Can YOU Read Your Writing? Was your application legible? Some company hiring managers won’t even consider you if they can’t read your writing. Did you fail to complete your application, explain your strong skills, abilities, and training or education? Did you go to the office on Monday, the busiest day of the week, or at closing time? Try a mock “turn in your application” the exact way you did with the last company you visited, and do it with someone who will give you some feedback. You may discover some issues you haven’t thought of before. Make sure everything is filled in on the application, and if the subject doesn’t pertain, a simple (n/a) is adequate, but don’t leave it blank.

Inventory Your Skills.  If you have little or no experience, inventory your skills and their relevance to the job and make them the primary focus of your résumé. For example, if you’re applying for customer service job, think about how you treat people in everyday life – at school, the grocery store or the coffee shop. This helps identify your “customer service” skills and you should build a résumé on that information.

About that Résumé. Your résumé is your ticket to the interview. Is yours full of fluff, or are you truly marketing yourself for the position? Make sure the skills and experience you possess match the skills and experience required for the job. Your cover letter should indicate your willingness to work flexible shifts and weekends if necessary.  Mention providing excellent customer service. Show enthusiasm to work for a specific company. If your résumé has been rejected, review it for errors and work experience. Add any volunteer work, paper routes, landscaping work, yard equipment maintenance, concessions at school events and hobbies. When you get an interview, tell them what you may lack in experience is made up with a desire to learn, a willingness to work any shift at any job.

Attend an Interview Workshop. Engage in a mock interview with a professional workforce consultant. After your résumé is fine-tuned and you start receiving calls for interviews, practice interviewing and start looking at how to anticipate different behavioral-based interview questions.

Ask for an Informational Interview. The job may be a perfect fit, but are you doing everything  you can to be a perfect fit for the employer?  You will never know if you don’t look deeply into the company. Try scheduling an informational interview with someone in HR or with a manager so you can ask questions about the things the employer looks for in potential employees, what kind of skills and whether there is a chance for upward mobility. Ask for just a few minutes of the manager’s time and stick to it. Take your résumé, a list of references, a list of previous employers and be ready for any questions they may ask about you and your work history. Don’t forget a pen and a nice notebook to take notes. DO NOT ASK FOR A JOB. This is just an interview to find out about a company or industry. If you are offered a job, ask for a day to think about it because you were just there to learn.

Are You Dressed for Success? Were you dressed for an interview when you dropped off an application or résumé? Did your attire match company expectations?  How was your hygiene? Did you smile? Do you have piercings, tattoos or lime green hair?  While normal to some employers, these features may be an immediate barrier to being hired by others. Don’t create a situation where the employer makes a judgment on your skills based on what they see.  If you really want to work for a particular company, cover up those tats and show up dressed and ready to work. But once you get an interview, make sure you ask out the dress code and can respect it before you accept a job.

Check that Attitude Did you make a bad impression or leave a lasting memory with the person at the front desk when you dropped off your résumé? Did you show up with the wrong attitude, at the wrong time and surrounded by your posse, unprepared? Did you mention negative things about past employers in your application? Remember no one owes us a job, and a little humility can go a long way.

What Does the Background Check Say? Does something negative come up about you in a background check?  If you haven’t done one, do it now. If you have a negative record, ask one of our consultants to work with you on developing a way to proactively – and constructively – address sensitive issues with prospective employers.

Does Your Doppelganger Know You Are Looking for Work? Take a fresh look at your own social media sites.  Your résumé, application, appearance, dress and everything else may be “spot on,” but something very inappropriate floating around out there in cyberspace could be a deal-breaker. Along those same lines, don’t forget to review cell phone and answering machine outgoing messages.

Help the Employer Understand What Training Programs are Available. Visit your local Labor Department office to see if you qualify for any sort of on-the-job training program. If you do, ask for information that you can pass on to a prospective employer.  Ask the workforce consultant if they would be willing to contact the company and arrange a meeting to discuss any sort of hiring incentives.

Network, Network, Network. Do you or any friends or family know anyone who works at the company?  Having a contact may give you a slight edge, but we’re not talking about stalking the employees of a particular employer. Just get to know someone who knows someone who knows someone and take a personal interest in what they do just as you would in building friendships with anyone. Once you earn this person’s confidence and respect, ask for a recommendation you can give a hiring manager. In expanding your network by attending Chamber of Commerce events, job clubs and professional networking groups, you can find out about jobs before they’re even posted, and while it takes time, you gain connections that help. Somewhere along the way you’ll probably key in on a piece of information for a better approach in your job search.

Ask for a Letter of Introduction and Recommendation. If you know someone connected to the company, ask for a letter of introduction to the company contact that speaks to your goal of working for the firm, why you want the job and what you think is great about the company.

Keep Trying But Don’t Be Afraid to Move On. Henry Ford had seven failed companies – seven –  before starting Ford Motor Co.  In the job market, you are only defeated if you give up! Learn from rejection, correct your mistakes and try again.  Not every candidate is a right fit for every company.  You may want to find a job like the one you want with another company, gain experience and then re-apply since jobs that claim to be “entry-level job, no experience needed” wind up getting filled by people with some experience because the manager is more comfortable with someone who knows even just a little about the job.

Contributors: Dan Scott, Greg Barthlome, Jennifer Heisler, Steward Rooney, Cassandra Weiner, Dianna Clough, Johny Allen, Daniel Holmes, Christian Feliciano, Denise Meador, Chet Jeppesen, Dax Boradhead, Vicki Kunz, Tammy Golder, Donald Heuer, Dave Howerton, Pilar Ramierez, Lance Kaldor, Ronald Tapia, Keith Whiting, Virginia Enriquez, Stephen Case, Randy Wilde, Summer McDonald, Dania Rivers, Ray Roberson, Windy Keele, Kevin Gerlitz, Albert Clement.