Tag Archives: interview

Why Finding a Job is a Lot Like Dating

I have come to the conclusion that finding a job is like dating. While I am not on the market for a man, I am for a job and have been for some time. And I recently realized how looking for a full-time career is just like looking for a mate.

Think about it. When you are on the prowl for a job, you try hard to find something that suits you just perfectly. An occupation you can see yourself in for a few years, accomplish goals, learn new things, have some fun. When you finally find something that might be the right fit, you make a move. You apply online, network through friends or former colleagues, make some calls, meet up for drinks; basically, you look for a way to get hooked up.  You’ve made the first move. And then you wait. You wait for an email, a phone call, some form of communication.

It’s on – they want to set a date. For an interview that is. You pick out your prettiest outfit, make sure your hair is in place and pull out those fabulous pair of shoes that have been sitting in the closet since you got laid off. You’re on time, even a little early to show your enthusiasm and dependability. You want this person to know you are a keeper! The interview goes great and they tell you the words every candidate hates to hear, “We’ll be in touch.”

You do your due diligence. You send a grand-spanking thank you note, expressing your extreme interest in the job. You make sure you aren’t too forward, as to not scare the potential suitor off, but enough to show your excitement. And then you wait again. Every time the phone rings, you hope it’s that employer. Whenever you open your email, it’s the only thing you can think about. Days become weeks and there’s no response. You reach out and send a friendly hello to remind them of your sparkling personality and interest in them. Still, nothing.

And then it’s over. Somehow you find out it didn’t work out. Through an email, a friend, it really doesn’t matter at that point. They wanted to be with someone else. You weren’t the right fit, you didn’t have the qualities they were looking for, but it was great meeting you and they are sure you’ll find someone else. All that time, energy and hope, flushed away on another company that didn’t want to be with you. But this has happened before. You’ve been dealt this hand time and again, especially in this market. It just wasn’t meant to be.  Don’t get discouraged. All it means is this job wasn’t for you and the right one is still out there waiting for you. Go get ’em tiger!

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Help! My Portfolio Has Been Hijacked by City Hall

In September, I interviewed for what I thought was an amazing job. It was for the public information officer position in my hometown of Hoboken.  I met with our interim mayor at the last-minute, over a holiday weekend, and thought it went fabulously. She took my portfolio and asked for my references.

She said the position needed to be filled immediately, but weeks went by and there was no follow-up. When I checked in, I was told interviews were still being conducted. I was cool with that. The job market has changed drastically and it’s not the same finding a gig today as it used to be. Whereas two years ago, you may have gone on one or two interviews within two weeks, these days, you may go through three to five over a two month period.

As the weeks progressed, I heard nothing. Ok, I thought, maybe the position was on hold while she was running for permanent office; maybe it was canceled due to lack of funding; or perhaps it was filled internally. Whatever the case, it would have been nice to have received a follow-up, but better yet, to have gotten my work back.

I called and emailed the mayor’s office for weeks with no response. The mayor had given me her personal email but my attempts proved unsuccessful.  I left messages with people in her office who promised they would relay my concern about my portfolio but still no movement. I reached out to the mayor’s aide who at one point said he’d get me my stuff by the end of the week, only to be forgotten about.

HELP! My press portfolio is being hijacked in city hall! Ok, I am being a bit dramatic here, but seriously, I brought great samples of my work to this interview because it was something I wanted; I truly wanted to impress. In this economy, it’s sin that anyone would ignore repeated attempts to get someone’s work back. Being too busy is not an acceptable reason. I’m a resident (an unemployed one at that!) of your community; please, show me a little respect!

I shouldn’t have to write a blog to get my work back, but maybe it will work.

The Curse of the Internal Candidate

Have you ever been the internal candidate? You know who I’m talking about…the employee who is in line for a promotion or moving on the next level at their company. It’s really great for staff morale when companies promote from within; it shows a sense of loyalty and commitment to employees, but it really sucks for the folks that are applying for those same jobs and have no idea the gig has already been promised to someone else.

I completely understand hiring someone from the inside for a new position. They likely have more knowledge on the product, client or brand; they know the style of the company, office and its co-workers; and they’ve probably already been doing something similar to the job at hand for a period of time. It’s great when a corporation moves an assistant to a managerial position. Not only does it show their faith in the candidate, but it lets other employees know they can move up the ladder too.

Now on to us job seekers. It’s so unfair when we apply for a job and get called  to an interview when the job has already been given to another person. As you’re sitting there interviewing, the office manager is ordering new business cards for Johnny Appleseed, who accepted the position two weeks ago. I don’t understand the laws behind posting jobs that have been filled and I certainly don’t think it’s right to put unemployed people through the hassle and disappointment of an interview.

It takes work to interview, much less apply. You prepare, you prep, you research. You write a cover letter, sign up for the company’s job posting/HR portal, divulge your salary history.  You also take time out of your day, maybe find a babysitter for your kids, spend money on public transportation or gas. Either way, you are making an effort and the people interviewing you know all too well that Johnny starts next week and they’re just killing time with you because they have to.

I wish there was a way that companies could just let job hunters know which positions are truly available to them and which are not. It’s a waste of time for HR, recruiters and those of us looking for work. Why put anyone through the hassle of applying, let alone interviewing, when there is no hope for them? Don’t we have enough hopelessness in the job market already? There is zero reason for posting a job that is already promised to someone else. Perhaps a new law, clause or disclaimer can be created on these postings to save everyone some time, energy and frustration. Maybe something like, “Please note – this job has already been awarded to an internal candidate.” Point blank.

The Poorly Written “Form Letter Thank You” From Potential Employers

I am not a huge fan of form letters. Maybe it’s because I am a communications person, but I appreciate the personal touch of being thanked or recognized for something. Otherwise, I almost don’t want to be noticed at all.

I’m not talking about thank yous from friends or family. That ship has sailed. I’m talking about the form letter job seekers get from potential employers when they apply for a job or actually make it through the interview process, either through email or actual snail mail. Can you believe that, some of us actual get rejection letters and thank yous for applying via the U.S. Mail? Now I think that’s a nice touch, even if you are rejecting me.

I don’t mind the automated email informing me that Employer A has received my resume,  my background and qualifications are being evaluated and if I am suitable match or fit, that I will be contacted. What I do mind, is when Employer B sends me the thank you for interviewing with our company email, “It was pleasure meeting you and you were an outstanding candidate, but we have chosen to move in another direction. We will keep your resume on file for one year in the event your skills match another role in our organization.”

Really, you’re going to contact me when my experience matches another job in your company? Has any company ever done that for you? Similar positions open up all the time at companies you and I have applied to, maybe even interviewed at already, but no one ever gets that call saying, “Hey, Jane, this position opened up and it has your name written all over it!”

Maybe it’s some human resources law that says these companies need to send these types of correspondences to folks. And I understand, I really do, and I am not trying to sound bitter, I just think there is a less fake approach, shall we say, to go about this. Tell job seekers to keep looking, not that you’ll find a match for them; we know you’re not going to reach out to us if some keyword matches something on our resume with a job at your company; you must have a million resumes on file! Don’t sell us that short, please!

And while we’re on the topic of selling us short, take a look at the email below which I received this summer from an organization I applied to telling me I was not the chosen candidate. Not only was it not personally addressed (undisclosed recipients!), it left the “insert position here” empty and in plain sight for me to see!! So HR professionals, CEOs, hiring managers, whoever sends these emails and letters to those on the job hunt, please take note, have a bit of compassion or don’t send anything at all. Sometimes no news better than any news at all!

To: undisclosed-recipients

Thank you for the opportunity to interview you for the $(customtext1} position. It was a pleasure meeting you.

Although your credentials and work experience are most impressive, another candidate whose qualifications more closely meet our needs has been selected.

Your interest in this position is appreciated.

How Can I Apply for a Job Online When Your Site Doesn’t Work?

I have been applying for jobs for the last few months. It’s not a fun process. Sometimes I do it through a job site such as Hotjobs, Careerbuilder, Monster; the “Big Three” as we call them here in my household. Other times, there is a direct email address where I can send my resume and cover letter directly to the employer and/or their human resources department. Finally, there is the online site in which companies make you use their online employment portal to apply for job. Sometimes you cannot even get an interview even when someone wants to meet with you without going through this type of system. I hate online employment portals. Here’s why…

I’ve read what I need to apply for said job. I have the qualifications and materials needed to move forward in the application process. I go through the 25 steps it takes to sign up, sign in and register with the company in order to apply. Nine times out of 10, I have to fill out my job history and also paste or attach my resume. I think this is a waste of time because if you are going to read my resume, why am I spending all this time filling in boxes that you can read on the database anyway. I usually have to attach or paste something or I cannot move forward with the application, so why reiterate my entire job history? In addition, sometimes I am asked for samples of my work, but I am only permitted to attach one document…my resume. Make sense? Doesn’t to me either.

I can recite my resume and past job experience by heart. I have filled it out so many times on sites such as these. I understand they may be helpful to human resource professionals by weeding out those of us who don’t exactly match the job description. But does anyone even read what is written on those sites? Or what about how it says this will be helpful in matching you with other opportunities that come along? None of this ever happens. Who knows, maybe this is all true and I am just a pessimist. 

The reason I am writing this piece is not so much because I have to do double the work to apply for jobs on an online portal. I am writing it because I get frustrated when these sites don’t work. I have spent countless hours signing up on these types of sites, from the NJ Department of Labor to large and small corporations throughout the U.S. to job listing sites such as the ones I mentioned above. The problem is, you spend all this time filling in boxes and information and when you get to the end, it doesn’t take. Messages like, “Your request cannot be processed,” or “Invalid submission,” things that don’t make any sense to you because you were careful to fill out everything just as your were supposed to. All the formatting and character counting, it doesn’t stick or take and you’re back at square one by no fault of your own. You can press “back” on your computer, you can call a human resources specialist at a company (but at that point, you are hoping to just get their email and send your resume directly!) or throw your hands up in frustration and give up. I have done all three!

It’s hard enough to find a job in this economy. Even when it wasn’t so bad, it’s still not fun looking for a new job. But to add insult to injury, those of us looking for new gigs are left with wasted time and a failed chance at applying for a job that we might be the perfect fit for. I ask, employers, please make sure your online application sites work. Listen to the messages we leave on your voicemail about it. You are probably losing out on some really great, talented applicants because your systems don’t work properly. And that is a great shame for us all.