Always a Bridesmaid in Job Interviews and Not Getting the Offer?

It’s always frustrating during the job interview process to successfully jump over the initial hurdles, only to be met with silence instead of getting an actual offer.

Whenever I hear a client describing this situation, this tells me that:

  1. The resume is working
  2. They’re getting through the initial screener interview on the phone.
  3. They’re passing the first round of in-person interviews,
  4. But when it comes down to the company selecting between them and someone else… it’s never them.

This means that the client needs to focus on fixing this last phase of the process since that’s where they’re getting hung up. The resume isn’t the problem, but the approach to this fourth phase is the challenge.

On the employer’s side, they like a candidate, and can see on their resume that they have the qualifications to do the job, but…

There’s always a but….

They just don’t have that “gut feeling” about the person, that innate confidence that whatever challenges are thrown their way, they’ll figure it out.

A great example of this was a client I worked with who was having this exact issue. I solved it by thinking about what kind of person the employer was likely expecting. Is this a fast-paced job where they would want someone who looks like they have a lot of energy? Do I need someone who is more serious and analytical? Would I be looking for someone who is highly creative and innovative?

Then I get in my mind some of the mannerisms that would correspond to those qualities. The mannerisms are important because subconsciously they tell the employer if the words that are coming out of the candidate’s mouth correspond to who they are as a person.

In this case, the candidate was interviewing for a position as a CFO. However, his eye contact was pretty non-existent, which gave me the impression that he was a bit “shifty.” Not what a company would be looking for in a CFO. He had no idea his eye contact was so bad. Once I brought it to his attention and he fixed it, he got the offer.

You need to show not only through your words, but through your attitude that you’re the type of person they can trust and rely on.  If you’re getting that bridesmaid/bride scenario one too many times, find a coach or work with a trusted friend who will set you straight on the changes you need to make.

 

By Melanie Szlucha, Redinc, LLC. www.redincllc.com

Melanie Szlucha has been a hiring manager for over 10 years. She founded RedInc, LLC to help job seekers by writing effective resumes and coaching them through job interviews. She is available to teach classes as well as work with individual clients improve their results at any phase of the job search process. Find out more at www.redincllc.com

About a year ago I was asked to serve on a panel for a Human Resource conference at Nazareth College. Various HR professionals from around Rochester came to this conference hoping to stay up to date with the latest changes and trends. Why me? When I got there, I quickly realized it was a panel full of Millennials. What was the objective? To let HR professionals from around the Rochester community ask us questions about what we would want to see in an office environment, in a career or an ideal manager. I found this to be refreshing but also a little intimidating.

In July of 2018, Forbes stated that by 2025, 75% of the workplace will be made up of Millennials. As I sat there, I realized that the workplace practices have began to shift, and some HR professionals are having a hard time navigating. They needed our help. So, what came out of this panel? We discussed four common trends and feedback as to what we believe would make the average Millennial “happy.”
Consistent Feedback

It became clear from the questions we were asked that some managers see millennials as children who need constant reinforcement. However, I heard from the panel that we like to know how we are doing and how we can become better. What can we do to further our knowledge? Or, what changes can we make to become more efficient and productive. As Forbes stated, we come from a world where everything is graded and available for the public to see. We see this in schools and in social media, and we are used to being recognized for accomplishments and our failures, to us, the workplace should be no different.
Flexibility

Millennials are always on the go. We are constantly on our phones and working in non-traditional settings. Having flexibility to work different hours or occasionally work remote allows us to feel appreciated and keeps us from burning out. We are looking for a company with a good, flexible culture that will allow us to flourish.

A Clear Path to Career Success
We are eager to learn and achieve new goals. We enjoy having a clear path, so we know what milestones we need to hit to get to the next level, and ultimately our ideal position. We need to increase our knowledge by learning something new and through being challenged, or we get bored. Without variety, we may start to look for a new opportunity that will be more engaging.

Opportunities to Give Back to the Community
We like to give back to our community by either donating or getting involved. Sponsor a day to allow others to give back. This will not just benefit your Millennials, but will benefit others in the company who feel the same way.

Even though I was intimated by the thought of serving on a panel in front of a room full of HR Leaders, I appreciated being involved which is also a common trait amongst Millennials. We like to be involved!

So, what is the point? Millennials are setting the pace for future generations who will be entering the workforce. We are technologically savvy, hungry for success, and driven by feedback. Employers can get more out of Millennials through understanding and embracing the four common trends we discussed. It is true, Millennials do need to learn to adapt to changing environments. So do employers. We want to share our stories and knowledge, so let us help foster change for the future.

By Aly Raco

If you’ve ever had the thought: “I’ve applied to every job I see, but I don’t get called for an interview—what am I doing wrong?” or “Should I get certification in XYZ, is that what’s keeping me from getting a job?”, this article’s for you.

Let’s take a step back and look at the job search process as purely a buyer and seller transaction with employers as the “buyers” and employees as the “sellers.”

And as we all remember from our economics classes, buyers call the shots. You can call yourself a seller all you want, but if you’re trying to sell a product that no one wants to buy, you’re not going to get very far. You need to fit the requirements of the position—as dictated by the buyers—and clearly market yourself as that fit.

What this means from a job seeker perspective is if you consistently see that employers are requiring experience with a particular piece of software that you’ve never worked with before, for example—but that you fit all other requirements for the position—it would be well worth your time to look into learning that software.

Think of it this way, if you were faced with a pile of resumes that you needed to sort through, wouldn’t you start by looking at those people who possessed that unique certification or software experience you had asked for?

It’s your responsibility to make yourself hire-able. If the market of employers is dictating specific experience or certifications, as evidenced by the job descriptions you’re seeing—it’s your responsibility to look into learning it. Chances are there are some easy online resources to get you started, perhaps a friend of yours used to work with it and would be able to give you a tutorial, or any other unique resource can open up and help. But you need to at the very least, seriously investigate how to make it happen.

Another strategy is to see if there are any close comparisons between a piece of software that is similar to what they want, and what you’ve used. Start by researching the software they require in the job posting. Often either on the software company’s website or YouTube, you can find a tutorial/demo. Does it operate similarly to a piece of software you’ve used before? If so, you can write your resume as: Experience with Potato Software (Similar to French Fry Software), where French Fry is what the company is requiring.

The employer is the buyer. If you want to be bought, it’s critical that you try to meet them halfway.

By Melanie Szlucha, Redinc, LLC. www.redincllc.com

Providing resume writing, job interview coaching and job search coaching to clients around the world.

Frequently when I’m working with clients to write their resumes or prepare for job interviews, they admit that they’re not comfortable talking about their accomplishments. They were brought up not to brag, so having to sell themselves in the job search process goes against everything in their nature.

I completely understand where they’re coming from, so I try to put a different perspective on the situation.

  1. Your accomplishments can’t speak for themselves if you don’t say them. Describing what you’ve done in a particular situation and the outcome lets the hiring manager or recruiter learn more about how you solve problems and how effective you are.
  2. By only providing the job description of each role you’ve held, you’re not differentiating yourself from the competition. For example, if everyone who applied for a Marketing Director job only included what their job responsibilities were, the resumes would all look the same. Your unique accomplishments get an employer excited about what you could do for their organization.
  3. Most people think of selling themselves as being pushy, but we all know that pushy salespeople often don’t get the sale. Selling yourself in this case means knowing what you’re good at and simply describing the situation. Let the employer draw their own conclusions.

 

The fact is that you can’t expect an employer to get excited about you as a candidate if you can’t show them that you’re worth the salary and benefits you’re asking for.

This is especially true when working with a recruiter who then needs to pitch you to their client. By working with them to give them the talking points they need, you make their job easier when presenting you to the hiring manager.

Melanie Szlucha has been a hiring manager for over 10 years. She founded RedInc, LLC to help job seekers by writing effective resumes and coaching them through job interviews. She is available to teach classes as well as work with individual clients improve their results at any phase of the job search process. Find out more at www.redincllc.com

By Melanie Szlucha, Redinc, LLC, www.redincllc.com

This is one of those job interview questions that will be asked by the savviest of interviewers. Although it’s positively heart-stopping to be on the answering end of this question, if you were the employer, wouldn’t you want to know how this seemingly fabulous person ended up on the job market? It’s similar to finding a used car that’s only got 1000 miles on it and is 3 years old; just a little too good to be true, and you can’t believe that no one else has discovered this amazing find.

Your challenge is to not give the interviewer any ammunition to rule you out of the game.

  1. Never, ever, ever give the appearance of a grievance against a former employer. Most people know that they shouldn’t say anything, but body language and awkward pauses will give it away. Practice your cover story with a friend to provide a seamless, brief explanation. Then shift the conversation to what interests you about the job you’re interviewing for.
  2. Never speak ill of any of the tasks you performed at your current or a previous job. ANY tasks. You might think that this new job would provide a blissful escape from the tedium of your last one, and so you gleefully explain to an interviewer all of the mind-numbing things you previously did. However, your interviewer is thinking about the similar (but different) mind-numbing tasks of this position and decides that you would quit after the first month. There’s no reason to hire you if you’ve already given them a reason for you to quit.
  3. Also, you don’t want to speak ill of your co-workers. This world is too small, and good jobs are too few to take the chance.

So what CAN you say?

  1. That you wanted a new opportunity, and you’ve taken your current or past position as far as you could. You’re proud of accomplishing X, Y and Z, and now feel that it’s time for you to learn a different aspect of the business, or to work for a bigger (or smaller) company. The key here is to focus on the future.
  2. If you are applying for a job that touts flexible hours, work from home or excellent benefits, you can mention those qualities as a reason to look into this new position.
  3. That you weren’t really looking, but this job caught your eye so you thought you’d find out more about it.
  4. If you were terminated from a previous job you can say that you were laid off as a result of a company-wide restructuring or budget cut, if it’s the truth. In many cases you can simply say that and let it go.

However, if the company is going to call a previous employer to verify that you worked there, they can ask them if you are eligible for rehire. If you were let go for a disciplinary action, then the answer would be no. If you suspect that this scenario could happen to you, the best course when asked this question in an interview is to very briefly admit what you did wrong and what you would have done differently.

I’ll hire a candidate who shows genuine remorse for doing something wrong over one who gives me the impression that they’re hiding something when I ask about their termination. This answer absolutely must be practiced, but if it’s handled correctly, it’s not a problem for an employer.

Melanie Szlucha has been a hiring manager for over 10 years. She founded RedInc, LLC to help job seekers by writing effective resumes and coaching them through job interviews. She is available to teach classes as well as work with individual clients improve their results at any phase of the job search process. Find out more at www.redincllc.com

By Melanie Szlucha, Redinc, LLC www.redincllc.com

We all know that people form impressions based on the smallest details. Perhaps when you read this message line you laughed at how improbable it would be to NOT get a job offer because your handshake was too strong or too weak.

Well, you’re right, it doesn’t work quite that way.  However, it is one of the details that people use to form an impression of you.

We’ve all been the recipient of those bone-crushing handshakes.  Think about the sense you get of the person who just delivered that blow. Do you consider them too aggressive? Inconsiderate? Powerful? Overcompensating? Overbearing?  Are you likely to want to shake hands with them again?  They could have a great personality and be a nice person, but nevertheless this detail is consciously or unconsciously collected in your mental database.

What about those handshakes that are the typical limp fish?  Or, those kind of “fingers-only” handshakes? They leave me with the impression that this person doesn’t want to get too close to me. I never get a warm, friendly, approachable vibe.

If I’m hiring candidates for a customer service or sales role, I’m definitely going to be either consciously or unconsciously influenced by how people shake my hand since this is how they would also represent themselves to prospects or clients. If it’s an internal role, it could be a small clue about their personality and how they work with others.

It is hard to describe a “perfect handshake”, but I strongly recommend that you practice with a partner who will give you honest and direct feedback about what you are doing wrong.  It might seem like a very minor detail, but when you’re interviewing for the perfect position you don’t want to take any chances.

Melanie Szlucha has been a hiring manager for over 10 years. She founded RedInc, LLC to help job seekers by writing effective resumes and coaching them through job interviews. She is available to teach classes as well as work with individual clients improve their results at any phase of the job search process. Find out more at www.redincllc.com

 

Over 15 years ago, I wrote an article entitled “Never Accept a Counteroffer.”  Today, I sit down to write a very similar article.  Many things have changed over the years.  Technology has changed.  The job search process has changed.  We have all gotten older and wiser.  One thing hasn’t changed, however.  My advice to Never Accept a Counteroffer still stands firm.

The job market landscape continues to be a candidate-driven market, meaning candidates are in high-demand and companies who are hiring are working hard on attracting the right candidates to join them.  The US Unemployment rate as of November 2018 was 3.7%, the lowest rate since October 1969. (https://www.thebalance.com/current-u-s-unemployment-rate-statistics-and-news-3305733)

Not only are companies working hard to attract new employees, but they are also working hard to make sure they don’t lose you – the great employee they already have.  Reasons you might look for a new job could include:

  • More money
  • More flexibility
  • Better/different training
  • Challenges with coworkers/boss
  • Company culture
  • Better commute
  • Better benefits
  • Different responsibilities
  • Career growth

Before you decide to start to look for a new job, it is important to have the right conversations with your current boss/employer to make sure there is not a potential to better your current situation.  You might not know about a great project coming your way that would interest you – or that a raise has been planned and is right around the corner.  Also, if your employer doesn’t know you are unhappy with your circumstance, they can’t do anything to change it.  However, if you determine it can’t be fixed, you owe it to yourself and your career to understand what opportunities are available elsewhere.

The step to start to look for a new job, especially in this job market, is a big one.   Understanding the emotionality of going on an interview at another company makes you really think about what you don’t like about your current job or current employer.  With the current job market as active as it is, the interviewing and offer process for mid-level high-demand talent could be as short as 3 weeks – so hold onto your hat!

Receiving an offer from a new company and making the decision to accept that offer can be very exciting and for some, can be a very challenging process full of pros and cons. If you decide to accept a new job offer, prepare yourself to give your notice as well as to receive a counteroffer.

Preparing to give your notice is as important as preparing for an interview and can be an emotional process, especially if you have personal relationship with your coworkers or boss.  Follow the following steps:

  • Draft a respectful resignation letter, thanking your employer/boss for the opportunity to work for him/her.
  • Specify your last date of employment (always give a minimum of 2 weeks’ notice) and offer to assist with a transition plan.
  • Provide your contact information so they know how to get in touch should they have questions after you are gone.

This will provide a great amount of goodwill through your notice time and will also allow your employer to have a positive impression of you during your last two weeks.  Remind yourself that you made this decision after a lot of thought and this is an exciting time!

Here are some comments we have heard over the years from our candidates (this is what their bosses said when they gave notice….):

  • “This couldn’t be happening at a worse time.” (is there really a good time?)
  • “I thought you were really happy here. Let me see what we can do for a raise and don’t make any decisions until we connect again.” (as if you hadn’t made your decision already)
  • “You are going to work for who? Oh wow. I haven’t heard great things. Have you done your due diligence?” (casting doubt on your decision)
  • My personal favorite (because it was said directly to me): “I am not impressed.You qualify for a much better job than that one.”

It is important to remind yourself the reasons you began to look for a job in the first place and to be careful not to feel bad for accepting a new opportunity.  Counteroffers will mitigate the company’s initial shock of losing a great employee, but most often will not provide the long-term solution you are looking for.  The same circumstances that caused you to consider a change will most likely repeat themselves in the future.  Enjoy your new career opportunity!

Some people believe that the hardest part of the interview process is the initial phone interview. Refining your confidence and technique will help move you to the next step in the interview process.

First, if you have been chosen for a phone interview feel confident in your skills and abilities. Over the course of the first few days of a job posting, hundreds of resumes have landed on the hiring manager’s/recruiter’s desk. Out of all those resumes, yours was chosen, so you definitely have something they are looking for!

The initial phone interview is typically 30 to 45 minutes long. After the initial introduction and small talk, the hiring manager/HR recruiter should have enough time to ask about 10 questions to determine whether you are the right fit for the company and whether you have the skills to perform the requirements of the position.  A key tip for preparing for the interview is to print out the job description and make specific notes about your work experience that correlates with the tasks of the job. That way, when you are asked specific questions about your experience, it will be fresh in your mind and you can focus on building rapport with the interviewer instead of trying to think of specific work examples.

The phone interview is a great opportunity to obtain more information on the company you are interviewing with as well.  The recruiter or hiring manager should provide you a bit of background on the company during the introduction.  Please keep in mind that it is important to ask questions as well.  Be certain not to ask questions that are too general or about information you can find on their website.  You want to make sure they know you did research prior to your phone interview.  Example questions could be:  What do you like best about working here?  What does a typical day look like if I were to take this position?   I see your company has been in the Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies, can you share what has spurred that growth?

The best way to prepare for any interview is to practice.  It may sound silly, but practicing in a mirror or with a friend is a great idea!  Make sure your answers are thorough but not too lengthy.  It is ok to say at the end of an answer “does that answer your question?” if you are not sure if you got your point across.  You want be sure to speak concisely and clearly and to develop a strong rapport with the interviewer.

Questions that are commonly asked during an initial phone screen are:

  • Please walk me through your job changes.
  • Why are you looking for a new position now?
  • What interests you about this position and our company?
  • Please give me an example of your greatest accomplishment.
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • If I called your former manager, what would he/she say about you?
  • What is your long-term / 3-year / 5-year plan?
  • Why should we hire you?

 

Finally, If you have a phone interview coming up, prepare well thought out and complete answers.  Make sure you focus on building a rapport just as much as answering questions – and be sure to thank the interviewer for his/her time before ending the call.  All of this preparation will make for a successful phone interview and will lead you to a face to face interview for sure!

Preparing for an interview is as important as going through the actual interview itself.  Proper preparation and research can mean the difference in advancing through the interview process to an ultimate job offer.

Know Your Audience

Before walking into the interview, it is important that you do some research first. Spend time learning about the company you are interviewing with. Use social media to understand what is important to them and what their mission and values are.  If you are interviewing with a company that produces a product, research their client base to better understand the market they sell to.  If possible, try to buy or use their products or services to gain insight. Using LinkedIn, educate yourself on the background and experience of those who will be interviewing you.  Understanding this information prior to walking into the interview will help you speak with confidence and will allow you to ask questions about the company at a deeper level.

Anticipate the Interview Questions

You may think it is easy to talk about yourself, but for most of us it is not. Make sure you rehearse answers to standard questions including:  Tell me about yourself, where do you see yourself in 5 years and what is your biggest weakness. Be prepared to highlight your accomplishments.  Know the specifics of how your experience relates to your future career path. Using the knowledge you gained from researching the company, anticipate questions directed towards your understanding of their industry and marketplace.

It is important to be ready to ask questions about the company, too.  Asking questions in the first interview about salaries and benefits is not something we would suggest.  Instead, ask questions including:  Why do you like to work here?  What would a normal day look like for me?  Keep in mind that this is also your time to obtain enough information about the company to make sure it will be a good fit for you.

Dress Accordingly and Get Your Mindset in the Right Place

Dress to impress! Keep your attire professional, neatly pressed and conservative. Even if your interview is a video conference, pretend you are there in person. Make sure you keep a calm composure that exerts confidence. Be mindful of your posture and body language. Body language can tell a lot about who you are without you saying one word. Practice good eye contact and smile –  the rest will fall into place!

From: the other side of the recruiting desk…..

Over the past 9 months, I have observed a new phenomenon – candidates are submitting their resumes for posted positions without their address included on the resume. WHAT?  No address?  I’d like to make the case for how important an address is on a resume.

Before I make the case, let me tell you that I have socialized this idea and tried to understand from a candidate perspective why there might be a reason not to include his/her address.  Answers have been:

  • “What? My address isn’t on there?  Yes, it is.  Let me check. OMG. No, it isn’t.  I didn’t even notice.  I’ll send you a new one.”
  • “I am open to relocation and I don’t want a company to not pick me because of where I currently live.” (ok….see below for a suggestion on how to handle this)
  • “Discrimination.” Just discrimination. Not a protected class, but a reason nonetheless.

 

To be quite honest, receiving a resume without an address is baffling to my left-brain. After all, I taught a college level course for years on how to write a resume. Start with name, address, phone, email address, etc.  Why wouldn’t you? That is what you are SUPPOSED to do, right?  Well, consider it something you should do and, if you choose not to include your address, have a good reason why.

Let me let you in on the other side of the desk – the recruiter’s desk.  What we see and how things work once a resume gets to our inbox – or into our Applicant Tracking System (ATS or HRIS system for recruiters internal to companies.) could be much different than you think.  I have heard things like “my resume goes into a black hole” and “I never hear back.”  Well, there might be a reason.

  • When you apply for a particular position through following a link, the link you apply through is like MAGIC to a recruiter because the software will automatically capture your name, email address, company – all of your details and will PARSE your resume right into my system. What this means is that it will pull your current address and put it in the ‘address’ field, your current company into the ‘current company’ field…you get the point. That way, when I search for you, I can search your last name, title, company – skills, certifications, etc. and find you readily.
  • This will ALSO attach your resume to a specific job opportunity that you applied to. So, for instance, if you recently applied for a Business Development Director position, your resume will be easily linked to that ‘job’ in my system so that I can review your resume and email you information about that job.  All of our interactions will be in an organized fashion and related to the position we are discussing.

Here are the things that can confuse our systems:

  • You use a different email to send me your resume than the one on the top of your resume.  Please use the same email for your job search at all times.  Sometimes, you will show up twice in our system.  (and PLEASE don’t use your work email address)
  • You use a different name on your resume than the one you typically go by.  (i.e. John Betters might follow up with an email from Mark Betters (he goes by his middle name) and it confuses the heck out of us!)  One time I had the same candidate apply to the same job with two different email addresses and two different names.  I reached out to schedule phone screens with both of them and then realized that they had the same phone number.  You could be thinking – didn’t she realize that the resume was the same?  When reviewing 40+ resumes and one is at the top and one was at the bottom, they all start looking familiar! 🙂
  • You don’t have an address on your resume.  Some systems will bump you out as an incomplete parse and you won’t be loaded properly.  Also, sometimes, we can search our entire database looking for candidates within 60 miles of a particular zip code. Without an address/zip code on your resume, you would not show up on those searches – at all.

So, for those of you who still have strong feelings about not including your address on your resume, let’s talk about what to do to make sure you don’t go in the black hole.  Options could include:

  • In your cover letter, explain that your address is not on your resume because you are open to relocation based on a new career opportunity. Only do this if you are NOT requiring relocation assistance.  Many clients will not pay for relocation expenses and it could hinder a recruiter’s relationship with his/her client if you are not up front with them.  If you are requiring relocation assistance, please be sure to tell your recruiter.
  • Link-In with your recruiter and send them a quick note to let them know what region/geography you are open to, so they can easily ascertain whether a particular opportunity is for you.
  • Get over it. Put your address on your resume.  If you are applying for a job outside of the region you live in, add your target location in your objective statement. (feel free to message me for suggestions on how to do this)

Addresses and resumes are like peanut butter and jelly.  They just go together.