Dear Matt: I’ve interviewed over 1,000 times and still don’t have a job. What’s going on?
Matt says: This reader claims he has sent out 12 applications a week, had 2-3 interviews a week and spent 10 years trying to get a real job. The fact that he’s getting so many interviews and no offers is a real red flag, says Ron McGowan, author of “How to Find Work in the 21st Century — A Guide to Finding Employment in Today’s Workplace” (howtofindwork.ca). He must have marketable skills to be getting the interviews, so the key question is, why no offers?
“Spending 10 years trying to get a real job tells me that, like many others, they’re fixated on finding a traditional job and ignoring other options,” says McGowan, a former small business owner and recruiter who has read thousands of résumés in his career. This job seeker also hears he’s overqualified, would cost too much money and that employers are afraid he would get bored. So, he ends up in temporary/contract jobs, which he says is about filling a slot until the employer can find someone who is the right fit and/or the most qualified.
But this is where the job seeker is wrong, says McGowan. Today’s job seekers must be willing to offer themselves on a temporary, contract or part-time basis. If the only option they give employers is to offer them a traditional job, they’re making it hard for the employer to hire them. Even if the employer is interested in them, they may be reluctant to increase their employee base. For small companies, where most of the opportunities are (and where struggling job seekers often fail to look), hiring someone full-time isn’t always an option. This is something many job seekers realize they must accept only after a long period of unemployment — but by then they’ve created other obstacles. “They may be so bitter, or discouraged, that they do poorly in interviews,” says McGowan. “And some employers won’t hire anyone who has been unemployed for a long time.”
Few job seekers know how to sell themselves effectively, and the very idea of doing this scares the heck out of them, adds McGowan. Many job seekers also lack creativity, rarely getting past the “Dear Sir, please find attached my résumé” approach, which will get them nowhere. They also overlook the effect a negative online presence (comments made on social media, poorly-developed LinkedIn profile) has on their job search; and they focus only on advertised positions, not understanding that most opportunities today are never advertised. Networking is the key to finding hidden jobs, and changing your approach is the key to finding a new position.
“The fundamental fact that people can’t come to terms with is we’re in a new era in the workplace,” says McGowan, “and the approach employment seekers have used in the past doesn’t work.”
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