So you think you’re great…

So You Think You’re a Great Candidate, Do You?

By Kate Lorenz

I being hired when my résumé is fine and I make an outstanding first impression?” Can you relate?

While it’s easy to point to the obvious – Great Recession, anyone? – it might be time for some good old-fashioned tough love. Let’s take a closer look at the three parts of this loaded question; one or all of these might be the reason you’re still looking.

“Why aren’t I being hired …”

Finding a job has certainly been more challenging over the last few years, but people are still hiring. You might not be able to improve the economy, but you can control how you search. There are job openings, you just have more competition. It’s time to push the discouragement away and fight harder against your increased competition.

Try this: If you want to find a job, you have to be willing to do the work. Do your research and learn all you can about the employment outlook. Look to see which industries and occupations are healthier than others. Pretty much every industry has a professional journal or blog. Become an expert in the field in which you want to work. The more you know, the more you can show it in your applications and interviews. And that will show an employer what an asset you’ll be.

“… my résumé is fine …”

While you might think your résumé is “fine,” employers might have a different opinion. Besides, shouldn’t your résumé be better than OK? Employers want to see a stellar résumé. That doesn’t mean you need to give yourself an Ivy-League degree and inflated job experience, but your résumé should present the best professional you possible. That means crisp grammar and no typos. That means showcasing specific accomplishments and concrete skills. That means a stranger should understand your aptitude without you saying a word.

But your résumé has all that, right? If that’s the case and you’re not hearing back, you might need to start mixing things up and making some tweaks. Change the format. Add quantifiable results. Each time you apply, make sure your résumé is telling each particular employer that you’re a match for that job.

Try this: Show your résumé to someone you know who has actually hired someone before; ask for feedback and use it to improve your résumé (if it’s negative, try not to take it personally). While that person may tell you something you don’t want to hear, it will be to your benefit.

“… I make an outstanding first impression”

Really? How do you know? Did your mother tell you that? Again, you might think you make a great first impression, but an employer might disagree. Put everything under a microscope: your appearance, your handshake, your eye contact, your mannerisms, your attitude. If you’re getting called for interviews but not invited back for a second round or receiving offers, this might be your problem.

Try this: When you find out that you’re no longer in the running for a job, ask for feedback. Try: “Thank you for considering me for the position. May I ask what it was about me or my qualifications that disqualified me as a candidate? Any feedback would be appreciated.” Hopefully, the hiring manager will tactfully respond with something constructive. Whether delivered with tact or not – again, try not to take it personally – take that response and apply it to your next interview