Recently I was chatting with a job hunter who was keen and enthusiastic with great experience but struggling to get booked for an interview. She told me how frustrating it was that she hadn’t heard back from a job she really wanted and had applied to 4 weeks ago. My first question was “Have you phoned them for feedback?”. The answer was no and when asked why, her response was “I don’t want to put them off, or seem too pushy”.
This is typical of job-seekers, caught in no-mans-land, wanting to appear keen and pro-active but frightened of scaring off potential employers. I pointed out that after 4 weeks, she wasn’t likely to hear from the employer anyway, so there would be little risk in calling for feedback.
She called the employer, and politely asked why she hadn’t been selected for interview. After a minute or two of investigating, her records could not be found. She hadn’t been rejected, they simply didn’t have her application. The employer was impressed with her approach and as they hadn’t filled the job, she was offered an interview on the spot!
To be fair, the result is not always so positive, but it is always useful to know why an application was unsuccessful. Perhaps your CV was not well presented, maybe grammatical errors held you back, you might not have followed the application instructions or you simply might not have been right for the job.
Whatever the feedback, you can use it to your advantage to help do better next time. Here at Sunshine Recruitment Solutions we’ve put together some key points to help you get constructive advice on your job applications.
You won’t always like what you hear but, if you know what is going wrong you can fix it, otherwise you risk feeling confused and frustrated 4 weeks later when no-one has booked you for interview.
Go on, get the feedback, it could open the door to your next role!
We live in a society that doesn't always 'approve' of those who blow their own trumpets. Self confidence can be confused with arrogance, conceit and a lack of humility. But, there are times when you should dig deep, stand tall and shout from the rooftops about everything you do well.
All too often I meet individuals who can't answer the simplest questions about their skills and experience. "What do you do best?" is a question I ask those I work with (not just work seekers, but employers too) and frequently when I ask, I'm met with stony silence, often followed by what the individual thinks I want to hear. "Umm, I'm really a jack of all trades, I'm a multi-tasker, I love every aspect of what I do" or "Well, we are fantastic employers who make sure our staff are looked after"
It's good to be positive, but this doesn't really help to identify the things that will make my clients / candidates happy in the long run, which is of course the ultimate goal .
What I'm looking for here are specifics, what do you actually excel in? Everyone has strengths, yes everyone! So, what are yours? If you don't know, you should, and when you have figured it out you should tell the right people, so they can use those amazing skills that you have developed!
Ask yourself, your colleagues, your family, your friends "What do I do best?" . Encourage everyone to always identify and focus on the bright, the brilliant and the positive! Share and celebrate that information and then when the time comes and someone else asks the question, the answer will be right there on the tip of your tongue.
Recent answers I've had include:
Once someone starts talking about their strengths, it opens up a positive dialogue on how to use those strengths, how to match them to a role, how to demonstrate those skills effectively (especially the chocolate cake!) and takes the conversation in a constructive and engaging direction.
I'd like to see a society where skill is celebrated rather than played down, where we focus on the positive instead of the negative and where individuals are encouraged to shine brightly in everything they do.
So give it some thought, what do you do best?
I'd love to know so feel free to shout about your talents in the comments below.
If you would like advice on finding work, demonstrating your strengths, preparing for interviews, writing a CV or cover letter, you can contact me for free support , just email firstname.lastname@example.org
We are taught from an early age to say please and thank you, to always think of others, to not interrupt and to wait our turn. Attention to manners and etiquette is seen internationally as a quintessentially British trait, something we can all be proud of.
It seems a shame then, that we don't always apply these useful and admirable skills to our everyday working life. For example, when it comes to the application and interview process, good old fashioned manners all too often sail out of the window! Of course, applicants mostly present themselves well, introduce themselves politely and behave impeccably at interview, but in the process surrounding the interview, both before and after, I often find myself asking "Where are your manners?"
One particular scenario that highlights this crops up all too often in recruitment, the interview cancellation, by an applicant.
It is usual for applicants to apply for more than one vacancy, therefore multiple interviews are commonplace, particularly with skilled candidates. It's only natural that some of these appointments will fall by the wayside, perhaps due to an exciting job offer or a change of heart. The reasons vary, but one thing is constant, there is always someone at the other end, an employer or recruiter, who has taken time out of their schedule, shortlisted, prepared, re-arranged and taken care to conduct that interview.
This is where etiquette and plain simple manners should come into play. It takes no real effort to pen a quick and polite e-mail to inform a potential employer that you are unable to attend interview, better still, to call them up and thank them for the opportunity and explain why you have decided to walk a different path. It seems so obvious, and polite! But what we actually see more and more of is the bane of many recruiters existence, 'the no-show'. That moment, when the clock ticks past the 'reasonably late' into the 'they aren't coming are they?'.
This is the worst case scenario for most interviewers, it messes up schedules, creates frustration and bad feeling, and it will put a black mark against the absent interviewee, closing the door to that business in the future (I already have a policy to not work with any candidate who has not shown up for interview without some prior communication, regardless of how skilled they may be).
It is difficult when looking for a new role not to become utterly focused on your own needs and anxiety, but I try to advise my applicants to always think of the person who's hiring, not the business, but the individual, and to take their needs and anxiety into account when making decisions about applications and interviews.
I'm genuinely not sure why so many people opt to simply not show up for their interviews, particularly those that have been carefully arranged, planned and confirmed. Perhaps they are too nervous, or worried that someone will be angry with them, or try to convince them to attend after all? Whatever the reason, the next time you change your mind about attending an interview, be bold, be brave and remember your manners! Say thank you, apologise for any inconvenience and give the interviewer as much notice as you possibly can.
It's the polite thing to do.
Founder of Sunshine Recruitment Solutions, Fellow of the Institute of Recruitment Professionals