This week, a reader asked why she's getting many interviews, yet always coming in 2nd or 3rd?
There can be many answers to this broad of a question, perhaps having to do with the interview, follow up, resume, other materials, but it all really comes down to perception.
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On alternate Fridays, I'm posting a job search question from one of our readers. This was a question sent to me in response to my daily articles.
L.L. shared a question about her own job search, and asked:
"What would you say to someone like me who has been looking for one year, has applied for 55 jobs, was interviewed for 35 of those jobs and came in 2nd and 3rd for 95% of those jobs, and who has a Master's degree in public administration/policy from USC and 12 years' experience as a manager/director in corporate communications, public affairs, media/government relations, philanthropy and public relations, and another 10 years experience as a marketing-communication manager in association management, and 8 years' experience running my own PR firm from 2000 to present with the exception of 2 years as a western U.S. manager of marketing-communications for a national charity?"
Wow! All this in one sentence - from a candidate interviewing for communications manager/director roles. I found myself wondering if this is an example of the communication style L.L. uses in interviews and in written communications. If so, she may be giving the perception of being unskilled in communications. This run-on sentence contains 112 words - 5 of them were the word "and".
I'll make the assumption that L.L. uses her communications skills more effectively in her job search than she did with me. Since she didn't forward me her resume, I looked at her Linkedin profile. Some additional information L.L. related: she's in her mid-50's and is concerned that she's losing jobs to people in their 30's who are graduates of Stanford, Harvard, and Berkeley. Since this wasn't much to go on, I looked at her Linkedin profile for more hints of what could be holding her search back.
I found a number of potential reasons that L.L.'s job search has been frustrating.
- On a positive note, she's getting a great response rate: She's secured 35 interviews out of 55 applications, a resume response rate of 64% (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-effective-is-your-resume-heres-how.html). That's an outstanding response rate for today's economy. Yet, she hasn't been able to convert any of her interviews into offers.
- While her response rate is very strong, her effort numbers are low: Applying for 55 jobs is barely over one per week. That doesn't sound like she's investing much so effort into a search. Here's help: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/04/is-your-opportunity-pipeline-big-enough.html
- First impressions & perceptions: She's not closing the deal by coming in #2 or #3. Consider that most hiring managers form their opinion in the first 2-30 seconds of an interview. In that short amount of time, an opinion may be formed before she even shakes hands or speaks. Hiring managers often form lasting perceptions from non-verbal communications (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/05/see-how-easily-you-can-master-non.html"). She relates that she's great at interviews, but she may be unaware of the perception she gives - she doesn't have the results of someone great at interviews.
- Actions reinforce ageism bias: Keep in mind that she's looking for a job as a Communications Director/Manager. Yet, she barely demonstrates a rudimentary knowledge of social media, and it has detrimental effects on her social brand. She seems to feel ageism from her comments, but realistically she hasn't developed the tools she needs to compete in a communications role today.
She has just 21 Linkedin connections, no twitter account (listed in Linkedin), no Facebook account, no website, no posted resume, and no contact information - yet she lists that she's interested in career opportunities. She may have a Twitter account (I can't determine if it's hers) - if so, there's no picture, no profile, and just 7 followers. If she has a Facebook account, it has no picture, and is completely protected so employers can't find her. She doesn't even have a website for her communications consulting business, nor a blog (she described in her initial comments that she hadn't paid for a website. They are easy to set up and free - I recommend Blogger).
This results in an uncontrolled social brand. When I Googled her name, I found out that she shares her name with a Playboy bunny and adult model, who enjoys the entire first page of Google (I wish I had a creative enough imagination to make this stuff up). Of course it's not her, but this candidate is a communications director/manager candidate who is clearly not managing her own brand. What perception does that give to employers looking for someone to manage their branding and outside communications? Here's how to correct: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/04/how-does-google-affect-your-job-search.html.
Lack of social media knowledge also reinforces ageism bias in hiring managers, especially in a communications role - she isn't demonstrating competency in modern communication tools. These aren't issues of cost, because she can set up all of these tools by herself - they are all free. While these may not be listed job requirements, they are likely "nice to haves" as many employers either have social media campaigns or are investigating them. It's a good bet that the #1 candidate demonstrates mastery of these tools.
- The 4th Audience: What impression does her resume and personal branding make on the 4th audience - the hiring manager's boss, peers, and team (the people she hasn't met)? The 4th audience often helps a hiring manager make decisions on who the winning candidate is among the top 3 - resume and marketing materials form the majority of their opinions. Do her marketing materials address this audience and their needs (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/03/your-resumes-4-audiences.html)? Are they Googling her to find out more information?
- Inside information: Consider the improvements that inside information can make on interview impression, and your 4th audience impression, to better understand internal company language and WIFT (What's In it For Them). Here are some ideas: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/11/guerrilla-job-search-tactics.html
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