get hired

Wonder Why You Can’t Get Hired?

Recently, a client retained me to hire three individuals to perform office administrative responsibilities for his small, but rapidly growing company. The position offered excellent professional growth potential as well as a great incentive compensation plan not typically offered to administrative hires. The core competency we were looking for was project management – someone who could help manage the many inquiries the company was receiving by keeping track of deadlines and deliverables.

Easy enough, right?

I posted the position on Craigslist (in order to reach a local demographic), and resumes flooded in within minutes. The results provided me ample validation for everything that job search coaches agree candidates should not do. Here are several examples of what I received; all but a few explain why so many individuals can’t get hired:

Make Sure You’re Eligible to Get Hired


Only Lori left this meaningless section off her resume (and she got an offer). As a recruiter scanning hundreds of resumes, it’s my objective that counts, not the applicant’s. And I challenge you to find me an objective statement that isn’t a variation of “to work for a company where I can utilize my skills.” Pardon my sarcasm, but how does that explain why I should read further?

Resume doesn’t match the job description

When writing the job description, I made a point of asking only candidates who had a demonstrated interest in sustainable environmental initiatives or engineering to apply.  I didn’t require experience in engineering or environmental studies; I didn’t even require coursework in either field. Just an INTEREST.  Not one resume addressed this. But I got plenty of resumes from retail salespeople, accounting majors and payroll clerks.

Complete lack of career direction 

I get that for many people, the primary need is to earn a living. So if a candidate rang up groceries at the local supermarket while waiting for a job in his or he field, that’s understandable. But there needs to be a focus. Maybe every job you’ve held had a common theme – customer service, for example. Tie it all together – employers love to see how you recognize that customer service is critical to many jobs. Not one resume I received for this position showed me the candidate’s career trajectory – just a jumble of unrelated jobs.

Messy Resumes

I won’t harp on this because everyone else does. But the resumes I received for a job that required little other than being highly organized and detailed were riddled with inconsistent fonts, spacing, misspellings….you know. And Joe had an email address that reflected his love of The Sopranos – a love I shared, but was not suitable for professional use. I interviewed him anyway, but asked him to create a more professional email account before submitting his resume to the employer.

I narrowed the slim pickings down to 3 candidates: Joe, Lori, and Latisha. Three days prior to their scheduled interview, I emailed each candidate a Word document  that explained some projects the employer was currently involved with. And only Lori and Latisha referenced those initiatives during the interview.

Joe, on the other hand, blew it for two reasons. I asked him to tell us about a time when something he was working on didn’t go well, and how he responded to it. That’s a fairly common interview question, and a revealing one. Joe talked about a bid he had made that his boss reneged on, causing the company to lose the business. “So it was all your boss’s doing?” I asked. “What did you do to try to salvage the situation?” His response was a blank stare. He’d clearly never thought about his role in the mishap. The other cringe-worthy moment came when I asked him if he had any questions for me, and he wanted to know if I could do better on the salary. But hadn’t been offered the job!  I explained that after 3 months, he would be eligible for an increase if he reached stated performance goals. But he wanted the salary bump up front. And there was nothing on his resume that demonstrated any prior achievements.


I interviewed 3 people. Only one sent a follow-up email. And it was a great one. Lori referenced points made during the interview, reiterated why she was a good fit and thanked us for considering her.

Here’s who got hired

I’d hoped to make at least two offers out of the five candidates, and I did. Lori got an offer because her organizational skills were well documented and her demeanor during and after the interview were spot on. Joe didn’t. The company also loved Latisha because she projected energy, as well as demonstrating her organizational ability by successfully juggling a night shift job with single parenthood and college courses, so we’re betting that she’s going to be a great hire and grow professionally with the company.


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