March 13, 2013 at 1:25 pm #177225
Ahhh the old bait and hook. There is more than enough advice about how to interview well, but how do you go about landing that first interview to begin with? Every agency or company seems to have miles of heavy seas that an applicant has to navigate before they are even invited for an interview.
In the past two weeks, I’ve applied to over 60 jobs. I’ve received numerous “Dear John” letters and went on two interviews (though these weren’t specific…they were with recruiters).
It seems to me that the job market is like a category 5 hurricane for a mid-level job searcher right now. It is ugly out there. I’m looking for the perfect bait and hook, to at least land that first interview, so that I can have the opportunity to reel them in.
What types of bait and hook have you used before to land an interview?
March 13, 2013 at 6:53 pm #177241
Whatever worked in the past doesn’t seem to be working now. Employers will not consider interviewing you unless your qualifications are a perfect match with the job description. Recruiters are not looking for people but “cogs” which can be slotted into the corporate machine and keep it going without missing a beat. This mentality pervades nonprofit, for profit and public institutions. They have all lost the ability to recognize potential.
I understand and share your frustration. The problem is not with you but the way hiring is done in the 21st century. Unless you know an insider, you will always be the last hooked but hopefully somebody will hook you. Don’t doubt your qualifications simply because a recruiter is incapable of evaluating or appreciating them.
Glassdoor is a good place to gather intelligence about the organizations you might be interested in working for. Sometimes things are not as rosy as they appear when you are outside looking in.
Did you see the article, “With Positions to Fill, Employers Wait for Perfection” in the NYT?
Also of relevance:
The WSJ looked at the subject in “Why Companies Aren’t Getting the Employees They Need“
The WSJ has done a lot of stories about the new thinking behind hiring decisions. See the section Journal Report: Leadership for more info.
March 13, 2013 at 7:25 pm #177239
Thank you. All great suggestions. I’m glad I’m not the only one who seems to recognize this shift towards “cogs”. It is disappointing that so many organizations and recruiters are failing to see big potential right now. I don’t see this being as much of a problem for mid-career folks who have worked in a single area (e.g. I am a procurement analyst, or I am an Engineer); the problem seems to be for those of us who have made a career out of being versatile and “outside the box”.
I interviewed with a recruiter last week who was looking to staff a Project Manager role with a large bank. I have project management experience 3-5 years. I have financial industry experience 2 years. Yet the recruiter asked me, “do you have your project management certificate”? I replied, “no, but I do have over 7 years of direct experience, proven work products, and a Masters degree”. The recruiter replied, “I cannot stand you up against other candidates that have this certificate”.
WHAT?! Since when does a piece of paper outweigh direct job experience? I was perplexed. The last thing I want to do right now is go pay for another piece of paper. Anyhow, the search for the perfect bait continues.
March 13, 2013 at 8:11 pm #177237
It is a bizarre world out there. Recruiters have the image in mind of a perfect candidate that doesn’t exist but they have to keep busy by trying to find that person. They are so rigid in terms of qualifications that previous experience or graduate education has no impact on their thinking.
A recruiter emailed me last week to arrange a 30 minute “chat” which was not an interview. He wished to tell me about the position, discuss my expectations and review my work history. If you want to chat with me, why not an interview? I told him that I didn’t have anything more to add beyond what was on my resume and the job description was pretty clear. As far as expectations, I think that was code for “we don’t want to pay you what you deserve”. This was an international organization that engages in relief and development work around the world. I did similar work as a Peace Corps volunteer for much less than whatever they were offering and decided to pursue a career in the field with the understanding that I would not become rich. I also have two master’s degrees and interned in the State Dept. bureau that provides some of the funding for their activities but none of that mattered. It’s enough to drive you crazy!
I understand your perspective on the certification. However, I think you will find that it is almost a necessity because recruiters are looking for specific indicators rather than ability. I plan on getting a few certifications. They are valid across a wide range of industries so you can demonstrate to employers that you have the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Check out the Project Management Institute’s certifications.
March 13, 2013 at 9:10 pm #177235
I actually have a friend who just went through 3 months of interviews with the same company. The last interview lasted 8 hours with a panel of executives. In the end, the recruiter asked him to email her a list of pros and cons between his current company and the company he was interviewing with. Why? It turns out that after 3 months of interviewing the employer came back and offered him 30% less than what he is currently making, but tried to justify it with a 10% annual bonus.
One of my first rules of interviewing is to first research the salary range for the position that I’m interviewing for and then ask during the first interview what the company is paying for the position they’re hiring. It is really unnecessary to waste my time and theirs if the wage is not reasonable.
March 14, 2013 at 3:40 am #177233
David B. GrinbergParticipant
One word: NETWORKING!
March 14, 2013 at 9:21 am #177231
See my first reply about nothing that worked before working now. Networking is not a silver bullet and will not change the mentality of recruiters who are searching for cogs! No amount of networking will convince employers that there is no “purple squirrel” out there.
March 14, 2013 at 11:55 am #177229
Networking may help to get an interview (maybe)…though even that has proven tough lately. In my most recent experience I’ve got my resume “in the door” but probably winding up in a black hole, via networking. I have to go with H.C. on this though…nobody in management wants the stigma of hiring the wrong person on their back…so the resume is still passed back to HR who wants to vet candidate to death and then offer them a salary that is almost insulting. Read some of the WSJ articles above. All seem to be very accurate in their assumptions with economic data to back.
March 17, 2013 at 10:07 pm #177227
Things certainly aren’t rosy at the moment. I do think it is important that you demand some respect. I think 3 rounds of interviews are quite enough. Think for a moment, do you really want to take part in an agency that functions like this? Could you imagine referring some one for a job and then feeling guilty about the process they endure?
At a certain point you need to walk away. You can’t simply kick the tires for months at a time while they look for their “purple squirrel.”
However, I believe you are more concerned with actually getting an interview. Use your resources, LinkedIn, e-mails, work organizations. Contact HR VIA PHONE CALLS! I recently applied for a position and asked a quick question about materials to HR before my submission. She answered my question, asked my name, and as we were finishing up she said I will be sure to look our for your application Mr. Saviet! Yes it is small but just having name recognition can be helpful.
You have to be willing to put in the leg work and lots of it. Most importantly, you need to keep plugging away at everything. Constantly apply to jobs, find new ones, and be willing to give in certain areas to focus on what you really want.
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