By Angela Rose, Hcareers.com
While December 2011 employment data (released in January 2012), showed the U.S. unemployment rate was continuing to trend down, the number of long-term unemployed held almost steady at 5.6 million. This group is comprised of individuals who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more, and makes up 42.5 percent of the total unemployed.
The commonly flawed hiring process—lack of an acknowledgement of resume receipt, hiring managers who do not know what they want, inept interviewers, and little follow up by companies—is particularly frustrating for this group of individuals and the reasons are understandable. Some have sent hundreds of resumes without response, and completed dozens of phone interviews, in-person interviews and interview call backs without an offer. They are beyond frazzled; they are fed up.
If you’re among them, it may be helpful to consider two things. First, why do flaws in the hiring process occur? And second, what can you do to address them and land your next job?
Why do many resumes go unacknowledged? Because so many are submitted for every advertised position, it can be overwhelming (if not downright impossible) for an employer to sift through and respond to each and every one. Many of these resumes are from people who are not qualified for the job, which makes the process even more tedious. You must keep in mind that the hiring process is not the primary focus of many of the individuals saddled with making hiring decisions. They have businesses to run and services to provide.
How do you combat this issue? You must do everything you can to make sure your resume and cover letter stand out from the rest, and customization is key. You have no more than a few moments to capture their attention, so write directly to their needs and explain how you can specifically benefit their company.
This leads us directly to the second flaw: why do some hiring managers not know what they want? Because they just see the available position as a hole that needs to be filled –and possibly filled fast– they may not have taken the time to thoroughly analyze the strengths, skills or personality an employee will need to excel.
How do you combat this issue? Take the time to clearly define your own strengths, skills and positive personality traits –then present them as the answer to this hiring manager’s prayers. What do you have to offer? How are you better than your contemporaries? In what way will you make her look good? In what way can you benefit the bottom line?
As far as flawed interviewers, who appear rather inept, we go back to our first point. Many of these individuals have never hired anyone before. Even those who have may not truly understand the value of interview questions that get past the “what did you do at your last job?” and “where do you see yourself in five years?” rigmarole. As a result, they may fumble.
You can combat this issue by taking control of the situation. Regardless of how many rote interview questions you must answer, most interviewers will eventually ask if there’s anything you’d like to add. This is your chance to shine –and reiterate those strengths and skills you outlined earlier. Talk about results you’ve achieved in the past and what you can do for this company if hired. Give them concrete numbers if possible. If they’re furious scribblers, numbers will stand out when they review notes later on.
Lack of follow up by companies can be particularly frustrating, especially if you’ve had an interview and hear nothing for weeks. It’s important to follow up in several ways after the interview. An email or handwritten thank you note expressing your continued interest in the job and gratitude for the interviewer’s time is a must. This is a good opportunity to remind the interviewer about your skills and why you’re perfect for the job. If you haven’t heard anything after a week, a follow up phone call is appropriate. Unfortunately, people do not like to deliver bad news, which is why many companies send rejection letters or do not follow up at all. Yes, it’s rude, but there’s not much you can do about it. Move on and learn from every interview you have.
Many economists agree that the job market is improving, and likely to improve even more by the second quarter of 2012. If you’re currently searching for employment, keep these strategies in mind and try to keep your frustration with the hiring process at bay.
About the Author
Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for Hcareers.com.