Monthly Archives: January 2012

Passed Over For The Job? How to Ask Why.

Let’s face it: Getting rejected is an unpleasant experience. But job seekers who can muster the courage to ask the people they interviewed with why they didn’t get the offer may reap benefits that can bolster their job search. Here, a few tips to make the exchange more comfortable for all involved.

Act quickly

Don’t give the appearance that you’ve been sitting around brooding. Talk to the appropriate interviewer, recruiter or human resources representative while your candidacy is still fresh in the person’s mind. “If you decide to ask why you weren’t selected, you should do it as soon as you are notified that you were not the winning candidate,” says John Scanlan, assistant director of the career services center at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, “If you do not receive notification, you can call the company a day or so after the date they said they would have a decision and ask them.”

Terry Henley, director of compensation services at Employers Resource Association (a nonprofit serving small and medium businesses in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana), notes that promptly requesting feedback can have advantages. “It signals that there was genuine interest in the position/company, and should the initial hire back out or fail some type of screening, there might be an immediate opportunity for reconsideration of employment.” Even if that doesn’t happen, the interviewer might be impressed enough by your action to keep your résumé at his fingertips for future reference.

How to ask

Puzzled by what to say? Henley suggests this “nonthreatening, minimally awkward” approach: “While I am disappointed in not being chosen for this position because of (pick one)

(a) the reputation of your company,

(b) the obvious challenges and opportunities of the position,

(c) how well this position fits into my desired career path,

(d) the opportunity to learn (fill in blank) from a person with the experience of (fill in blank),

I really would appreciate any feedback regarding why I was not selected because that might give me valuable insight into what I need to do to prepare myself better for such an opportunity in the future.”

Scanlan recommends thanking the person for the opportunity to be interviewed and talking about the organization’s merits. Then, you can say something like, “I want to be ready for the next opportunity that comes up, whether at your company or somewhere else, so I was wondering if you could tell me why I was not selected?” or “Can you tell me about your decision to hire a different candidate? Did you see something that I might be able to work on for the next opportunity?”

Some interviewers are uncomfortable talking about hiring decisions for fear of litigation. If you sense trepidation, another route to try is asking what you did well, such as what the person liked about your interview, your style or your answers. “It will be easier for the interviewer to talk about these things since they are positive aspects of your presentation. From the responses, you’ll learn what behaviors to repeat during other interviews moving forward,” Scanlan says.

Dealing with feedback

While asking may seem hard enough, dealing with what comes next can be even more challenging.

“You must prepare yourself to hear some unflattering or difficult things,” Scanlan says. “It’s important to be open to what the employer has to say and avoid a defensive mindset. Never argue a point with the person. The decision has already been made, so you’re not going to change anyone’s mind. Also, if you try to dispute what is said, you may convince the company not to consider you for another opportunity down the road.”

According to Henley, those who keep an open mind can receive valuable information. “If the applicants truly want to learn about how they can better themselves, there might be some real ‘nuggets’ in the feedback. This might help them refocus their training, education and/or their interviewing skills.”

Some things the interviewer might point out include:

Lack of experience in an area the employer deems crucial

Insufficient education

Not showing enough enthusiasm or assertiveness in the interview

Not asking enough questions about the job or company

Lack of thorough preparation for the interview

It takes thick skin to handle criticism, and you might feel a little deflated. A successful job seeker, however, doesn’t treat the comments as a personal affront. Instead, he considers how to strengthen his candidacy in the future based on these observations and may even reevaluate the types of positions for which he applies. In the end, when a great new job is yours, you’ll be glad you had the courage to ask.

Beth Braccio Hering researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.com. Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.

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Project Search Fills Jobs And Needs. ~Pretty Cool!

Dublin, Ohio–Project SEARCH is a national program that is proving successful at Dublin Methodist Hospital and Grady Hospital.  It is a one-year program that helps transition students with disabilities from high school to employment.

Project SEARCH is in its third year at Dublin and its first year at Grady, and is a project in connection with Tolles Career and Technical Center in Dublin.

“They’re awesome employees and we work on those soft job skills needed to get a job and keep a job. We learn interviewing skills. We work on developing resumes and work on different types of behaviors,” said Kelley Kobashigawa who leads the project search class at Dublin Methodist Hospital.

The goal of the program is to have the students employable by the end of the school year.  The students have a range of special needs, from Down Syndrome to brain injuries.

The students start the day in the classroom where they work on communication skills and appropriate work attire.  Then, they move into the hospital for the rest of the day to learn different jobs within the hospital, such as stocking nurses stations, working in the kitchen, and environmental services.

Job Search Tips For Returning Vets.

Veterans returning home from abroad and transitioning to civilian life are likely to encounter a multitude of challenges as they search for new employment. In addition to facing high unemployment, the skills and experience they gained in the military may not match the open jobs companies have available in their hometown.

If you’re a returning vet, here are a few things you can do to facilitate the transition:

1. Create a job search plan
Assess your interest and capabilities, and determine what type of work you would like to do. Then make a list of companies in your local area that might hire someone with your background and decide which ones you want to work for.

2. Exploit your experience
Once you have determined the type of position you want, tailor your resume to mirror the position description and start applying for jobs.   Your resume should provide recruiters and hiring managers with a clear picture of how the capabilities and accomplishments you developed in the military relate to this job. Emphasize the experience you have gained in teamwork, leadership, resourcefulness, and the other areas that are strengthened through military service.

3. Build your network before you return home
Utilize LinkedIn, which is a business related social media website that is used for networking.  And start connecting with former veterans who have vocational backgrounds and interests similar to yours. Exchange job-hunting information with them, and expand your list of companies you would like to work for.

4. Use your network to leverage your brand
Once you have formulated your job-search plan and established your network, start reaching out to other veterans, especially those who are employed in your local area, to see if they can give you guidance about your career transition. If they served in the same branch of the military as you, or perhaps even in the same unit, they may be more inclined to help you, because at one time they were in your situation. Try to meet with them in person, when feasible, to facilitate the building of trust and the exchange of information.

Be aware that you may have to network with a lot of people before you are able to get a job.  In my role as a recruiter, I once worked with someone whose position was being phased out by his employer. After speaking with approximately ninety people within 3 weeks, he found a new opportunity and was able to stay with the company.

5. Ask for referrals
As you network with people, ask if they know anyone else who can assist you in your job search or if they know anyone who might hire someone with your background. Your goal is to get them to open their network to you.

6. Invest in your future
Now may be the perfect time for you to back to school to further your education, possibly by getting a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. The G.I. Bill is an incredible opportunity, because it will pay for tuition and fees for up to thirty-six months, as long as the costs do not exceed what you would pay for an undergraduate education at the most expensive public, in-state college. This program also covers some of the cost of housing and books.

Colleges and universities value the leadership skills and experience you have gained in the military, which means that your application will most likely receive favorable attention.  And once you graduate, your new degree coupled with your military experience will cause you to stand out relative to other job candidates.

7. Utilize transition programs and groups
To gain a better understanding of what civilian life will be like, take advantage of military transition programs before you are discharged. Many of these programs offer various types of job-search training, such as information about how to market yourself and how to network using social media. Check to see if there are any career fairs or associations in your local area that cater to veterans and attend them to leverage the contacts you make there to build your network.

The transition from military life to civilian life can be challenging, especially in a sour economy. Build your confidence and increase your success by developing a plan, building and exploiting your network, taking advantage of the many programs that are available, and, most of all, persevering.

Bryan Fisher is a Career Consultant and CEO of the Career Empowerment Group

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