Ask the Career Counseling Expert: Why Can't I Get a Job Offer?


I am at the end of my rope. I have had close to 100 interviews in the past six months but not a single job offer. I've tweaked and rewritten my cover letter and resume so many times that there is almost no room left on my computer for all the various versions. What does a person have to do to get a job offer?

It is nice to begin this Series with a "softball" question. The answer is, quite simply, you have to improve your interviewing skills.

The purpose of a cover letter is to get the recipient to read the resume. The purpose of the resume is to get the recipient to invite you in for an interview. If, and I have no doubt that you are being honest, you have had 100 interviews, that means you have great cover letters and resumes. Now stop editing them and start concentrating on interviewing.

Here are a few generic tips:

First, it's not enough to research the company where you are interviewing. Research the interviewers. People hire people they like. If, before you even arrive, you have some idea about what you have in common with the interviewers, you'll be one step ahead of your competition. Make the interviewers like you by focusing on what you have in common. Put differently, show they that you are one of them.

This brings me to my second point, research employees. It's easy to do using LinkedIn. Get some idea of the type of person the company hires. If you share with employees something in common, perhaps education or knowledge of foreign languages, you can relax. But, if you can't find anything in common, be cognizant of it but don't highlight it. Just be ready if they bring it up.

Third, never end an answer on a negative. When asked a negative question -- Why were you fired? Why did you quit your job? What are your weaknesses? -- always end on a positive. The classic "positive" is to emphasize what you learned from the experience and why it will make you a better employee.

Fourth, you must have questions to ask that show stellar meeting preparation skills and that you are truly interested in the company and the job.

Fifth, and most importantly, LISTEN. If you are being interviewed for a job, that pretty much means that the employer wants to hire you. Understand, employers don't like the hiring process. They want it to end. So help them. Listen to what they tell you about the job and the company. They are providing you with the information that you need to properly answer questions. So focus on what they need, not on what you want. If, for example, you want to tell them about the new markets you have opened, but they are talking about increasing revenue from current product lines, don't talk about new markets, talk about how you saved existing products for past employers. Remember, you job search is about the employer, NOT you!
Of course, there are many other facets to a successful interview, from how you greet the receptionist to your first statement to the interviewer to how you follow-up. But the above five should set you on the correct path.

Thanks for writing.

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If you have any questions you would like answered, send them to Bruce Hurwitz at bh@hsstaffing.com. Anonymity is guaranteed.
Bruce Hurwitz
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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Bruce A. Hurwitz, Ph.D., the President and CEO of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, Ltd., has been an executive recruiter since 2003. The author of A Hooker's Guide to Getting a Job: Parables from the Real World of Career Counseling and Executive Recruiting, he is a recognized authority on career counseling, recruitment, and employment issues, having been cited in over 425 articles, appearing in more than 225 publications, nationally and internationally, including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and US News & World Report, as well as on such websites as AOL, CareerBuilder, Monster, The Ladders, and Yahoo! He is the host of Bruce Hurwitz Presents, a live call-in radio interview program. An Ambassador for the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he also hosts their weekly radio program, The Voice of Manhattan Business. He is an on-camera talent for eHow.com and has been certified as an "Approved Career Expert" by CareeRealism.com.

Hurwitz is an honors graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where he obtained his doctoral degree in International Relations (majoring in International Law). A passionate supporter of the military, the mission of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing is to promote the hiring of veterans of the US Armed Forces and Merchant Marines.