Posted: by HRNasty in Job Interview Tips, Over 40, Recent Graduate
hard to find a job

Why is it so hard to find a job?

Yes, it’s hard to find a job

If you are looking for a new career and asking yourself “why is it so hard to find a job?”,  I challenge you to do a quick self-assessment.

  1. If you have been turning in resumes on a regular basis and not getting called back, ask someone for feedback on your cover letter and resume.
  2. If you have been going to interviews and not getting an offer, ask for assistance on your interview skills.
  3. If you have had multiple interviews with multiple companies and are not receiving an offer, then ask someone for feedback on your interviewing and or negotiation skills.

I see it time and time again.  Individual candidates keep running into the same wall at the various stages of the process.  Some are having a tough time getting a response on their resume and others keep getting multiple interviews but no offer.  In each case, each candidate makes it to a certain stage in the interview process and then finds they can progress no further.

I don’t write the following to show off, I say the following to give some perspective on why it is hard to find a job.

  • I used to help folks with their resume and they would walk away confident and excited, but they wouldn’t get called back for an interview after submitting the document.
  • I would then help them with the cover letter and they would get called back. They would head into the interview but not receive a second interview.
  • I would help with interviewing skills and they would receive multiple interviews but not receive an offer.
  • Until I started helping folks with the entire process, including resume, cover letter, interviewing, and negotiation did the offers start coming in.

The common denominator with all of these folks is that they absolutely believed that they could find a job.  And why not?  They have landed jobs in the past, heck, they landed 3, 5, or maybe even 10 positions in the past.  In some cases EVERY JOB THEY INTERVIEWED FOR, AN OFFER WAS RECEIVED.

I have worked with candidates at every level of the corporate world including executives, directors, VP’s, recent graduates and high school students.  What I have realized is that very few people understand how to interview or how the interview process works.  It makes perfect sense when you think about it.  We have all interviewed for a job in the past, and we have all had success in the past.  Some of us have interviewed 100’s of candidates.   The conclusion I have come to is two fold:

  • Most of the jobs were landed in a very different economy.
  • The experience of interviewing a candidate at a SINGLE stage of the interview process doesn’t give enough perspective to understand the entire process.  If you are executive, you know how to interview executives, but there is very little experience with BEING interviewed by a younger person.

Think of it this way:  You may know how to hit a golf ball 300 yards but if your short game isn’t up to par, you are not going to be a scratch golfer.  You may be a great in-fielder, but if you don’t hit well, you won’t make it to the Bigs.  If you are drop dead gorgeous, but you have bad breath, the prince isn’t going to kiss you.  We need the entire package, we need all 5 of the tools, we need to brush our teeth and crush some mints.

Make no mistake.  Interviewing is a WINNER TAKES ALL game with players, judges, and a score.  

  • Players:  Candidates who are interviewing and looking for a job.
  • Judges / Referees:  Recruiters and hiring managers who are conducting the interviews and keeping the score.
  • Score:  How well you are doing at each stage of the interview.  This score adds up to a job offer or a rejection letter.

But when you think about it, the players, AKA “the candidates” never really learned how to play the game.  When was the last time anyone took a class on how to get through an interview loop and land an offer?   In most instances the judges, AKA “the interviewers” didn’t even learn the rules.  Not many companies can afford to have a formal interview-training program, which is why we get rude interviewers and the inappropriate interview questions.  Lastly, we don’t REALLY know the score.  We don’t really know the score until 8 weeks later when we get an offer or worst case, we have dropped off the map and never hear from Acme Publishing.  If we do receive any feedback from the recruiter, trust me, it is going to be sugar coated so the company can keep good relations with you, your social network, the local community and avoid a lawsuit.  Yes, this does all add up to the fact that it is hard to find a job.

Most of us learned what we know about the interview process based on our prior experience.  We interviewed, we got the job.  Conclusion: “This ain’t so hard.  I know how to interview”.  If we interviewed and didn’t get the job (same performance and different outcome) we reflect and make a small change in our behavior.  If we do get an offer, we assume it was our adjustment, but we don’t really know.

The rules are changing:
  • Every time you interview in a different economy, the rules change.  In some economies, hiring managers can afford to be VERY picky.  In others, the bar may be a little lower.
  • Every time you interview with a different company the rules are a little different.  One company wants a suit, the next one wants a blazer and the next allows flip-flops.  That is just the dress code, we haven’t even talked about experience, education, or your public speaking skills.
  • Within each company, all hiring managers are all different.  One went to Stanford and wants Ivy League candidates.  Another didn’t go to school and feels that job experience is considered the “equivalent”.
  • On average a typical interview loop will have 3-5 interviews.  Within that loop, one interviewer will care about your technical skills, one may not care at all, and the next may be looking for a friend they can hang out with.

Yes, it is a miracle anyone is getting hired, and yes, it is hard to find a job.

This isn’t a post that is trying to impart any knowledge; it was more of an acknowledgement that it is OK to ask yourself “why is it so hard to find a job”.  It’s a frustrating and full time job that will ask more of you than any prior position you held.  The kick in the balls is that you are NOT collecting a paycheck and the bills are piling up.

I encourage you to do as much research as you possibly can for every individual interview.  You cannot do enough research trying to figure out the rules.

  • Yes, this is a selfish plug, but I have a ton of inside information listed by category on interview tips, resume writing, and what HR really thinks about interviews, etc on the lower Left Hand Bar.  All FREE!
  • Glassdoor.com will give some insight to the management, salary, and interview questions.
  • Leverage your network so you can reach out to current and ex-employees of companies you are interested in.  Find out what it takes to get through the interview.
  • Most people know someone in HR / recruiting, or know someone that does.  As much as we all bitch about HR professionals, most intimately know the in’s and out’s of the interview process and if you ask them for SPECIFIC help, they will be flattered.  Let them know you keep running into one of the above numbered walls listed under the first paragraph and that is where you want the help.  If you are an HR person that declines the respectful and specific request for help to someone who is unemployed, you are dead to me.

See you at the after party,

HRNasty

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone that is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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  • Dodo

    To get a job we need to learn how to lie. We need to tell what the interviewer wants to hear. You can have best knowledge and experience, but if he ask you, “Do you know how to play guitar?” and the answer is no, so probably you are out. We are living in motherfucker system.

    • http://hrnasty.com/ HRNasty

      Dodo, thanks for stopping by. I am not asking anyone to lie. I am asking candidates to play on the strengths and not mention the weakness. If someone asks you if you play the guitar, and you do not play the guitar, I have to wonder how important playing the guitar is to the actual job, and consequently if a hiring decision will be made based on playing the guitar. If a hiring decision will be made on playing the guitar when the guitar isn’t relevant to the job, then I would think twice about working for this hiring manager. Hope this puts things into perspective. HRN

  • Annoyed

    HR Nasty – take a closer look at your comments section. You’ll notice that arty received more votes of agreement than your more chipper positivity drones. This is because this system sucks, and we need to shoot the people who make it suck and start afresh. This includes HR people, such as y’all.

    • Youonlyliveonce

      a the fuck men

  • Pamela Kennedy

    You could do everything right, have the right education, right background, right skills, show up for the interview impeccably dressed, not say anything wrong, but just BE the wrong whatever for the job for usually discriminatory reasons. Too old. Too female. Too dark-skinned. Too short. Too fat. Etc, etc. The interviewers can’t read. The moment they put a face to the resume, so to speak, their jaw drops, they hem and haw, then they ask you “so what subjects are you qualified to teach, again” with your MATH teaching license copy right in front of them. Things like that ensure that some people will never work again….unless it’s completely online, dealing with another country and sight-unseen…and getting paid in Pesos instead of Dollars….

  • http://twitter.com/RGONS1 Ryan G

    Yes, HRNASTY, you forget about the Saturation in the same position. My thought after a short stint, three years of research, and no expertise is go find something no one else does and do it, if some other folks do it, hope it is a small amount and do it better. I am looking at getting back to do what others, would not think of.
    Best to all on this post in the RR

    • http://hrnasty.com/ HRNasty

      Thanks for stopping by and I love the way you think brother. “amen”. HRNasty

  • http://twitter.com/RGONS1 Ryan G

    Yes, HRNASTY, you forget about the Saturation in the same position. My thought after a short stint, three years of research, and no expertise is
    go find something no one else does and do it, if some other folks do it, hope it is a small amount and do it better. I am looking at getting back to do what others, would not think of.
    Best to all on this post in the RR

  • http://www.facebook.com/lanzendorfer Joseph Lanzendorfer

    Question for you HRNasty: Let’s say you’re someone who’s so discouraged by the job market and potential income, that you’re considering going back to school, when really all you really need to do is follow your advice and keep at the job the search. On the flip side, maybe you’re someone who’s constantly tweaking the resume, researching companies, and working on interview strategies, when really no matter how well you do, you just need to improve your education. How does you know which category you belong in?

    • http://hrnasty.com/ HRNasty

      Great question. I could have sworn I blogged about this but didn’t find anything so I know I have a draft somewhere and will post it soon.

      This is a chicken or the egg question and I am not sure there is an answer without knowing a little bit about the individual. I would say two things. First and foremost, we need confidence going into the interviews. I interview so many people who are perfectly qualified but they lack confidence in themselves and I know that even if I feel they can get be successful, others will not and they will be declined. A self fulfilling prophecy of sorts. Others who are NOT qualified can get hired because they interview SO well. Confidence is what gets them through and they may or may not be successful, but they did get the opportunity.

      If you feel you have a strong background and are tweaking and changing tactics, to no avail, I would ask this. Where is the process stalling? Is your resume getting initial phone calls? Are you having the initial phone interview but no more? Are you getting multiple in person interviews for a single job but not getting the offer? I work with many people who seem to make progress but over and over the process ends at a specific spot. If you are NOT getting calls, it is probably your resume. If you have a phone interview but no in person interview, it is probably your phone etiquette. http://www.hrnasty.com/phone-interview-you-blew-it/

      If you are getting a single in person interviews, it is probably your presentation layer because you know how to answer calls based on your phone interview.

      Hopefully this helps, let me know if I can add more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kimberly.johnson.5492 Kimberly Johnson

    HRNasty is the best!!!!

    • http://hrnasty.com/ HRNasty

      Kimberly, I am so sorry I missed your note. Thank you for stopping by and thank you so much for your note. This is one of the nicest notes anyone has left on the blog and I really appreciate the gesture. Thank you!

  • artythekid@yahoo.com

    if u wana know the real problem with getting hired at a job heres why. 1. theres a million people applying for the same job, your chances are almost the same as hitting lotto. if you do actually get a call back it’s most likely you and other people you’re “competing” against. if you have a background forget about it, don’t even waste your time. plus most jobs nowadays give out drug tests so if you do any of those your also screwed. if you manage to pass all of the tests your chances of getting hired is still lower than a coin toss. if your young, for the most part forget about it. there gona pick an older person with family, kids, and bills 99% of the time before they pick you. if your a male (which i am) and your competing against a female, odds are your probaly not gonna get picked. yeah thats a bit sexist but its the truth, espically the state i live in (connecticut). also add on the construction jobs and restaurants nowadays who take in illegal immigrants who will work cheaper than you will and also do twice as much work as you would. then theres the education part, if u got none good luck. i’m a 22 yr old male with a computer trade under my belt. i consider myself a little smarter than the average american (not to sound cocky) and have a load of confidence when it comes to anything. my resume was made by a professional from my school whose been working in the HR department for 40+ yrs. i’m a pretty smooth talker and can stay very calm under alot of pressure. ive never been arrested, have no background whatsoever, and dont use drugs or alcohol. im not physically built, and i didnt go to harvard. i drive a 95′ honda civic and can barely pay for my bills / pay to even live. i look for a job EVERY single day, put out tons of applications and resumes even to companys where i wouldnt have a clue of what im doing but rarely ever get call-backs. and like i said, even if i do, u gota go through that whole process of competetion. i try and try, but i cannot seem to find a solution. not physically built for construction, not illegal immigrant, not a female, and have no REAL education, which pretty much puts me in a simple category – minimum wage. the jobs in my area that are suitable for a person like me are taken up, even when some place isn’t hireing that still have 100’s or applications anyway. another thing is most jobs are found by connections. which i have none. dont have any friends or family that can “get me in.” so if theres anyone out there, anyone at all that can tell me a solution please explain. cant get unemployment, cant get food stamps, cant get section-8, cant get medical insurance or ANYTHING from the state of connecticut. like i said, if anyone has a solution then post it. ill wait. . .

    • Pamela Kennedy

      Well, I DID go to Yale, so never fear, THAT’S not your problem.

    • joeblow1984

      Obama hates you,

  • Larry McKeogh

    Here is more for you and others, Harvard Business Review “The Making of an Expert” Good quick read. It talks about experts are made not born. While on the one hand that is promising for everyone. On the other hand, that means that it takes time and deliberate practice to achieve expertise. That’s code for hard work. If you weren’t putting in the effort before you’ve got some catching up to do.

    • http://hrnasty.com/ HRNasty

      Larry,
      Thanks for sharing this.  Great read!  There are a ton of great references in there including to the movie Bottle Shock.  I absolutely, agree that making it through a interview loop and then being successful at work is about practice, but more importantly, knowing WHAT to practice.  If anyone is getting ready for an interview, know it doesn’t take 10 years of practice.  Just write down the top 50 interview questions and put them on note cards.  Practice the answers to these questions so you know what you are saying when you are asked.  You do not want to walk out of the interview saying “I forgot to say x, y, or z”.  Practice and preparation will help avoid this.  

      The other interesting thing that was mentioned was family support.  I think this is absolutely critical and will post that shortly.  Most folks get support early in their job search, but as time goes on, family tends to look at the candidate like a leper with no support. 

      Thanks again for helping out!

       

  • Larry McKeogh

    As always, well put HRN! Speaking from experience, it is hard out there. The toughest thing I’ve had to do in the last 2 years was to land that job. There was a lot of soul searching to discover who I was and what I thought I wanted to do. That was only half the equation. Very often the company i would interview with didn’t know who they were or what they wanted me to do. They thought they had an idea but it wasn’t it was fully thought through.

    This taught me that i can only control half the equation. That being the case I better make full use of that half. Why apply at a suit company when I want to work at a fliip-flop company (or vice versa). As you pointed out, how could I get the inside beta on an interviewer and company to be prepared on the company as well to make the necessary small talk and establish a report as quickly as possible. Glassdoor only gets you so far if that. Twitter and LinkeIn are great resources as well.

    Update your knowledge and meet as many people as you can. When I say meet, don’t just have a passing greeting. Learn about them, their background, their interests, skills, and talents. This is not a a passing event. Getting new jobs will continue to be difficult despite the economy. Genuinely knowing people will begin to pay off down the road. That is part of what an individual needs to be begin putting in place is their future plan while working on their current need. I came to this realization while also serendipitously reading Ried Hoffman’s “The Start-Up of You.” I am not sure about recommending it as a must read, but there are some nuggets of wisdom in there.

    As always, thanks for the thoughtful jog.

    • http://hrnasty.com/ HRNasty

      Larry, thanks for stopping by and the support!  You are so right, and I completely forgot about the point you make.  Often times companies do NOT know what they are looking for.  They start the interview process, meet a few folks and then realize they have the wrong job description and change the requirements.  Again, I don’t say this to discourage anyone, I say it so that folks realize it really “isn’t you”.  (sometimes the changes work in your favor)  Linkedin is a must for research on individuals who you may be interviewing with.  Will check out the Hoffman book.  Thanks for the great tips!