I realize that being unemployed can be a difficult, discouraging, scary and for some, even humiliating time. This is why unemployed people need support and understanding. I see that groups are showing up on LinkedIn for this purpose, including Star Candidate for Hire and www.chicagopinkslips.com and Lemonadeit.
What those who are looking for work do NOT need is self pity. There is NO room for negativity in a job search. You can NOT approach you job hunt from the belief that you are “owed” a job, or that you deserve a job simply because you happen to need one. You can NOT view yourself as the victim of a bad economy, a bad company, a bad boss, discrimination, or anything else. I am not suggesting these things are not real, I am only suggesting they cannot be the focus of a person in the job market.
You DO need to focus on what you want and what you have to offer. No whining allowed. I am a generalist manager, so recruiting has always been part of my job, and I recruit at all organizational levels. I screen resumes and cover letters, I do phone interviews and I do initial interviews in the hiring process. I am the one who presents candidates to the hiring manager. I consult with the hiring managers and compare impressions of candidates we have interviewed. If any negativity comes through during this process, the candidate is quickly dismissed from consideration. No one wants to think they are hiring a malcontent.
I once phone screened a candidate who lived out of state for a high level position. I was impressed by the experience on his resume and felt it was worth a call to explore the candidate’s interest level. However, once the subject of education came up (he brought it up), the candidate began to complain about the jobs he is not able to get, because he does not have a college degree. His attitude on the phone went from negative to grouchy to downright bitter. I did not want to present this candidate to my managers! First, a college degree was a requirement for this position, and this candidate had no positive spin on his lack of formal education. He could have mentioned any special training or coursework he did have or emphasized the value of on-the-job training, or highlighted what he was able to accomplish without a formal education. Instead, he complained about how unfair employers have been by requiring a degree he does not possess for certain jobs.
Sorry, but if an employer wants to insist that you have some special qualification to be considered for a position with them, be it a degree, industry experience, a special certification, or anything else, that is their prerogative. It is your job to either show them why you do not need that particular qualification to do the job, or to graciously pass on this employer and seek out an employer that will value the qualifications you do possess.
I do mean be gracious. There is no point in complaining. Let’s go back to the dating analogy. Say you ask a woman out because you find something about her appealing. You look forward to a fun and engaging conversation with her, but she proceeds to spend your time with her bellyaching about why other men don’t like her. Would you want to spend more time with her? Let’s face it, whining is a turn off, no matter what the situation.
The best thing you can do in a cover letter, phone interview, or face-to-face interview, is establish a rapport and be an engaging conversationalist. Be likable. Talk about what you like or find interesting about the person or the company you are asking to work for. Focus on what you want and on what you have to offer. This is where your support network comes in. Practice interviewing with friends. Rehearse your answers for the tough questions. When you are on the phone, stand up and look in the mirror. Watch your own facial expressions – they will likely match your voice intonations.
Make sure your positive attitude is reflected throughout your job search. Any posts or comments or blogs or tweets have to be focused on what you are looking for and what you have to offer. Keep those key messages in mind any time you are online, at a networking event or in an interview situation. It will carry through, and it will make a difference.