Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Want To Get Hired? Grow A Thicker Skin

J. Maureen Henderson, Contributor
I write about early career issues. Pithily.

I’ve been a job hunter during the Great Recession. And it was brutal, soul-killing stuff. In a couple of instances, I had multiple rounds of interviews in which the hiring managers requested I develop fully-fleshed out “mock” campaigns – campaigns for which they’d have to pay a marketing consultant thousands of bucks to create but which they could ask job applicants to whip up on spec for the chance at gainful employment. I know what it feels like to send out dozens of resumes and get nothing in response but radio silence. Feedback, positive or negative, becomes like manna from heaven. That’s why when I saw Shea Gunther’s email critique meant for the 900 applicants who had applied for writing jobs at his start-up, instead of taking umbrage, I found myself nodding along with his words. This is the same kind of advice I trade in myself and I make no apologies for it. The hard truth is that if you want a job in this economy, you need a thick skin.

Here’s why you should sack up and suck up the sometimes unpleasant truth about how you’re presenting yourself to the world:

The job market is brutal, especially if you’re young
As mentioned, employment for the 18– 24 year old set is hovering around 50% and it’s not unusual for schools to advise grads to prepare themselves for a 9 – 12 month job search after they’ve received their diplomas. Anything and everything you can do to get yourself from the classroom to the cubicle in shorter order is fair game. That might be an unpaid internship, volunteer work or specialized certification in your field. It should also involve seeking constructive criticism on your job hunt techniques.  As a newbie to the working world, you need an edge over the rest of your babe in the woods peers.  Any knowledge you can soak up from weary vets – be it hiring managers, career services professionals at your alma mater, recruiters, or folks already working in your preferred field – is valuable.

And if these nuggets of wisdom don’t land in your lap, you’re going to have to ask for them. Often you’ll get bland stonewalling from hiring managers about opting for a candidate “whose skills and experience were a better fit,” but if someone out there deigns to give you an honest appraisal of where you’re going wrong, sit up, take notes and send them an Edible Arrangements basket of flower-shaped cantaloupe skewers in gratitude.

Even if you expect a no, it doesn’t hurt to ask; help may come from unexpected quarters. For example, the brains and voice between the Recruiting Animal Show (an online call-in program for those working in the HR field) tells me that he frequently gets requests for resume feedback via LinkedIn and personally responds to each – an act of job search charity you might not expect from his bombastic social media style.

Feedback is an intel goldmine – if you know how to apply it - More advice and complete Forbes article

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