December 21, 2010
Is there a reason I'm still unemployed?
When I presented my career seminars this year, I noted that many professionals had been unemployed for quite some time. I heard repeatedly that, "Employers aren't responding to my application," or "Even though I'm getting interviews (phone or in-person), I don't yet have an offer."
While there are various reasons a candidate isn't selected, executive recruiter Erin Holland-Collins has had her share of experience with many candidates in the financial sector, and has some ideas. She's seen many mistakes candidates make that cost them great opportunities.
"I had a scheduled phone call with a senior executive," Erin recalls. "The applicant told me, 'Hey, I'm at Starbucks waiting for my coffee. Do you mind if we delay the interview until it's ready?' "
"Sure," followed Erin. Erin assumed that the candidate had already ordered coffee, so they began a casual conversation until it was ready. Fifteen minutes later, with the loud noise of Starbucks in the background, Erin was ready to get off the phone.
Another executive applicant had a phone screen with Erin and picked up the phone while driving. Erin asked if this was still a good time to chat -- giving him the opportunity to back out and reschedule -- but the candidate insisted they proceed. Not only was the road noise too loud, from time to time the candidate yelled at other drivers or honked his horn.
Erin remembers calling a graduate student with a couple of years of experience and asking if this was a good time to chat. The applicant responded with, "Yeah, what's up?"
"Is this typical of applicants these days?" I asked her. "You'd be surprised," Erin admits. She says that more than 70 percent of qualified applicants -- at least on paper -- fail the hiring process because of lack of personable sales or marketing skills.
What are recruiters complaining about these days?
- Non-responsiveness, or taking a few days to respond to the recruiter.
- Candidates who want their post-interview status right away. Erin recalls a candidate who interviewed late in the day and called the next morning to see if the hiring manager had made a decision.
- Taking a phone call during an interview. The only time this is appropriate, Erin says, is if your wife is delivering a baby.
- Being in an inappropriate location when the phone interview is scheduled. (One recruiter once told me a candidate answered the phone call at a "gentlemen's club.")
- Candidates who haven't researched the company or haven't read the job description and want the recruiter to summarize the position and recite what the company's looking for.
- Not being honest with salary expectations up front.
- Entitlement. Many candidates feel that the position belongs to them right after a phone screen is completed.
- Unethical behavior. One candidate took the offer, but said, "Beat my current salary with my current employer and then I'll leave them for this opportunity."
- Unprofessional e-mail addresses.
- Unprofessional voice mails.
- Unprofessional attire that disqualifies candidates based on corporate policies. In the financial sector, this means jeans or casual Hawaiian shirts for men; and cleavage and short skirts (which Erin has been seeing frequently) for women.
- Candidates who apply for every job under the sun. When recruiters log in to their applicant tracking system (ATS), they can see the entire history of positions to which you've applied. Some ATSs can deactivate your account if you apply to too many openings.
What's the craziest experience you've had with a candidate?
Erin says a candidate once showed up without an appointment and asked to be interviewed. Another candidate asked the recruiter if he could borrow some money to grab something out of the vending machine. When the recruiter didn't have any money to lend, the applicant went to the receptionist and anyone who was walking by and asked for money.
In my next post, I'll share some of Erin's tips on how candidates can get on the recruiter's good side.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
- career profile (155)
- cool jobs (51)
- education and training (57)
- entry level (66)
- etiquette (95)
- events (70)
- featured (323)
- finding your passion (89)
- health care (70)
- interviewing (76)
- job fairs (54)
- management (72)
- market trends (89)
- networking (261)
- resumes (93)
- salary (80)
- social media (79)
- technology (103)
- unemployment (53)
- work/life balance (85)