When I first became a recruiter, I tried really hard to be a “friend” to the candidates and I worked diligently to help them along the way – so much so that it was to a fault. That help came in the way of “feedback”.
Well, to put it mildly, I had to stop doing that because it opened Pandora’s Box.
In the end, I learned two things: Either the candidates weren’t going to take my advice anyway; or on the opposite end of the spectrum, they inundated me with so many follow-up questions that I couldn’t do the number of placements that I needed to because, essentially, I was doing a lot of hand-holding.
So, in short, I was helping them to go land a job on their own without any commission or financial gain to speak of. As the saying goes: No good deed ever goes unpunished. It’s nice to be noble, but not at the expense of going bankrupt.
Of course I understand that candidates want to know why they didn’t score the job, so here are the top reasons that it doesn’t matter anyway…
It’s a Very Competitive Job Market
It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there in the job market. So much so that even getting an interview is an accomplishment in itself. Depending on the company and position, one job ad could reel-in hundreds of hopefuls – many of which will have a higher education and more experience (who will undoubtedly work for less money).
So, simply put, the odds are definitely stacked against you and not scoring the job doesn’t mean you’re any less valuable or employable.
The Feedback Will Be Filtered (Possibly Untruthful)
When I send candidates out for interviews and they don’t get passed to the second round, almost immediately I get phone calls asking why they didn’t “make it.” It’s especially disappointing if the interview was for their dream job.
The long and short of it is that sometimes employers tell me why they chose certain applicants, and sometimes not. Even if they do engage in a dialogue with me about the interview, they are rarely going to give it to me straight and unfiltered. Here is a short list of what they could have thought but wouldn’t tell me anyway:
- Too casually dressed
- Arrogant behavior
- A lack of confidence
- Too desperate
- Bad at interviewing
- Underprepared: no “homework” done
- Long-term goals are too lofty
- No long-terms goals to speak of
Or, maybe, they didn’t like the candidate’s haircut. Actually, it doesn’t really matter because if they didn’t think the interview went well, it’s best for everyone to just move on because there is no use beating a dead horse.
You May Not Fit Into Their Company’s Culture
A candidate may be a “perfect fit” on paper, but they just don’t fit into the culture of the company.
The fact is that employers today are a lot more discerning when it comes to hiring, and a major consideration for many companies is whether or not the applicant will disrupt the harmony of the team they will be working on.
I remember going out on interviews in the 1980s and 90s and, basically, they were “personality” interviews. If the HR person liked you, they gave you a handshake right there in the office and said “welcome aboard.” Well, needless to say, those days are long gone.
Employers are now a lot more methodical and scientific about the hiring process, and it’s not just because of internal policies or even legal reasons (although those considerations do exist); mainly, companies have learned a lot of hard lessons about how one rotten apple can spoil the bunch – it’s truer today than ever before.
The Takeaway: Focus on What You Can Control
If you’re discouraged because you aren’t getting the job offers you would like, then focus on what you CAN control. You are never going to convince a hiring manager to stop making bad judgements because it’s human nature; and if they make a decision to not hire you, then perhaps it’s not the right company for you anyway.
What you can control: preparation, preparation, preparation.
- Do lots of research on the company
- Scour the internet for profiles of current and past employees
- Read reviews about the company’s interview process
- Research the hiring methodologies and then strategize
- See if the hiring manager has a blog so that you can gain some insight
In closing, you would be shocked to learn how underdogs can outperform more experienced candidates in the interview and score the job. That comes down to being humble and wanting it more than anyone else. I see it happen regularly.
We’ve all heard the countless stories of billionaires dropping out of college and becoming the world’s most successful people, so I’m definitely not going to bore you with those same, old, tired anecdotes — in short, college can’t measure a person’s aptitude or attitude; so some believe college is “useless”. But, and here’s the big but; some employers “prefer” candidates who hold a diploma because it does prove the following things to the decision-makers in human resources:
Navigating today’s college environment is a minefield. Sure, counselors do exist, but jumping through all of those academic hoops (for the sake of “rigor”) is incredibly frustrating. If you have the fortitude to make it through all of the heartache, then it definitely proves that you are (at the very least) trainable.
You Can Commit to Something
For most, it takes four years to finish a BA or BS degree, so recruiters and HR managers take that into consideration when selecting candidates. Completing college does prove you have enough capability to make it through the rat maze. After all, you have to dot every “i” and cross every “t” or you can’t graduate. You need to have, for example, thick skin to put up with uncooperative members of your group projects, just as you would in a real-world work environment.
You Can Be Organized
Going to college has never been a walk in the park, but in today’s age – because of all the cutbacks – it’s more difficult than ever. Fewer classes are available, for example, so students must be hyper-organized and manage their courses carefully. Your graduating depends on it. In today’s “multi-tasking” environments, being organized is an important aspect of meeting your obligations to employers.
You Can Use Technology
It’s impossible to pass college if you’re not familiar with technology; students today are immersed in it. For example, when investigating journals for essays, students need to use a number of not-so-easy database systems to find their research, and then cite that work in their papers and present it all in a multimedia PowerPoint presentation to their class. And, when doing “group work,” it will often require use of virtual platforms for collaboration – just as teams would do in corporate America.
You Can Write (Hopefully)
Even if you’re a student that does the bare minimum just to get by, going to college will absolutely improve writing skills – but especially if you actually take your studies seriously and go for honor roll. Reading all of the “academic” writing in the text books, as well as engrossing yourself in peer-reviewed journals written by “prestigious” doctoral candidates, is going to make your writing skills better. Even the most relaxed professors aren’t going to let you get away with sub-standard essays when you report your findings. So employers, simply put, want employees who can write; and candidates who hold a college degree, on average, write better than those who don’t.
You Can Meet Deadlines & Work Under Pressure
College is all about deadlines and working under pressure, especially during finals week. Missing your deadline could mean not passing a class or graduating, so the stakes are high. Today’s work environments, in many industries, have strict deadlines as well. College trains candidates, to some extent, to be ready for real-world scenarios.
You’ve Got Patience
I, for one, found college to be very frustrating because of all the bureaucracy. Of course there were days that I wanted to scream and just say “eff” this and quit – but I didn’t; I stuck with it. If college is, in fact, truly “worthless,” it does actually prove one thing: patience. If someone has the diligence, composure and endurance to finish college, then it does prove something to hiring managers about the character of the person applying for the job. All jobs require patience because demands from employers are more rigorous than ever.
I already know what you’re going to say; I’m going to get bombarded with emails that say there are people with master’s degrees that can’t even mow their own lawns because they don’t know how to turn on the mower. And, I know, you’re right. But the stark reality is that the job market is so over-saturated with candidates that even entry-level jobs can require a BA degree just to get the interview; and since the software sorts out resumes that don’t have a degree, great candidates do get passed-over.
Believe me when I tell you that recruiters and HR teams wish they had the manpower to review each and every resume and interview every candidate we think would have a shot, but the fact is that limited time and tight budgets prevent us from doing that. Further, employers put policies in place that sometimes prevent us from making the kind of decisions we’d like to make when hiring. It’s not HR’s fault; it’s the world we live in.
Today’s competitive job market is just a reminder that being on you’re A-game is always a good idea. There’s no room for complacency when competition for jobs is at an all-time high. If you’ve found yourself not getting as many interviews or job offers as you’d like, then consider the following:
Is your resume specific about your abilities? Your resume should not read like a job description; it should list accomplishments from your prior jobs – preferably with some statistics to back it up.
Focus on getting a realistic position. Instead of just blasting your resume to 200 jobs and hoping for the best, hone your target list and customize your resume to highlight skills that fit the employer’s needs. Less is more, so go for quality and not quantity.
If you want to change careers, be sure to demonstrate how your “transferable skills” can serve the employer’s needs.
Spruce up your resume. If you’re using an outdated resume style, then it’s time you catch up with the 21st century. Kill the objective statement and use the top of the resume for a “Summary of Skills”. This allows employers to know in an instant if you have what they want.
Optimize your resume. It’s statistically proven that you have less than 10 seconds to impress the recruiter before they delete your resume, so be sure the layout is clean and contains relevant information about the position you’re applying for.
Don’t include a photo. Resumes are not the place for a photo, but you can’t put one on your LinkedIn profile. Since human resource departments are using scanning software these days, photos and text boxes can prevent the software from doing its job; thus deleting your submission.
If I see one more article online that says you should just quit your job if you don’t like it, then I’m going to scream. Absolutely, positively, without reservation, it is the single worst piece of advice that you could ever receive. The person usually giving the (bad) advice is most often famous, rich or privileged in some way, and they have the luxury of just walking off of a job they don’t like. Actually, I even doubt that the people who tell others to quit have actually done it themselves.
I often get emails from celebrity personal assistants who said they just quit their job with some A-lister and they’d like to get another job with an A-lister. Well, it’s not so simple. If you can’t handle the pressure or hours at your last job, it’s not going to be any better at your next job.
Well, guess what folks? If you follow some “expert’s” advice to just quit your job because you don’t like it, these are some of the real-life things that can happen to you (whether or not they have a back-up job waiting in the wings).
Even if you have another job lined up, then you walk into a world of uncertainty at your new job. For all you know, you will get fired during your probationary period for something that’s completely out of your control. Are you willing to take that risk and be unemployed? Jobs with celebrities and billionaires can be very uncertain.
You can become “unemployable”
There is a stigma attached (in some employer’s minds) to people who are unemployed. And this “unemployable” situation is especially toxic if you are unemployed for six months or more. The (wrongful) conclusion that some employers draw from extended unemployment: If nobody else wants this candidate, then we don’t either (because something must be wrong).
“The grass is greener on the other side” syndrome
If you quit your job and start another one, you just trade one problem for another. Just because there is some aspect of your job you don’t like doesn’t mean you should quit. Your new job will also, undoubtedly, have some aspect that you won’t like either. In short, no job on the planet is 100% free from headaches.
Jobs are scarce
Scarcity of jobs is the “new normal” and the actual unemployment statistics are much higher than you realize. The published numbers don’t actually include underemployed candidates (or the ones that have given up searching altogether). A number of high-profile experts put the real unemployment rate somewhere between 12% and 14% (Just Google “the real unemployment rate” and you’ll see for yourself).
It makes me laugh when I see the nightly news say that “unemployment is down” because the fact is that millions of people are still unemployed. For much of the middle-class, the “recession” is still here.
If you leave your job in search of another one, you’re going to find out (if you haven’t been in the job market for a while) that it’s ultra-competitive even for minimum wage jobs. One job ad can easily get 100 submissions, so at best you have a 1% chance of getting a job you apply for. The better jobs could actually bring as many as 500 to 1000 candidates to the table, so then your chances drop dramatically lower than 1%.
The takeaway: Don’t quit on emotion and find a way to solve the problem that you have a work, whatever it may be.
If you’re thinking about becoming a persona assistant to an executive, entrepreneur, local celebrity or high net worth family, there has never been a better time. The demand for PAs is overwhelming, and with so much to do in a single day, the new “right-hand” is a must have.
Great job perks
Working as an assistant is so much more than a paycheck – it’s an adventure. If you’re working for a celebrity or billionaire, for example, then traveling on private jets or staying in world-class homes is commonplace. Essentially, you’re getting paid to see the world.
A personal assistant job is one of the few professions where candidates without a college degree can make six-figure salaries. The key is to fit your skill-set with the right employer because every PA job is different (based on the employer’s personal needs and industry).
No two days are alike
The days of gofers are over. While it’s true that an assistant does simpler tasks like running errands and going to the grocery store, most personal assistants are hybrid positions with executive PA, so they are attending high-level meetings and managing personal and professional calendars.
Learning from business leaders
If you’re working with an icon of industry or some other business mogul, then you’re going to see them in action every day that you go to work. This experience, in a word: priceless.
A great stepping stone
Being a personal assistant to a renowned executive, celebrity or business leader is a fabulous way to prove yourself worthy and either move-up in that company or start your own. Many celebrity assistants, for example, have gone on to start their own companies using the experience and leverage they gained from working for the famous person.