About to be on the poor man's canned bean diet... need work!
October 31, 2012 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Help me figure out why I'm not getting any bites on jobs-- I get callbacks. I get interviews. But when it comes down to obtaining the job and subsequent paycheck itself, I'm failing.

I've been scouring the newspaper, Craigslist, online job postings in general, networking through friends and other random people I barely know and hitting the pavement to see what's out there.

I've been applying anywhere and everywhere that is either hiring someone for entry level work and/or customer service related work (which I have roughly 5 years experience in). I am learning more towards customer service related work... and I've had 2 interviews in related work just this week.

Both, I thought, went well. The first (a call center) gave me a callback after the interview for a second interview. I was not able to talk to him over the phone, and got a voicemail. I've called back to schedule that second interview... and... nothing. I've called back twice to leave messages with his secretary. Still nothing.

The second (a bookstore) gave me a callback after the interview to let me know all the positions had been filled. I was then abruptly hung up on before I had the chance to ask what I could do to improve on my interviews in the future.

For some reason, that really hurt-- just as much as when you think you've had an excellent first date and that the person really likes you and then sends you a shitty text letting you know they never want to see you again. I don't know what went wrong there. I'm wondering if I should call back and ask-- but after that weird abrupt hangup, I'm almost afraid of what the answer would be.

Where should I go from here? Is there anything I can do to figure this out without being able to get a hold of either of these people? In these interviews, I was confident, helpful, gave good and not-too-long answers and seemed to really impress the interviewers with my attendance in previous jobs and the pure volume of clients I've worked with in the past.

Help, please? What did you do to get past the rejection from a job you thought for sure you'd land?

I had one job a few months ago when my school semester started that was essentially telemarketing for scholarships from alumni but it really wasn't something I was excelling in and was only a few hours a week and therefore, wasn't a large paycheck. I've been leaving it off my resume due to the short time I was working there (barely a month). I'm not required to tell employers about this, right?
posted by camylanded to Work & Money (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a resume and cover letter? If so get someone to check over it for you. They might be able to see mistakes you haven't seen.

Keep interviewing the same way, these places you have gone to are just unprofessional and you wouldn't want to work for them anyways since they are treating someone like that.

And to your last question...no. My last job lasted a month and my boss was extremely immature and accused me of stealing. No way in heck I would ever put that on my resume. But since you said the problem was a paycheck, I would include it, just saying it wasn't for you and tell them why.
posted by Autumn89 at 10:36 AM on October 31, 2012

I'm wondering if I should call back and ask-- but after that weird abrupt hangup, I'm almost afraid of what the answer would be.

I can almost assure you that it is nothing personal. Consider that they probably have many of these callbacks to make, and people who want to keep them on the phone probably want to argue their case and beg for the job anyway -- they are not looking for an honest assessment of their interview. If you would like to know why they didn't hire you, your best bet is probably a brief and polite email to the person you interviewed with, but to be frank, they have nothing to gain by spending time going over this with you, so they are probably not going to take time out of their busy job to do so. If you want interview feedback, your best bet is to get a friend or former employer (professor?) who is familiar with interviewing and hiring people to do a mock interview with you. Maybe there is someone at the Career Placement office of your school who can do this for you?
posted by Rock Steady at 10:41 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would change your method of finding jobs to apply for. If you apply for rinky-dink companies, they act like rindky-dink companies.

Have you tried your local utilities (phone, power, gas, water). How about large companies in your area. Hospitals are another good place to try.

Do a functional resume, listing your skills at the top, with your work history underneath. If you're a student, don't include stuff that's not relevant to your job search (feel free to leave off that 1 month gig, babysitting and fast food.)

Don't bother with calling anyone back to ask for feedback. It's pointless. Move on.

Go to your career center at school and see if they have anyone who can help you with your resume and inteviewing skills.

Check out Work-Study and see if there's anywhere on campus you can work.

I like LinkedIn and SimplyHired for finding good positions to apply for.

Hang in there, it's not easy for ANYONE to get an interview, let alone a job.

Don't take rejection so personally. You'll find your fit.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:45 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Assuming you're applying for appropriate positions (you're not applying for a PhD-level job when you failed out of high school), and recognizing that this is taking a very broad brush to the process:

...if you can't find jobs to apply to, you're probably looking in the wrong places.
...if you're applying and not getting interviews, it's because of your resume.
...if you're getting interviews, but not having your referenced checked, it's because of how you come across during the interview.
...if you're getting your references checked, but not getting offers, it's because of what your references are saying.
...if you're getting offers, it means all the above lined up right.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:55 AM on October 31, 2012 [22 favorites]

You need to sign up with a reputable temp agency or three.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:01 AM on October 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

It's exceedingly rare that an employer will give feedback to an applicant about why they weren't hired. It does no good, and maybe even does some harm to ask. It's much better to be graceful and professional. Express gratitude for the interview, wish them best of luck, and express a hope that they'll keep you in mind for future openings.

As noted above, if you want feedback about your interview style, it's best to get that from a career counseling or vocational services type place.

The reason people do and don't get hired are a crazy mix of subjective and objective factors - it's hard to articulate them. In this job market, every applicant is competing with a lot of others, and it's very tough. The best you can do is to have relevant experience and highlight it effectively. Let them know how *you* can help *them*.

It's very impressive when candidates have done research about firms prior to the interview, especially when they ask intelligent questions about the company works and how the job they are applying for fits into the overall mission. Such prior research and question asking can elevate you in the interviewer's mind as someone who has a genuine interest and who is proactive.
posted by jasper411 at 11:38 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

We just had an entry level admin position open with my company and got 100 resumes in less than a week. We interviewed 10 people. About half of them would have been just fine, and two of them were fantastic. What made those two stand out were attitude. Even without us asking about it, they both emphasized their positivity and ability to work with a lot of different personality types and it was obvious neither of them were lying about that.

And even in the above scenario, someone we considered fantastic was still not chosen, so please keep that in mind as well. There are just a lot of people out there looking for work right now, and that's probably more of your issue than any other single factor.
posted by something something at 11:42 AM on October 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

First of all, you're not "required" to put anything on your resume- your resume is to represent yourself in the best way possible.

Second, depending on where you live, there may just be a ton of people competing for these jobs. Like, you may be one of 200 applicants for a single position. So it could be you're actually doing well by getting to the second round. I know that doesn't help, but sometimes wondering "WHAT AM I DOING WRONG??" can just be a way to beat yourself up and lose confidence. Sometimes it's just hard to get a job.

That said, in situations like this, I often had luck with companies that were hiring a lot of people at once. Like, you could look for a new store opening near you, where they need to hire a whole staff at once and can't be too picky. Also, yeah, temp agencies. While almost universally staffed by repugnant people, they are a way to get your foot in the door when all else fails.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:49 AM on October 31, 2012

This might sound discouraging, but... keep trying. It took me 6 interviews before I landed my current job -- not because I was unqualified or I interviewed badly, but because there are so many excellent candidates for every opening. There were 2 places I interviewed where they flat-out told me I was their second choice. I was lucky that for this job, out of the 8 people interviewed, I happened to be the person they were looking for.

That said, having someone looking over your CV and cover letter is always a great idea. I definitely started getting interviews once I took the advice of a friend and restructured my CV.
posted by toerinishuman at 12:03 PM on October 31, 2012

Response by poster: I should mention that the job I got turned down for was a brand-new-not-yet-opened store that said they were hiring a full staff. The DM that interviewed me said I was one of the last people to be interviewed for the positions available... from what she said about what I would be doing and also the length of the interview, it seemed like I had a definite in. (The interview was 40-45 minutes long which is much longer than interviews I've had in the past where I actually got the job).

You're right though, it's totally possible that they'd interviewed many people. I'll never know I suppose because I was overly confident in my ability to get a job and didn't ask.
posted by camylanded at 12:07 PM on October 31, 2012

Definitely keep trying and maintain a positive attitude. I KNOW how much it sucks to be turned down, and that each rejection feels personal and wears away at your self-esteem. But the kind of candidate that people want to hire is the kind who can roll with the punches. Bear in mind that the interview isn't just about your skill set, but about finding someone who fits into the office culture. Being a pleasant person who would be fun to work with (and competent!) has gone a long way for me in my search. In my most recent job, all my supervisors were surprised that I was quitting because, "[I] always seemed so happy". Joke's on you, fools, I was miserable! But seriously, a smile on your face and a good outlook will take you far, as corny as it sounds.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 12:27 PM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was then abruptly hung up on before I had the chance to ask what I could do to improve on my interviews in the future.

Companies aren't job-training centers. I doubt that I'd be able to tell someone how to improve, if I was caught flat-footed by that question.

Get someone to tape you on camera, if you think you're doing something with your hands, face and/or voice that's not helping you. Practice interviewing with a friend.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:22 PM on October 31, 2012

A friend will probably be the last person to tell you where you are going wrong.

If I were you, I would seriously consider some interview training. Google "interview training" + city / town near to where you live.
posted by jacobean at 4:15 PM on October 31, 2012

So many things can factor into this. It could be the company, it could be you, or it could just be circumstances. Timing plays into these things in a big way. If they already had their heart set on a candidate and you came in the end, you are unlikely to sway them. I would try some practice interviews with friends. It will feel funny at first, but you will know who will be game and honest but constructive with their feedback. More importantly, however, make some appointments with staffing agencies/headhunters/recruiters. While more companies are hiring directly, often using LinkedIn, a lot of wonderful jobs never even make it to the public sphere and are contracted out to professional staffing groups. When you go in, be prepared to take a computer test and make sure you are current on the last two versions of software. Those agencies don't always have the latest version and, of course, Word & Excel are the big ones. Occasionally, there is a typing test. Also, strongly consider temp work or temp to perm options. If you are using an agency, there are usually options for benefits like health insurance through them. I would not be surprised if you were doing everything just right and it's not yielding results. In an over saturated job market, many quality candidates will be passed over. There still may be things you can do to give your presentation some extra oomph, but I'm guessing having an advocate like a recruiter/staffing agency would go along way towards snagging you a job. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 9:19 PM on October 31, 2012

« Older I had a $500 MoneyPak stolen via hacker. I have...   |   Charming small-town stop between Atlanta and... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.