Tag Archives: Skills missing

18 Reasons Why You Are Still Unemployed (repost)

I am reposting this article from www.careerrealism.com. This article does a pretty good job of highlighting some of the prejudices and presuppositions hiring managers have, and many of these eventually become official and unofficial hiring policies. But the real eye-opening “aha!!!!” moment here is reading the 450 or so comments from readers since the article first appeared in 2011. Many have a pretty lousy attitude toward the advice/suggestions given by the author (a consultant) which just serves to prove his points! In fact, many of the folks who posted comments displayed very negative and even obnoxious attitudes toward the article that was meant to help them…do you think those attitudes come across in job interview situations? You bet they do! Be sure to read the comments.

“Why am I still unemployed?”

This plaintive question is one I’m asked a great deal. I’d like to give a few  brief answers to this question.

1. You aren’t networking enough.

Almost all jobs these days are found through networking. If you’re applying  through job boards, searching the internet, counting on recruiters or responding  to want ads…you’re not doing enough. And, as I’ve said elsewhere, your resume is  almost useless.

2. You interview poorly.

We have interviewed a few people for a job we have open (office assistant).  While this is, admittedly, a lower-level position, I’m surprised and shocked at  how poorly people interview. Chewing gum, not dressing for the interview,  arguing, and saying what you will and won’t do are all interview killers.

3. You’re pierced.

Take out those facial piercings! Younger generation workers — this really  turns off old farts like me. I won’t hire someone with a facial piercing or  visible tattoo. It is unprofessional.

4. You didn’t shave.

Don’t go in with one of those “stubble beards.” Either actually have a beard  or be clean-shaven. The people who are probably making the hiring decision  really, really hate the three day stubble beards that are the norm among younger  men.

5. You’re asking too much money.

Look, there is a “great reset” going on. Salaries are lower these days. We  interviewed one person for a $30K job who had been making $70K. Frankly, we’re  not going to hire someone with that huge of a salary gap. It isn’t the problem  of employers you have lived beyond your means. Everyone is tight these days.  Don’t go asking for a large salary and tons of perks. You might well have to  bite the bullet and take much less to get off of the unemployment rolls.

6. You’re very overqualified.

Realistically, I’m not going to hire someone with 10+ years of experience  with a great deal of responsibility in their last job for an entry-level job.  Entry-level jobs will be filled by entry-level people. All you do when you apply  for these things is annoy the employer. I know you might be desperate. But it is  better to consult or start your own business, than to apply for entry-level  jobs. When I see someone with extensive experience applying for an intern job,  I’m not even going to interview them. I know that they’ll be gone in a heartbeat  if something in their field comes along, and that they won’t stay and grow with  my company. I also know they’re going to second guess me, not be coachable and  generally be a pain in the neck. Don’t bother to apply for these jobs.

7. You’re “shotgun” applying.

I made the mistake of running an ad on one of the major job boards one time.  BIG mistake. Everyone and their sibling applied, even with 0% of the  qualifications. The rule of thumb is — if you don’t have at least 60% of the  qualifications called for, don’t apply. You’re wasting your time.

8. You smoke.

Many of us won’t hire smokers. The smell on their clothes drives off  customers. They get sick more often. They take excessive breaks. And, frankly,  it’s a filthy and disgusting habit. Quit and quit now. Your career future, not  to mention your life and your health, may depend on it.

9. Your job title has disappeared (or is endangered).

You’re probably not going to find much in real-estate or housing now. And  while Defense is currently a good industry, it is going to be cut by the current  Congress, though I suspect there will always be a market for things that kill  and maim. But many job titles and industries have disappeared. Some jobs are  being done by robots. Others are being done by people already in the company. It  might be time to go back to school or change industries.

10. Your attitude stinks.

You might be coming across as having an arrogant or generally bad attitude.  If someone is not upbeat and positive, I will rapidly end the interview.

11. You’re depressed.

Many people who have been laid off and can’t find work in a hurry need  anti-depressants. Get on them if you need them. Just be careful which ones you  use.

Some depression is normal during a time when you’ve lost your job. But if  you’re always in a dark mood, crying, unmotivated and not sleeping, see your  family doctor at once.

12. You’re angry.

Your anger is not hurting the “jerks” who fired you or laid you off. It is,  however, killing you physically and killing your career. Get over it.  Realistically, if you were fired, you most likely deserved it. If you were laid  off, it was nothing personal…just a business decision. Deal with your anger  before interviewing.

13. You didn’t follow the directions in the posting.

In our last job posting, we asked for a brief statement with a resume telling  us why, after looking at our website, the candidate would like to work for us.  Only two people even came close to following the directions! Do what you’re  asked to do in the job posting or by the hiring authority. If you’re not going  to do what your potential boss asks you to, you’re not going to do what he or  she asks you to when you’re employed, now, are you?

14. You missed an important piece of the interviewing  process.

We asked a candidate we liked to come to one of our events and meet our  clients. She wrote us an e-mail and said she couldn’t make it, but wanted to  continue to the next phase of interviewing. Well, that was the next phase of  interviewing! This woman had posted she had been unemployed for two years. No wonder.

15. Ya yack too much!

More extroverts talk themselves out of jobs than into them. Shut the blank  up, for crying out loud! More about that here.

16. You’re evasive.

If you’re asked a question, answer it. Don’t beat around the bush, and don’t  give stupid canned answers. A clear example of this is the number of people who  say, when asked about a weakness, “I guess I’m just too much of a  self-motivated, self-starter who is too hard on himself.” Stupid  answer.

17. You can’t communicate.

Don’t make the interviewer crowbar information out of you. If you can’t  communicate well, you won’t get employed. If you do happen, by some miracle, to  get employed, you won’t last long.

18. You’re unprepared.

I’ll be very clear. If you go up against one of my highly prepared  candidates, you’re going to lose and lose big. Don’t be cheap! Hire someone to  help you with interviewing, networking and finding the hidden jobs. If you’re an  executive in Denver Metro, talk to us about hiring us. If you’re elsewhere, find  a good, honest career coach. But be careful. Read my article in  ColoradoBiz about how to avoid job scams here.

While some people are long-term unemployed for no reason, we can usually see  a reason when someone can’t seem to find a job. Those who have a great attitude  and have been able to overcome depression, anger and unrealistic expectations,  will usually land in a hurry. Good luck!

Read more at http://www.careerealism.com/reasons-unemployed/#KWp8J3veKVTrLlpv.99

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The Top Skill Most Job Applicants Don’t Have

According to the 2011 Society for Human Resources Management Poll that addressed recruiting and skill gaps, the following percentages of HR professionals indicated that job applicants lack skills in these key areas:

  • Critical thinking and problem solving: 54%
  • Professionalism and work ethic: 44%
  • Written communications: 41%
  • Leadership: 39%
  • Teamwork and collaboration: 36%
  • Verbal communications: 36%
  • Information technology application: 30%
  • Creativity and innovation: 25%
  • Lifelong learning and self-direction: 21%
  • Ethics and social responsibility: 19%

The one item on this list that will catalyze your professional career is critical thinking and problem solving. You can possess just about all the other skills on this list and be an “exceptional employee,” but it is critical thinking and problem solving that will catapult you into the realm of game changer and solutions provider that hiring managers value highly. Critical thinking and problem solving encompass not just an ability to reconcile quantitative challenges and task-focused skills, but also people-focused and self-focused skills.

Today, more employers and hiring managers are seeking candidates who possess “executive intelligence,” not just leadership and personality. But being able to assess so-called executive intelligence has proven difficult because, outside of IQ tests, no such standardized assessment exists, though IQ tests do a good job of predicting managerial success more than any other assessment. But high scores on an IQ test by academicians does not guarantee brilliance in the corporate world because it’s a different type of intelligence. Hiring managers can’t tell just by reviewing a résumé whether someone has business or executive intelligence because most candidates emphasize duties and responsibilities rather than achievements and accomplishments that contribute to higher strategic objectives.

However, for hiring managers to predict a candidate’s ability for success in a particular skill, they first must examine the cognitive knowledge that candidate possesses that directly influences success with that activity in a business context.

Nearly every type of work can be divided into three basic categories, each with dependent sub-skills: (1) getting work done (task focus); (2) cooperation between individuals and other functions (people focus); and (3) personal behavioral flexibility (self-focus).[1] Table 1 is a detailed breakdown of the sub-skills that comprise these categories.

Table 1. Three Categories of Work and Associated Sub-skills

Task-Focused Skills People Focused Skills Self-Focused Skills
Identify and define problems along
with their immediate and secondary
issues
Acknowledge and anticipate how
different perspectives can lead to
different conclusions
Reflect on honest feedback that
identifies errors in decisions and
adjust accordingly
Foresee obstacles to solving
problems and create alternative
solutions
Be aware that others may have an
agenda different than your own
because of different priorities and
objectives
Be aware of your presuppositions that may limit your perspective and temper your thinking and actions with this awareness
Review the soundness of your underlying assumptions before working toward solutions Anticipate different responses by individuals to actions or communications Don’t hesitate to acknowledge errors in thinking or actions or implement drastic courses of corrective action
Rephrase in your own words the pros and cons of the arguments of others so that you are working from common context Avoid focusing on issues or positions peripheral to the central one(s) that is at the heart of disagreement or difference Communicate the critical errors or weaknesses in the positions of others while recognizing any strong suites
Understand the knowns, the unknowns, and the best approaches for acquiring the missing information needed to move forward Anticipate probable and possible unintended consequences from any course of action Know when to resist objections and to hold fast to a sensible, reliable course of action
Explore all viewpoints to uncover any possible unintentional results from implementing any action Stakeholder management requires an awareness and balance of different requirements
Approach projects with a sense of ownership, which is a quality mindset–a get-it-done-right-the-first-time attitude Maintain a desire to help others succeed without expectation of anything in return the same way a candle loses nothing to light another Maintain an attitude of being self-employed regardless from where that paycheck comes; it is an empowering attitude that will be recognized by the right people
Approach projects with a sense of urgency, which is a purposeful, resolute focus to getting things done Maintain a sense of the graceful exit because your reputation will continue to linger in the hallways and cubicle neighborhood for some time after you leave a company

Modified after Menkes, Justin. “Hiring for Smarts.” Harvard Business Review, November 2005 pp 1-11.


[1] Justin Menkes, author of Executive Intelligence (HarperCollins, 2005) refers to three categories of managerial work as: (1) accomplishing tasks, (2) working with and through others, and (3) judging oneself and adapting one’s behavior accordingly. I see these as basic categories of work at all levels, not just managerial.

Read more about critical thinking skills in my White Paper, “Critical Thinking Skills and Business Intelligence: What Hiring Managers Look for In Experienced, Professional Candidates” at www.donnleviejrstrategies.com.

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