By Anna Marie MacDonald, Workforce Connection Center Manager, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin
If you’re a job seeker in this labor market, it’s hard not to get discouraged. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the efforts to contain it, have caused the unemployment rate to climb to 14.7 percent, with particularly heavy losses in the leisure and hospitality segments.
As more businesses reopen and hiring resumes, job seekers are facing increased competition – some positions may see as many as 500 applicants – and you may find yourself wondering, “What does a person have to do to land a job?”
It Starts with the Interview
Your interview is your opportunity to make a good first impression on your hiring manager (HM), who you will be reporting to if offered the position. In filling this position, your HM has goals that affect whether or not they succeed at their job. According to the Society of Human Resources Management, the average cost-per-hire is well over $4,000. That’s why it’s in an HM’s best interest that the person they hire is a capable, permanent and reliable addition to their team, as well as easily integrates into the company’s culture (commonly referred to “finding a good fit”).
Some questions a hiring manager may be asking themselves include:
- Are You a Good Fit? Workplaces aren’t looking to fill positions with just any warm body; candidates need to be able to embody the company’s core values. If, for example, honesty is a core value, the HM will ask you a question about showing truthfulness, integrity or accountability. If, in your response, your behaviors aren’t in alignment with their values, you might not be considered a “good fit.”
- Will You Represent Our Brand Well? We no longer live in a 9-5 world; even when you’re off the clock, you still represent your employer. Social media can bring the worst out in people. This may lead to behaviors or activities that can inadvertently cause damage to the image of the company. The HM needs to know your values are aligned with the values of the company – even after hours.
- Why Did You Apply for This Position? In an employer’s market, “needing a job” is not a good enough reason to hire a particular candidate. Hiring managers are looking for longevity and competency in addition to availability. Therefore, it is important that the hiring manager ask questions about why the candidate wants to work for their company. Is it because you love the brand? Have you been a customer of this company in the past? Are you seeking only these kinds of positions? An HM needs to know that you’re passionate about the role you’ll be filling – and no, “doing it for the money” is not a good enough reason.
- Do I Want to Work with You? I’m going to let you in on a hiring manager secret: no amount of qualifications, certifications or education will get you the job if the HM can’t imagine working 8+ hours a day with you. Now, that said, here’s a job seeker secret: never take a job if you can’t imagine working 8+ hours a day with your HM. Life is too short to spend a quarter of it working with someone who is negative, aggressive or lacks the motivation to do their job.
Other Questions a Hiring Manager May Be Thinking About:
- Can I manage this person; will they take instruction, be aggressive, or try to take over?
- Do they really understand the role and will the challenges overwhelm them?
- Can they get along with the team or will they cause a disruption?
- Are they reliable in attendance and ability to perform job duties?
So, What Can You Do?
While some reasons – like personal biases, incompetent interviewers, and deciding to hire from within the organization – may prevent you from being extended an offer, it’s not completely out of your control. According to a Career Builder survey, there are some common blunders that prevent a candidate from being hired, which can easily be avoided.
Top detrimental blunders candidates make:
- 55% stated candidates are ‘Appearing disinterested’: Are you engaging in the conversation, not making eye contact, distracted?
- 55% stated candidates are ‘Dressing inappropriately’: First impressions are so important. Remember basic blacks, beige, blues.
- 50% stated candidates are ‘Talking negatively about current, previous employer’: If you have had a bad experience you have to consider if you had any part in that exchange. What could you have done differently? Change your behaviors because you will bring the same experience to the next position.
- 20% of candidates are ‘Providing too much personal information’: Don’t talk about health issues or why you can’t do something. If the job descriptions state you must lift a certain about of pounds, make sure you can do this task.
When in Doubt, Reach Out to the Experts
If it feels like your job search is going nowhere, don’t be afraid to reach out to expert resources at your local Goodwill. We’re happy to help you navigate the nuances of modern hiring practices, including resume writing and interview coaching. During this time of social distancing, many local Goodwill organizations are providing virtual career coaching, online training, live virtual classes, and other virtual career development services by phone or video conference, all at no cost to you. To learn about career services available in your area, visit the Goodwill Locator. Click the Filter option and select Headquarters only. Then, enter your ZIP or Postal code and click the magnifying glass or hit Enter to find your local Goodwill’s website, social media channels or phone number for localized information.