“How can I figure out why I am not being hired”

Question: I was terminated from my last job about a year and a half ago. I have placed applications into almost every job that I am able to do, and no luck. I get interviews and everything seems to go fine, but they never hire me.

I am a good, reliable worker, and I do a good job. I was terminated from my last job because i was late, but that did not happen very often, and if I was going to be late I always called my manager to explain.

I cannot afford not to have a job anymore. How can I find out why this is happening? Any suggestions would be awesome. Thanks.

Rifle, Colorado

Answer: Dear James:  

A year and a half without a job is an awfully long time. Let’s see if I can provide some help: 

a. First, the fact that you get interviews suggests you and the positions are appropriate. Since you are getting interviews, it would seem that your skills match the positions you are applying for, and that your resume is of interest to employers. So far, so good.

b. Second, perhaps your interview skills – or something about your interview “presence” – is a problem. I don’t know what you wear to your interviews, how you conduct yourself, what you say in your interviews, and how you say it. Since you have the right resume to get the job interview, your behaviors during your interview are the first things I would try to examine to see if they are reflecting poorly on you.

To do so, you might ask a few friends whose judgment you trust, to participate with you in “mock interviews,” at the end of which you ask them, “So – would you hire me to take care of something important to you, like your family, your finances or your future?” Prepare for them a list of questions just like the ones you are asked in interviews. At the end, ask them to be brutally honest with you about their feelings about hiring you after the “mock interviews.”    
I’m particularly curious – and a bit concerned – about how you handle the question, “So, why did you leave your last employer?” I say that because your description of that in your letter to me suggested a possible problem with chronic tardiness. Perhaps you can come up with a better way to address this issue. 

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c. Third, it might be your background check or references that are the problem. If it’s not something you wear, something you say or something you do at your interview that’s holding you back, it might be what others say about you during background checks or in job references requested by your prospective employers. Who knows . . . maybe someone with the same name as you has been arrested many times or been sued as a deadbeat time and time again.

You have two choices here: One would be to have friends who own their own business perform background checks on you, as a favor, including asking your former employers for job references. The other choice is to engage the services of one of the many companies who can do this sort of thing for you. To find these kinds of companies, put “Job Reference Check,” or similar words, into your favorite search engine, and a list of these companies will pop up. I’d estimate the fees for this service generally range from $35 to about $150. 

d. Fourth, consider sending a short note asking for the same feedback you asked of me. Though it may be a bit “outside the box,” you might consider sending a sincere letter to some of those with whom you interviewed to ask them for some small assistance, in effect, “trying to feed and take care of my family.” Ask them if they can help you with this question: “Can you help me with something I am struggling with: Are my interview skills, or my background/reference checks, keeping me unemployed? If you were, like me, trying so hard to land a job, without good luck, I’m certain you would understand and appreciate this heartfelt request.” I can’t see this hurting you, and who knows, you might just find a helpful soul in this way.

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e. Fifth, you might consider a career advisor or coach in your locale. There are individual career coaches, and organizations that provide career counseling, in your locale that may be helpful to you. For this, again, I’d use a search engine to find one, and give it a try, as well. You might also ask around among your friends to see if someone knows a real “pro” at career coaching.

f. Finally, whatever you do, don’t give up hope. I find your continuing perseverance to be laudable, and your willingness to engage in honest self-examination something you should be proud of. When I am faced with a considerable problem that is hard to grapple with – which is more common than I wish – I rely on prayer. I don’t pray for anything other than what I really need: “strength, stamina and serenity” with which to continue confronting the challenge before me with continued determination. Almost always, these prayers are answered, and almost always, I overcome the problem. It’s truly amazing, but it works.    

I hope this is helpful, and that you will continue trying. If you do, I know you’ll succeed. Determination, perseverance and faith will sustain you, of this I can attest. 

My very best to you,
Al Sklover

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© 2011 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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