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October 5, 2013

WorkWise: Turning a potential employer around

You’ve found a business with a culture and potential boss you like. However, you’ve been turned down for the job you wanted. How can you prepare yourself to land a job? How can you make an impact?

You’ve found a business with a culture and potential boss you like. However, you’ve been turned down for the job you wanted. How can you prepare yourself to land a job? How can you make an impact? Look at what a successful job seeker, coach and employer have to say.


Gina De Miranda, compliance administrator at Austin HR LLC in Austin, Tex., indicates that employers will operate from some “presentiments” based on your resume. “Generally,” she says, “you can disprove those by demonstrating that you have capabilities that may not be apparent at first blush.” This means listening to employers to find patterns in their reasons for not hiring you and, if necessary, incorporating those points in your resume.

Coach Marian Thier at Listening Impact in Boulder, Colo., favors being alert to “qualifications/experience not fitting exactly as defined on the job description, uncertainty about the ability to adapt easily to the organizational culture and seemingly different styles.”

Mark Joyner, founder and CEO of Simpleology Inc., a software business in San Bruno, Calif., comments that you might not have the skills small companies want, that they’re “attuned to their specific needs.” In larger organizations, he maintains, you can start at the bottom and move up.


How can you assess whether an employer is amenable to persuasion? If, after an interview, it appears that you’re not going to be hired, De Miranda recommends determining whether the person is open to ideas. If so, she says, “follow up with new ideas, saying, ‘I’ve noticed you do X. Have you ever thought about doing Y? I ran by your website and here are a few things.’” She mentions the importance of being positive about something they’re already doing. She landed her position by taking the initiative and giving her firm ideas about reorganizing some information.

“Offering to do something for free stuns most employers,” De Miranda observes.

Joyner proposes a simple solution: “Demonstrate to me that you can perform, solve a problem or teach me something that will tangibly improve my business. Only the thickest employer could ignore that.”

If you haven’t yet interviewed, “figure out how to do a creative demonstration, which will make you stand out of the stack of applicants,” he adds. “Say that you can do X, Y, Z and know the employer needs developers who can do this.” Then start demonstrating.

Thier goes a step further in recalling a client who was almost hired several times. Fear kept her from promoting herself well, even when she really wanted a job. “So, with little to lose on a position she coveted,” Thier says, “she said she’d take the job without pay for three months and if she didn’t exceed expectations, she’d move on.” She overcame the employer’s dubiousness and kept advancing her career there.


When you’re rejected, you might be tempted to “pitch a fit about it being unfair,” Joyner remarks, but show that you’re a good team player. Ask what the employer would want you to change that would make the difference. He suggests another way to phrase it: “If there were a possibility of my being hired by you, what would happen to make that possible?’ Say that you are coming back the next week and will be able to do that.”

De Miranda advocates presenting “an alternative solution for another need that the employer might have.” If that doesn’t work, find out what you were missing. See if you can develop that skill, experience or perspective to use in the rest of your search. Convert the “no” to a “yes.”

Dr. Mildred L. Culp of WorkWise® welcomes your questions at © 2013 Passage Media.

To license columns of WorkWise® for reprints, email, the Web or any other use, email

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