Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I’ve had a series of jobs that don’t appear related. They’re in different industries. Each one of them uses only some of my skills. On a resume they look like hop-scotching.
I have to find a way to find some work that truly satisfies me, because I keep running into deadends. I can’t blame the people who hire me, because it’s up to me to figure out what I want to do and get hired to do it. Wrongly Focused
A: Dear Wrongly, Nope, you’re correctly focused, because you want to dig deeper to find what you should be doing rather than what you’ve been doing.
Think about skills you demonstrated as a child that have remained with you. Write them down to see if they, as a whole, suggest any one kind of job you’d enjoy.
If they don’t, identify the ones that come to you most easily today. Which one would you like to dominate your work? What occupations and/or industries value that skill and use it? Where could you take it so that you’re valued for bringing something different to the organization? Sell competence and difference. mlc
Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I’ve been interviewing and diligently following up afterward. I haven’t missed a single employer.
After listing the reasons they’ve given for not hiring me, I’m totally confused. Here’s the one I’ve heard three times: “We really were looking for a person who has X.” They’ve also mentioned that they were looking for more (or less) experience. One mentioned that he hired from within. Another mentioned hiring a relative of a college classmate.
This is so discouraging that I don’t know what to think. Deflated
A: Dear Deflated, You won’t be when you realize that failure to be hired in each of these cases wasn’t personal. In other cases, companies might not have hired you or anyone else. Overall, it would appear as if your number just hasn’t come up.
Marketers will tell you that the only way to make the number come up is to continue to stoke the job-hunting fires. Invest in a good coach or, if you’re absolutely certain you’re looking for the best type of job for you in companies with compatible cultures, take a break. A week off, even during the best job-hunting season of the year, could revive you and your creativity. mlc
Brittney Borowicz, job-hunting in public relations, responded to a posting. “The company seemed great and the position was right up my alley,” she says. “I was so excited when the owner of the company emailed me personally! Or, I was excited until I read the actual email.”
The woman commented on Borowicz’s “very elaborate cover letter,” although she stated a preference for “much simpler, direct writing.” However, the letter reflected “personality.” Borowicz thought twice about agreeing to the interview, but what the heck?
All signs were go after it, but another position elsewhere would put her on the career path she wanted. Conscientiously letting the woman know that she was out of the running, Borowicz sent a more-than-polite thank-you explaining her changed situation.
Rather than receive it graciously, the owner emailed, “WOW – not weighing your options. Really? Good luck to you then. You’ll need it.”
The applicant “was floored” by the negative environment this woman fostered. After recovering, she moved on. If nothing else, the interaction confirmed her decision.
The next time you apply through a posting, ask yourself why the employer can’t find a good candidate.
Dr. Mildred Culp welcomes your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.