As a career counselor, I encounter all kinds of job seekers with barriers to employment. It is frequently the case that people do not know why they are being passed over or rejected.
When diagnosing a career problem I ask a lot of questions, I listen, and I observe - just like an employer will do. The difference is that I will tell you if you have a problem you need to fix.
I have learned to account for all of the variables. If someone is having difficulty obtaining employment I look at everything. The obvious include resume problems, lack of preparation for the interview, nervousness, or lack of experience.
The not so obvious problems are trickier to tackle… Not many people want to tell you what they really think about your bad breath. It is the elephant in the room but you are the only one who doesn’t know it is there.
Decisions about whether you will be hired are frequently made in a matter of seconds… Sometimes before you even open your mouth. How you are perceived by the people you hope will hire you is about a whole variety of things- conscious and unconscious perceptions.
Everything about how you present yourself matters when you are looking for work. You are being judged from the moment you arrive and throughout your interview visit.
It is hard to fix something if you do not know you have a problem… You are just not getting the job and you don’t know why. You have all of the right stuff – great resume, good interview skills, good experience but no one hires you.
The things no one will tell you?
- You smell bad
- Your teeth need cleaning
- Your voice is too loud
- Your voice is too shrill
- You talk way too fast
- You have really bad breath
- You talk too much
- You don’t maintain eye contact
- You slouch
- You need a haircut
- Take out the nose ring
- Cover the tattoos
- Your perfume is way too strong
- You have alcohol on your breath
- You look like you are stoned
- You smell like an ashtray
- You have too much skin showing
- You have a nervous tick
- Your outfit is ill fitting
- Your pants are too tight
- Loose the pink pants suit
- No you can’t wear that pink tie
- Get rid of the white sox
- Black tennis shoes do not go with your interview outfit
People do not like pointing these things out… it is embarrassing to you and it is embarrassing to them. And there is also the risk you might take offense if someone tells you to cover up or take the earring out…
Unless you are in a rock and roll band some of the adornments and dressing styles are just not appropriate to the work environment.
Your mother may not be the arbiter of fashion but she is a good barometer of what is acceptable if you want to get a job. If she says it is tasteless it probably is…
If you are struggling and don’t know why, maybe it is time to find someone who will be totally candid with you. It is time to get help from someone who will tell you the things that no one else will tell you.