We learn from our challenges. It’s a message many of us have heard throughout our lives. Yet, when we encounter difficulties in our professional lives, it’s sometimes hard to swallow. Wright Brothers Day, which is celebrated each year on December 17th, is an ideal time to remind ourselves how challenges frequently lead to tremendous success.
As the folks at Intellectual Ventures point out, “The Wright Brothers wouldn’t have known any success if it wasn’t for their repeated and oftentimes painful failures.” From inclement weather to logistical and technological challenges, “it took the self-taught engineers years and numerous attempts to get anywhere close to powered flight.” Thankfully, the brothers persevered and the entire world benefited.
Aerotek’s recruiters know a thing or two about helping jobseekers overcome their challenges and turn what may feel like failure into career success. Here is some of their best advice on persevering in the job search.
1. Honesty is the best policy
It’s not so hard to imagine why a desperate jobseeker might resort to being less than truthful with regard to employment history. Yet, this is a technique that usually backfires. An experienced recruiter can typically tell when a candidate isn’t being straightforward about his experience or capacity to do a job. Sr. Professional Recruiter Matt Wiehe questions candidates’ honesty when they answer questions with qualifiers such as “To tell the truth,” or “To be honest with you.”
“It makes me wonder why they have to say that,” Wiehe explains. Don’t worry about trying to convince the interviewer that you are honest — just being honest will communicate confidence in addition to the truth.
Likewise, Sr. Professional Account Recruiting Manager Kate Keller gets “turned off when a candidate tries to sell … too hard. I feel that if a candidate has the required experience, he or she should be able to articulate it without over selling it.”
Sr. Professional Recruiter Sam Yeomans finds it nearly impossible to help candidates who lie about job experience or aren’t forthcoming about where they have already applied for employment.
Take our recruiters’ advice and always be honest about your employment history, educational background, skillsets and plans for the future. If there is something in your past that you are concerned may hurt your chances of being hired, talk with your recruiter about it prior to interviewing. Most likely, the recruiter will be able to help you come up with a plan to address the issue if it comes up during interviews.
2. Be impartial about your former employer
Over the years, Kate Keller has seen candidates perfectly suited for positions miss them because they’ve spoken negatively about their previous employer or coworkers. Keller says this is frequently an area where candidates can benefit from coaching. Once they receive it, she says, candidates often go on to find great success.
“No matter how bad a job was, you never, ever want to badmouth a former employer in an interview,” says The Daily Muse editor.
“Keep your tone somewhere between neutral and positive, focusing on what you’ve learned from each experience and what you’re hoping to do in the future. This especially applies when you’re talking about why you’re leaving…”
Instead of maligning your former boss and colleagues, work with your recruiter to develop an appropriate response to questions about previous jobs and employers.
3. Answer questions thoroughly but succinctly
When we’re nervous, some of us clam up, while others just can’t stop talking. Neither option is a winning strategy. The worst interview Sr. Professional Recruiter Jackie Ross has ever endured was the one where an applicant spoke for 45 minutes straight and Ross couldn’t get a word in edgewise. “The candidate was very long-winded and it was very rude and unprofessional,” she recalls.
On the other hand, says Aston Carter Recruiter Kate Schendel, “Interviewees should provide specific answers to questions, rather than dancing around them. Interviewers like when candidates can speak coherently and in detail about what they do on a day-to-day basis.”
So, remember — practice makes perfect. Recruiters are more than willing to roleplay the interview process, so candidates are prepared to answer questions articulately.
4. Keep it professional
When your interviewer is friendly and casual, it’s tempting to let your guard down during an interview. But, beware of becoming overly chummy with your interviewer, warns Schendel. Even if your interviewer swears, uses slang or alludes to being hungover, don’t join in. Also, take care to minimize the number of “ums,” “likes” and “ya knows” during interviews. Recruiters are unanimous about the need for candidates to conduct themselves professionally and appropriately in job interviews.
5. Be knowledgeable
Sometimes jobseekers show up for an interview thinking they’re prepared, only to realize they haven’t researched the job or company as thoroughly as they should have.
“Candidates should never ask what the job responsibilities are,” says Account Recruiting Manager Matthew Naples.“This is something each candidate should be well versed in, before their interview.” Doing a careful study of a company’s website, leadership team, the job or jobs available and what the jobs entail are all critical steps in preparing for an interview.
Don’t forget to take advantage of the knowledge your recruiter has about the job, company or employer so you make the best possible impression.
6. Be inquisitive
It’s that time in an interview after the hiring manager finishes describing the job and asking all the questions. “Any questions for me?” she asks. If you’re stumped, you may have blown the interview. Next time, be prepared with intelligent, thoughtful questions.
“Asking good questions shows you are prepared and that you care about the opportunity,” says Ross. And if you’re not sure what to ask, your recruiter can help you to formulate a set of questions prior to the interview.
When searching for a new job or making a career change, challenges are inevitable. The job search takes time, patience and the willingness to try, and try again.
“Job hunting is not a short game,” says career coach Kitty Boitnott, writing for LinkedIn. “I have compared it to a marathon as opposed to a sprint. If you are job hunting, and you just started out, get prepared to last for the long haul. I don't say that to discourage you, but rather to encourage you to take a long view. Given that the average job search is taking about nine months, if you have been looking for a while, you are not alone.”
So, don’t lose heart. Our recruiters can provide interview coaching to help you put your best foot forward and turn those career challenges into soaring successes.
For more tips on staying motivated in your job search, check out Tips for Maintaining Job-Search Momentum: Stay Motivated in Your Job Search.How have you learned from your challenges? Share your insights on Facebook and Twitter. Job-hunting? Visit Aerotek’s job board.