Job seekers work hard to become part of the very select group of candidates who are interviewed. Then, the job interviews present great challenges, a process that can extend for several stressful hours. So, it is discouraging to go through the process, repeatedly, with several employers and yet not receive a job offer.
Harry Urschel, an executive recruiter and job search coach, provides us with some insight into what might be having a negative impact on the success of your job interviewing.
Often close (job interview)… but no cigar (job offer)?
By Harry Urschel
While more qualified competitors, bad company culture fit, or other factors may be involved, consistently landing interviews but not receiving offers may be related to how professionally you present yourself.
Skills for a particular job are very important. However, in a tight job market, usually many well-qualified candidates are available.
The difference between the person who gets the job and the people who don’t is often in the less tangible factors that the employer is seeking. The missing factor is frequently “professionalism.”
How to Demonstrate Professionalism
Professionalism is not defined by whether or not someone is wearing a suit. Nor is it determined by whether they are in a highly-respected profession or able to use corporate lingo effectively, although professionalism may include some of those factors.
Among other things, professionalism is a combination of:
1. Attitude -
Do you come across as someone who will always find a way to get things done, or someone who always has a reason why it’s not possible, not realistic, not fair, or too hard?
A professional is someone who sees opportunity, not just finds reasons that something can’t be done.
2. Competence –
Are you someone who not only has the skills for the job, but can apply them to be effective in the tasks you’re given?
In order to be professional, you have to know what you’re talking about. You need to have understanding and insight into relevant issues in your field and be able to articulate solutions to problems.
3. Communication Skills –
Can you get across complex ideas about your work so that anyone can understand them?
You may have a great attitude and be highly competent in your field. However, if you can’t communicate your insight or ideas effectively to others, you miss the mark. Communication skills don’t refer to an accent, but rather the ability to be understood, speak in clear terms, and make complex subjects understandable.
4. Appearance –
Do you dress in a way that shows you care about your work and how you present yourself to co-workers, other departments, and customers?
Unfortunately, “unprofessional appearance” has been used as a euphemism for racism, sexism, discrimination against the obese, or other similar discrimination. Those are misguided and shouldn’t be a factor in considering your professional appearance.
However, appearance does matter. It’s not necessary for someone to wear a $2,000 suit to a job interview, but wearing clean and appropriate clothing that fits properly and is arranged well does play a part in presenting a professional image. A mechanic in well-fitting and well-cared-for cover-alls can create a professional image as well as a C-Level executive in a tailored suit.
Dirty, wrinkled, sloppy, and unkempt appearance damages a professional image regardless of the field you may pursue.
5. Appropriateness –
Do you have a sense of what’s acceptable in a particular setting, company, or group of people and what’s not?
Inappropriate language, slang, appearance, or subjects have as much to do with damaging a professional image as anything else. Running off on unrelated tangents in a conversation, cursing, or wearing a polo shirt to a formal executive interview each create an impression that you don’t grasp the particular role.
Like it or not, “bucking the system” rarely gets rewarded when pursuing a new job.
Each of these factors - and others - are evaluated, consciously or unconsciously, when you interview for a position. It’s often these factors, even more than skills for the position, that make the difference between an offer or rejection letter. Don’t rely on the skills on your resume alone to land your next job. Evaluate your professionalism to see if that helps your chances of an offer or hinders them!
Copyright, 2013, Harry Urschel. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.
About Harry Urschel
Harry Urschel has over 25 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives. He can be contacted by email at: email@example.com
More on Succeeding with Job Interviews
Job Interviews: Are You Listening? (Guest Post by Recruiter Jeff Lipschultz)