We finished re-writing her resume into a hybrid format the first of October. I assured her that recruiters hate hybrid resumes and that she would need to network like crazy to find work. Why? This would be her first interview in 12 years, as she’d been taking care of kids. I must add; she is smart, articulate, and well-educated. And scared. I asked her how soon she wanted to go to work, as I need to know if the individual is serious, when I coach him or her. “How about Thanksgiving?” she asked. Let’s call her Pearl.
In my experience as a recruiter and outplacement consultant, finding work usually takes six weeks minimally. Pearl may accomplish the goal if she treats the job search like a job, working at least six hours a day.
No work experience in the last 12 years. Very little volunteer work. Joined APICs ( the leading professional association for purchasing and inventory control) a few years ago to learn the latest industry jargon, but attended only a few times. No certifications with a little knowledge of Six Sigma.
Pearl flailed a little. “How about I apply where my husband works?” she asked. Although her husband has a lengthy history with a Fortune 500 job, his company regularly suffers layoffs, no matter the longevity of employment. After a short discussion, she decided to target corporate headquarters with hefty distribution in consumer products near her home. The second week she slowed down, while sending resumes and arranging coffee dates with her target list of contacts.
Career Fair Confidence
Her chosen target company would have a career fair early the next week, mostly for warehouse workers. She searched to find an appropriate opening and submitted her resume online, but took hard copies of her resume to the fair. The night before the career fair was restless, as fear crept to the forefront. In the morning she dumped the fear, put on a happy face and her new, interview duds, fully intending to get the job. She didn’t think it was practice.
In job search, people must push themselves into their discomfort zone. With resumes and a big smile, she took a deep breath and asked the person at the registration desk, “Which line is for the professionals?” No professional recruiter was available, but they let her talk with one of the recruiters for hourly workers. When she explained she was targeting a particular job, he asked her to wait while he ventured behind the scenes to see if he could find the right person. No luck, but he took her resume, telling her, “I’ll make sure the right person sees your resume.”
I called her for a mock phone interview. I could tell that her positive attitude and action could mean quick success. The call came the next day. After a few quick questions, she heard, “Pearl, could you visit with Mr. Rover tomorrow?” Music to her ears!
We scurried to assure she knew the difference between behavioral and traditional questions. Since neither of us had time for a face-to-face interview, she studied www.quintcareers.com. I gave her a document about competency based questions. With limited time for preparation, she’d need to “wing it.”
Mr. Rover turned out to be the hiring manager. He showed her the warehouse and asked her if she wanted to move forward with the interview (she said yes). Her interview lasted more than two hours. Later that day, he called to offer her the job.
Got the Job!
“Wow! Whew! Great job, Pearl!” I did the happy dance with my cell phone.
Why was she successful? Attitude, likability, friendliness, articulation, overcoming fear with confidence and credentials meeting their needs. She applied for a lower level job to re-enter the business world. Both company and candidate know a learning curve exists. Her resume didn’t get the job. The interview sealed the deal, as they saw her eagerness and confidence. She didn’t apologize or beg. She showed them she would be perfect for the opening. Asking good questions, listening carefully, while connecting, contributed to her success.
You, too, can shorten your job search. You must focus and target what you want, plus believe in yourself. Her attitude demonstrated she would learn quickly. Pearl got the job on her first interview in 12 years. Use her for your role model!
All the preparation cannot take the place of confidence and attitude! These are Pearl’s words of wisdom for your first interview after a gap…or any interview for that matter!