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Top 5 Reasons Why Job Hunters Fail

Employers are being extraordinarily picky about whom they offer a job to. Recent US Labor Dept reports show that the number of people looking longer than 27 weeks has continued to grow each month during the last year. In this tough market, one slip-up on your resume, or goof at the interview, and you’re dead in the water. Many common mistakes can be avoided. I divide my time between talking to hiring executives, HR folks and working with job search clients. This gives me a very broad view of what people do that works, and what trips them up – often without realizing it.

To shorten your search length to re-employment, here are the top reasons job hunters fail.

  1. Failure to quickly sell your accomplishments and results. Resumes get glanced at and rejected in 15 seconds or less. Generic job descriptions, vague, and unfocused resumes don’t work. Employers now complain that most applicants simply don’t have the skills to DO the job. The Internet’s ease of use and the job hunter’s ‘click and send’ mentality has added to this problem–increasing by the thousands the number of resumes received. This has made it very hard to get noticed.

    Robin’s Success Tip: Take the Resume assessment quiz to determine if your resume will standout. Your resume needs to scream actions = results. Be specific and show where you saved money, made money, saved time or increased productivity. Use action verbs like streamlined, created, implemented — to show you’re a take-charge, get-the-job-done kind of person. Limit your resume to no more than 2 pages. When applying online always follow up by mailing a ‘hard copy’ resume – it doubles the chance of getting noticed.

  2. Not writing a cover letter. Human resources managers state that cover letter writing is becoming a lost art since job hunters think they can skip this step especially when they apply electronically.

    Robin’s Success Tip: A well-written cover letter has great power with employers and should always precede any resume sent. Simply make one document including both cover letter and resume. Open the letter with a powerful first paragraph that sums up your related experience, key strengths, skills and accomplishments you have to offer. Hiring managers continue to state that your cover letter demonstrates your communication skills and a well written one can capture the interview. Read more about improving your cover letters in Robin’s recent blog post.

  3. Not knowing how to control the interview. Dressing inappropriately, wasting time on lengthy discussions of your life story, not appearing confident, not being well-informed about the company, and nervousness, gets you off to a bad start — a start from which you may never recover. Employers often make snap decisions and many confess that they often mentally dismiss a candidate during the first five minutes after meeting them.

    Robin’s Success Tip: Immediately address the top strengths you have to offer, display enthusiasm for the job, show you have the potential to learn, grow and produce on the job. Start the interview in the best possible way: when the interviewer asks the, ‘Tell me about yourself’ question, forget an autobiography. Use the 60 Second Sell (outlined in Robin’s book+ audios 60 Seconds and You’re Hired). This technique has you analyze the job duties the employer wants accomplished, then select your top five selling points. Link these together into a few sentences and you’ve created your ‘verbal business card’.

  4. Flustered or stumped by tough interview questions. Today’s job hunters seem quite unprepared when they finally get to meet an employer face to face. They haven’t thought out the some of the tougher typical questions, such as: why should we hire you or tell us about your worse boss or why did the company let you go and keep someone else? Hiring managers say candidates seem to lack self-confidence and fail to convince the interviewer they can do the job.

    Robin’s Success Tip: Be ready for tough situational questions. This style of interviewing is prevalent. The interviewer probes to determine how you have performed in the past. Specific examples of past performance are required. These questions include: “Tell me about your worst boss.” “Describe a recent work mistake.” “What is your greatest weakness?” Do not torpedo your chances saying the first thing that comes to mind. Write out your answers to these kinds of questions before the interview. Try to put a positive spin on the experience. Say nothing degrading or negative about your former boss or company. Practice your answers making good eye contact to more effectively display confidence during the interview.

  5. Not asking intelligent questions. Hiring managers complain that all the candidate cares about is how much we’ll pay them, do we offer medical, and often insist they want more vacation – all in the first interview. Other candidate often search for something to ask – seeming spacey or uninterested – this comes across poorly.

    Robin’s Success Tip: Most employers listen intently to the questions you ask as a sign of how you’d think, and act, on the job. Impress the employer with good probing questions about job duties and management styles. That’s the best way for you to determine if you really want to work for the company. Avoid asking questions about salary or benefits. There’s plenty of time to secure a higher salary after you’ve been chosen for the job. Good questions to ask include: “Could you describe to me your management style?” “Where are your major concerns that need to be immediately addressed in this job?” “How have or do any budget cuts effect the department?”

- Robin Ryan

Robin Ryan is a bestselling author of 60 Seconds & You’re Hired!; Winning Resumes; and Winning Cover Letters Over 40 & You’re Hired; Soaring On Your Strengths; and What to Do with the Rest of Your Life. Robin has a busy career counseling practice providing individual job search services, resume writing and interview coaching to clients nationwide. Robin Ryan has appeared on over 1000 TV and radio shows including: Oprah, Dr. Phil, Fox News, and CNN. Find more job search help at:

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