Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.
I started my career two years ago. The company where I am working right now has a bad reputation. It is time for me to move forward. I've been looking for almost two months and was called in for a few interviews but nothing very serious. I am starting to wonder if the company reputation is hurting my job search.
While it is possible that the reputation of your current employer might be impeding your job search, evaluate the effectiveness of your actions before assuming that your current employer is your only obstacle. You can't do anything to change your current employer's reputation, but you can strengthen your approach so that your current employer's reputation is not a factor. You say you have been looking for two months but not getting many interviews. This tells me that your resume probably needs an overhaul, and to do this you need to understand how resumes need to be written. Hint: The focus should be on what you bring to the job you are applying for, rather than a history of all you have done—there is a big difference.
Your desire to grow professionally is admirable, but remember that we all get hired based on credentials, not potential. If you had a choice of two candidates, one who is already doing the job you need to fill and one who doesn't have the right experience but would like to try … well, who are you more likely to hire?
Break down several job postings for your target job to see what experience and credentials are being sought and match these needs to your current skills.
If you have less than 70 percent of the skills or credentials required for a job, the hiring manager is going to have a hard time envisioning you in the position and you are going to have a hard time landing it.
But you are still ahead of the game because you have identified those areas where you need to build skills. You can start pursuing that knowledge right now by studying, pursuing professional certifications and volunteering to work on projects at your current job to gain experience.
Make sure that you are pursuing the right job. Do you have most of the skills necessary to execute the responsibilities of the job? If you are not more than halfway there, it's time to reconsider your target job. You need to aim for one where you can make a strong argument on your resume, in your interview and when you're hired. I think that for you, getting into a more positive environment where you can flourish is of prime importance.
Your interviews apparently didn't go anywhere either, and this could be because you are approaching interviews in the wrong way. Are you using them as a way to decide if this is the right job for you? This is a common mistake. Always go to job interviews with one thought in mind: "I'm going to do everything I can to get the job offer. Nothing else matters."
You have nothing to evaluate until an offer is on the table, so focus on the details of the job, its challenges and how you would execute it successfully, demonstrating your ability to do the work.
The worst that can happen is that you get an offer you don't want. This is good for your ego and shows that you are building your interviewing skills.
You cannot do anything about your employer's reputation, but you can do something about your approach to finding new work, and this begins with recognizing how much you can do to improve your resume, job search, interviewing and career management.
Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to YourCareerQA@shrm.org. We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.
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