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Why No One Is Hiring You – Insights from a Hiring Manager

Metal gorilla with 'Now Hiring' sign

Finding a job in this economy seems like a daunting task. Anyone who is unemployed will tell you how difficult it is to spend hours sending out resumes, only to be met with an enthusiastic or nonexistent response. Yet we all know someone who successfully found a job that they love. It is not because they are luckier than we are or because they went to a better school. They got their job because they understand what hiring managers look for.

That’s right. If you are struggling to find a job, you are probably doing something to rub hiring managers the wrong way.

Hiring professionals have the demanding task to screen hundreds of resumes and cover letters for each position they need to fill in their company. With so many resumes detailing similar skills like proficiency in Microsoft Office, hiring professionals have a difficult time selecting their next star employee. They cannot interview every candidate, or even every qualified candidate, so they use specific criteria to interview only those candidates that look like great fits.

As a recent college graduate and current intern at OpenSesame, I wanted to gain insight on how hiring professionals screen candidates – what do they look for when selecting candidates to interview and fill a position? Here are the top 5 insights I gleaned from my conversation with a hiring professional here at OpenSesame.

1. You’re competing with a lot of other applicants. Companies typically receive more applicants and resumes than they are able to interview. The ratio of individuals who apply for entry level jobs to individuals brought in for interviews is roughly 3:1. For instance, OpenSesame received over 70 applications for the summer internship program and offered positions to 20 of those applicants. Candidates applying for higher-level positions are interviewed more frequently.

2. Your resume needs to stand out. Hiring professionals check that candidates have relevant experience matching the position, so be sure every item on your resume is directly connected to a requirement or preferred skill listed in the job description. Be sure to mention what you did at your previous job that made you a top performer. If you started using the computer after 1989, it’s assumed you know how to use Microsoft Word. Save that space to talk about how you increased sales by 40% or programmed an internal search engine that saved employees hours each day.

3. Employers check your references, but they also check your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Bad hires cost companies considerable time and money. Employers barr themselves from bad hires by verifying qualifications and experience with the candidates listed references. They will increasingly also check a potential hire’s social media sites. Make sure you are putting your best foot forward by refraining from posting (or successfully hiding) content that is profane or otherwise inappropriate for work. Your friends may love your party pics, but a hiring manager will not.

4. Sometimes it is not about what you know, but who you know. If you know someone in the company, you are more likely to be selected for an interview. It is crucial to create these relationships before applying to the company. Try taking a hiring manager or current employee out to coffee. This allows you to learn more about the company and build a relationship that can help you get your foot in the door.

5. Come to an interview ready to sell your abilities. While interviews vary based on the company, interviewer and open position, most interviews cover the candidates background and relevant experience (Click here for Frequently Asked Interview Questions). Come prepared to enthusiastically convince the interviewer that you are the best candidate for the position. After the interview, follow up at your discretion. If the interviewer stated an exact time they would correspond with a decision, the candidate should not follow up before that given time. Respect the fact that hiring professionals have busy schedules and have a lot of candidates to correspond with. Thank you notes and emails are appreciated, but following up via telephone may annoy some hiring professionals.

OpenSesame has a variety of courses geared toward helping you land your dream job. Here are some suggested courses:

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Frequently Asked Interview Questions

1. Describe your strengths and weaknesses.

2. Considering your education and work experience, why do you feel you are qualified for this job?

3. What do you see as the value of belonging to professional organizations?

4. Why did you apply for this job?

5. What is your philosophy of collection development?

6. Do you like working with people?

7. Do you have any experience with audio-visual materials?

8. Do you have any experience in setting up displays?

9. How do you feel that your education has prepared you for this job?

10. Where do you expect to be professionally in five years?

11. How would you handle a person who objects to a sex education book on the shelf?

12. How would you handle a question over the phone that you can’t answer immediately?

13. Is there any time that you would refuse to answer a patronís request?

14. If we ask your present supervisor what your present strengths are, what would he/she say?

15. Why should we hire you?

16. Name two books you have read within the past two months and describe one of them as though you were recommending it to a patron to read. Why would they want to read it?

17. What qualities do you think we should look for in a prospective reference librarian?

18. Considering your working career, tell about the most stressful event you ever faced, and how you coped with it.

19. Picture this: It is 5:00 PM and you are relieving the day shift. You are the only reference librarian on the desk and the following are waiting for help. In what order would you answer them and why?

a. A young child with a homework assignment

b. A trivia question; the contest is on now.

c. A woman who has just read Jannette Daileyís latest book and wants a recommendation for a similar book

d. An elderly couple wanting advice on how to do their genealogy.

e. The city managerís office is on the telephone.

20. What did you do to prepare for this interview?

21. What is your style of leadership?

22. Describe your ideal job.

23. What was your most challenging supervisory experience?

24. What do you like most about archival work?

25. Describe differences among patrons in a public library, an academic library, and a special library.

26. If you were assisting a person at the reference desk and the telephone rang, what would you do?

27. After you have eliminated the backlog, how do you see this job as challenging to you? What will motivate you to come to work?

28. Why did you elect to attend the University of South Carolina?

29. Why did you choose librarianship as a career?

30. Can you tell us about a particularly tense or chaotic situation at the reference desk and how you handled the incident?

31. What would you do if you heard a staff member provide a patron with an incorrect answer?

32. Tell us about a team or group project you have worked on and how you have contributed to it.

33. Tell us about your experience with information technology.

34. Why are you interested in this particular career?

35. What strengths do you bring to a reference position and what areas would you like to improve?

36. What are the things you particularly like about your present job?

37. What was your most important work-related accomplishment in the past year?

38. What contributions could you make to our library?

39. How would you describe your management philosophy?

40. What type of management style do you prefer?

41. What sorts of people do you enjoy working with most?

42. What kinds of situations do you find stressful?

43. What would you do if you were at the desk and both the phones were ringing and there were three or four patrons already waiting and a demanding professor interrupted?

44. Outline your science background, including: science coursework, library school coursework in science reference, and science library experience.

45. What is your public service experience, including bibliographic instruction, reference desk, and collection development?

46. What is your knowledge and/or experience of library technology?

47. How does this position fit into the career path you have set for yourself?

48. Give us an example of a time in which you felt you were able to build motivation in your coworkers or fellow students in school.

49. Describe the most significant achievement or written project/presentation/report which you have had to complete.

50. What are your strengths and weaknesses as a librarian?

51. Give us an example you did in a former job that contributed to a teamwork environment.

52. What would you do if you were unsure of how to answer a reference question?

53. What are your current research interests?

54. The role of the reference librarian and the reference department has changed a lot in the past five years and will probably continue to change. How do you see reference service changing in the next five years?

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