‘JT & Dale Talk Jobs’ is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I’m having the roughest hiring experience of my 26 years of life! I’ve worked wherever I could land a job as an administrative assistant: One employer moved its headquarters, and twice I got caught in layoffs. I’m now a freelance writer at a fashion/music label. This job was supposed to be temporary while I looked for an AA job, but I’ve been here 19 months. Now I’m hearing that not being an AA for so long is working against me. I’m more than equipped to take on the AA jobs that are abundantly floating around online, but I get no consideration for any of them. Where have I gone wrong? — Tara
Dale: You went wrong when you sat down at the computer to look at jobs that generate too many applicants. Picture a stack of a thousand resumes and someone zipping through them to find five people to call. That’s one call per 200 resumes, and that means you need to have THE PERFECT RESUME for that specific industry/company/hiring manager. So, if you have The Perfect Resume, you can sit at the computer and probably get lucky. However, if you’ve been out of the field a while, YOU might be perfect, but yours is not The Perfect Resume.
J.T.: I like that distinction — you might be perfect for the job, but your resume isn’t. Given how time-crunched and stressed managers are, that perfect person usually is the one who’ll require the least training, meaning they are looking for someone in a highly similar company or position. That’s why your best shot is leveraging your current job. See if you can move into an AA position within your current organization. Also, build relationships with all their clients — you never know which one might need someone with your knowledge and experience.
Dale: The only reason those time-crunched managers post jobs online is that they don’t know anyone to hire. The first choice is always someone with whom they’ve worked, and the second choice is a friend of a friend. That means for all those people who know your work, you’re better than The Perfect Resume. If all goes well, you’ll be their first and last interview.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.