In one of my older articles, "You Only Have 3 Seconds to Get the Job Offer," I promised to explain how I know who should get an interview. The interview with me, a recruiter, is simple: If you meet the minimum qualifications to be considered, I’ll bring you in for the interview. Then the fun starts. There are a number of sure-fire signs that a person should not be submitted to a client. And I am not talking here about the basics: being late; being dressed inappropriately; smelling bad (from perfume, cologne, or cigarette smoke); bad mouthing current or past employers; talking about sex, religion, or politics; all the basics that everyone knows – or should know!

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Sick of getting rejected? Find out how to get a job that you're unqualified for... You see your dream job advertised. You immediately put pen to paper, or rather, fingers to keyboard, and send off a well-crafted cover letter, to which you attach your resume. In the letter, you explain that you have “transferable skills” and let your passion come forth from the page like boiling hot water and steam from Old Faithful. And your reward? Rejection. But you have “transferable skills.” You have passion. So, why are you being rejected? Because you are unqualified. “Transferable skills” means, “I don’t have the qualifications for the job, but do me a favor and interview me anyway.” No. Sorry. The employer does not need to do you a favor. The employer needs to fill the position with someone who can actually do the job. A person with a proven track record of success. A person who will not have a steep learning curve, if any at all (over and above learning “the company way”). “But,” I hear you say, “people change careers all the time. Why does it work for them and not for me?” Simple. They network. They get introduced by a credible person, someone whose opinion the employer respects. That person tells them, “I understand that you are looking for a marketing pro. I know a woman who would be perfect for the position. And, before you ask, she is totally unqualified, except for the fact that she has a great skill-set and more passion for marketing than you’ll find in anyone else. If I could, I’d hire her. Give her ten minutes.” And since I did that for one of my clients, I know it works. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Over the past nine-plus years, I have interviewed hundreds of job seekers. The ones that I remember most are those that presented poorly.

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Having trouble getting a job offer? Let’s begin with a few of assumptions. Since you got the interview your cover letter and resume were obviously effective. You arrived on time, were dressed conservatively, smiled, gave a firm handshake, had the right attitude, did all the basics of Interviewing 101. But you still did not get the offer. Why?

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“I know in three seconds who will get the job.” That’s what a friend once told me. He explained when candidates are waiting in Reception, all he has to do is walk through, take a quick glance at them, and he knows who will get the job offer or, at least, who will not. Three seconds is very good. Of course, as a recruiter, I pride myself on being able to know if a person has what it takes to get an interview after spending five seconds on their cover letter and maybe eight on their resume. The funny thing is, most job seekers don’t believe any of this. That’s why they prepare rambling cover letters and resumes awash with self-praise. Of course, they are wrong. But let’s forget about job seekers for a moment. How about funding seekers? Entrepreneurs looking for backers. In this month’s issue of Inc. magazine, David Tish of TechStars is quoted as saying, “It’s pretty clear in 20 seconds whether the person [the funding seeker] has it in them or not. You don’t need to know that much.” “You don’t need to know that much.” Remember that line, job seekers. And take a minute (it won’t take more than that!) to read, “6 Things Job Recruiters Pay Attention to, as Determined By Science.” Let me save you the time: your name; current title/company; previous title/company; current position start and end dates; previous position start and end dates; and education. If you have been reading my articles you know I am contrarian. I look at your location, hopefully a section listing selected accomplishments, years of employment and education. If all checks out, I look at skills and experience. Regardless, you get the message: No one cares about an “Objective” or “Professional Summary.” But here’s the rub: Resumes are changing. Before you know it everyone will have a multimedia resume like those on Purzue. Why? Let’s get back to Mr. Tisch. One entrepreneur who pitched to him did not do well. But then Tisch received a video from him with animal masks and flames which was a “ridiculously over-wrought (but effective) team video.” It made the case the team members “have a personality.” It clinched the deal. Having a video, albeit probably not an “over-wrought” one, may clinch the deal for you too! Just remember: You only have a few seconds to grab the employer’s attention and get the job offer. Don’t waste it on nonsense.

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My academic background is in International Relations. So, when a career counseling client comes to me with concerns about a “resume gap," I always smile (to myself) thinking about the good ole days of the “missile gap” when the U.S. thought it was behind the Soviet Union (regarding the number of missiles each side had). Common wisdom had it that the U.S. was far behind and had the catch up. The truth was actually closer to the opposite. It’s a good analogy because most people believe that the gap on their resume is a gap that needs to be explained, not filled. The problem is, if you have to explain something, it is, by definition, a problem. So, the best way to deal with a resume gap – meaning that you have been unemployed for some time – is to fill it. The question is, with what?

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