CINCINNATI - So you've applied to job after job and you just can't land one. Well, you're not alone. But you could be throwing up the 'don't hire me' flag and not even know it.
Whether you're handing in your resume at a job fair, dropping it in the mail, or clicking send on an email, you're starting the application process which can be confusing, intimidating and sometimes brutal.
"We'll get 400 resumes, easy, sometimes within the hour of posting we'll get 40 to 50 resumes," explained Andrea Pitts, director of HR at Interstar in Florence, Ky.
Meet your HR help team:
Mary Spadaro was the 2011 president for the Northern Kentucky Society of Human Resource Management and is the HR manager at Employee Management Services.
Ed Hoppenjans has been filling positions at Qualis Automotive in Hebron for more than a decade. Prior to Qualis, he was the HR manager at a temp service.
Andrea Pitts, director of HR at Interstar in Florence, Ky ., is also here to help.
With the nationwide unemployment rate at 8.5 percent, the job market highly competitive. These three experts have more than 60 years of experience in the field and they know their stuff.
Whether you're looking for a part-time, full-time, or seasonal position, always do your research.
"You want to know the company, you want to do your research before you go, you want to know about the business, about the employees, about the culture. So when you go there you're able to fit with that, and answer to that," said Spadaro.
Being under-prepared could ruin your opportunity, but sometimes being over-prepared could too.
"I've seen a lot of candidates come in sort of ultra-prepared, when you know their responses are canned, I can tell from the beginning that they are probably not going to be a good candidate," Pitts said.
Don't be the first to bring up vacation, sick time or benefits.
"You don't want to sit there and focus on the benefits or how many PTO days you are gonna get or sick time," Spadaro said.
No matter what the job, dress professionally. This shows that you are taking the position seriously.
We asked the experts if they'd ever interviewed candidates that were not dressed professionally.
"A girl that came in with probably five inch bright purple heels, gold things in her hair, even revealing clothes, too. You want to come in and make sure the clothes fit appropriately," Spadaro said.
While Spadaro will interview the candidates, Pitts sometimes will not.
"We have people that show up in flip flops, ripped jeans, t-shirts and we are not interviewing for those types of employees, so for the most part I won't see them," Pitts said.
Good news for those of you out of work: Nowadays gaps in employment are not red flags, they are a sign of the times. It's how you explain your gaps in employment that you need to focus on.
"If you were unemployed instead of sitting at home, did you volunteer? Did you work at your child's school? Did you help out in the neighborhood or maybe you picked up a part-time job? A lot of people don't put that on the resume because they think it doesn't apply, but you were still doing something, it shows some initiative," Spadaro said.
Before you submit your first resume, cover all your bases.
- Make sure the message on your voicemail is professional.
- Check the security on your Facebook page. Most people would suggest making it private or removing anything that you wouldn't want your potential employer to see.
First impressions are lasting.
"How you treat the receptionist or the person that gives you the application to even the person you interview with is important," Spadaro said.
Make sure to tailor your resume and the cover letter to the job you're applying for.
"If you do have several skills, make sure that resume is geared toward that job. If you give a generic resume we're not going to find the information that we need," Hoppenjans said.
Most importantly, practice your responses, research the company and be prepared to sell them on how you can help them. Every interviewer will ask you if you have any questions, silence is not an option.
"Ask the interviewer why do you work here? What has kept you here? Why do you like working for this company? How does my role in this position fit in your business plan?" Spadaro said.
Don't get too personal in the first interview.
Some people think that sharing your personal stories is good, it's never good, especially with your first interview. This includes the resume. Click here for a story of dos and don'ts on your resume when it comes to personal information .
Finally, a message echoed by all of the experts, be creative and set yourself apart.
"If it's a marketing position, put together a marketing campaign on yourself and why they should hire you. Or put a marketing campaign together
on their services. Out of the box, set you apart and show that you can do the job," Spadaro said.
Getting feedback from a failed interview, could help you improve your performance in the future.
If you do not get the position you could call the Human Resource manager you interviewed with and politely ask them if they could give you some feedback from your interview. If you explain that you are disappointed and trying to improve your interviewing skills they may be willing to give you some information.
And for more tips on how to get hired, watch the videos in the player above. They contain more in depth advice from Spadaro, Pitts and Hoppenjans.