So what's he doing wrong? (Job hunt questions)

My husband has been out of work for about three months now. His severance has run out, and I’m starting to panic (he has applied for unemployment, but it’ll take a few weeks to come through - financially, we’re just going to have to cut things right now, which we know. We’re not destitute, we’re just trying to keep things tight).

He has sent out resume after resume after resume. Constantly. He hasn’t gotten ONE call for an interview based upon sending OUT a resume. He has had an interview that was set up through one of my co-workers at her former company, and he has had a phone interview through a contact at an insurance company - and should be scheduling a face-to-face interview with them within the next week or two as well. But in terms of bites from submitting his resume online…absolutely nothing.

He’s crushed, we’re both stressed and worried and freaking out (we also have a baby on the way, I got pregnant before he was laid off). At this point, he’s going to start applying at local stores for work. But it would be nice to at least get INTERVIEWS on his resume, which he’s just not getting.

I know his resume is fine - I used to do freelance resume writing, and my company did it for him (he’s gotten compliments on it). His cover letter should be fine as well. But he’s just not seeing a return.

We’re both getting incredibly discouraged, and it’s taking a toll on us both. We just can’t figure out what he’s doing wrong.

Any suggestions? Tips for job hunting?

First mistake…it’s a crappy market. That’s 90% of the reason he hasn’t found anything. You need to try to get laid off when jobs are more plentiful! :wink:

Next…I sent out roughly 500 resumes before I even received a Fuckyouverymuch letter. The HR world rarely responds in the polite, respectful manner they want you to respond to their ad in. That’s just the way it is. Don’t let it discourage you.

Finally, I think it’s great that he’s looking in another field rather than wallowing in depression. It’s productive, you can earn a certain amount of money and still collect unemployment benefits, and it’s good for your self-esteem. Good on him.

Good luck with the search. Look at it this way: he’ll have more time to bond with the baaaaaaby! That’s an advantage few dads get.

Is his phone number correct on his resume?

I hope he’s not sending the same generic resume and cover letter to everyone. They need to be individually tailored to the requirements of each position.

I found my last job via a recruiter (that the employer pays for, not the job seeker). I don’t know what your husband does, but there’s got to be an employment agency out there that might have some leads.

Just sending out resumes (even to posted jobs) rarely has gotten me even an acknowledgement. A personal contact or a recruiter working for me seems to help get the foot in the door.

First of all, what kind of work does he do?

Second, that he has gotten two hits from personal contacts, and 0 from resume sending, should be a hint. Could he make a list of companies which he’d be interested in, and try to find someone in those companies to call. A resume getting to the right person is going to beat the ones that flood HR.

The classic example is a guy who I worked with on an industry-wide committee who sent me his resume, after calling. While I was looking at it, a manager came in asking for help defining a job he wanted to fill. After listening to him for a bit, I showed him the resume, and said “here’s your man.”

He got hired after a job post that satisfied the minimal requirements of our company.

Good luck!

Given the market, the old saw really IS true: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

When I was job-hunting (while employed, fortunately) I got nothing from my online efforts. Monster, CareerBuilder, etc. all led to exactly nothing. It was when I started working my contacts that I started getting interviews. Is your husband still in touch with colleagues from his former company? Does he belong to any professional organizations? Does he belong to any social organizations? He needs to be talking to real, live people, and talking a LOT. He needs to be able to express the work he’s capable of and put out feelers through everyone he knows to see what’s available.

Something like 90% of jobs are filled without ever being publicly posted. In my experience, even jobs that are publicly posted are there simply to adhere to company policy about due diligence in finding candidates – in other words, they get posted even though the recruiters may already have their eyes on specific people.

And to echo what vertizontal said, each time he does provide his resume and cover letter, they should be tailored to fit the position he’s interested in.

This is true, and I think it is because HR people have taken the brunt of layoffs at many companies. When I started work we had 3 HR people dedicated for recruiting in a center of 500 people. My company today has maybe 4 for 10,000 people. They are busy dealing with offers and defining reqs (when we’re hiring.) Resumes that come in (and more do because of the ease of email) get searched for keywords and then dumped into a database, where they are sent to aliases of people looking for those keywords. There is no time to respond. I hope we auto-respond for emailed resumes, I’m sure we don’t for paper ones.

As for cover letters, I don’t read them when I’m hiring. Lots of people do, so tailoring them is a good idea. But definitely make sure to get the buzzwords for your husband’s field in, so the resume will get picked out by the sorting programs.

Another thing he might consider is temping. I’ve found all my favorite jobs that way. Pays well, too.

I’ve been unemployed several times, and I thoroughly understand how soul-crushing it can be. I was without employment when I finished University, when I moved to Vancouver, when I moved to New York where I had a long wait for my work permit… Each time I’ve become better and better at finding work.

It sounds like your husband is submitting resumes online, or mailing them to HR, and waiting for people to call him back. This is the absolute worst thing to do, because it makes job seeking a completely passive activity. All you’re doing is throwing money into the void and hoping it comes back.

What your husband has to do is realize that he currently has a job: finding paying employment.

The quick summary (which I’ll fill out later if necessary)

  1. Start making calls. When you hear about a job opening (through an ad, from a friend, etc…) call the company and find out who to send it to.

  2. Don’t send anything to HR if you can help it. HR people are idiots. (In a management position for a TV writer in New York at my company, HR looked through 1000 resumes, and whittled it down to half a dozen. The only person with any skills remotely linked to the posted position was a graphics operator – who was not willing to move to New York. The other 5 were a caterer, a waitress, and some actors. And I know for a fact that HR received at least 20 resumes from TV writers at other stations :rolleye )

  3. Once you’ve sent out your resume (with the personalized letter, assuming you were able to send it to someone with actual hiring powers) follow up with a phone call a week later.

  4. Keep calling back every day until you actually talk to the person, and not their secretary.

  5. If after a week, the secretary still blocks you, put on your suit and tie, go to the office, and say you’ve got an appointment to meet the person, and if the secretary still stalls you, wait outside their door until security removes you from the building. Chat with other people while you’re there and observe the office environment.

  6. Once you actually talk to the person, and they don’t offer you a job, ask them if you they know of any other positions, possibly at other companies.

  7. Talk to your old boss (assuming you have a good relationship) and see if they have any contacts.

  8. Research the contacts, look up their bios, and cold-call them. "Hi Mr. Person who knows a lot about the industry, my old boss Mr. Great Guy You’re Friends With suggested I give you a call. I’ve recently moved to the area-been laid off- had some hard times, and he thought you’d be willing to help me out. I know you don’t have job openings at your company, but my old boss thought you could give me some advice. I’d love to meet you for coffee to talk about the state of the industry.

Some books will say you should be spending 40 hours a week doing this. I find that depressing myself, and have in the past limited myself to 4 hours a day looking for ads, sending out CVs, and making calls. (I’d spend the rest of the day “being on vacation” exercising, or playing tourist.) And if I manage to actually talk to someone in person, that’s a day well-spent, and I treated myself to something (like ice cream, or a book).

All great advice (He is tailoring each resume and cover letter to the positions - that was the first thing we discussed).

He’s started to ramp things up, and I think printing out this advice will help. Barbarian, that’s a great list. I’ll direct him to it (he doesn’t read the Dope).

Thing is, he’s a smart guy, he’s a hard worker, but this is the first time in seven years that he’s job-hunted - and he sort of fell into his first job out of college (and only job out of college). So this is all completely new to him.

Kalhoun, it’d be great if he had some time with the baby, but the baby’s birth is unfortunately 4 months away, and I don’t think we can really go that long without him working. We have savings that we’re attempting to not touch because we’d like that for my maternity leave so I can take an extra 2-3 weeks past my paid leave. We’ll have to see.

Thanks for the advice - definitely helpful.

Barbarian has some excellent advice to follow. If you tell us the location and industry folks may be able to offer more help. As far as my industry goes (environmental engineering consulting) there are tons of jobs out there and no qualified candidates. We’ve been trying to hire a few people (from right out of school to 15 years experience) ever since I started here a year ago.

Please tell me you’re in Houston and your husband is a civil/environmental engineer with no more than 10/15 years remediation design experience. :slight_smile:

I really wish he was:).

We’re in Northeast Ohio - he doesn’t really have a ‘field’ per se. He’s been a district manager for a newspaper, managing carriers and dealing with customers. There was some sales and marketing involved, but for the most part, it was management of carriers/independent contractors. He’d like to get OUT of that field, however, so he’s applying for a variety of different positions.


Actually, I got nowhere with my friend the HR Pro’s networking on my behalf [she is a member of whatever the CT state HR professionals organization is] and it took 3 years and about 500 odd resumes sent to both newspaper adds, her contacts amd my daily report from, and working the state dept of labors facilities. In those 3 years, I had 14 phone interviews, 12 first interviews, 4 second interviews and ONE third interview/job offer. I got an assload of offers from insurance companies to sell insurance [ i was a licensed provider in CT because of working CS for State Farm until they closed the facility] and I am NOT a sales hominid. The main block against me was most companies seem reluctant to hire the unemployed coupled with living in the ass end of nowhere and despite my last 3 jobs having me living from 35 to 75 miles away from work and having a killer attendance record kept me stuck out of work. It was bad enough that I was applying in cities I knew people in that I could blackmail couch space off of until I earned enough to get my own place [I dont mind being separated from mrAru, I spend 15 years of him in teh navy runnig away to sea all the time=)]

This really shouldn’t be overlooked. Make sure that there isn’t a typo, or that his old office phone isn’t listed. Also make sure the area code is there, not every state uses 7 digit dialing.

Nope, it’s right. Besides my friend who wrote his resume, I looked at it to check, as did he.


Many companies now have job postings on their websites. Often your application will be given more consideration if you are applying to a specific position, rather than just putting a resume on file. Keep returning to the website and submitting the resume/application against specific job openings that meet his skills.

With your husband’s people management experience, it seems like he could move into retail or restaurant management pretty easily. This might involve starting out in an entry-level position to get a paycheck now, but especially if he picks a company with multiple nearby locations and/or competitors, he could move up fairly quickly.

It’s difficult to switch fields. There may be people looking at his resume thinking “okay guy, but not as much experience in our area as other applicants.”

What industry/profession is he trying to get into? Is there a local professional organization he can join to make contacts?

A friend of mine was desparate to get into advertising but had no experience in that field (though he certainly had the raw skills). He joined the local Ad Club and American Marketing Association. He volunteered for all kinds of functions and became known as a good leader and all around great worker. Pretty soon, he was hearing about opportunities from other members. Plus, all that club experience gave him what resume readers will looking for: a strong evidence of interest and some experience.

Also, has he told everyone you know that he’s job hunting? If not, do so–even if they don’t work in his field of interest. I work in marketing, but I’ve recommended people for accounting or operations positions and it’s worked out.

You mentioned that you are in NEO. The job market REALLY sucks here unless you are in the medical field (although there are smalls signs of improvement).

Another problem might be that it seems that your husband’s previous experience isn’t highly specialized. IME the job industry has become VERY specialized. Employers have a very narrow list of criteria for jobs and can afford to hunt for people that will fit it neatly. This is bad for job-seekers with a more generalized background or for a specialist in a field that does not currently have a high demand for their specialty.

I agree with all of the previous advice about working contacts, avoiding the HR pit and dealing directly with people, if possible.

I’m highly skeptical of #8 in Barbarian’s post though. If I was an employer and not hiring, if some guy cold called me talking about meeting for coffee and talking about the “state of the industry”, I’d tell him to go eff himself. Who has time for that? If i’m hiring, just pitch me your qualifications for the job (short, direct and sweet) and send me the resume. If I like what I see, I’ll call you in for an interview. Simple as that.

I’ve spent a good chunk of my life looking for work.

Sending out resumes is about as effective as prayer. It’s not a complete job seeking solution. It’s barely even a first step. Sending out resumes online is like praying to a very obscure agricultural goddess.

If you can, write an interesting cover letter. Something with a twist that doesn’t just talk about why you are good for the job. If you have faults, talk about them frankly and try to explain why these faults can actually be helpful (for example, I’ve held a buttload of short-term jobs. I said I was a “super-employee” that could do just about anything and had experience in nearly every field…the perfect all around office helper."

Call. Call, and call again. People dealing with resumes have an attention span of about five seconds, and they forgot all about you after that. If you call, you increase your chances of being on their mind at the right moment. I personally have caused people to get hired because they happened to call just as the boss was free to talk. On the off chance that you end up annoying them, you really aren’t any worse off than you were before.

Be bold. When my boyfriend had his interview for his job, he got an ambiguous reply. So he showed up the next day at seven AM ready to work. They had already hired someone else for the position. So they made up a new position for him. With a one dollar raise.

Getting a job is rarely about merit. More often it’s about dumb luck and persistence. You may be afraid that making phone calls, etc. are going to make you look dumb or desperate or annoy people. But it isn’t. They actually look forward to anything that gives them something to talk about…and if that subject is you, you are that much closer to getting hired.

Finally never forget that at this moment at least you are a salesman. And you are the product. Office’s don’t know why they need you yet. And they don’t want to think about how they can use you. So at all tern you want to show them how you can help them make more money and why they need a “you” around the office.