What makes them want to hire you?

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Pants on the Ground/American IdolIt’s a new season of American Idol which means another batch of entertaining, yet all-too-often painful first-round tryouts in front of the judges panel. While some people get up there and blow the judges away by simply showcasing their skill and talents, others are memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Watching the tryouts is actually good for anyone who is going through the job search process. You can learn a lot about  what to do — and what not to do – in an interview just by watching those American Idol hopefuls because just like job seekers, they will often try anything to impress an employer.

From certain skill sets to that cultural fit, it’s no wonder job seekers are confused about what employers are really looking for in their next hire. If you are wondering that same thing hoping to make some headway in your job search, watch our latest video from CareerBuilder TV about the things that can sway employers.

88 Comments
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  2. 2 year welding degree 20+ years exp. in servicing light, med and heavy duty trucks and equipment and a vetran to boot i have applied to almost every website and job service from north to south and east to west no WHY CANT I GET HIRED

  3. How many of the jobs you applied to have you followed up with? Be persistant show them you truly want this job, keeping on knocking and maybe someday that will open for you

  4. I’m in the same leaking boat as you. Associates degree in Electrical Engineering Technology, 20+ years of technical and management in the USAF, 7.5 yrs OTR driving, 5+ yrs industrial production, no hire.

  5. I don’t know. Maybe there is more here than meets the eye. I have been in the construction business for many years and we are always looking for qualified welders. There is no reason you should not be working.

  6. Grammar (and the abilty to proofread) is an essential element employers are looking for in its employee candidates, which was glaringly overlooked in your 3rd paragragh, above.
    To be passed over for a job offer due to misspelling(s) and/or grammatical errors is frustrating enough.To see it in an employment article by an employment authority, even more so.

  7. It is an awful truth that alot of employers would rather hire cheaper labor with less experience than a person like you which has excellent credentila but have needs in the salary area as you have a family and your experience for some reason is ignored. It is a shame because all of the workers between the ages of 45 and 65 are pretty much the last hires . I believe that the government should step in I am a master carpenter and cabinet maker with a degree in Interior Design and I can’t find work because as they always put it they are looking for an elementry or lower rung employee it is all Bull Sh– I am fed up with society and I am doing my own work now and the funny part is one of the companies that I applied to actually paid me my rate of 43.00 an hour to do a job that if I was working for them would have been considerably less but they keeep sending work my way and then a couple of weeks later they came to my office and were shocked that it was me a s the general Manager noticed my face now they offered a job and I told them NO I make too much on my own . Think about it even if it is just a side business for a while You will never know until you try_

  8. Try joining ‘LinkedIn’. It’s free, and once you’re a member (even if you have no ‘connections’ set up yet) you can find several LinkedIn ‘groups’ to join in your industry or line of work. Almost every group on that site has jobs posted – in addition to discussion threads that are relevant to you and your skills. I’m sure you’ve heard it’s all about who you know, and your connections… well -this is “connections” expanded to almost the nth degree.
    Good Luck!

  9. hey G, thanks for your service. I saw a special that indicated that supplier for airbus was looking for welders in so cal. needed some history with welding and i believe the show aired on fox news about a month ago. good luck and i hope this info can be of help. I might be able to think of more info on show, my e-mail is ntahoe61@msn.com

  10. I doubt if the advice or hints here are helpful. HR People, or those in charge of hiring, have plenty of excuse for not hiring someone. The may invent whatever reason just to say No. And so are those who give advice — their argument, reasoning seems logic — but this is only an attempt to explain to calm the mind, rather than reflecting the truth out there.

    Once I got a criticism from a relative that I was lazy, not trying enough to land a job. My reply is that, if anybody is in doubt of my effort, let him/her be with that. If I fail in one place, I will keep trying to apply for another place. That’s simple — no need to look back, or regret, or bother about others’ complaints, criticism, etc.

  11. I’m experiencing the same trouble, I applied to so many jobs, even jobs I know I’m not exactly qualified for just to see if the employer is willing to take a chance on someone, and nothing. I’m also a member or a lot of job sites and I still can’t find anything. I have a degree in sociology, you’d think I could get a customer service job at the least, not to mention that’s where I have the most experience, and NOTHING.

  12. So…employers want someone who will both be creative (outside the box) and “culturally fitting” (inside the box). Many people will say that it is a balance between these two ideals that employers are looking for, but the paradox will shine through still to people who are jobless and looking. I say that the interview process is entirely arbitrary, and naught else. Whether or not your interviewer’s whimsy is someone who makes friends easily (networking) or sees moneymaking as a way of life (entrepreneurship) or just plain finds you physically attractive (still networking!), your chances of getting hired are completely out of your hands. Your experience, your talent, your actual ability and want of the job are all meaningless in the face of being personable and being attractive.

  13. MSN Career Builder IS A DAMN JOKE!!!! im a HVAC service technician with 20 yrs exp. i posted a resume on Career Builder and all i get is spam from companys that want me to sell life insurance!!! that has nothing to do with my work history!!!! and MSN Career Builder is constantly sending me job alerts that have nothing to do with my profession!!!!! or even where i live!!!!! DONT WASTE YOUR TIME WITH MSN CAREER BUILDER AND DONT EVEN THINK ABOUT SENDING THEM MONEY IN HOPES OF GETTING A JOB!!!!!!!! YOU ARE JUST WASTING YOUR TIME AND MONEY!!!!!! I AM GOING TO POST THIS ANYWHERE I CAN TO WARN OTHER PEOPLE!!!!!!!

    • We hear your pain..that’s exactly what happens when you give sites like that your private info. They set it out there for all the to see and abuse. Tons of garbage jobs all across the usa are in those stupid job updates and nothing in your area. and jobs that have nothing to do with your experience, Sales men jobs, phone jobs all garbage worthless jobs. It does no good to keep send emails telling them to stop sending worthless work to your email..they are all illiterates.

  14. blaze -
    Probably because there just aren’t any new jobs beinig created – in spite of what Washington claims.
    I’ve been out of work in the Architectural field for 2 years, and my previous employer is still cutting their workforce, even as recently as last week.

  15. It could be because 8 million jobs were lost mostly in the construction industry and there are no jobs in that field at the moment..its not you trust me!

  16. I agree, I have 12 plus years of customer service experience and have been sending out at least 15 remsumes per week. I don’t even get a response let alone a decline. The adds mainly request “spanish speaking” only or “degree required”. I have been a very successful customer service specialist for 12 years without either of these.

    I am above the 45 year age and even though discrimination is illegal, most website applications ask for the year you were born. Ofcourse there is no way to prove discrimination in this case. It really is sad that there are so many excellent potential employees passed over because they don’t even get a chance at an interview! And, yes…I’ve heard the explanation, maybe it’s your resume! Well if it was ok when I applied at the job I have had for 9 years, why is it not ok now especially after I have added experience???

  17. I agree Zack, I’m sure my looks alone disqualify me. I wear the most updated suits possible however, I know that I am not the best looking person around. I have major hair loss that is due to a minor untreatable medical condition. I’m sure if I wore a wig it would be even more cause for denial. I agree, the more attractive ones have an edge!

    • I once saw a story on 20/20 about how attractive people have more opportunities because so many people are prejudiced by a person’s looks.

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  27. Try any VA they are always looking for qualified nurses – pay probably is not as good as you would make elsewhere but has great benefits and retirement

  28. My son is a roofer and was forced to quit his job for reasons I won’t go into – but I posted his resume on Careerbuilder and less than a week later he had gotten 3 legit job offers he accepted one and started worked less than 2 weeks after his last job. He has been roofing for about 6 years so he is experienced maybe not at the time of his game but still knows what he doing.

  29. Hey Bob Im not sure where you are or if you can relocate but check out NC mid state area they need a supervisor in a cabinet manufacturing plant salery position they may pay to relocate

  30. I have a question for you…in 2004 I made a mistake and committed a crime, Grand Theft/Fruad. I cannot get a job becuase of my mistake. I have been out of work since 10/2007. I am good at my job and would NEVER make the mistake again. I am probably more honest becuase of it. How do I go about telling a prospective employer?

  31. Ursula, A couple of ideas come to mind in your situation. Request to the court where your conviction happened, to dismiss or expunge the charges. Chances are it can be done provided you have nothing new since then. However, it is difficult to remove a conviction from your federal record (even with a dismissal). The charges against you are more than likely excluding you from hire. The other idea is to discuss what you have done or learned from the mistake. In other words, for the time you’ve been off work, what have you done, volunteer, school, etc. and show that you have taken steps to move beyond your history and what are your short and long-term goals. Hope this helps!

  32. I’m sure you’re very sorry you committed a crime. You will need to tell the employer before the background check, because they will find it. Sorry, but if you’ve been busted for grand theft AND fraud, you are quite likely going to be unemployed for alot longer. That’s not a mistake you made, it’s a crime, and one of theft and lying intentionally, which are not characteristics employers are exactly looking for.

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  37. I thank God everyday that after over a year I found something. I am very grateful for it. It’s only $10 an hr but I took it. I made anywhere between 45-70 hour before this economy fell. I hear we are heading for another fall. I wanted to take what I can because I believe there will be more jobs lost than this. It isn’t over as we all know. My new job, 10 bucks and hour, medical, ESOP, vacation time, sick pay, and most of all what I’m really after… College reimbursement. I’m in the construction trade, not anymore. I’m closing the doors to my business at least for now. I’m going back to college to get a business degree. Only way I can do this IS because of the reimbursement that the new job offers. In a nut shell, I have to completly start my life over. When the economy fell, I didn’t even have any bills, it still wiped me out and took it’s toll. Nobody is safe from this. I hope everyday it gets better but i’m not waiting for it to happen. I wish each and everyone of you out of work the best of luck and I will be pulling for you. I now exactly how you feel. God help us all.

    • Duane – forget a business degree. They are a penny a dozen these days. I have a BS in business, a MBA and a MHA. Get a degree in something technical. The workforce is drowning in business degrees.

  38. You know, after being employed about half the time for the last 30 years as an engineer (self employed the rest), about all employers look for is a piece of meat that they can use and abuse and then discard when you did your job and they think they don’t need you anymore.

    And when they do need you again, will dump you like a virus when they don’t.

  39. Ursula,

    I am unsure as to what type of career you are looking for but a temp agency is probably your best bet. It gets your foot in the door with multiple companies and you are then able to prove yourself through work ethic and personally instead of just on paper. Chances are your resume will get looked over time and time again due to your convictions as there is a plethora of available candidates for just about every job out there right now giving all the power to the employers.
    I don’t think you should give up passing out resumes but this is just another avenue to pursue.
    To all you construction workers out there this method may be your best bet as well. I have been a commercial electrician for 12 years now and too was affected by the cuts a few years back. If you can learn to live on a smaller budget for a bit then going through a temp agency could be the best bet. Especially with all the government work going on right now. They are spending billions on upgrading their military bases and there are a ton of temp workers on all the sites I have been on from southern California to Georgia; although I cannot speak for the northern states I would think it’s the same all across the board.
    Good luck to all of you.
    PS spell check is wonderful tool, learn it and love it!

  40. I hate to tell you fellow military veterans the truth, but here it is: civilian employers don’t give a crap about military service. Sure, it’s all patritotism and “Rah, rah, rah! Support the troops!” ESPECIALLY during wartime, but when those troops leave the service, it’s a different story.

    Most civilian employers can’t relate to military service. They can’t translate the experiences you’ve had to what they need for their company. You can explain it to them all day long, but they just don’t get it.

    For example, I applied for a Customer Service Manager position a couple of years ago. The hiring manager asked if I had any supervisory experience. I told him I was a Blackhawk Crewchief in the Army, responsible for a $16 million dollar aircraft. ADDITIONALLY, not only was I Crewchief Squad Leader, with five people who reported directly to me, I was also the PSNCO (the military version of a Human Resources Manager) with THREE direct reports in that role. She says to me, “No, no, no. Do you have any CIVILIAN supervisory experience?” My military experience meant nothing to him.

    I got out of the Army 15 years ago and have since earned an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and a MBA. THAT’S what makes me marketable, not my military experience. My 10 years in the Army, as a DECORATED COMBAT VETERAN, are included on my resume….maybe one in 20 civilian hiring managers even comment on it.

    I really feel sorry for these guys and girls coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. If ANYBODY deserves employment, it’s them. But I’m afraid they aren’t going to find it. Civilian employers don’t give a damm about military service.

  41. been out of work for one year . unemployment wants mw to be retrained in another field . last job i was welding parts for nuk subs , been welding for 39 years ,have certs up the wazoo and the last place i went for an interview the employment agency told me to dress up in clothes i would never wear dress pants,tie,white shirt and shiney shoes .when i showed up for the interview i was asked if i was there for a desk job !the job i applyed for was a welding job to weld galvinised pipe for gates ,i was asked how much i was looking for in pay and i told them $15 to start ,been over a week since the interview and nothing YET ! MY TITAL HAS BEEN MOSTLY TIG AND MIG WELDING . I DOUBT THAT ILL EVER SEE THE PAY I WAS GETTING AGAIN WHICH WAS UNDER $20 AN HOUR !! under paid and over worked

  42. I have the same problem except I am a teacher or should be. I have been out of school for 5 years and only able to get a teachers aid position. I am over 40, state certified as highly qualified, 2 years as a teachers aid, 5 years as a day to day sub experience, working on a Masters degree and excellent references and job performance evals. The cute 22 year old fresh out of college gets the job. I say age and weight is makes me unhirable. I still have 27 years until retirement.

    • the statement that the cute 22 year old just out of college always gets the job is ridiculous, especially in teaching. I was that 22 year old (now almost 25) who can’t get a real teaching gig despite being fully qualified to teach math OR science at the high school level, having PERFECT grades and test scores, tons of volunteer experience, applying in high need (read:ghetto) districts and being “young and cute” as you say. All I ever hear is that no one will hire me unless I have 5 years of experience….which I will never get unless someone gives me the chance!!!!

      The true victims of this recession are the young people. We went to college and got good grades and did everything you told us to do, and when we got out with all of our loans, there were no jobs for us and no one will hire an inexperienced worker.

  43. One thing I’ve learned: it’s ALL style over substance, sizzle over steak.

    You must try to find a way to embellish your resume and cover letter and add some fancy graphics and ridiculous corporate buzzwords like “prevent losses”, “synergy”, “leveraged” and “identify cost-centers” and a lot of other drivel that means little to any educated person, but catches the attention of today’s A.D.D.-ridden hiring managers and HR people (your resume and cover letter should only take up about half a page each–having to read too much is tiring and takes too much concentration for today’s hiring managers and HR personnel–they’re looking for the path of least resistance).

    By the way, spelling and grammar don’t mean as much as you think they do. American society is startlingly subliterate, and I would estimate that at least 2 in 5 job postings have grammar and spelling mistakes!

    And looks help a lot, I think. If you’re a young, attractive, thin woman (blue eyes and blonde hair help), you won’t be out of work for long, regardless of whether you’re a complete idiot or not. Hiring managers–male or female–like to have people like that in the office!

    If there are women out there who are out of work, maybe change your hair color and get color-changing contact lenses–I think you might have better luck during interviews!

    There is no longer hiring based upon “merit”–I’m not sure if there ever was. You’re best bet is to do something unebelievably stupid and perhaps you’ll get your own reality show. America celebrates stupidity, ignorance and narcissism, so that might be your best bet now!

    Because this much I’m sure of: intelligence means NOTHING today, in fact in many cases it’s a liability.

    Good luck everyone!

    • John, your error is that you typed “you’re” instead of “your best bet…” I am just a bit fanatical when it comes to the misuse and misspelling of words.
      I have also been out of work since June 2009 after working at the same company for nearly 19 years. I was a Customer Service Supervisor for both retail and wholesale departments within the company. I took classes to help me gain access to the medical field, billing & coding specifically, but everyone wants individuals with experience. My “training” does not constitute “experience.” Thus far I have been SOL, despite the many resumes I have submitted. I am 51, thin, and have been told multiple times that I am attractive and “present very well.” However, it makes no difference what you look like when so many places accept resumes or applications only on-line!

  44. Oops–here I am on my soapbox about grammar and spelling and I made a mistake of my own! I should practice what I preach, huh?

    Now, who can find the mistake?

  45. I’am kinda sick and tired of all these posts telling you what to do and what not to do to get hired. LETS FACE IT PEOPLE! companies are not hiring! Its a sad state of affairs in America.

  46. One thing that I notice in the posts lamenting inability to get a job is the inattention to proper spelling, punctuation, and so forth in the posts. There is a different standard for sending text messages and filling out a job application. There is actually research that shows that even ONE typographical error can land your job application/resume in the wastbasket. If you aren’t conscientious in preparing a job application or resume, the assumption is that you might not be conscientious in doing your job – even if it is welding or plumbing.

  47. Maybe you should try applying at nursing homes they are always looking for help I have worked in one for fifteen years now and we alway need nurses, CNA’s, and laundry people.

  48. Maybe you need to fix the resume and make it short and to the point I have found that when it comes to a resume if it is longer then two pages they will not hire because they do not want to take the time to look through all of it. If it has no activites in that area they are hiring in they will not look at it and if there is a blank in any of it they will not even think about hiring you have someone look at it and see if there is any thing that needs to change and it will help. This is one of the things that I do when I am hiring people I check these things and if there is anything like this I will not even think about it.

    • If you’re an average HR employee, I suppose my resume ought to be written at a third grade reading level, sport lots of bright colors and a flashy, childish font. You obviously put no stock in the information on the page, only whether its aesthetics are appealing to you.

  49. I think I see a pattern here. 20 – 30 years experience means you are old & no one wants to hire people past the age of 35-40. I’m 46 & have 10 years experience. I was told by a resume writing counselor to hide my dates of graduation for fear of being dated. After a 45 minute interview with an HR person, she told me to put those dates back in there & stop trying to hide my age, as it only helps their background investigations.

  50. You are making too much of this…blah, blah, blah. In all my experiences of landing jobs, and I have had many…something just “clicks” between you and the interviewer. It just happens. Too much practice is just that..too much, and that will show. I turn people off immediately when I sound like a “canned performer” with everything rehearsed. To hell with your observations. Life experience will “body speak” for itseld.

  51. You are making too much of this…blah, blah, blah. In all my experiences of landing jobs, and I have had many…something just “clicks” between you and the interviewer. It just happens. Too much practice is just that..too much, and that will show. I turn people off immediately when I sound like a “canned performer” with everything rehearsed. To hell with your observations. Life experience will “body speak” for itself.

  52. With regards to the ‘hidden’ age discrimination. Just put in a bogus date that is not contradictory with regards to your work experience listed in your resume and if they look surprised when you show up for the interview and meet them then you will certainly have blown the interview but you will know for sure.

  53. 20 years doing the same job with no advancement? You are telling the employers they can get the same skill sets from younger cheaper people.

  54. Are you sure? I am nearing a three year stint in college for Criminal Justice Associate Degrees for Homeland Security and Criminal Investigations. During this time I made a decision that was life changing for me, yet had many disturbing and difficult problems including medical problems. I went back to school because I wasn’t able to get employment due to medical and a bankruptcy problems.

    I plan on continueing my education to get a masters as a profiler. I just do not want to go through major disappointments due to the problems I’ve had in the last three years.

    How would you handle explaining bad grades and having to retake several classes over again, and all the other items that are reflected within the ‘grade report’ that is going into my ‘gap’ portfolio from school?

  55. Who would work for 8 an Hr I am 47 with 3 kids. Making between 60-85,000 a year in the fitness industry, Guess what 4mos ago let go even though did so good. Hired someone else for 200-300$ a week less and they are doing terrible. And my thoughts are good get what you deserve

  56. I loved hearing your story. I certainly wish that I could find contracting work as an administrative assistant. I have over 40 years of work experience, but I can’t get hired because I am too old! Companies are constantly getting away with decrimination. Who has the money or time to sue every company that you feel has disciminated against you…and how do you prove it?

  57. @g blazer
    Because you are over-qualified and cost too much to hire. Yes you can do better than the guy that just got out of a community college welding program, but companies don’t want that. They want young, stupid, and cheap.

  58. How rude!! Have you been out there looking for work lately? If you have nothing nice to say to people, please don’t say anything at all.

  59. Experience can be just as harmful as it can be helpful. I got a job based off of my many years experience coupled with high volume cases in that particular field. On my first week, I watched a supervisor make a very incompetent decision along with other people working under him in the following months. Since he was their “friend” along with their supervisor, the people making the mistakes including him was not held accountable. Unfortunately, I received a dishonest evaluation from him upon leaving the position. When you do get offered a job, take into account what the job has to offer and if accountability is the same for every employee.

  60. As A Senior Strategic Sourcing Buyer, Corporate Purchasing, responsible for procurement of goods and services across corporate enterprises. Anticipates and identifies needs, and develops appropriate contracting strategies for project requirements. Bids, negotiates and administers national contracts. Main responsibilities are in the areas of Facilities (signs, fuelling equipment, above ground tank, vacuum system etc.), and Automotive (chemicals, hardware, tools, shop equipment etc.). The main objective of this position is to procure goods and services in an efficient, ethical, and financially responsible manner seeking opportunities to aggregate spend and drive deeper discounts to maximize financial impact without sacrificing quality, value and service, while adhering to company policies and procedures, keeping in line with the company’s goals and objectives.Please contact me if you are in need of A sourcing Buyer.

  61. I’ll tell you what the problem is. Headhunters do not know the industry they are trying to fill the position for. Many of them that have called me cannot speak English very well. We all would be better off if companies would hire their own HR manager that knows the industry. Not to mention the fact these people (especially the ones that place contractors) are getting more an hour than the contractor makes. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
    I predict when/if the Healtcare act is forced on us many companys will shut down their operation in the US because it will cost more for the healthcare which will outweigh their profits.

  62. People will start to find jobs when all those in the Obama administraton, including Obama himself, lose theirs. End of report!

  63. Looking through all the qualifications that are cited, I wonder why are all these people looking to work as an employee. If you are well qualified with many years experience, why don’t you become a contractor? You are without employment anyway. Getting a DBA costs under $100 and you get to file your taxes under Schedule C, which means you can deduct all sorts of expenses related to your business. Then go and see the companies that could use your services. Find out what you could charge and start building up your own clientele. Pay yourself a small salary on W2; the rest remains in the business until you can afford to incorporate. If you get fit finding business instead of a job, you’ll be up and running real fast and never get laid off again. It worked for me since 1974. Started just as you all are now.

    • Nicolaas,

      I have been saying it for nearly two years now… the way out of this economic crisis will be via SMALL BUSINESS!! Big business has been cutting us off for many years now, it has only become painfully obvious in the last two (or so) years.

      What annoys the fire out of me is the short-sighted MORONS that believe that this mess is Obama’s fault! You cannot totally annihilate an economy, especially of a great country like the USA in two years by making a few slightly misguided choices!! It takes more like eight years of outright stupidity and deceit!!

      Wonder to whom I could possibly be referring?? Bush and Chaney!! History will bear witness to the many lies and crimes perpetrated by this “dynamic duo!!” Unfortunately, I fear, that before it becomes the “popular” explanation of this sad state of our economy, that those same short-sighted MORONS will vote in more completely stupid and criminal (if that’s even possible) REPUBLICANS and we’ll be descended to the next excretory level!! (Yes, I did just refer to sh*t or excrement.)

      This is why, when I complete my Bachelor’s degree in Health Care Management, I will then continue on and get my Master’s in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. After all that, I will open my OWN Natural Wellness Clinic.

      Oh yeah, just for the record, I am a 44 y.o., 260 lbs, female, Veteran (8yrs USMC; 4yrs Michigan Army National Guard- Honorably discharged as a Sergeant). And yes, with all my various experience, I have been unemployed and underemployed for over two years now!!

      Blessings.

      • Network, network and network. There are tons of people with skills greater and lesser than yours. So what makes you stand out? Your personal relationships. If you’re an introvert, it’s a challenge, but a necessary one and you’ll actually like yourself more for having pushed yourself out of your shell.

        I have been nearly bankrupt 3 times and it was those 3 times that the next call was within my network and saved me.

  64. I am hearing impaired and unemployed now for three years though seeking work yet. My credit is not good. Because of lack of work I cannot pay my debts. I am 59 years old. I have a Master’s degree.

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