Q: My husband and I would like to return to our hometown where most of our family members still live. He is a teacher and has applied to several school systems, but none has responded. Distance will cause interviewing to be difficult, but we are serious about making the move and wondered what suggestions you might have for us.
A: This situation is challenging because employers have resumes from qualified individuals who are local. Pursuing an individual from out of town presents obstacles such as scheduling, extra time and travel expenses. Usually the hiring official is under pressure to fill positions quickly, resulting in rejection of out of town applicants.But perhaps the following suggestions will help:
- Be sure that your cover letter emphasizes your desire to return to the area, so that the person reading your resume understands your personal ties and specific reason for choosing this area. It should be made clear that this isn't a random decision that could change in a few months.
- Clearly state that you are willing to schedule an interview at the employer's convenience and at your own expense. Obtain the name of a specific person to whom you will submit your resume; follow-up each mailing with a telephone call. If possible, spend your vacation in the area, using the time to visit each school system in which you are interested. This, more than anything done from home, will indicate your genuine desire to return to the area.
- A valuable asset would be a personal acquaintance who is willing to submit your resume and explain the circumstances. The person doesn't necessarily have to serve as a reference for you, although that would be advantageous, but would simply be a go-between to ensure that your information is personally delivered rather than received through the mail.
You are faced with a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. You will have to be aggressive and understand that a position isn't going to fall in your lap. You will have to find it!
Q: I recently completed the interviewing process for an entry level position in my department. The first question asked of each applicant was, "Why are you interested in this job?" I was absolutely appalled at the number of individuals who responded to that question with an answer focused on money.
For example, one individual said, "I need more money," and another responded, "My unemployment has run out." Would you remind applicants how inappropriate this is and that it could very easily cost them the job?
A: Applicants must understand that although salary is important to everyone, giving the impression that it has highest priority is not the way to impress an interviewer. In fact, if salary is discussed at all during an interview, discussion should be initiated by the interviewer.
Perhaps the best way to get the point across is to remind readers seeking jobs that the goal during the interview is to show what you can do for the company, not to find out what the company will do for you.
And those who teach interviewing skills must be diligent in helping their students understand proper answers to interview questions.
(Donna Cobble, who operates an employment agency in Knoxville, writes this weekly column on careers. She is supported by an advisory committee of personnel directors from private companies, public institutions and the University of Tennessee. Letters should be addressed to Careers, Knoxville News-Sentinel, P.O. Box 59038, Knoxville, Tenn. 37950-9038.)