Q. I have been unemployed for over a year. I have applied to hundreds of jobs and only had a few interviews here and there. Office work, retailÖ Iíve been applying to everything with no luck. Since Iím home most of the day, Iíve decided to work on my dream of becoming an author. Iíve finished a novel (that hasnít been published yet) and I wrote some short stories and freelance articles. I thought by putting Iím a writer on my resume would show that Iím proactive and I havenít been sitting on my butt not doing anything the past year. Putting this on my resume has backfired because the past few job interviews Iíve been on, the interviewer implies that I would rather stay home to write then work for them. Iím barely making any money and I need a real job. How do I get a hiring manager to understand Iím serious about getting hired?
A. Your job search so far seems to be defined by what you haven't done more than what you have done over the last year. While I applaud working on your writing skills, effective job seekers aren't "home most of the day". Take a look at where you find motivation. Is writing a "dream", or an actual goal? You have applied for every kind of job there is, but with no target, or action plan it will be very difficult to show that you are serious about getting hired.
Hiring managers want to see that you have maximized your time off, especially when it is an extended period of time. But they also want to know what it is you can do for them. They need to see the skills, experience, knowledge, and capabilities you have and how they make you successful in the position.
Many job seekers succumb to the pressure of finding a job and forget to focus on what they have to offer. Many people go right into action mode, without taking the time to do a self-assessment to identify their skills, values and interests. Doing this work will help you develop the right target, and strengthen your answers to interview questions.
Right now your writing is a great avocation. Often the best job matches are made when an avocation, hobby or interest, is woven into a career. Focus on jobs where your work experience can be combined with your writing. You may need to develop a portfolio of writing samples, especially if you were paid to write them. Develop a broad target by looking into a variety of industries and functions to see which positions need the skill set you bring, and get active.
You can't conduct a successful job search at home. Build a great LinkedIn group. Set up face-to -face networking meetings to talk about the skill set you bring, and the kind of contribution you can make to an employer. Anticipate at least 100 face-to-face meetings before you find the right opportunity. It is a competitive market. Commit to using your skills in this next job. You can continue the writing and publishing on your own time, after you are employed.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.