Job Search Tip Du Jour: Don’t Share your Sob Story

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Tear falling down woman's cheekWe all have our own reasons why we need a new job during a job search, and, in an ideal world, we would all be saved from the perils of unemployment by employers in need of our individual skills and abilities. But one thing to remember when engaged in the job search and interview process—keep your personal sob story to yourself. Remember that the hiring process is much more about what an employer needs from you than what you need from an employer. And telling an interviewer the “real” reason that you need a job is an invitation for failure. The fact of the matter, especially during times of economic strife, is that no back story is any more valid than any other, no matter how committed an applicant is to his or her personal cause.

Another point to consider is that your story, no matter how profoundly it has affected your life, is not new. An employer can’t afford to consider you any better or worse off than any other job applicant. So do not—in a resume, in an interview, on an application, or in any discussion with an employer—unload your story of woe upon them. There are a myriad of personal details you should avoid sharing in any hiring situation but a few of the most common include:

• Your need for a job due to credit card debt

• Being wrongfully terminated from a prior job

• Having previously had a tyrannical boss

• The number of interviews you have had and the difficulties of landing a job

• Explanations of how the poor economy has brought you to your current state

• How you are better than the job for which you are applying and are only seeking the position due to circumstances beyond your control

• How you are the caregiver for your family and need the job in order to pay the medical bills

This isn’t to say that an employer wouldn’t sympathize with your plight, but most everyone applying for the job has valid reasons for needing employment. Putting that sort of emotional burden on a hiring manager virtually guarantees that you will be removed from the candidate pool. The best you can do for yourself is to find ways to stand above the rest of the applicant pool. Stand out based on your positive attitude and enthusiasm for the work, not on your sad story. By presenting yourself as a problem solver (instead of one needing problems solved) you demonstrate your potential value to the employer and help make your case as to why you are the best option among your competition. Share your success stories, not your sob stories.


By Joshua Bjerke