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I've been looking for a job for quite some time, but have been unsuccessful in landing a position, although I have had several interviews.

I'm 21, male, have a high school diploma, and I currently attend the local community college, with extensive background in community service (all of which was voluntary).  The problem I have, however, is that I don't know what to put on my job applications for some of the required information. They ask for your employment history, and I don't know what kind of answer to give. I have a well-formatted resume, with "core competencies" and education and an objective, etc.

You see, last May, I had a data entry position at an insurance company and I was fired. I was late for work ONCE, and I truthfully explained to my boss that my Bipolar medication is very sedating sometimes. He told me that that was OK, and to just call. I felt so bad that I was crying in the supply closet,trying to compose myself. Somebody heard me, and the human resources woman very impatiently and rudely told me, "Stop crying! Stop crying!" As she instructed, I went home and called the temp agency only to find out that I was fired. I never received an explanation.

I don't know what to put on my job applications. If I lie, they'll find out via background check or something. If I tell the truth, they certainly won't give me the job. Usually, I put that the position was temporary (partly true), and that works because I've had many interviews. I interview well! I'm likable and give good answers.

What should I do? Also, what are other means by which I can maximize my chances of, not only getting an interview, but more importantly getting the job?

Thanks a bunch,

Hi Matthew,

First, as to your resume, I would like to take a look at it.  Because, from the way you describe it, I believe that it is hindering your job possibilities.  The fact that you have gone on interviews tells me that the resume has some good characteristics, but you describe things like "competencies" and "objective" which, generally speaking, shouldn't even be there.  Fifteen years ago such things were automatic in a resume.  Today, most employers don't even look at them because they are so generalized as to be nearly worthless.

If, as you say, you "interview well," then there should have been job offers coming your way.  My rule of thumb in my jobs workshops and with my individual clients is that, if you make it to the interview, but don't get the job, there is something wrong with the way you are interviewing.  So, when you send me your resume, also describe for me one or two of your last interviews with an emphasis on details: what you were asked, how you responded, the body language you believe you were communicating, the preparation you did for the interview and its questions, and anything that is relevant to the interview process, especially why you think you "interview well."

First rule of interviewing is the same as the first rule of resume writing: don't lie.  So, take that inclination out of your thinking.  Don't assume you won't get a job offer because of what happened in the past.  If you would like some advice on how to handle what occurred on your previous job, I can do that for you also.

Send everything I have requested of you above to the email address below.  Attach the resume and put "Resume" in the subject of the email transmission.  We'll go from there . and don't despair.  I'm sure you are as likable as you claim and, if you are, we have to find what is going wrong for you in this whole process.

I look forward to getting your email.

Best wishes,

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Ralph D. Converse, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about general job searches, resume construction, crafting an effective cover letter, and how to prepare for, and conduct, a winning interview. My speciality is the field of education, but I also have extensive background in business and administration. I know what works and what doesn't work and I can make your application package stand out from the rest ... because that is what you have to do.


I have interviewed for, and held, dozens of jobs in a career going back more than 42 years. I have taught at all educational levels including middle school, high school, community college, and university. In more than 42 years of experience on both sides of the job-search process, I have interviewed hundreds of applicants and have reviewed literally tens of thousands of job application packages. I am the author of 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them! I conduct workshops for job seekers in a variety of locations every year.

Music Educator's Journal, Teaching Music, Music and American Culture (forthcoming, 2013), Last Teacher Standing: The Job is Yours Now! and 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them!

B.A. New Mexico State University; M.Mus. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D. University of California and University of North Texas

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