Be relevant, or be gone

By Patricia Maloney, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers, Galway

Patricia Maloney, Career Coach
Patricia Maloney, Career Coach

Mary goes into job interviews and, over the course of 45 minutes, proceeds to bore, confuse and, ultimately, exasperate the interview panel.


It’s because of her insistence on portraying her career in chronological fashion. She starts at the start and woe betide the person who tries to stop her running out her story, every painstaking twist and turn, until she gets, eventually, exhaustively, to the here and now (the fact that, in the here and now, the interview panel are violently breaking pencils in their hands, has never deterred her).

In interviews, Mary says things like ‘and then after that I went to ABC Ltd, actually no, that came two years later, no, I actually went to XYZ Inc, actually, no it was ZYX & Sons’.

Chronology is not necessarily your friend in interviews. Chronology need not be your enemy, but, for interviews, lean more on your old friend Relevance for guidance.

The employer doesn’t really care about the sequence of how everything happened. They are much more interested in what you did, and how you did it, and the results you achieved, and the ideas you have, and so on.

Next time you’re called for a job interview, make notes on a page entitled Relevant Experience. The relevance is determined by the employer’s needs. That simple act of making relevant notes will have a major impact on your interview performance.

From the job-seeking front

Fair is fair, in fairness. We received this note from a reader:

“Just wanted to exchange information about a experience I’ve just had.  A vacancy advertised in the local paper yesterday has already been filled today.

“I thought companies had to at least give people an opportunity to apply for the vacancy, even if they have someone in mind.

“I understand that there is a possibility that the vacancy may have been advertised elsewhere – not necessarily in the paper.  Just to add it wasn’t in any of the other two papers available locally this week nor was the vacancy advertised on the company’s website.

“Perhaps you might use this as content in your column – how do we, as jobseekers, get ahead of the curve? Crystal ball sales could be on the increase at this rate.”

This is not an isolated incident. Daily I’m told by job-seekers that they hear nothing at all after replying to an advert – with some even saying they have gone to interview, only to hear nothing afterwards either.

There is not a lot we can do here apart from highlighting the issue, and to appeal to employers to show consideration for the job-seeker. Remember what it was like to be on the prowl for a job? You were once that soldier. Remember the anxiety, the rising expectation, the wait for the call or the letter, the joy of the ‘we are delighted to inform you’, or the downer of the Dear John.

Recruitment is a time-consuming task, but even a standard ‘we regret’ letter allows the candidate to put the matter to rest, and also assures them that their application was at least opened and read. Quite why a company would spend money on advertising a job that they have already filled is beyond me, but, again, it has the impact of demoralising people at a difficult time in their lives.


Patricia Maloney is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers and works out of Galway. You can read more about her, and make a booking HERE for CV Preparation and Interview Training.

More articles from her blog can be accessed HERE