Yes, true story – a recruiter and a resume writer discussed top tips for getting hired – while meeting up on a hike and then walking into a bar together.
Last Sunday I (resume writer / career coach) had the good fortune to meet up with a recruiter named Pamela on my group hike – we so enjoyed our conversation on the trail and we continued it at a local tavern for lunch following the hike.
We shared lots of stories and experiences, and she and I came up with the following tips to pass along to my readers and clients: some you may have heard of, others maybe not, but all are good reminders.
§ Don’t forget to send in thank you notes to everyone
Everyone you interview with should receive a thank you note. This includes all initial screening persons, team members and the hiring manager. Many people forget to send a recruiter a thank you note.
We agreed – send in an email thank you note – mention you are following up with a note in the USPS (snail) mail as well. This will keep you more “top of mind” for the hiring team. And, the email will ensure you don’t miss a traveling hiring manager. Before getting off the phone or leaving the interview, ensure you have all necessary email addresses, names, and physical addresses.
§ Research the company before an interview – and the interviewer
Be able to answer the question “Tell me more about what you know about the company and why you want to work here.” Conduct some research ahead of time on the company culture and the company initiatives. Know the “major headlines” for the company. Be able to articulate why you want to work there more than anywhere else.
Better yet, check out each person you’re going to interview with on google and LinkedIn BEFORE the interview. Look for things to bring up to build rapport, such as mutual interests and mutual colleges attended. Don’t go too far and make the person feel like they are being stalked – it might be a little creepy to share that you know where they live or share other personal information. You want to develop rapport with casual, interesting facts but nothing too personal.
§ Do extra things to set you apart from other interviewees
Send in the 90-day action plan I mentioned in my previous post. This recruiter has never seen anyone do this, and stated she would be very impressed by one.
§ Be prepared for standard interview questions
You will be asked about strengths – gear the answer to answering why you’re the best person for the job. Be able to discuss weaknesses – you’ll want to come across as a self-aware person who took the steps to improve an area of weakness. Be able to explain job transitions, as well as employment gaps and any other “sticky situation” type of question. And yes, be prepared to answer the question “Were you ever fired from a job” and try to have a good answer to this question, while being 100% truthful.
§ Have a professionally-written resume – it WILL enable you to stand out
Many times, horrible-looking resumes are used to apply for jobs. If a recruiter has to dig into the resume to try to find your main selling points, or even your career objective, it will be tossed. Resumes that are polished stand out from the others and ultimately land interviews.
§ Customize your resume and add keywords that are noted in the job description
While many companies will use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to search resumes for keywords, this recruiter does it manually. She will sit with the resume open and the job description open and look to see if keyword phrases for the job description are in the resume. If the job description mandates “project manager” experience or an “MBA”, these keywords have to be on your resume, or the resume will be tossed. If the title of the job description says “Project Manager” then you probably want this to be the main title on your resume.
Therefore, while you want a professionally written resume, be prepared to customize and add keywords as needed so your resume matches the job description. Yes, it is extra work, but it has to be done so don’t skip this step.
§ In some industries, be willing to accept a lower amount of salary or maybe less vacation
Unless you are in a “hot” career field (some engineering, computer and medical jobs for example), be prepared to accept a salary that might be a bit lower than your last job. Be prepared to accept possibly 10-20% lower at times. Not a hard and fast rule, but there are a lot of unemployed people which creates a lot of demand for a smaller number of jobs.
Also, while you may be adamant about having 4 weeks of vacation, company policy may state that new hires can’t have more than 3. Some companies have flexibility, some do not. So unless you’re flexible too, this may lead to being turned down for a job that you might be a great fit for.
§ Remember that some companies will hire older workers
We all hear about age discrimination. Many older workers will try to hide their age in various ways. While this is good advice, know that not everyone thinks it’s a crime to be over age 50. Some employers do value the wisdom of older employees. And some employers note that older workers might be more likely to stay longer on a job and have a stronger work ethic.
§ Note time off on a sabbatical
I’ve come across a number of my resume clients that have taken time off in the past few years and have not been looking for work during this time. We both agreed that this should be noted on the resume as an “Intentional Sabbatical.” Then, list what was done on the sabbatical whether it was traveling, volunteering, part-time contract work or caring for a sick relative. This will set the person apart from someone who has been unemployed for a number of years and can’t find work. But be honest and only list an intentional sabbatical if you really took one, and really were not looking for work during this time.
§ Don’t lie about anything. Ever. (No explanation needed).
As I mentioned before, prepare answers to tough “sticky situation” questions before you go into the interview. Do your best to present the information as positively as possible. Never say anything bad about a former employer or former boss.
But however you put things, don’t ever lie about anything. It not only will exclude you from the job, it will destroy your credibility and word can get around. We all make mistakes in life, often people can understand that. Be real, be honest and have answers prepared ahead of time.
Some of these tips you may have heard before, but all are a good reminder. I am really grateful as a resume writer / career coach to have spent a wonderful afternoon with a new recruiter friend and I hope these tips we came up with are helpful to you.