Author Archives: Things Career Related

About Things Career Related

Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 17 job search workshops at an urban career center, as well as critiques LinkedIn profiles and conducts mock interviews. Job seekers and staff look to him for advice on the job search. In addition, Bob has gained a reputation as a LinkedIn authority in the community. He started the first LinkedIn program at the Career Center of Lowell and created workshops to support the program. People from across the state attend his LinkedIn workshops. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. For enjoyment, he blogs at Things Career Related and Recruiter.com. Connect with Bob on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.

5 reasons why LinkedIn Recommendations should get more respect

In my house the basement is designated for the stuff we barely use or bicycles that my kids ride in warm weather. It’s not the type of basement that is a furnished “man cave.” I give it no thought until the furnace or water heater need repair, or I have to retrieve the lawnmower to cut the grass.

basement

So when I consider the LinkedIn profile and how you can no longer move certain sections around at will, I think about one important section that is, as I tell my LinkedIn workshop attendees, buried in the basement like my furnace and water heater.

LinkedIn has made a statement. Like my forgotten stuff and rarely used bicycles, recommendations have lost the value they once had. We encourage business people and job seekers to ask for recommendations, but given that they’ve are shunned by LinkedIn, why should we talk about them as if they’re a valuable piece of the profile?

What we talk about now are endorsements. But recommendations, to many, are more substantive than endorsements; they mean more.  (Read about my love/hate relationship with endorsements here.)

Do you remember when recommendations were required to meet 100% completion or All Star status? No longer is that the case. That’s right, you must have at least five endorsements on your way to stardom.

Below are five reasons why recommendations should get more respect.

1. Once considered one of the most important sections of the profile. Recommendations were once the rave of the LinkedIn profile; some considered them the profile’s best feature. Recruiters only had to read them to see your excellence. They could make a quick decision on whether to contact you or not.

But recommendations are more difficult to write than endorsements are to give. So eventually we’ve seen the number of recommendations decrease in favor of the all popular endorsements, which promote engagement and…laziness.

2. Say more about the recipient. This argument is so old that I’m tired of saying it, but I will. A recommendation is a testament, in the words of others, of your excellence. And we know the words of others say more about you than what you say about yourself. If written with thoughtfulness, a recommendation can be gold.

A three-year-old article (to this day) from FastCompany,  Is this part of you LinkedIn profile hurting your job search?, describes the virtues of recommendations. But it also warns against accepting recommendations that are fluffy.

3. Say something about the writer. People who supervised you is demonstrating their authority and the values they hold in an employee. When asked to write a recommendation for you without any guidance, they are going to think about what makes you a great employee. If they value teamwork, communication skills, expertise, problem solving; these values will show in their writing.

I always advise my clients to take care when they write recommendations for others, which means produce well-written recommendations. The reason is obvious; visitors are going to make judgments on your content, as well as how you write.

4. They are testimonials for business owners. When LinkedIn delegated recommendations to the basement, I heard a collective grown from business owners who relied not on supervisors or colleagues, but on the most important people, their customers. The reason for their disappointment was obvious; recommendations were great advertisement; they were testimonies of the greatness of their work.

One self-employed résumé writer had approximately 70 recommendations which he proudly displayed after his Summary section. In fact, he made a point of mentioning his recommendations in the Summary. He knew the importance of recommendations to his business. But one day poof they went, landing in the basement.

5. Can be used as excerpts for quotes on your résumé. Many of my clients have used excerpts from their LinkedIn recommendations as such. And it makes sense. If you are in an industry where quotes are acceptable as résumé fodder, go for it. The proof is there; the recommendations are on your profile.


Recommendations are valued by recruiters, so why are they designated to the basement? What can those of us do about the disrespect LinkedIn has shown recommendations?

We can write occasional updates expressing our concern or outrage. We can begin discussions in “official” LinkedIn groups. Finally, we can write long posts like this one, hoping that others will feel the outrage that I feel.

Photo: Flickr, Wm

 

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5 reasons why you shouldn’t ignore your LinkedIn profile Experience section

So your LinkedIn profile Summary is personalized with first-person point of view and shows accomplishments to pack a powerful punch. You tell a story that includes who you are, why you do what you do, and how well you do it. Your Summary kicks ass.

linkedin-alone

Having a stunning Summary is great, but when your Experience section consists only of bare essentials, such as your titles, company names, and years of employment; your LinkedIn profile lacks the punch that propels you to the top of the list. It is incomplete

Many Recruiters see your Experience section as the most important part of your profile. They’re looking for your years of experience, the companies for which you worked, and accomplishments with quantified results. In addition, you must include keywords for search engine optimization (SEO).

So here are five reasons why you shouldn’t ignore your LinkedIn Experience section.

1. Start utilizing SEO by expanding your title. Did you know that the titles of your positions are weighed heavily in terms of keywords? This is a simple fix. Instead of simply listing your title and where you work, e.g., CEO at ABC Company; add some of your areas of expertise.

Better, CEO at ABC Company ~ New Business Development | Global Strategic Relationships | Marketing and Sales

If you are currently looking for work and have decided to list an end date for your previous position, simply leave out the company name.

Note: you are limited to 100 words.

2. Your experience section needs to tell a better story. A quick fix of copying the content of your résumé to your profile is the first step in building your Experience section; however, you’re not done yet. You still have to modify your profile to make it more personal, a networking document. This means your point of view should be first person and, of course, include quantified results.

Take, for example, an accomplishment statement from a résumé: Volunteered to training  5 office staff on new database software. All team members were more productive, increasing the team’s output by 75%.

Better: I extended my training expertise by volunteering to train 5 office staff on our new database software. All members of the team were more productive as a result of my patient training style, increasing the team’s output by 75%.

3. Your position doesn’t tell it all.  You’re a director, CEO, or CFO, so you think that says it all. Wrong! Executive Résumé Writer, Laura Smith-Proulx believes the more relevant information, the better; particularly when you’re trying to differentiate yourself from other executives. She writes:

The key to a strategic message in your CFO résumé is to do MORE with the details – taking the hard facts of budgets managed, teams directed, or cost savings achieved to fold in personal brand messages.

At the very least, your leadership as a director of an organization plays an essential role in its success. What is the scope of your authority? How have you helped the organization grow? Have you contributed to the community or charities? Have you turned around failing companies and made them more profitable? Remember, you’re representing the organization. Or perhaps you’re passively looking for another job.

4. The power of LinkedIn is greater than you think. LinkedIn’s search engine is extremely powerful. If you have the proper, and numerous, skills (keywords), your chances of being found by recruiters are great. Don’t forget to emphasize the quantified accomplishments!

Businesses are looking to connect or employ people with expertise; and although you have what they need, without the skills listed your message isn’t crystal clear.

A recruiter would like to read how you developed a fund-raising process that resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars, but your Experience section is nothing more than company names, titles, and years of employment. Lost opportunity.

Suppose you find yourself out of a job and suddenly need to connect with others who can help you in a big way. Rushing to create an Experience section that warrants the assistance you need is a bit late and will lengthen your job search.

5. Finally, more isn’t always better. There are two ways you can look at your position descriptions; you can stick with the accomplishments, or you can mimic your résumé. I’m in the opinion that your accomplishments alone would impress recruiters more than all your duties and a few accomplishments.

You’re probably proud of those duties and don’t want to let them go. Here’s the thing, accomplishments speak much louder than duties. Unless you can turn those duties into accomplishments with quantified results (or perhaps qualify them), I suggest you ditch them.


These are five reasons why you require an Experience section that is strong and worthy of your greatness. Your Summary is a great start; now you need to follow it with an Experience section to support it.

Use “See Alumni” to connect with your alumni with 3 steps

Every year, I have the honor of critiquing my fellow alumni’s LinkedIn profiles. The event takes place on the 32nd floor of a building that overlooks Boston, where the alumni and current students of my alma mater come dressed to the nines and ready to get their profiles critiqued.

caps

One thing that immediately grabs my attention is the size of a person’s LinkedIn network. In many cases, the number is quite low. When I ask the participants why, most say it’s because they have just started using LinkedIn. They ask with whom they should connect and how.

In a previous post, I explained the who and the how of connecting on LinkedIn, in which I stated your fellow alumni were at the top of the pyramid of connections — meaning this was the lowest tier of potential connections. But for current students or recent grads, the alumni network can actually be the key to building a successful network on LinkedIn.

To help you connect with other alumni from your school, LinkedIn has a neat feature called “See Alumni” (formerly “Find Alumni”) which is located on your alma mater’s page.

Here is the process of getting to this feature when you need it:

  1. Type your school’s name into LinkedIn’s search field.
  2. Select your school.
  3. Click “See Alumni.”

1. Using the ‘See Alumni’ Feature

Assuming you haven’t made any connections with alumni from your school, you’ll want to change that right away. Your fellow alumni are probably currently employed, and they may know of opportunities — or at least people with whom you can connect. Don’t ignore older alumni who may have attended your alma mater before you!

When you first use the “See Alumni” feature, you’ll land on a page that looks like this:

See Alumni 1

Click “Next” on the right-hand side of the page to go to a screen that looks like this:

See Alumni 2

Now, look at the section titled “How you are connected” on the right-hand side of the screen. You will most likely see that you have few, if any, first-degree connections. That’s alright — we’re going to focus on your second-degree connections.

Select your second degrees by clicking on the appropriate bar. The screen will shift to only show you information about your second-degree connections.

You can narrow down the results even further by using the other categories — “What they are skilled at,” “What they studied,” “Where they work,” etc. (See above screenshots.) For example, I have 7,774 alumni in my second-degree connections, but I can narrow my results down to a much more manageable five people if I set each category to the following:

– What they are skilled at: Social media
– What they studied: Marketing
– What they do: Media and communications
– Where they work: Boston Ballet
– Where they live: Greater Boston Area

2. Connecting With Fellow Alumni

One of the advantages you have when connecting with fellow alumni is the common bond you share through going to the same school. You’ll want to mention this when you personalize your invitation.

Under no circumstances should you send the default LinkedIn invite; that’s plain laziness. Instead, you should write the kind of personalized, professional note LinkedIn members expect from each other. To write a truly personalized note, be sure to read through a person’s profile before sending off your invitation!

Here’s an example invitation:

Dear Mr. Schmidt,

As you’re an alumnus at the University of Virginia and are in the field of marketing communications, I’d like to take this time to reach out and invite you to my network. Feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance.

3. Completing the Process

Your new invite accepts your personalized invitation because both of you share an interest in social media and, most importantly, are alumni of the same school.

Where many people fall down in the process is not following through. In your message, you offered assistance, so stay true to your word by contacting Mr. Schmidt via email when he accepts your invite.

Prepare a list of questions you’d like to ask Mr. Schmidt regarding the line of work he does. Make them intelligent questions — don’t waste his time. Ask him if he might know of anyone with whom you could also speak.


As I explain to the alumni and current students of my alma mater, the process of building relationships can be a long one, but developing long-lasting relationships is the key to their future success. Your fellow alumni can definitely be a secret weapon for networking on LinkedIn, so be sure to utilize the “See Alumni” feature!

This post originally appeared on recruiter.com

Photo: recruiter.com

3 ways job seekers can get found on LinkedIn

I’m often asked by my clients how they can be found by recruiters on LinkedIn. That’s a great question, and contrary to what my job seekers think, optimizing your profile with keywords is not enough. Sure, having a profile that contains the proper keywords is important, but being found by recruiters takes more commitment than that.

Found

What we’re talking about is your ranking on LinkedIn — that is, how high up you appear in search results when recruiters look for people like you. The higher you rank, the more likely it is that recruiters will contact you.

The recruiters with whom I have spoken about this say they rarely look beyond the fourth page of results. At 10 profiles per page, that means recruiters will only look at the first 40 profiles. If you’re below No. 40, you’re probably not getting a call.

So, how do you improve your rank? There are three factors at play.

1. Keywords matter, but they’re not everything

You do need to include the right keywords throughout your profile, but according to LinkedIn, balance of keywords matters more than abundance. In other words: Don’t stuff your profile with repeated words, as this is considered spamming.

According to LinkedIn itself:

More keywords aren’t always better. Our advice would be to avoid overfilling your profile with keywords and only include the keywords that best reflect your expertise and experience. If you integrate an extended list of keywords into your profile, it’s likely that your profile will be filtered out by our spam detection algorithms, which will negatively impact your appearance in search results.

Where do keywords matter most? Every keyword is important throughout your profile, but the areas weighed heavier than others are the Headline and titles of your positions in the Experience section.

So, yes, keywords are important, but take LinkedIn’s advice and don’t overdo it.

2. Maintain an extensive network…with the proper people

You are deemed more relevant to a search — and thus ranked higher in the results — if you are connected to the searcher. Here’s how LinkedIn explains it:

The more connections you have, the more likely you will have a connection to the searcher. Closer connections, such as a 2nd-degree connection compared to a 3rd-degree connection, improve the likelihood your profile may appear in searches.

The more people you have in your LinkedIn network, the more connections you have. The more connections you have, the more likely it is that you will have some connection to a searcher who is looking for someone like you. Keep in mind we’re talking about connecting with the proper people — people who will actually be meaningful members of your network. You don’t have to accept every invite you receive just to build a network.

You can see how many searches you’ve recently appeared in by visiting your profile’s dashboard. When you click on the number, you’ll see where the searchers work, which occupations they hold, and the keywords they searched. This last bit of information can be valuable, as you’ll get a sense of whether you’re using the proper keywords to brand yourself.

dashboard2

It’s also important to note the number of people who visit your profile, as this will give you an idea of your LinkedIn presence. You can find this number on your homepage under your headshot, as well as in your profile’s dashboard.

3. Engage with your connections

LinkedIn is a professional networking site. As such, LinkedIn wants you to network with like-minded people. A safe number of interactions on LinkedIn is twice a day, four times a week. I suggest to my LinkedIn workshop attendees that they engage with their connections daily. (I break my own rule.)

Participate in discussions, create your own discussions, share articles, write articles, ask questions, and provide tips about your industry. The most obvious way to engage with your connections is by writing direct messages. You can include as many as 50 people in a group message; although one-on-one messages are more intimate.

Read: 6 ways to be engaged on LinkedIn, not just active.

This aspect of your LinkedIn campaign is often overlooked. Many people believe that “set it and forget it” is the approach to take — that a great profile alone will draw people to them. Or to amass a ton of connections will do the trick. Both are important, but more engagement on LinkedIn is also essential to improving your search results.


In the end, note that LinkedIn’s algorithm for search appearances isn’t an exact science. LinkedIn writes:

Unlike standard search engines, we generate relevance uniquely for each member. The order of a search result is determined in part by the profile, activity [engagement], and connections of the person who is searching.

If you want to be found on LinkedIn, you must create a complete profile containing the proper keywords, develop a strong network to engage with, and stay active on the platform. If you do this, you’ll appear higher when recruiters search for someone with your experience and talents.

This post originally appeared on recruiter.com.

Beyond the “Nerves” in an Interview: 4 ways to deal with it

Most people get nervous when they’re being interviewed for a job. They are peppered with questions that are meant to get to the core of their technical abilities, motivation, and fit. It’s a stressful situation. This is called “getting the nerves,” and it’s natural. Most likely you feel the same way about interviews.

anxious

But what if you are unable to get past the nerves because of anxiety? What can you do that will prevent you from losing the opportunity for the job? How can you stop your hands from shaking, your voice cracking, or even breaking into tears. In this post I’ll talk about what to do if it’s more than having the “nerves” in an interview.

Admit to Yourself that You’re Anxious

You’re not alone in feeling anxious. Knowing this should give you solace. Many job seekers have told me that they felt so “anxious” that they couldn’t think straight and answer the questions entirely. A few have even told me that had to remove themselves from the situation. While this is not “normal behavior,” it does happen.

Telling others, job counselors, a therapist, or even friends, could be helpful. Talking about how you feel can relieve some of your anxiety. Hearing from those you talk with that being anxious is understandable will be of comfort. Further, talking with someone who felt anxious in interviews, but landed a job regardless will give you a better sense of hope.

Know that the interview/s are barriers to getting a job, and once you’ve overcome the barrier, you will be able to do the work required to succeed. Remember that you want the job for which you’re applying; it is the end game. This will take preparation, though.

Before an Interview

I tell my clients that being prepared for an interview will give them confidence. This means thoroughly researching the position and company. If you’re really good, you’ll research the competition. People who interview without preparing—winging it—generally perform poorly in an interview.

While it’s important to research the position and company, you will benefit also from preparing mentally for the interview. This will include getting a good night’s sleep the day before, if you can. The day of the interview, you should take a leisurely walk and rehears answering the questions you predict will be asked. Or you might prefer answering the questions while looking into a mirror.

You might benefit from participating in a taped mock interview which will show you how you respond to questions, as well as your body language. I conducted a mock interview with someone who my colleague believed to be anxious. The client’s answers were fine; however she appeared tense and fidgeted with her fingers. My suggestion to her was that she keep her hands in her lap.

Admit to the interviewers that you’re anxious

Chances are that at least one of the interviewers—if it’s a group interview—suffers from anxiety and can relate to your condition. Perhaps one or more of the interviewers know others who suffer from anxiety. They should be empathetic if they know your condition.

You can simply say before the interview begins, “I’m a bit anxious at the moment. Interviews are stressful for me. I hope you understand.” Chances are that they’ll understand your feelings.

In fact, anxiety is more prevalent than you might suspect. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 19 percent of adults suffered from anxiety.

An estimated 19.1% of U.S. adults had any anxiety disorder in the past year.

Past year prevalence of any anxiety disorder was higher for females (23.4%) than for males (14.3%).

An estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience any anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.

It is possible that you aren’t clinically anxious, but interviews and other social situation cause symptoms of anxiety. The most important thing is the message you deliver. Focus on expressing the value you will bring to the table. If you have to pause at times, that’s fine.

When your anxiety is debilitating

You may suffer from clinical anxiety, in which case you’re probably taking medication or attending therapy to keep it at bay. Healthy Info Daily describes the biological reasons for anxiety:

For a person with severe anxiety, their neurotransmitters are not working properly, and important messages can’t get through properly, which in turn causes the brain to work improperly, leading to anxiety, depression and other stress-induced disorders.

There are obvious signs of anxiety. Some symptoms of anxiety are excessive worrying, sleeplessness, panic attacks, fear/discomfort around crowds, and fear of speaking in public. Compound your anxiety with the pressures of an interview, it’s no wonder being interviewed is difficult. However, knowing you’re suffering from anxiety will explain the fear you experience in an interview.

In some cases, job candidates may need intervention or help from a vocational professional. This is in severe cases and usually for candidates who won’t be serving customers. Jobs that are individualistic would be best for them. If you fall under this category, it’s important that you apply for jobs appropriate for you.

Disclose your disability at some point during the interview, perhaps at the beginning. You have the ability to handle the responsibilities of the job; however you will require accommodations. It’s best to let employers know this before they hire you, as if you’re hired and then disclose your disability, your supervisor will most likely distrust you and might find reasons to let you go.


Interviews can cause mild to server anxiety for many people. If you happen to be one who gets anxious in an interview, reflect on why you are, ask for help from others, and if your anxiety is severe consider medication as a means to keep your anxiety at bay.

This post originally appeared on recruiter.com.

Photo: Flickr, Eduardo

6 ways to be engaged on LinkedIn, not just active?

For many years I’ve been telling job seekers that engaging with their LinkedIn network is one of the three important pieces required to be successful using this professional online networking platform. I explain that simply being active is not as effective as engaging; there are differences.

Being Polite

An analogy comes to mind: you’re being active if you’re simply showing up for a party you were encouraged to attend. You nod hello to the people there and have superficial conversations. You know the feeling; you don’t really want to be there.

Carrying the analogy further; you arrive at a party, immediately greet everyone with enthusiasm, make some small talk with five or six people, then join a group of people who are deep into conversation about a current event. You add your input when appropriate. The conversation stirs some emotion in you. You are engaged.

Being active vs. being engaged

It’s possible to be active on LinkedIn, while not being engaged. We’ll look at certain activities that illustrate this. The first two examples are reacting to what others post.

1. Liking what others write

Active—Many have complained that just Liking an update and not commenting on it is not enough. I’m guilty of doing this on occasion, leaving me with a feeling of being lazy. It’s so easy to press that Like icon and not giving the post another thought. This is the ultimate example of simply being active, not engaged.

Engaged—To be engaged, you must read the post, interpret it’s message, and then Comment on said post. Do this first and then Like it. The poster will appreciate that you took the time to read their post. This can lead to further communications between you and the poster.

2. Writing comments

Active—You Liked an update and wrote a comment, but your comment just didn’t have the oomph the “author” deserved. Here’s an example: “Great post, Susan. Thanks.” This shows very little engagement and makes the poster wonder what you really thought about the post.

Engaged—When you’re engaged, you elaborate further and demonstrate that you read the post, processed it, and respond to it in detail. For example:

“Great post, Susan. Your statement about a company lacking a social media campaign being akin to living in the dark ages really resonated with me. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other platforms can create that ‘like, know, and trust’ relationship between the company and its’ customers. You’re also correct in stating that all platforms should be connected, as well as linked to and from the company’s website.”

Note: always remember to tag a person with @name so they will be notified in LinkedIn’s Notifications. I was scolded once for not doing this.


The next examples of engagement are being proactive, rather than reacting to what others share.

3. Sharing posts

Active—Sharing posts for the sake of sharing posts is being active. Your connections will see what you’ve shared, but if the content is shallow and provides no value, your posts will not leave an impression on your connections. You won’t get the Likes you so desire.

Engaged—To stay top of mind, your shared posts must show engagement. LinkedIn encourages you to share an article, video, photo, or idea. Take the opportunity to engage with your network by providing valuable content to them; content that elicits responses. A sign that you’ve succeeded would be the number of Likes and, more importantly, Comments you receive.

One type of update I find successful is asking an illuminating question. If you’re going to do this, be diligent in replying to your connections’ and followers’ responses. Failing to reply to your connections who answer your question does not demonstrate engagement. I am impressed with people who take the time to answer every reply they receive. I try to reply to all the feedback but, alas, I am only human.

4. Sharing articles

Active—Sharing articles without explaining why you’re sharing it is an example of being active on LinkedIn. Some people will share an article and leave it at that. I’ve been guilty of doing this and feel lazy when I do it. For the most part, I go a step further.

Engaged—Going a step further means you share others’ articles with a short synopsis on the message it delivers, showing engagement. This says, “I’ve taken the time to read the article, understand its meaning, and will elaborate on it for the benefit of the readers.”

5. Writing and sharing your articles

Active—Using LinkedIn’s Write an article, feature is a great way to demonstrate your expertise. However, using this feature to advertise an event or for promotional purposes is being active. You’re not thinking about the value, or lack thereof, your article holds.

Engaged—Writing an article with unique and fresh content takes engagement; it shows you’ve considered what your audience would benefit from. My primary audience is job seekers and career coaches, so I write articles focusing on the job search and using LinkedIn in the job search. I know I’ve been successful when people react to what I’ve written.

Note: refrain from only sharing your own articles. This gives off the sense of superiority.

I include creating and sharing videos under being engage. This is a fairly new concept—probably a year old by now—but it’s catching hold among LinkedIn members. If you are going to share videos, make sure you’re consistent and produce videos your network will appreciate.

6. Sending direct messages

Active—The “One and done” message is the ultimate example of being active. Sure, you’re going through the process of writing to your new connection, but there’s no intent to develop the relationship. An example is, “Hi Claudia. It’s great being connected. Perhaps we can be of mutual assistance.” That’s it; there’s no interaction beyond this. Sound familiar?

Engaged—On the other hand, if you send the initial message and reply back to the recipient. Or if you continue to send messages but the other person doesn’t respond, there are two thoughts. First, you are trying to engage with your connection. Second, take the hint and stop sending messages.


Going beyond

Engaged—I’m brought back to the party analogy, where the person simply shows up and makes no effort to engage. I’m talking about going beyond the conversations you have with your LinkedIn connections. Yes, they constitute engagement; but there’s no effort to solidify the relationship.

Truly engaged—To truly show engagement, you must follow up with your connections. I have developed many relationships by reaching out to them via telephone, if they live a distance away, or meeting them, if they don’t live that far away. One of my connections and I had been exchanging discussions via LinkedIn. Yesterday we had our first phone conversation. Although we will not do business together, it was great finally “meeting” her on the phone.

Photo, Flickr, www.flickr.com/photos/jfravel

5 pre-interview tools employers use to screen candidates

You’re probably aware of the order in which employers attempt to fill a position. First, they consider their own employees; second, ask for referrals from their employees; third, seek referrals from trusted people outside the company; fourth, hire recruiters; and lastly, advertising the position. Or they use a combination of all of these.

pre-employment test

There are many reasons why employers prefer not advertising an open position, including the cost to advertise, having to deal with a deluge of résumés, and interviewing people they don’t know.

In many cases advertising their position/s is unavoidable because all other methods of filling them have failed. Thus, they resort to tools to make sure they get the most qualified people entering their doors. You need to be aware of these tools.

Applicant tracking systems (ATS)

This is the beginning of the hiring process from the candidates’ experience. The ATS eliminates approximately 75 percent of the applicants for a single job. It is a godsend for recruiters and HR, who are overburdened with résumés to read.

To be among the 25 percent that pass the ATS, you’ll have to write a résumé that is keyword rich. Unfortunately many candidates don’t know about the ATS and don’t optimize their résumés. I’m astounded by the number of people who come through our career center unaware of the ATS.

Your best bet is to write keyword-rich résumés that are tailored to each job. Instead of using the spray-and-pray approach, be more focused on positions that are a fit and dissect job descriptions to identify the most important skills and experience required.

Jon Shields of www.jobscan.co explains the ATS in great detail in this post.

Pre-employment aptitude and personality tests

Employers have come to rely on aptitude and personality tests that can determine the candidates who’ll advance in the hiring process. Some employers will swear by them, believing that the software can do a better job of screening individuals than their own HR and recruiter.

Employers use pre-employment tests because they are objective and fair across the board—each candidate answers the same questions—and they’re a good indicator of job-related skills. These tests also measure character traits like integrity, cognitive abilities, emotional intelligence, etc.

Where these tests fail is measuring candidates’ motivation to learn job-related skills. This means if you aren’t completely proficient in a certain CRM software, for example, your ability to learn quickly isn’t factored in.

These tests can also encourage dishonesty. For example, you might get the sense that the test encourages outgoing, extraverted types; but you’re preference is for an individualistic work setting. Ergo, your answers won’t truly reflect your personality.

This article talks about the most common types of pre-employment tests.

Telephone Interviews

Hardly new, the telephone interview is typically the first type of interview you will encounter to get to the face-to-face interview. The interviewer has two main objectives: getting your salary requirement and determining if you have the job-related skills to do the job.

However, you need to expect not only the aforementioned questions, but more difficult questions, such as situational and behavioral-based. Telephone interviews have also become more numerous. It’s not uncommon for someone to participate in three or more telephone interviews.

LinkedIn’s report, Global Recruiting Trends 2018, states that telephone interviews are considered the least favorable out of the structured interview. This is probably due to the fact that phone interviews are conducted by agency recruiters who may know little about the job requirements and desired fit; thus producing less qualified candidates.

Skype interviews

Skype interviews are common these days. Employers use them to save time and, ultimately, money. As well, interviewers get to see your facial expressions and body language. They are akin to face-to-face interviews, save for the fact that candidates aren’t invited to the company. This means candidates must nail the following areas:

  1. Stellar content and demonstrated enthusiasm through your answers and body language.
  2. Professional attire. Dress as though you’re going to a face-to-face interview.
  3. All the mechanics are in check, such as lighting, sound, and background.
  4. Look at the webcam, not at the interviewer/s. Looking at them will make it seem like you’re not making eye contact.

Skype interviews may, in fact, be the final interview, which makes it even more dire for job candidates to be prepared for them. This is particularly true if interviewers are situated all over the world.

Don’t be surprised if an employer wants to conduct a Skype interview with you. One of the areas I didn’t mention is learning how to set up a Skype account. My efforts in setting up mine was frustrating, as I had a hard time figuring out how to access the free version.

Video interviews

Skype interviews can not only be challenging for candidates, they can also be time consuming for the employer, as it requires them to participate. Video interviews, on the other hand, don’t require employer participation, until the interviews are watched and graded.

Job candidates are given a number of questions to answer and are timed during the session. At no point do they see the interviewer/s, unlike a Skype interview. My clients who have participated in video interviews say it’s like talking to a wall.

This might be a bit unnerving, but don’t let it rattle you. Have you ever answered interview questions while looking in the mirror? Think of it this way and you’ll be fine. One more thing, look at your computer’s webcam while answering the questions, just as you would for a Skype interview.

Matthew Kosinski from www.recruiter.com. rates the top five video interview platforms in this post.


There you have it: 5 tools employers use to determine who to invite for a face-to-face interview. No method of hiring the right person is flawless, but employers feel like they’re making strives to accomplish landing the best candidate. It is up to you to do well in every aspect of the process.