Tag Archives: Job Seekers

10 ways to provide great customer service in your job search

Ask my children; I constantly talk about great customer service. When we go through the drive-through and the attendant gets my order right, I’ll rave, “That was great customer service.” If an associate goes above and beyond, I’ll call for the manager and tell them about the great customer service I received.

customer service rep

Providing great customer service doesn’t only apply to paying customers like me; it also applies to job seekers providing great customer service to hiring authorities (recruiters, HR, and hiring managers).

If you’re searching for your next job, you might see it as jumping through hoops. Further, you might have had a bad experience or two with hiring authorities who’ve been plain rude.

But receiving poor customer service from hiring authorities doesn’t mean that you’re given the license to return the same. No, providing great customer service to hiring authorities can be the deal maker that lands you the job.

Alternatively, failing to deliver excellent customer service in your job search could be the deal breaker. Here are some ways to provide great customer service to hiring authorities:

1. It starts with attitude

It always starts with attitude. What makes me cringe is when a job seeker says, “I don’t care what employers think. They’ll have to accept me as I am.” Here’s the thing, hiring authorities don’t have to accept you as you are. They hold the cards. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you’ll land a job.

No, you can’t argue with a recruiter about salary and benefits. No, you can’t decide when to interview based on your whim. No, you can’t treat the receptionist disrespectfully. No, you can’t be a jerk…anytime. Think great customer service, instead.

2. Be qualified for the job

My wife and her team were trying to fill an HR Generalist position. One of the résumés she received was from a person who had no HR experience; her experience was in dog walking and retail sales. Nor did she have a formal degree required for the position.

Wasting interviewers’ time is not great customer service. I’m not one to dissuade people from applying for position when they lack some of the qualifications; however, I don’t encourage people to apply for positions when they lack the most important experience, skills, and accomplishments.

3. Go through the proper channels

Companies have you send your résumés and fill out an application for a reason. They’re trying to maintain the sanity of their HR and recruiter departments. You’ve heard of companies that receive hundreds of resumes for a job. Get the idea?

However, I suggest trying to get your résumés into the hands of  hiring managers. If you personally know someone in the company, they can be your courier. This approach will save you the frustration of sending you résumés through applicant tracking systems (ATS) that will eliminate you from consideration if you don’t match their keywords.

4. Answer the phone

When a hiring authority calls at the agreed time, you’re obligated to take the call. I’ve spoken with clients who told me they weren’t ready to take the call, so they didn’t. I’ve spoken with recruiters who’ve been totally ghosted—yep, it works both ways. Answer the phone!

It goes without saying that you should be prepared for the phone interview, especially if it’s a scheduled one. Show great customer service by taking the interview seriously.

5. Do your homework

One complaint many hiring authorities echo over and over is candidates’ inability to answer this simple question: “What can you tell us about our company?” Some of the candidates respond with, “I didn’t have the chance to visit your website.” Visiting their website is the least employers expect.

I recently spoke to a client who was preparing for an interview. I asked her pointblank, “What do you know about the company?” She went on to say she knows all the products like the back of her hand, loves the responsibilities of the job, knows who is interviewing her, and has performed all the responsibilities and more.

This client was clearly demonstrating great customer service by showing the employer she’d done her homework.

6. Be on time to the interview

Not only do I praise companies for their professionalism, accuracy in taking my orders; I admire their quickness. Think of being on time to the interview the same way the companies, of which I speak, are consistently quick.

Hiring authorities will appreciate your punctuality, albeit not too early, and might even note it as a deal maker. If you are going to be late, call ahead and apologize profusely when you get to the interview. Great customer service.

7. Treat everyone well

Do you know who is one of the most important people in the hiring process? If you guessed the receptionist, you’re correct. In some cases, the receptionist is asked what they thought of the candidates who came in for interviews. If they give a thumbs down, that’s all she wrote.

Make sure you are respectful to everyone with whom you come in contact. Great customer service includes smiling and being friendly. I make a mental note of this when I’m being served, even if I’m not smiling back.

8. Take the questions seriously, every question

One client recently told me she was asked if she were an insect, what would she be. She recalled learning from on of my colleague to think about an attribute important to the company. Her response was, “A bee, because I work for the betterment of teams, often pulling more of my weight.”

My client could have gotten offended, thinking that the question was stupid; but, instead, she thought about the reason for the interviewer asking and knew she had to show respect by answering the question seriously. That’s an example of great customer service.

9. Thank them for their time

I recently spoke with a recruiter from a large medical device company who told me that some people don’t even thank the hiring managers for the time they’ve taken to interview them. What did our parents teach us?

10. Follow up

The same recruiter told me that the hiring managers would almost beam with excitement when they received thank-you notes. My rules for thank-you notes are very simple: send unique ones to each interviewer, mention a take away from the interview, and be quick in delivering it. Again, signs of great customer service.


As I conclude writing this, I understand that advising you to  provide great customer service in your job search is a tall order, especially given the circumstance. I also know you don’t always receive the best customer service from hiring authorities. Be the bigger person, though. Realize how it will help you in the end.

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3 times when ghosting is wrong

Ghosting is not in the Webster Dictionary, but we know it as when someone who says he’ll call you but never does. This happens to job seekers, recruiters, and business people. And it’s just plain wrong.

ghost hand

Last night I waited for a phone call from a person who wanted to talk with me about a possible business endeavor. He had asked to connect to see if we could be of assistance: “share blogs and investigate a join (he meant joint) venture relationship.”

When job seekers are ghosted

Too many of my clients talk about how they were supposed to get a call from a recruiter or hiring manager. They set time aside waiting for the much-anticipated call, cancel their plans of attending their child’s event, miss a networking meeting they had set up, or have to pass on a seminar they were looking forward to.

They prepared for the call; had their documents ready, prepared their talking points, cleared the house so there would be silence. This was a job that was a perfect match for them. They met all the requirements and had heard great things about the company.

The call never came.  “Why,” they ask me? I don’t know what to say other than tell them to call the recruiter or send an email, reminding him of the phone call they were supposed to have. After weeks of waiting the only thing they can do is give up. The job seekers were ghosted.

I hesitated to connect with the ghoster, fearing this might be a bait and switch. Nonetheless, I accepted his invite. In his reply, he explained his business model and asked if I’d like to have a phone conversation with him. The next day I reply telling him of my limited time. He said he wanted to go forward with a phone conversation.

When recruiters are ghosted

Ghosting is a two-way street. I’ve spoken with and read of recruiters who have been ghosted by job seekers. They were supposed to have a phone conversation with a promising candidate, but the job seekers didn’t call or answer their phone at the agreed time.

The recruiters most likely set some time aside on their schedule to have the phone calls. They were excited at the prospect of presenting a blue-chip software engineer to their client. The recruiters waited and even called the candidates to remind them of their conversation. “My client likes what I told them about you,” the recruiters write in a text. “Please call me as soon as you can.”

Much to the recruiters’ chagrin, the candidates never calls or even has the decency to return the their text. In some cases candidates don’t show up for work when they’ve been offered the job. The recruiters were ghosted. The employers were also ghosted.

Jump forward to last night, I’m waiting for this person’s phone call. I have my laptop open to his profile, to get a sense of who he is and his business. The time of our call comes and goes. I send him a LinkedIn message reminding him of our call. Shortly later I receive his reply verbatim: “I apologize for a client call came up. I had a chance to think about our pre-holiday conversation. I don’t see a lot of synergies in our business for referrals….

When business people are ghosted

The problem with ghosting potential business partners is that you lose credibility. Your reputation is on the line; and as they say, “It’s a small world.” If you decide there’s no “synergy in our business” days before a scheduled call, do the proper thing; call that person.

A good friend of mine who is in sales told me that he’s been ghosted a couple of times. He said when this happens, it’s the other person’s loss. Yes, my friend’s time is valuable. Yes, he might have other plans. Yes, waiting by the phone and seeing time pass sucks. My friend has a good memory.


Whether you’re a job seeker, recruiter, or business person; don’t ghost people with whom you want to engage with. It’s not the right thing to do.

Photo: Flickr, صالح المقيبل

The sport of the job search: 3 types of job seekers

This past summer I saw my son’s basketball team lose a close playoff game. I noticed a mixture of emotions. Some of the players, including my son, played hard until the final whistle blew. Others gave up the game when the other team began to dominate. And some demonstrated a downright negative attitude, including fouling out of frustration.

basketball hoop

The team could have won if they had more confidence and stayed the course. But they didn’t stay the course and unite as one. It was interesting to see the clear distinction of attitudes between the players. I witness the same attitudes in some job seekers.

Some job seekers don’t give up

These are the people who are a pleasure to assist. They wear a smile on their face, despite how they’re feeling inside. They don’t hear back from employers after working hours on their résumé and cover letter. They make it through three rounds of interviews only to lose out in the end to someone who was a “better fit.” Despite this, they trudge on.

One job seeker I helped, when I started delivering workshops, would ping me on his progress. “Bob, I had a great interview today. I have a few coming up this week. Ciao.” Then, “Hola, didn’t make the final cut. Better luck with the next interviews.”

When he finally landed, I asked him how he felt during his job search. Not surprisingly he told me there were times when he felt despair and wondered if he would ever land a job.

He was so grateful for the services I and others offered him at the career center that he speaks to our networking group when I ask him. He also let’s us know when there are openings at the company for which he works. This is the true nature of networking.

Some job seekers throw in the towel

It shows on their face. They say they’ll never land a position. They lose sight of the bigger picture. Like my son’s teammates during the game, they walk through their job search rather than run. Their despondency is understandable, but they don’t see it hurting their chances of landing.

They lose confidence. They make excuses like, “It’s my age.” I’m not naive enough to believe that ageism doesn’t exist; however, I believe if you adopt that attitude immediately, you’ve already lost the game. Hopelessness settles in.

When employers see your lack of confidence, they wonder if you’ll demonstrate confidence on the job. Similarly when people with whom you network see your lack of confidence, they’ll wonder if they should back you as a reference.

This was not the case when I recently acted as a reference for a woman who had been out of work for more than two years. I loved her “can do” attitude so was glad to speak to her personality. She landed a job based on her rich experience and, I’m sure, her attitude.

Some job seekers let their anger show

As soon as I saw my son’s teammates get angry, I knew “that’s all she wrote.” There was no chance they could regain their composure. The other team noticed this, and I’m sure it boosted their confidence. I wondered if I were coaching if I could reign them in. I concluded I couldn’t. It was in their personality makeup.

I see anger in few of my clients. It may be a workshop or during a one-on-one appointment. When I see their anger, I’ll tell them their anger is written on their face. They’ll deny being angry, but it’s so apparent that there’s no denying it.

I understand they are angry; I was angry at times during my job search. However, I tried hard not to let it show in public. Public anger might be witnessed by people who have the authority to hire you or know someone who has the authority to hire you.

Job seekers who let their anger show don’t think others notice it. After one workshop a recruiter who was between jobs approached me and said, “You know, I’ll eventually find a job in recruiting, and I’m going to remember the people in this workshop who are angry. They’re not the ones I’d present to my client.”


The job search is like sports. Moreover, how you handle yourself during this time of transition can be more important than your technical expertise. Don’t give up and don’t show your anger; your job search will be longer if you do either or both.

This post originally appeared in Recruiter.com.

Photo: Flickr, Sar_Proc_

4 reasons why the applicant tracking system is ineffective

My wife has an ongoing argument with Amazon’s Alexa. “Alexa, play WBUR.”

“I don’t understand your question.”

“No, Alexa….Play WBUR….Alexa, play WBUR.”

“Playing a station from Boise Idaho.”

“Argh.”

alexa

As I watch this interaction, it demonstrates how technology and humans don’t always jive. This transaction between my wife reminds me of how the applicant tracking system (ATS)—of which there are hundreds—doesn’t work for the following reasons.

People are only human

No matter how hard I try, some job seekers don’t send résumés tailored to specific jobs. Instead they send generic résumés to every job, exclaiming in aspiration, “Why don’t I get interviews? I’ve sent hundreds of résumés and gotten no interviews; not even a phone interview.”

For years I’ve been preaching to job seekers that keywords are the trick with the ATS. I tell them that they can identify keywords from the job postings by using software as simple as http://www.tagxedo.com or http://www.wordle.net to create word clouds, and then do the same to compare their résumés to job postings. Or they can use a more scientific method using http://www.jobscan.com.

Take the time to dissect the job post to understand the required major requirements and skills. Modify your Branding Headline, Performance Profile, Experience section, essentially everything to fit the job post.

The ATS is not human

The ATS can’t do human; it doesn’t know you as a person who has so much more to offer than the requirements for the job at hand. It is designed to do one thing: parse résumés for keywords. Only if your résumé contains the keywords—and density of them—will it be delivered to the hiring authorities who will read it.

Learn more about the ATS by reading 8 things you need to know about applicant tracking systems.

The ATS is so exact in the keywords for which it searches; there is no room for error. It doesn’t  digest the following words (in bold) in this sentence written by a job seeker: “Demonstrate organizational skills by coordinating events that garnered 98% participation from municipality constituents.

It recognizes the following words (in bold) from a job posting: “Must coordinate events for functions that attract an extremely high percent of participants. Candidates must be extremely organized

Here is where the job candidate fails in matching the three keywords.

  1. coordinating doesn’t equal coordinate.
  2. participation doesn’t equal participants.
  3. Organizational doesn’t equal organized.

The ATS promotes a failing system

The ATS is brilliant because it eliminates as many as 75% of hundreds of résumés submitted for one job. This makes hiring authorities’ lives more manageable and keeps them sane. Most large, and many midsize, companies use applicant tracking systems. One source rates the top 99 applicant tracking systems.

For years we’ve realized that the hiring process is deficient in various ways. When human meets machine, the process fails. You submit your application through an ATS, which does a great job of rating your résumé among others (remember keywords).

However, if your résumé doesn’t meet the ATS’s criteria, you’re out of luck for that job. What the ATS can’t determine is perhaps the most important aspect of a candidate’s potential, emotional intelligence (EQ). The ATS focuses strictly on the skills stated on your résumé; it does not sit across from you in an interview.

The ATS also delivers unqualified people to interviews. This might be attributed to career developers, such as myself, who advise job seekers on how to get by the ATS. (Surely not all people who can play the ATS game are unqualified.) The ones who are unaware of mechanics of the ATS, are being passed by for less qualified people.

The ATS perpetuates job boards

Job boards are chum line. If you’ve ever gone deep-sea fishing, you know what it means to use chum line. Scraps like squid, clams, fish parts, and basically anything that would attract large fish are thrown overboard. The bait attracts any fish who happen to be near the surface.

Hiring authorities reason that they might not get the perfect candidate, but there are job seekers out there who are qualified enough. In other words, what they don’t see, they won’t miss. This thinking is human nature, but it is also faulty.

The ATS allows employers to accept more résumés, convinced the most qualified candidates will be presented to them. Further, the résumés that don’t pass the ATS the first time will be stored for future perusal. Hiring authorities will have a trove a future candidates to look at. This is of no solace to job seekers who need a job now.

The job board’s success rate ranges from 2%-10%. The marriage between it and the ATS is a perfect union.


Friend or foe, the ATS is no better than Alexa. My wife eventually taught the machine to find the radio station she desired, but it took some teaching and frustration. Will the ATS be smarter? Will it be more human? More intuitive? If Alexa is any indication, there might be hope.

Photo: Flickr.com, Victor Gonzalez Couso

3 times when LinkedIn is essential for your professional career

I am fortunate to lead career-search workshops and counsel job seekers individually. While some of my clients fully embrace the power of  LinkedIn to land a job, others don’t make great use of it. Some outright reject it.

LinkedIn Flag

As an example of the latter, one of my clients came to me, with tears in her eyes, after a LinkedIn workshop telling me that she appreciated what I taught her, but that she wouldn’t use it. I told her that it is alright, LinkedIn isn’t for everyone.

I’m feeling optimistic today and am addressing LinkedIn members who embrace the power of this professional networking platform. There are three times when LinkedIn is essential for your professional development.

When you’re looking for a job

If you are a job seeker, your journey with LinkedIn will be challenging. You will have to develop a profile that, like your résumé, will express your value and brand you. Unlike your résumé, it should depict you on a more personal level.

Yes, you’ll include your accomplishments and maybe some of your outstanding duties; but you’ll also elaborate on your volunteerism, create an extensive list of your skills, ask and write recommendations, and more. This is your online brand, so put a great deal of effort into it.

You’ll also have to get to work on building your network. To many people this is a hard thing to fathom. Reach out to people I barely know, you may wonder? Absolutely…but only the people who will be of mutual benefit. This isn’t Facebook, so you need to develop a professional network.

But reaching out on LinkedIn to unknown people isn’t enough, you’ll need to “touch” them in a personal way. Call them on the phone. Meet them for coffee. At the very least, communicate via email.

The third piece of your LinkedIn campaign is engaging with your new connections. Now that you have a stellar profile and have developed a network consisting of quality connections, it’s time to engage with your first degree connections. The old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind” holds true.

Direct messages are the best way to engage with one or a few of your first degree connections, but if you want to reach more of your first degree connections (and their connections); you can share articles, ask questions, answer updates others have started, and Like and comment on shared updates.

When you’re working

ResearchMany people make the mistake of discontinuing their engagement on LinkedIn. Saying that you don’t have the time or energy is an excuse. Sparing even 10 minutes a day is better than nothing. I still encourage people who are working to use LinkedIn every day.

First, announce your new job, if you haven’t already. Let people in your network know; they will see your Happy Landing in their homepage timeline. You will be congratulated on your new employment.

As well, be willing to alert your networking buddies to available jobs at your new company. Many of my clients have alerted their buddies to positions that are opened, and not necessarily advertised. This is the true definition of “paying it forward.”

Update your profile. Whenever you achieve an accomplishment, add it to your new position. If you don’t do this shortly after you’ve achieved an accomplishment, you may forget about it. Another reason to keep your profile updated is that you’ll be more desirable to potential suitors.

My valuable LinkedIn connection, Laura Smith-Proulx warns that you may not want to be too present on LinkedIn. You’ll want to update your profile slowly, as to not draw attention from your new employer to your profile.

This doesn’t mean you can’t stop learning while you’re working. You can read posts written by your connections or your favorite online publishers. Do this during lunch, or when you get in early in the morning, or at home. This could be your 10-minutes a day of using LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is not only a great tool for finding a job, it’s highly effective for generating business. If your role is in sales, business development, or any other position which requires networking; use LinkedIn to reach out to potential business contacts. This, after all, is why LinkedIn was created in 2003.

The best of LinkedIn’s premium accounts for sales is Sales Navigator, which provides salespeople with the ability to identify potential buyers and tag them to keep their CRM manageable. As well, you get unlimited searches. This is a premium account that your company will most likely pay for if they value generating sales leads.

Read 6 reasons to use LinkedIn after you’ve landed a job.

When you’re in school/post grad

Elevator Your FutureRecently I conducted a webinar for college students and grads, addressing the importance of creating a powerful profile and connecting with LinkedIn members.

Although as a college student your profile may not be as developed and your work history not as extensive as people in the workforce for many years, you can still use LinkedIn to find employment or internships.

This is a great time for you to get on LinkedIn, while you have the opportunity to build your LinkedIn campaign. I call this getting on the elevator on the bottom floor. You have the opportunity to build up your network with quality connections.

Valuable connections can be alumni of the school you’re attending or have graduated from. These are people who have an affinity for their alma mater and, as an extension, an affinity for you. Think networking meetings when reaching out to them.

However, as someone who could provide you with great advice or even solid leads, they will only do so if you come across as a mature, dependable person. They will want to help but don’t want to waste their time.

How do you find your alumni? The answer is simple; use LinkedIn’s Find Alumni feature, which is done by typing your university in the Search feature, choosing School or Company, and then clicking See Alumni. You can search “alumni by title, keyword or company.”

One disadvantage you’ll have to deal with is the inability to rearrange your profile sections. As of now, your sections are arranged as such: Summary, Experience, Education, and others. Many students and post grads can benefit from showing their Education section below their Summary, as it is their most recent accomplishment.

The solution to showing your value is to pack your Experience section with industry-related employment or internships. The smartest students secure as many internships as possible during the school year or summers.

When describing your internship or industry-related employment, be as descriptive as possible. At your age, you may not have the outstanding accomplishments that older workers can tout. But most employers will understand your lack of work experience as long as you’re a quick learner and work hard to get up to speed.


Whether you’re a job seeker, employed, or a college student; LinkedIn can be extremely helpful for your career development. The way you use it will vary, but many of the principles are the same.

If you want to learn more about LinkedIn, visit this compilation of LinkedIn posts.