The 5 steps recruiters use to select the best résumés

18921009695_a3d7685229_zThis year my son wanted a Christmas tree, despite the fact he’s allergic to them. I was game. Besides, we know this great tree farm that isn’t well known by other Christmas tree buyers.

(You may skip this story and go right to the 5 steps recruiters use to select the best resume to present to hiring managers, if you’d like.)

My family and I arrived at the tree farm and were surprised by the sparse group of people eager to find their Christmas tree.

Looking up the hill I saw nothing but rows and rows of Christmas trees and a few people, some with dogs, walking through rows of those trees. No one was in a hurry. Why should they be in a hurry?

You might think I was excited to see such an abundance of trees, which at a glance all looked the same. You are correct; I was thrilled to find the perfect tree to take home to our living room.

However, as I got closer to the trees up on the hill, I noticed that they weren’t all perfect. In fact, some of them were pretty bleak with their pine needles turning brown, their branches missing here and there, they were scrawny. In other words, this was going to take work.

What I began to think about was how this mass selection of Christmas trees resembled the mass selection of résumés recruiters get for one job. How they have sift through all those résumés in order to select the ones to submit to hiring managers (HM). Here are the five steps they must take.

First, reduce the number of résumés to be read

By now you’ve heard about the applicant tracking system (ATS) and understand its purpose, to eliminate as many résumés to read as possible. Simply stated, it screens résumés for keywords and phrases. Those without the proper keywords don’t make the cut.

To give you an idea of the sheer number of applicant for each job: according to Jobvite.com, nearly 100 résumés are submitted for professional positions and 150 for other entry level.

The ATS effectively eliminates 75% of résumés submitted for a position, but even reading 25 résumés can be a burden. (Read 10 reasons recruiters and hiring managers dread reading résumés.)

Second, read the 25 out of 100 résumés chosen by the ATS

Even after the résumés have made it through the ATS, recruiters will take approximately six to ten seconds to read each one to determine if it’s worth a second view.

Recruiters’ job is to look for résumés to disqualify from consideration, rather than qualify them for consideration. It’s a process of elimination. Résumés that make the cut are placed in the “must read” pile.

Third, read the résumés in the “must read” pile

A closer look tells recruiters if the résumés have what it takes based on:

  • Readability: the résumés contain short paragraphs, with no more than three or four lines. Important points are bulleted. Important text is highlighted in bold to stand out from the rest of the text.
  • Accomplishments stand out: they are measurable with numbers, dollars, and percentages. Executive résumés, according to Laura Smith-Proulx are quantified.
  • Shorter is better—two pages—but I’ve spoken with recruiters who will read three- even four-page résumés. The more pages, the easier the ATS to see you, my dear.
  • Demographics: Determine if the applicants’ demographics fit the role. Does he live close enough to the company? Does his work history show too much or enough years of experience? What size companies has the applicant worked at?

Fourth, determine which two, three, or four résumés to submit to the hiring manager

The recruiter’s reputation is riding on the best candidates to submit to the HM, so the résumés must impress him. He must be sold on the candidates’ accomplishments, which must be relevant.

For example, although a candidate has outstanding accomplishments as an individual contributor—increased revenue 80% by generating business in uncharted territory—but the job calls for a person with management experience, he probably isn’t a good fit.

Personality fit is also key in the recruiter’s decision. But how does the recruiter see candidates’ personality in a résumé? It’s not an easy task for the job seeker to accomplish, but a résumé that demonstrates a human voice without use of fluff and cliches is preferred.

The use of personal pronouns is typically frowned upon, but when used sparingly can emphasize the job seeker’s skills and accomplishments. By sparingly I mean used only in the Performance Profile section.

Fifth, defend the recruiter’s choice to the hiring manager

A well written résumé should not be difficult to defend. After all, it has passed the ATS, the six-second glance, a more extensive review, has presented relevant accomplishments, and has given the recruiter a sense of the job seeker’s personality…as best it can.

But the résumé is a document that can’t reveal as much as the interviews conducted by the recruiter, HR, and the hiring manager. This is a the first step in the process, albeit a very important step. The recruiter must sound convincing when she presents her decision to the HM, perhaps second guessing the choices she’s made. Let the interviews begin.

Back to the story: The Christmas tree our family chose was one of the best in our family’s history. It was the ideal height and width. It only shed a few pine needles. But my wife wondered aloud if the short needles would be as good as the longer needles.

To me, it was a Christmas tree that we selected together. Was it perfect? No, but what is?

10 reasons why recruiters and hiring managers dread reading a résumé

bored womanHere’s a fact: Very few people like reading résumés, especially those who read hundreds of them a week. Ask any recruiter or hiring manager (HM).

I critique and write résumés as part of my job. I’ve read hundreds of them and have conducted numerous critique sessions, but I’ve got nothing over recruiters and HMs.

The only bright spot in this whole process is reading a résumé that doesn’t give me a sharp pain between my eyes, one that is relatively sound. A résumé that is outstanding—now, that’s a WOW moment.

Once you understand that recruiters and HMs are not dying to read your résumé, you can focus your attention on writing one that pleasantly surprises them, one that prompts them to recommend you for an interview.

To entice them into inviting you in for an interview, you must avoid making the following mistakes:

1. An apathetic approach to writing your résumé. Don’t let your apathy show in the quality of your product, which shouts, “I’m not into writing a résumé because I’ve got better things to do.” This results in typos, spelling errors, and grammatical mistakes.

This sentiment comes across loud and clear from people who feel this way. They resent having to write a résumé and would prefer others to do it for them. Do not rely on others to write your résumé; it’s your responsibility.

Note: if you simply can’t write your own résumé, be sure that you hire someone who will take adequate time to interview you and get to know what you’ve accomplished in your career. Read this post on having a professional write your resume.

2. Your résumé is a tome. It’s a five-page document consisting of every duty you performed within the past 25-years; and it’s so dense that the person reading it puts it in the “don’t read” pile simply because it’s nearly impossible to read.

I recently glanced at a résumé that resembled what I’ve just described. I made no false pretense and simply put it down after two seconds saying, “I can’t read this.” My customer nodded with understanding.

3. And it’s hard to read. Make your résumé easy to read by writing short paragraphs, no more than three or four lines. Shorter paragraphs allow the reader to grasp important information easier. I’m also a fan of using bold text to make words for phrases stand out.

Remember that recruiters take approximately 6-10 seconds to glance at your résumé to determine if they will read the rest of it. Thus your résumé must grab their attention quickly. Make sure they see the accomplishments within those six seconds.

4. It lacks accomplishments. I know, you’ve heard this a thousand times. But it’s worth repeating because you want to stand out from the rest. Recruiters and employers relate to quantified results with dollars, numbers, and percentages. Many people mistakenly think accomplishments should only be highlighted in the Experience section or under Career Highlights.

One or two of your accomplishments should be stated in the Performance Profile. Develop processes that improve operations and result in double-digit revenue growth.  A statement like this is meant to grab the reader’s attention. This assertion must then be backed up in the Experience section with explicit examples and dollar amounts.

5. It includes clichés or unsubstantiated adaptive skills. The rule is to show rather than tell. Yes, you may be innovative; but what makes you innovative? Did you develop a program for inner-city youth that promoted a cooperative environment, reducing violent crime by 50%? If so, state it in your profile as such.

Recruiters and hiring managers can see fluff a mile away. They’re turned off by words like “dynamic,” “results-oriented,” “Outstanding,” “driven,” and other clichés.

6. Failing to show recruiters and employers what you’ll do for them. Recruiters and employers don’t want to know what you did; they want to know what you can do. You’re probably thinking, “If my work history is in the past. That’s what I did. How do I show employers what I can do?”

It’s what we in the field call prioritizing your statements, or targeting your résumé to each company to which you apply. In other words, illustrate how your qualifications and accomplishments match the employers’ requirements in order of importance.

7. You don’t know what recruiters and employers want. Many people don’t take the time to dissect the job ad to discover the most important skills and experience the employer wants to see on your résumé. If the ad is skimpy, go to the company’s career section on its website.

Better yet, if you know someone at the company or know someone who knows someone at the company, call him/her and ask more about the position. LinkedIn is a great tool for finding influential people at companies. The bottom line is that you can’t write a targeted résumé if you don’t understand the requirements of the job.

8. You lack keywords and phrases. As CareerBuilder.com points out, keywords are the skills applicant tracking systems (ATS) search for to determine if your résumé will be the first of many to be read by recruiters and employers.

Your branding headline, much like the headline on your LinkedIn profile, is the first place on your résumé where you’ll utilize keywords. Then you will make sure they’re peppered throughout the rest of your résumé.

9. Your resume isn’t smart phone friendly. For you Millennials this should be no problem, as you go nowhere without your iPhone or Android. (I’m the same way, even as a Boomer.)

The job search is increasingly used more on the go, rather than at a computer, so your résumé (stored in Dropbox) must be legible to recruiters and hiring managers. Recruiters and HMs want your résumé fast, so don’t disappoint them.

10. You apply for a job for which you’re not qualified. I know the urge to find a job, any job, is great; but don’t waste the time of a recruiter, employer, and you by applying for a job for which you’re not qualified.

You may think there’s an inkling of hope that you’ll get an interview. But if you have only five of the 10 requirements necessary to do the job, there really is no hope. And this can be determined within the first 10 seconds of reading the résumé.

A woman in HR recently related this story to me, “I received a résumé in a USPS photo envelope (heavy duty mailer) certified mail.  The résumé is on lovely cream-colored card stock, beautifully formatted. The problem, she is applying for the Assistant Town Accountant position and for the last 10 years she has been a dog groomer.”


These are but 10 faux pas you must avoid if you want to write a powerful résumé that is enjoyable to read and gets you a spot in the hot seat. Once you’re at the interview, you’re one step closer to a job offer.

Photo: Flickr, ssunnymorgann

Dear recruiters and hiring managers, the truth is better than…nothing

Waiting for a call

A customer came to me exasperated because he hadn’t heard from the recruiter who was trying to place him at company for an engineering position. My customer told me the process had been going really well.

He and the company were in the final stages, the hiring manager told him it looked promising, it was just a matter of getting him to meet with the VP of engineering.

My customer waited with anticipation for the call from the hiring manager, but after a week of waiting…nothing.

At first he was reluctant to reach out to the recruiter or call the hiring manager to inquire about the status of his candidacy.  I told him to contact his recruiter, who he described as a positive person that nearly guaranteed him a job, so my customer sent his recruiter an e-mail.

Another week went by and…nothing.

At this point I told him it was time to phone the recruiter to ask him if he’d heard from the hiring manager. His recruiter would be able to give him some insight as to how the process was going, and he was the point man–not right to go above his head.

My customer left two voice-mails and heard…nothing.

He asked me if it was time to contact the hiring manager, as he wasn’t getting any love from his recruiter. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it would be a waste of time, but the career counselor in me told him to make the call and, of course, be diplomatic.

My customer left a couple of scripted voice-mails with the hiring manager and after another grueling week…nothing.

It was finally time to call it quits. The recruiter had disappeared and apparently went on to other job seekers, and the hiring manager had given my customer a non-verbal rejection, a practice that has become commonplace.

Shortly after this whole affair, my customer told me that it was a hellacious process; nothing that he’d like to go through again. He recovered from the ordeal, though, and was not about to give up on the job search.

In the future he wasn’t going to waste energy on worrying about the deadening silence he’d experienced, the feeling of desperation and hopelessness.  He only wished the recruiter and hiring manager would have told him the truth because the truth is always better than nothing.

An excellent article that appeared on RecruitingBlogs.com titled 8 Tips for the New Recruiter touches on the importance of following up. While the author Becky Northrup admits to making this mistake, she advises:

“…Make it a point to call the candidate and tell them as soon as you have any updates. Even if you haven’t heard anything and especially if the position was cancelled or they were disqualified. It can just be a call at the end of the week to tell them that you haven’t heard. They will appreciate the follow-up regardless of if it’s good, bad or no news…” (Tip #6)

As for the hiring managers out there, keep in mind that your candidates are counting on your decision, yay or nay, so a quick call or e-mail saying you’ve gone with another candidate or that the position has been put on hold or lost its funding might hurt the expectant candidate’s feelings; but the truth is better than…nothing.

Photo: Flickr, Antoine K

 

Dear recruiter, 15 reasons why you lost the best candidate ever

Man on phone 2

As a career strategist I’m privy to conversation from job candidates who are at the mercy of internal and third-party recruiters. I say mercy because before they can sell themselves to the hiring manager, they have to get past the recruiter.

In the grand scheme of things there seems to be a misunderstanding of the importance the role job candidates play in the hiring process. They are the bread and butter of the process because they’re the ones who are going to solve the employer’s most dire need, the need to fill a position.

While we see many articles written on what jobseekers do wrong, rarely a word do we see on what recruiters do wrong. I personally don’t see the justice in this inequity of blame; and I’m not even applying for jobs. I’m just the messenger.

Some recruiters (a small number) are treating their job candidates like shite, Mate. This seems counterproductive to achieving the goal of hiring people for the jobs that need to get filled. And there are numerous jobs to fill. I know, recruiters are busy (#11 on the list of job candidate complaints) vetting candidates to present to their clients, but their lack of sensitivity, courtesy, and plain logic is sometimes baffling.

I realize there are some great recruiters and some lousy recruiters (the number favors the former); and the same applies to job candidates (ditto). But some of the behavior I’ve heard about recruiters is well…baffling. Without further ado, let me relay what my customers have told me over time.

  1. You told me I was your number one and then didn’t call back. Didn’t that make me feel cheap.
  2. You knew less about the job than I did. (Ouch.)
  3. You thought I was too old. Hint: don’t ask a candidate how old she is. One of my former customers was actually asked during a telephone interview, “Just how old are you?”
  4. You took the liberty to revise MY résumé. Imagine my surprise when I showed up at the interview to find the interviewers holding a different version of the résumé I sent.
  5. Do you really think what I did after graduating from college (25 years ago) is relevant? The last time I checked, no one was using DOS.
  6. You called me an hour late and wondered why I was pissed. I  had to pick up my child from daycare,  which by the way takes up most of my UI benefits.
  7. You wanted to connect with me on LinkedIn so you could have access to my connections. I’m not stupid, stupid.
  8. You sent me to the wrong interview. Imagine my surprise when the hiring manager started describing a position that I wasn’t aware of applying for.
  9. You overlooked me because I was out of work for three months. No, technology in finance doesn’t change that much in three months. Oh, I get it; I’m damaged goods.
  10. I may not be as beautiful as your dream date, but I can manage a project with my eyes close. Incidentally,  you’re no looker yourself.
  11. You complain about being sooo busy. I’m not exactly sitting around watching Oprah and popping Bonbons. I am out beating the bushes.
  12. Really? “What is your greatest weakness?” Why do you ask idiotic questions like this? Do you think I’ll really tell you my greatest weakness? Besides, I have the answer memorized.
  13. I wasn’t a fit? Couldn’t you get a better explanation than that. I only want to know if I need to improve my interviewing techniques.
  14. Speaking of interviewing, couldn’t you have told me that I was going to be the oldest person in the building? I can rock with the best of them, but it would have been great to have a heads up.
  15. No means no. I don’t want to take a position that pays half the amount I was making at my last job. I know salaries may be lower these days, but doing twice the amount of work for half the pay doesn’t add up.

Many of the people I serve have had favorable experiences with recruiters, but the process could be a lot better if some of these common complaints are addressed.

Read the follow-up post, Dear hiring manager, 15 reasons why you lost the best candidate ever. There are 15 different reasons!

Photo: Flickr, Kev-Shine

4 ways to break down your time in the job search

There’s been speculation as to how jobseekers should segment their time for the job search. Some embrace the idea of dedicating a certain amount of time to their job search methods; They have a well-devised plan.

Others don’t give much thought to how they’ll spend their time and energy on the search. This can be a mistake.

Having guidelines, whether you adhere to them or occasionally drop the ball, provide objectives which are necessary to achieve your goals. The job search is not an exact science, however you need a guideline to give yourself direction. Consider the following way of segmenting your job search into job-search methods.

60% Networking related activities

The Department of Labor has stated that at least 60% of jobs are gained through networking, and most pundits would agree that networking is the best use of your time. However, some people have the misconception that attending networking events only constitutes connecting with people who can be of mutual help.

Networking should be a daily event that comes about naturally, such as during family gatherings, on the sidelines of a soccer game, while getting your hair colored, in the grocery store, etc. You must prepared to present yourself in a favorable manner at all times; first impressions count. Read this article to learn about networking naturally.

Note: Awhile back, Lou Adler, expert recruiter and author of The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired, wrote an article for LinkedIn in which he states networking should constitute 60% of your job search. 

20% LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the best way to network online, period. Facebook and Twitter are great media for communicating real-time, but serious business people and jobseekers use LinkedIn on a regular basis with great success.

I only suggest 20% percent because putting more effort into LinkedIn can make you complacent, believing that it’s a replacement for personal networking. It isn’t! LinkedIn is a great supplement for personal networking.

Once you’ve developed connections on LinkedIn, it’s time to reach out to them and touch them in a personal way: meet with them in person, talk on the phone (if they’re long distance), and at the very least communicate via e-mail. Read this article to find out how.

10% Job Postings/Researching Companies

Estimates for success using this method to search for work only range from 4-10%, according to the well-known Richard Bolles, *What Color is Your Parachute.  The image of jobseekers hunched over their computer mechanically zipping résumés into the clouds depresses me.

Why not develop a list of companies for which you’d like to work, follow their progress (or lack thereof), and send a nicely crafted approach letter (which indicates your interest in a possible positions) to the companies that show movement? Or better yet, call them.

Let’s adjust this figure. Spend 5 percent of your time playing the lottery by sending out your generic résumé that most likely will be lost in companies’ huge databases; spend the other 5 percent doing your research and composing introductory letters or making phone calls that will garner greater success.

10% Agency/3rd Party Recruiters

This figure assumes you use agencies or 3rd party recruiters. Some of us stiffs, perhaps more than one would think, don’t use recruiters due to the industry in which we work. So this 10 percent can be thrown out the window for people who haven’t even run across a recruiter.

On the other hand, if you are in an industry where working with recruiters is the norm and you demand a high salary, this figure seems a bit low. Richard Bolles gives this method of job search a 5 to 28 percent chance of success if used alone, taking into consideration the salary requirements of the jobseekers.

Put it in action

I’ve heard pundits claim that creating a weekly schedule to follow is fruitless. I disagree. Having a schedule to follow on a consistent basis gives you structure and objectives toward an attainable goal.

Let’ say you’ll spend 30 hours a week to conduct your job search—a good number, I think, as you’ll want time for other important things in your life. Of those 30 hours you’ll spend 18 combined hours on networking activities, only 3 or 4 of those hours attending networking groups; 6 hours on LinkedIn; and 3 hours online and recruiters.

Of course your plan may be derailed for one reason or another–Uncle Al blows into town. You don’t have time to attend the third networking event of the week. No sweat, get back on track the next week and stick to the theoretical schedule. The most important thing is that you are proactive in your job search, not spending 30 hours a week sending your résumé into the dark void.

*Bolles wrote this way back in 2011, but I think it still holds true.

I’m not the enemy–8 myths and facts about what I do

myths

I recall a conversation I had with a recruiter who told me I’m the enemy. The reason she told me this is because my job as a career strategist and workshop facilitator is to prepare jobseekers for their search. And I imagine this recruiter believes I instruct my customers to do anything to pull one over on recruiters.

While it’s true my goal is to help my customers get jobs, I will not go to any measure to help them land in a position, especially when they’re not qualified.

The fact that this recruiter called me the enemy got me to thinking about how misunderstood I am when it comes to preparing jobseekers for their search. Here are 8 myths and facts about what I do.

1. Myth: I tell my customers that all recruiters are scum. That they only care about themselves and their client, the company.

Fact: I tell my customers a recruiter’s paycheck comes from the company. However, the recruiters’ goal is to create a match between employer and candidate. Many recruiters want to build healthy relationships with jobseekers–it only makes good business sense.

2. Myth: I encourage my customers to lie on their résumés or, at the very least, embellish their accomplishments to trick recruiters into calling them.

Fact: My mantra is, “Never lie on your résumé.” People who lie on their résumé are found out for the frauds they are. So don’t make it worse by claiming you’ve accomplished more than you have, I advise.

I’ll admit that I tell my customers to conceal their age by only listing 10-15 years of work history. 

3. Myth: I tell my customers that the recruiter’s purpose is to screen them out of consideration because of their their salary requirement, so they should agree to a lower salary. Then they can battle it out with the hiring manager.

Fact: Yes, recruiters need to know if the opportunity is at all plausible, so I tell my jobseekers it’s best to know earlier than later if they and the employer are even close. Why waste everyone’s time?

4. Myth: Similar to myth # 3, I tell my customers that the telephone interview with the recruiter is only a screening to verify they have the technical requirements for the job and has nothing to do with determining personality fit.

Fact: Recruiters need to verify if my customers can do the job, have the required software/hardware/procedural skills required by the employer; but good recruiters also determine if applicants are a personality fit. I tell my customers to be prepared for more difficult questions, including behavioral-based ones.

5. Myth: I tell my customers that recruiters have no say in the hiring process.

Fact. Recruiters don’t make the ultimate decision, but their opinion is valued by the hiring manager, so the interviews will be challenging and reveal the strengths, as well as the weaknesses, of the applicants.

6. Myth: I tell my customers to go around the recruiters and speak directly with the hiring managers.

Fact. Going around the recruiters will not only fray relationships with recruiters, it will demonstrate a lack of integrity and will turn the hiring managers off. However, if my customers are not getting the love from a recruiter, they should take measures into their own hands.

7. Myth. I tell my customers to contact as many recruiters as possible to increase their chances of getting a job.

Fact. My father told me as a teenager to play the field; this always backfired. The recruiter can be your best friend, so don’t dis him by not showing the love. My customers need to build the trust with the recruiter and not insult him by being a player. Some recruiters are putzes, so move on until you find one or two that deserve your love.

 8. Myth. I tell my customers that all recruiters read cover letters.

Fact. From the words of a recruiter who doesn’t read cover letters, “I read 200 résumés for one position. No, I don’t have time to read cover letters.” Some recruiters (the smart ones) read cover letters, but no all.

As you can see, I’m not fighting against recruiters; I’m merely trying to prepare my jobseekers in a realistic manner. I don’t believe all things come up smelling like roses. There are jobseekers who will pull dumb moves, and there are recruiters who will treat my customers with disrespect. The goal is to develop a partnership between jobseekers and recruiters.

 

 

 

5 things to consider for an interview; it’s not all about the hard skills

Recruiters and staffing agencies are not only concerned about job candidates’ hard skills; they’re also concerned about their soft skills. And this makes sense. Who would want to hire a dud who brings the operation down with his attitude? Jon Prete, “Who would you hire: Charlie or Ashton? It’s all about attitude!” and Jeff Haden, “The 5 Biggest Hiring Mistakes,” both emphasize the importance of hiring someone who will be a good fit.

This said, how should you prepare for the job search with this in mind? Here are five areas of your job search to focus on.

Be the round peg for the round hole: “The outstanding salesman with the incredible track record of generating business and terrorizing admin and support staff won’t immediately play well in your sandbox just because you hired him,” writes Haden. Let’s face it; if you’re difficult to work for, you have one strike against you already.

Look at yourself long and hard and determine what areas in your personality you might improve. Also determine in which work environments you feel most comfortable. If you’re a demanding person with little tolerance, you might consider an atmosphere with other demanding people…where you can’t terrorize other people.

Show it on paper: Many jobseekers say writing about their soft skills on their résumé and in their cover letter is irrelevant. This is bunk, especially with your cover letter. I don’t suggest that you use clichés like, “hard worker,” “team player,” “dynamic.” I suggest you illustrate these traits through your accomplishments. Show rather than tell.

A Manufacturing Manager who has a team-work approach and leadership skills might write: Consistently met production deadlines through collaboration with colleagues in various departments and providing effective leadership to (formerly) unmotivated subordinatesResult: Products were shipped to customers with a 97% return rate.

Talk about your soft skills while you’re networking: “I hate bragging at networking events,” I’m constantly told. “Nobody wants to hear about my personal qualities.” Yes they do. If someone is going to recommend you to a solid contact, wouldn’t you like to be assured that she will tell him that you loved what you were doing; you were a positive influence on you co-workers?

Demonstrate your enthusiasm while you’re networking, whether at events or on the sidelines of your daughter’s soccer game. Instead of saying, “I’m innovative”; say, “I came up with ideas that were often implemented and led to significant cost savings.”

Of course demonstrating your soft skills at the interview is important: This goes without saying. Interviewers today are using behavioral questions to find the people with the right attitude. “If crafted properly,” states Prete, “behavioral questions can provide a glimpse into a candidate’s decision-making process as well as their values. [Leadership Development Advisor, Beth Armknecht Miller] believes that a great majority of employees fail in a company because their soft skills and values don’t match those of their manager and company.”

Unlike the résumé where you have limited space, the interview provides you the platform to tell your stories using the STAR (situation, task, action, result) formula. You may be asked about your ability to effectively discipline subordinates. “Tell me about a time when you were effective in disciplining an employee. How did this help the employee perform better?” Have a story ready.

Seal the deal: The interview is not concluded until you’ve sent a follow-up letter, I tell my workshop attendees. This is another opportunity to emphasize your strong personality skills, making you a better fit for the position than other applicants. Many jobseekers fail to send a thank you note, and some don’t get the job for that reason.

A former customer recently wrote me, “The HR person really liked my hand-written thank-you note; said it was rare.” The message here is that you can stand out as a courteous, professional, and follow-through type of candidate simply by sending a thank-you note.

Jobseekers generally think that recruiters and staffing agencies care only about the technical skills. (After all, recruiters can’t present a zebra with orange stripes to their client when a zebra with black stripes is called for.) But two recruiters are telling you that employers want a great personality fit, as well. Take their advice and sell yourself as an all-around employee from the very beginning.