Tag Archives: recruiters

Sage Interviewing Advice from 5 Recruiters

Congratulations! You made it to the interview. Through your hard work—researching the position and company; networking with recruiters; writing a resume for human consumption, not purely focused on the ATS; and practicing answering the questions you predict will be asked—you’re ready.

There are some things you still need to consider, such as:

  • Preparing for video interviews
  • Understanding how to answer the questions that will be asked
  • Thinking of intelligent questions to ask the interviewers
  • Knowing how to answer the salary questions
  • Following up with your recruiter

All of this will be covered here. My suggestion to you is don’t skip a word. The recruiters who offer their advice are the real deal. They’ve taken time out of their busy schedule to offer you their advice and, most importantly, they want to help you succeed. One of them writes:

“As a recruiter, my success depends on my candidates succeeding. I provide advice on LinkedIn and other platforms for not just my candidates whom I work with personally, but candidates everywhere.” Tejal Wagadia, Sourcing Recruiter, Amazon

Preparing for video interviews

Ed Han Talent Acquisition Geek | Job-Hunt.org Contributor | JobSeeker Ally | I’m not active on LinkedIn: I’m hyperactive! | Wordsmith | Recruiter at Cenlar FSB | Ask me about IT opportunities in the 19067 and 08618 ZIP codes!

The key to performing well in practically everything is good preparation. Professional athletes practice for hours daily. Professional actors do exercises and rehearse lines for hours daily. So it is with interviews–but particularly with video interviews. And it begins from the moment you attempt to schedule your interview, and all the way through the process.

Some of what follows is just interview preparation best practices, but the items that are unique to video interviews will be called out in italics.

Scheduling

When the person with whom you are scheduling confirms your interview:

  • Do so in writing (email. SMS, etc.)
  • Always ask
  • How long should I budget?
  • With whom will I be speaking?
  • What technology will be used?
  • If they send a calendar invitation, scan the attendees, see if the interviewer(s) are also on the invitation list

Before the interview

These steps are essential in maximizing the likelihood of performing well in your interviews:

  • From the Scheduling step above, research your interviewer(s) online on LinkedIn and other forms of social media
  • Get plenty of rest the night before to the extent possible
  • Have a beverage handy for your interview: you will probably do a fair bit of talking in the interview, and pausing to take a sip can be a good way to stall for a few seconds and gather your thoughts when uncertain how to frame your response to an interviewer’s question
  • Again from the Scheduling step above, do a test call or two using the technology for your interview because unfamiliar technologies might behave unexpectedly, and throw you off during the interview
  • Most videoconferencing technologies have a chat feature: identify that feature and learn it, it is useful for troubleshooting any audio/video issues you may be experiencing
  • GoToMeeting when installed on a computing device periodically needs to update, so allow time for this to take place before your interview
  • Set the stage: identify where you will take the interview, and make sure the lighting is good, that you are not backlit or in shadow, that you have privacy and quiet, and make sure nothing problematic is visible in the background behind you–this is another good reason to do a test call before your video interview
  • Attire: select clothing that is not jarring against the background the interviewer(s) may see
  • Where possible use a Chromebook/laptop with an Ethernet cable: WiFi often offers lower bandwidth than an Ethernet cable connection, and using your phone could lead to your hand getting tired from being in the same position for an extended period of time

During the interview

Bear these things in mind during your interview:

  • In a panel interview, ensure that you are addressing each person, although the bulk of your attention should be on whoever is speaking
  • In the event of a technical issue, use the chat feature to help troubleshoot
  • Look at the camera, it is your interviewer(s): the reason for a video interview is to get a feel for the person behind the resume, and there is a great deal of non-verbal communication in any human interaction. It is easy to make the mistake of looking at the screen instead of the camera, but make a conscious effort to do better in this, it will help differentiate you from your competition

After the interview

It is generally considered good etiquette to send a thank you. Schools of thought differ on “the ideal medium” to do so: I have witnessed suggestions of a formal business letter, email, or text. What makes sense will be driven by the dynamic between you and the person who scheduled the interview. If in doubt, always favor the more formal over the less formal medium, whatever that is.

Summary

Above all, remember that a job interview is a business meeting between parties wanting to determine if they want to do business, and if so, how. The fact that this conversation is taking place over video is irrelevant.

It just means that there are logistical considerations that you should recognize and address to ensure optimal performance.

Understanding how to answer the questions that will be asked

Dan Roth Recruit for Amazon | Work for my Candidates | Professional Speaker

As recruiters a recruiter, I get asked all the time, “What is the hardest interview question you have ever heard?” I always pause, knowing I am not going to give them the answer they are expecting to hear.

Instead of a specific question, my response is always, “It’s not the question that is hard. The hard part is making sure you are answering the question how the interviewer wants you to.” Roughly 90% of the time I get a quizzical look so I explain.

Amazon and many other companies want applicants to use the STAR method.

Situation

Task

Actions

Result/s

This format allows applicants to have a clear structure. First you explain the situation, providing whatever background information is needed that gives context. Next what was the task? The task could conceivably be the problem you are looking to solve.

Actions are the next component. Within the actions, what measures did you take to resolve the situation? How did you arrive at this decision? Did you research prior? Did you seek out varying opinions? Did you have to pick between multiple options? We really want to know in the actions not only what you did, but the why behind it.

Finally, the result/s. Was it a positive outcome? Were there data points showing the improvement you were able to make? Was the client happy? Were your actions ones that you could replicate in the future with similar results?

This may sound standard, even simple.

The trouble for most comes in two parts.

The first is that while the structure is easy to follow, many job seekers do not consider the context of the question. Amazon has 16 leadership principles. The interviewer may be hinting to you that they want to hear an example of customer obsession.

But due to nerves or any number of factors, the answer provided is either based on prepared answers that have been practiced time and time again and is not catered to the question being asked.

Or so much time is spent on one area of STAR that it comes across as overly verbose and potentially gives the wrong impression of how the candidate communicates on the job.

The other big miss can be data points. Many high-tech companies want you to back up your claims with some sort of tangible evidence. If you created an application that raised sales for your company 30% we want to know that.

But, data points are often seen as numeric. If your customer obsession led your client to award your company more business, that is another metric that can be used. It is all relative on the job and what you are doing.

So how do tough interview questions become easy? Well, they don’t…but they can become easier. Make sure you are actively listening to the interviewer, research the company beforehand and look at the job description and job tasks as a guide you can base your answers off of.

The thing is, we can’t suddenly become telepathic and know what every interviewer is looking for. What we can do is do everything in our power to make sure that you are giving yourself the best chance to succeed.

Thinking of intelligent questions to ask the interviewers

Kelli Hrivnak Recruiter partnering with companies to hire Digital Marketing & Technology Talent | Dream Team Builder 🏆 Career Growth Catalyst

“Do you have any questions for me?”

You reached the end of the interview–Don’t blow it now. Your answer should never be “No, I’m good on my end.”

I’ll relate it to a first date. If your date wasn’t reciprocating questions back to you, what would your impression be of his/her interest level? Here’s what I would think: They just aren’t that into you.  

Even if the interviewer did a bang-up job of providing an overview of the job and company, they are testing to see if you did your research and prepared for the interview. 

This process is mutual–employer and candidate should be qualifying each other to vet the fit. The goal of all interview processes is to gather and learn as much information as you can to assess if you will succeed in the company.

If you’re still trying to figure out the culture, you have to go deeper and ask more specific questions than the blanket “Tell me about your company culture?” Here is a sampling of what you can ask instead to reveal the ethos of the organization.

History:

Is this a replacement or growth hire?  

What challenges have prior hires had in this position?

What traits and behaviors made hires in this position successful?

Management style:

What happens when an employee fails?

How do you address under-performance issues with employees?

How do you set and track goals for the team AND individuals? Is goal-setting a collaborative effort?

Leadership:

How are leadership decisions made and communicated?

What is your or company’s approach to performance reviews?

Is there anything you can disclose regarding company growth plans for this year (product roll-outs, acquisitions, 

Communication:

How often do you hold stand-ups or meetings to communicate news/information with the entire team? How often for one-on-ones?  

How often and how do you provide feedback? Or are you generally “hands-off”?

How do employees give and receive feedback?

How do you stay in contact with the team?

How are you keeping employees connected during these times?

How (or when) do the other departments collaborate?

DEI

What are you doing to promote a diverse/inclusive workforce?

What has been the most difficult part of implementing a DEI program?

Does the company encourage and support employee resource groups?

What has the company implemented to eliminate bias in the hiring process?

Learning and Development

Are there opportunities for upskilling and personal development?

What does the onboarding process look like? Are there mentors or “buddies” on staff available after onboarding? 

Would I have a chance to represent the company at trade conferences?

Where have successful prior hires in this position been promoted to?

Work/Life Balance:

What are leadership’s expectations for work hours?

Should I be expected to be available for emails on nights/weekends?

Before you wrap-up,

  1.  “Given what you have learned so far, do you have any concerns about my skills or experience that would be problematic for success in this position?”

Yes, the candidate does take the risk of having the interviewer call out a real issue. However, the candidate is taking a proactive approach and allowing the opportunity for the interviewer to bring up any reservations about the fit–given the interviewer takes this chance to be honest too. It’s your final chance to prove you are the best candidate.

  1. What are the next steps in the hiring process? When would it be appropriate for me to follow-up?

You are setting the stage for managing expectations of the hiring process.

Knowing how to answer the salary questions

Teegan Bartos, CCMC, CCM Helping Ambitious Professionals Gain Career Clarity, Get Hired Quickly & Have Their Income Match Their Impact ✷ Career Coach & Resume Writer ➟ 𝘋𝘔 𝘮𝘦 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘗𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵 𝘍𝘐𝘛 𝘈𝘤𝘤𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘰𝘳

The most important thing I can share with you about salary negotiations is it starts before you ever speak to someone. A company is going to have a pay range in mind and have preconceived notions about your worth based on your location, education, previous titles, and market conditions – none of which is within your control.

That’s probably why Glassdoor found that 59% of American employees accepted their offer without ever negotiating. And what’s worse, is only 1 in 10 of U.S. employees reported earning more than their former job.

But the great news is, companies also take into consideration how you articulate your value across your LinkedIn profile, resume, and throughout the interview process – all of which is within your control.

Let’s dive right in starting with my top three mistakes to avoid:

1.      Discuss salary BEFORE a formal offer is given – know your worth and preferences.

2.      Don’t accept an offer ON THE SPOT – ask for 24-48 hours to review.

3.      DON’T accept the first offer without countering.

Where to research your market value:

Salary.com, Payscale.com, ONetOnline.org, job postings in states that require pay range transparency like Colorado and Connecticut, and talking to people with access to that information via informational interviews.

How to begin salary talks during the interview process:

In most states, it is illegal to ask what your current salary is, so more often than not, you will be asked what your compensation expectations are. Here are four different approaches to answer this:

  1. Based on my understanding of the role, I would expect to be near $X.
  2. I want to learn more about this role to give an exact figure, but I need to be within X to Y range.
  3. All in I would want to be near X and Y with my guaranteed cash near Z. How does the company factor equity and bonus?
  4. Before I can answer that I would need to learn more about the position. What is the salary range for this role?

If you are an executive or your role requires you to negotiate, I would avoid option number 4. My go-to answer during early stages is a well-researched option number 2 for mid-level professionals and option number 3 for executives.

5 steps to negotiating your offer via email after reviewing for 24-48 hours:

  1. Gratitude: Thank you.
  2. Optimism: I am excited to join the team!
  3. Evidence & Range: The offer is below what I was expecting. I believe this position should be between X and Y.
  4. Value Proof: I’ve been able to A (lead a global IT transformation resulting in $52.3M in cost avoidance and 237% in increased productivity through automation initiatives) and B (another relevant value add example) and know I would be an asset to the organization. 
  5. Ask: Is there flexibility here?

Negotiating is a complicated process to cover in 500 words, but you’ve now got a starting point that you can customize to fit your needs.

Following up with your recruiter

Tejal Wagadia Demystifying recruiting/hiring one post at a time | Nerd at heart | Samwise Gamgee to your Frodo Baggins in recruiting | Views are my own| Maxed out on my connections, please hit follow!

Recruiters and Talent Acquisition folks shouldn’t be unapproachable either before or after or anytime during the process!

We are neither Ents or Golum from LOTR, but I do understand why that’s the perception. 

Working with a recruiter should be easy and it’s as much on you as a job seeker as it’s on the recruiter!

Questions that I often get as a recruiter from job seekers are about how often and what to say. 

Let’s start with How Often:

Recruiters are just like you and can forget sometimes. It’s okay to reach out to us and come back up in our headspace. 

The cadence should be every 3-5 days depending on your bandwidth. 

Your recruiter should have told you a timeline that you should hear back by! If they don’t, you can absolutely ask during the first call about it. 

Script:

“Thank you for all this information. Could you go over the interview timeline and when I should expect to hear back?” 

If this wasn’t communicated with you during your first call and you’ve already interviewed with an organization and haven’t heard back, you want to start 3 business days post your last interview or communication! 

If you have the phone number, you should definitely call. If you only have an email, that works too. Here are the scripts you can use

Phone voicemail:

“Hi (Recruiter Name), This is (Your Name). I interviewed with (Team or Person) on (date). I am following up to see if you had any updates for me. Please give me a call back when you get a moment, my phone number is (xxx-xxx-xxxx).”

If they pick up, you can use the first part of the voicemail message to begin the conversation.

Email script:

“Hi (Recruiter Name),

I hope you’re doing well. I interviewed with (Team or Person) on (date). I am following up to see if you had any updates for me. I enjoyed my conversation with (Team or Person) and would love to move forward in the process. 

Please let me know if you have heard anything back yet or when I should expect to hear back.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME.”

I promise you as a recruiter, you aren’t bothering us. Sometimes I have someone on my to-do list to get back to but before I know it it’s past 6 and I have to end my work day! It happens! I always push the candidate over to the next day’s to-do list but it’s not a fool proof system. 

Remember this is your job search! You have control, take ownership of this control.

________________________________________________

Want to know how to prepare for interviews, read prequel to this article.

The Thoughts of 7 Recruiters on How to Get To an Interview

The life of a recruiter is not an easy one. It requires a lot of digging and scrapping for talent to fill positions for their clients, the employers. It’s not unheard of for a recruiter to have as many as 30 plus requisitions at a time to fill. For the mammoth companies, hundreds of requisitions (as one recruiter says) are possible.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the job for recruiters is trying to satisfy the ultimate hiring authority who is looking for the ideal candidates. As hard as they try, some recruiters fall short of meeting the expectations of the hiring authority, while others succeed. Those who succeed more often are the ones who stay in the game.

From my observation of the life of a recruiter–talking with them, seeing their posts on LinkedIn, and reading their brutally honest banter on Facebook–their most pressing struggle is bridging the gap of communication between job seekers and their employers.

The communication gap can’t be understated; it’s real. Who gets more frustrated, recruiters or job seekers? I would wager the frustration is weighed differently. Recruiters are trying to maintain their employment, and job seekers are trying to…get employed.

If you’re a job seeker who is having trouble finding the right way to communicate with recruiters, this article is for you. You see, there’s an art to communicating with recruiters. It’s not a subtle art; it’s a common-sense type of art.

Are you wondering what an application tracking system is? You’re not alone. In this article a recruiter will break it down for you. What about ghosting? You might have experienced a time when a recruiter didn’t get back to you upon sending them your resume or after an interview.

These are just a couple of topics this article will address from the point of view of recruiters. There are seven topics in all, so take some time to absorb what the recruiters in this article have to say. Here they are in order:

  1. How to connect with a recruiter
  2. What to write when connecting with a recruiter
  3. Ghosting and whether you’re being ghosted
  4. Writing resumes that appeal to recruiters
  5. That dang ATS and why not to fear it
  6. The steps to writing a compelling LinkedIn profile
  7. Preparing for an interview with a recruiter

Before I go any further with this article, I have to make one thing clear; the recruiters/former recruiters who contributed to this article are people who want you, as job seekers, to succeed.

How to connect with a recruiter

Ed Han Talent Acquisition Geek | Job-Hunt.org Contributor | JobSeeker Ally | I’m not active on LinkedIn: I’m hyperactive! | Wordsmith | Recruiter at Cenlar FSB | Ask me about IT opportunities in the 19067 and 08618 ZIP codes!

Everywhere you go, people are talking about the importance of networking in a job search. And people talk about the importance of talking with recruiters because we’re the ones with the jobs.

But how?

As a recruiter and avid networker, here is what I would recommend you do to network with us.

Before we get into that, it would be a good idea to understand the two major kinds of recruiters, in order to help you tailor your approach and strategy.

  • Agency/external recruiters. Employees of a recruiting firm, agency recruiters work on job requirements assigned by their clients. When they are able to place one of their candidates with the client, an external recruiter earns a commission.
  • Internal/corporate recruiters. Often part of HR, internal recruiters are employees of the hiring organization and work on job requirements from within that entity. When they are able to get one of their candidates hired with the hiring manager, a corporate recruiter still gets paid a flat salary.

Whether agency or internal, recruiters tend to have areas of specialization. It could be industry-driven for external recruiters (obviously not relevant for internal recruiters), but quite often is oriented by skillset: creatives, IT, finance, etc. In some large organizations, they might specialize even further, such as within IT, software engineers vs infrastructure.

And you know what? We tell you on our LinkedIn profiles! There just aren’t a whole lot of recruiters who do not have a LinkedIn profile–which is great, because the odds are that is where you will find us most readily.

Sending someone a LinkedIn invitation to connect is good–but recruiters get tons of invitations to connect, and you want to stand out from the others.

Do that with a note sent along with the invitation. And here is where a lot of people take a sub-optimal path.

Do you possess a skill set that the recruiter specializes in? 

Hint: look at the profile and scope out their employer. A quick look at the company page will tell you.

Strike up a conversation with the note you send to connect. “Hey, I’m a [profession] professional. Your profile suggests that you work with my skill set. Can we have a conversation?”

See? That’s all it takes: starting a conversation. 

Networking isn’t a transactional exchange. It’s a relationship in which the parties both get something out of it.

What to write when connecting with a recruiter

Kelli Hrivnak Recruiter partnering with companies to hire Digital Marketing & Technology Talent | Dream Team Builder Career Growth Catalyst

Contrary to what you may have heard, recruiters can be a valuable resource in your job search. But do remember this: A recruiter’s objective is to find people for their jobs. Not to find jobs for people.  

Ed Han explained the two types of recruiters and their roles in the recruiting process. Now that you have narrowed in on recruiters aligned with your area of expertise, it’s time to craft your message.

Here’s what you should not do:

Hi ________, I am starting to explore job opportunities. Do you have any jobs that would be appropriate?

Why this isn’t efficient:

Unless we have communicated recently, I don’t know what your strengths or career objectives are.

You are putting a lot of trust in the recruiter to guide your career path.  

Recruiters are slammed right now. Succinct details will help a recruiter customize what clients and searches would be the best match for your career growth.

Some call it your elevator pitch or value prop. I need the hook–What information do we need from you instead? 

What are your skills/strengths? 

Positions/titles

Target salary range/benefits/comp

Remote/in-office presence

Industries/target companies

Here’s how to fine-tune your messaging :

Hi ___________, 

I am starting to explore job opportunities. I’d prefer to work for a mature, structured company with over 500+ employees (non-consulting), with a company that respects work/life balance. I am open to hybrid/remote, within a 30-mile radius of Baltimore City. Compensation 120k+. 

I’ve been doing UI design but also managing design operations, and I’d like to leverage that experience to shape the operations of a future UX department. My base resume is attached.

****************************************

Do your research. Do you have any shared connections? If you were referred, name-drop.

Keep it short. Don’t ask for a coffee chat as your call-to-action. Trust me–the recruiter will reciprocate communication if they are interested.  

If there is a specific job posting you are interested in, include the URL. Some recruiters are working with companies that have 200+ job openings. 

Are you making a career transition or believe you can choose a variety of career paths? It’s okay if you don’t have 100% clarity of your next steps, but do spend time identifying your options and transferable skills. Career coaches can help with this process and planning if you are having a difficult time determining focus.

Recruiters want to find the right talent for their open jobs, but they don’t have time to uncover your interests and wants. Help us help you and make this a win-win situation by communicating what you bring to the table. 

Ghosting and whether you’re being ghosted

Dan Roth Technical Recruiter at Amazon

Before getting into whether or not you are being ghosted, I want to highlight two things. The first is that while I am a recruiter, I spent the first 17 months of the pandemic as an unemployed job seeker navigating the market like so many of you. I have seen what you have seen and felt what you have felt…I get it.

The second thing I want to highlight is: Is Ghosting a real thing? The obvious answer is yes. However, in my experience, there are a few different kinds of ghosts. Below I will break them into what I have found to be the 3 most common types of ghosts to help you understand.

The mass reach-out ghost: This type of ghost is the one that sends you a template e-mail saying something along the lines of, ‘based on your experience we feel you could be a good fit for X (company). You get this e-mail; your hopes are high…but then nothing.

This type of ghost has probably sent out thousands of emails prior to looking at any one resume. Once you respond, it either gets put in a massive pile of other responses only to be forgotten in time or after looking at your resume, they realize you are not the right fit…and don’t let you know because ‘it’s awkward.’

The Recruitment Influencer Ghosts: Let’s be real, because of the pandemic and the reliance on social media and specifically social audio, many recruiters, myself included, have become somewhat of micro-influencers.

This group gets hundreds of inbound messages per day and while it is a nice theory to say this type of influencer can get back to everyone, it gets incredibly overwhelming and even the most diligent recruiter may miss their fair share.

The Ignorant Ghost: These are the worst kinds of ghosts. These are the people you have had multiple communications with…you may have had multiple interviews and then nothing. I could give you potential reasoning for why this may happen, but there is no excuse for this. It is just absolutely horrible and these kinds of ghosts should not be recruiting.

Regardless of the type of ghost, it makes for a horrible experience. As a job seeker the natural instinct is to wonder what it was that you did wrong. It is in those moments that I will ask you to pause, take a breath and realize that getting ghosted by a recruiter is not a reflection on you, it is a reflection on them. You are better off at a company that values you and your time.

Keep your head up, your spirit high…your time is coming.

Writing resumes that appeal to recruiters

Matt Warzel, CPRW, CIR Helping Job Seekers Find Their Next Career Move 20% Faster With A Pay Increase of $15K on Average Award Winner Jobstickers.com Blog WriterSpread Joy, Be Empathetic, Make a Change, Then Make Your Impact

The resume needs to be logical first and foremost. If the reader is wrinkling their forehead, you’ve lost the initial battle.

With this said, have a target in mind and build your messaging around this target. Have a vision of your dream job. Think of your job drivers. What’s important to you? Time, money, benefits, 401(k)s, location, product offerings, company image, culture, values, progressive versus traditional setting, remote versus on-location, passionate project opportunities, etc.

Each is different for each person. What motivates you? What’s your passion? What can you do that will make you happy in 2 weeks, 3 months, a year? The candidate should research his or her new career field/job target! You need to do your research. You need to get a feel for the way the industry and respective companies function in the world, the services they provide to others, and the types of jobs out there in that industry that could pose as a potential new career.

I love using Google News, Google alerts, Salary.com, Glassdoor, Indeed, and LinkedIn to uncover industry and job research. Using this research can be a good way to spot industry and job keywords (for the core competencies and summary sections), role responsibilities (for the experience section), and important transferable contributions (for the accomplishments section) for inclusion on your resume. Read trade journals of major industry players to stay on top of insights in your space.

Be realistic in what you can achieve. While taking chances and risks are a good thing, do not over-stretch yourself into a role you simply are not a fit for (yet). What industry do you want to live in, and in what role? Be specific in what you want, clarify it, write it down, consume knowledge of it, live it.

Recruiters cannot help you if you nor they know what you want to do. Most people have skills and experience that can transfer nicely to another industry or job. The key is knowing how those skills reasonably transfer, and what sort of value they bring to the prospective employer. The challenge is that most are unsure of how their skills are exchangeable to other duties.

If you’re an accomplished professional, it’s best to use actual methodologies, processes, skills, or technologies relating directly to the open job description and your experience. These are good ideas for those greener candidates. Also, opt for free experiential learning like internships. Work freelance projects for friends, neighbors, etc., and continuously build your portfolio, skills, and competencies.

Back to the resume – next, make sure it has optimized keywords, quantifiable content (even if there are no metrics, but metrics are preferred), and a format/layout that adheres to applicant tracking system mandates. Think quantifiable content and write it pragmatically. Also, stick to brevity while making those bottom-line accomplishments shine. Again, as long as you aren’t wrinkling the readers’ foreheads (I love this visual, LOL) when they’re reviewing your resume, you’ve done your job…now if you match the qualifications, it’s interview time!

That dang ATS and why to not fear it

Amy Miller Sr. Recruiter – I build the teams that build the satellites. Recruiting Truth Teller & Mythbuster. Somehow, LinkedIn Top Voice 2022

A quick Google search of “How To Beat The ATS” yields over 6 million results. SIX. MILLION. RESULTS.

All about how to “beat” something that usually amounts to a digital filing cabinet.

Job seekers are frustrated. Recruiters are confused. How did we get to this point, where alleged best practices around job search have created a mythical bot standing between you and your dream job?

First of all, let’s understand how most companies utilize their ATS – our first clue is in the name. ATS stands for

Applicant

Tracking

System

Essentially, most ATSs are simply large (albeit complex) databases that track a candidate’s journey from application to onboarding. It is literally a System that Tracks Applicants – and considering many recruiters are juggling hundreds of applicants at a time, you WANT us to have some mechanism to keep it all straight!

Many job seekers fear the ATS as something to be “beat” or even want to find a way to get AROUND an ATS – which is unfortunate, considering the ATS is a critical tool that helps recruiters keep all this activity straight.

Let’s start by walking through the candidate journey in the typical ATS.

APPLICATION

This is where it begins, and often the only part a job seeker will see. Candidate information is stored in a profile – searchable by name, email, or candidate ID (random personalized number generated for each new profile).

Candidates can apply directly to roles they choose, current employees can refer candidates, and recruiters can sometimes “tag” a candidate to an open role. (Open roles are ALSO created in the ATS, generating their own “profile” and job ID).

ACTIVITY

Once a qualified candidate has been identified, there is typically a process flow. Resumes/profiles are sent to hiring managers. In some cases, assessments are requested or calendar invites sent. These invitations can be for initial recruiter calls, technical screens, even interviews.

MOST ATSs aren’t even that complex, and scheduling can be done the old-fashioned way (typically via email). However, NOTES about all that activity should be recorded in the ATS note fields, so other recruiters or hiring managers with access can see at a glance the status of roles and applicants.

There is a LOT that happens in the “activity” portion of the ATS – we could write a novella about all that! Documentation is CRITICAL. Required documents, interview notes, feedback and next steps – ALL TRACKED IN THE ATS.

OFFER

Congrats! An application was successfully reviewed, interviews scheduled and documented, and a hire decision has been captured in the ATS. Now we can make an offer!

Many ATSs can create offer letters that allows for the requisition to be closed, and the candidate record updated/sent to the appropriate HRIS database once it’s accepted. In the event of a decline, we can still see that candidate history, in case we want to try recruiting you again!

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BOTS?

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of misinformation out there about “bots,” auto screeners, or rejection emails. I have yet to work with ANY system that does any kind of filtering without human intervention.

What further complicates this, is the sheer number of ATSs on the market. There are literally hundreds of ATSs and a near-infinite number of configurations. I’ve used Taleo at 3 different companies – the experience was COMPLETELY DIFFERENT each time.

WHAT IS A JOB SEEKER TO DO?

The best way to “beat” the ATS? Pay it no mind. Seriously. Forget about the tool being used, and worry more about where you are spending your time. Write a targeted resume written for a human audience (recruiter AND hiring manager).

Network with people who hire (or do) the kind of work you want to do. Understand how companies hire. If you’re a new college grad trying to break into FAANG – applying to senior roles and hitting up SWE Managers is hardly going to get you the results you want – those companies generally hire new grads through very specific University Recruiting programs (and they use the same ATS!).

Other recruiters might choose to use Boolean strings, or trust a ranking system to identify the top applicants (I don’t, but others may). Talking to recruiters at your target companies can help demystify how THEY use their ATS – so you can focus on more important things.

I WAS REJECTED. NOW WHAT?

The good news? Your information stays in the ATS. Smart recruiters will actually START their search when recruiting for a new role – IN THE ATS. We can conduct searches, review “silver medalists” on previous roles, even read other recruiters’ notes and feedback. Not to mention we have your contact info and can quickly get in touch!

There are certainly land mines to avoid when job searching – the ATS just isn’t one of them.

The steps to writing a compelling LinkedIn profile

LIAM DARMODY Growth Operations | Talent Attraction | Employer Branding // Husband+Dad | Hot Sauce Aficionado | Blockchain Bull | LinkedIn Branding & Content Strategist

Your resume gives recruiters a glimpse into what you’ve done and when you’ve done it,

but recruiters want to know “WHAT(ever) ELSE” they can about you when considering

whether to reach out or move on to the next profile. Be sure you’re making it easy for us

to get an authentic glimpse into:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • Why you do it
  • How you do it
  • How you think & communicate
  • What it might be like to have you on the team

Be authentically, genuinely, unabashedly yourself, because there’s no reason not to be. Those recruiters who like what they see will reach out with opportunities they think are a good match. Those who don’t like what they see, won’t, but as far as you’re concerned, you don’t want to be considered for jobs that your personality doesn’t fit into anyways.

Use all the LinkedIn profile real estate you need to tell your story the way you want to. As a recruiter, there is nothing quite as satisfying as reading a well-written profile, which means:

  • Create a banner that reflects you & your personal brand (Canva is great for this)
  • Turn on Creator Mode and record a 30-second cover story in your headshot that shows your personality & value add. Bonus points if you can make me laugh.
  • Use your headline summary as more than just your title & company. Tell us more about what you are and what you care about. I like to think of mine as a representation of the things that fascinate me.
  • Use the featured section to populate examples of your work or things you’re proudest of. Could be anything – a LinkedIn post, a PowerPoint, a video clip, a PDF certification of a course you took. Just don’t NOT use that prominent real estate – it would be like choosing not to run free billboard ads.
  • Create a compelling About section that elaborates on the whole “fascination” theme and makes it easy for recruiters to get a sense of how you communicate, think, and dare I say… live! Yes, that’s okay to share too!
  • Be sure to provide any additional context in your experience section that you don’t feel was fully captured in your resume bullet points.
  • Solicit skills endorsements & recommendations from others in your network. This is especially helpful in technical fields where keywords play such a critical role in the success of your visibility and consideration on LinkedIn. Bonus points if you complete skills assessments and feature those there as well.

Last but not least, don’t ignore the obvious fact that LinkedIn is fast becoming a social network as much as it is a professional network. Posting your thoughts on business, life, family, and whatever else you’d ever care to talk about with colleagues in a professional setting is not only okay, it’s encouraged.

Preparing for an interview with a recruiter

Teegan Bartos, CCMC, CCM Mid-to-Senior Level Leaders Accelerate Your Career Land Your Perfect FIT Job Quickly Making More Money Than Ever Before Career Coach, Job Search Strategist, Resume Writer

Congratulations! Your referred resume, LinkedIn profile, or application just captured the attention of a recruiter and you’ve been extended an interview. Now, you may be thinking the recruiter is only a box-checking gatekeeper, but wowing the recruiter is imperative if you want the hiring manager to select you for the next round.

So, how do you prepare for this interview? By understanding what the recruiter’s role is and what the recruiter is looking for so you can strategize accordingly.

The Recruiter’s Role: Recruiters are compensated and evaluated on their ability to place people in open positions, often being judged on retention, quality placement, and speed to fill. That said, they are looking to create win-win situations for not only the hiring manager but also the candidate.

Box Checking: More often than not, a recruiter is not going to be asking the “tough” technical questions, so for this round, know yourself, research the company, and study the job description to prepare tailored interview answers to prove you understand and can meet the companies needs.

Know Yourself: Truly know why you’d be open to new opportunities and what it would take for you to leave your current organization. Here are some examples because this can be challenging:

“My company’s direction recently shifted and when I saw {Company Name} was embarking on {fact from your research}, I had to explore it further.”

“I currently make $225K with 20% bonus being paid out in March and was awarded $50K in equity two years ago that vests over 5 years. With a company as good as yours, I trust that the offer would be competitive.”

Tailored Interview Answers: Nail your opening “tell me about yourself” answer by incorporating details you learned are important to this role. Be prepared to give examples of times you’ve done what is in the job description with SOAR (explain the situation, reference obstacles to success, state what action you took, and most importantly finish it off ideally with quantifiable results.) And lastly, be prepared to ask questions that you couldn’t find via a google search. 

_____________________________________

Here you have the thoughts of seven recruiters on how to get to an interview. It begins with How to connect with a recruiter, what to write when connecting with a recruiter, understanding that ghosting is something to expect, writing resumes that appeal to recruiters, that dang ATS and why not to fear it, writing a compelling LinkedIn profile, and preparing for an interview.

How to Be Found by Recruiters on LinkedIn: 6 Important Tips

Guest writer and recruiter Jeff Lipschultz is a 20+ year veteran in management, hiring, and recruiting of all types of business and technical professionals. He has worked in industries ranging from telecom to transportation to dotcom.

With all the rage around social media in job searching, LinkedIn stands out as the tool of choice for many recruiters to connect with job seekers (or future job seekers). Knowing how recruiters use the tool may shed some light on how to leverage LinkedIn in your own job search efforts.

Granted, good recruiters use many social media tools to find candidates, like Facebook and Twitter. However, LinkedIn.com is the largest social network for professionals. LinkedIn provides the best avenue for a recruiter to quickly learn enough about a person to see if they should be contacted for a particular job opening.

Candidates need to leverage LinkedIn as much as possible to be included in these searches.

1. Have a large LinkedIn network

To be found on LinkedIn, you need to have a large network because…

LinkedIn search results are limited to those accounts which are the searcher’s first, second, and third level connections. If you aren’t connected to someone at one of those levels, you won’t appear in their search results.

Although many recruiters know how to search for candidates who are outside their own LinkedIn three degrees of connectivity or pay LinkedIn for that access, not all do. Therefore, the more people you are connected to, the more likely you may be connected to recruiters.

Many recruiters, especially independent recruiters who don’t work for a single employer, love invites to your network, too. Don’t be afraid to ask recruiters to join your network — they may be unable to ask you to join their network because of LinkedIn’s built-in rules.

2. Use the right keywords to describe yourself

When recruiters search for candidates in LinkedIn, they focus on keywords just like the resume databases and applicant tracking systems do. Without the right keywords, your LinkedIn Profile will not be found.

Your LinkedIn Professional Headline is the perfect place to include the right keywords for your job search. Be specific to attract recruiter attention.

No one searches for a “business professional” but they do search for a “marketing manager who understands how to leverage social media for B2B visibility and sales.” So, avoid being too general — general headlines will not be impressive or contain the right keywords.

There are also ample opportunities to sprinkle in your key abilities and skills within the Summary and Experience sections. Every job you list should include the expertise that you demonstrated in that job. Think keywords!

Read the articles in Guide to LinkedIn SEO to understand more about the techniques: 25 Best Keywords for Your Job Search, 7 Best Ways for IT Professionals to Optimize Keywords for a More Powerful LinkedIn Profile, and Choosing the Best Keywords for Your LinkedIn Profile for more information.

3. Demonstrate your professional credibility

Prove that the keywords you have used to describe yourself are accurate.

LinkedIn offers many opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise, including these five:

⏩ LinkedIn recommendations

Having recommendations within LinkedIn is a nice way to convey you are a quality candidate. But having more than two from each job looks like you are just asking everyone you know for a recommendation. This can diminish the value of the best and most articulate recommendations you have.

So, unless you have been in one job for many years, two short recommendations are best.

Recruiters sometimes ask for references who are not included on LinkedIn, so be prepared for that request.

Read How to Gather LinkedIn Recommendations for Your Job Search and How to Manage Your References to Close — not Kill — Opportunities for more details.

⏩ Blog, presentations, and videos

If you publish a blog, include it in your Profile. Add it to the contact information near the top of your Profile. Click on the “See contact info” link near the top of your Profile, and then click on the pencil icon in the dialog box that pops open to add and edit the information.

Having a blog included on your Profile adds to your credibility, too. You can show off your technical knowledge and insights as well as your writing skills.

Similarly, you can use another application, SlideShare (which is owned by LinkedIn), to post a PowerPoint presentation on related subject matter. Link those SlideShare pages to your LinkedIn Profile. These will catch the eye of the recruiter, and provide more information about you and the knowledge and skills your presentations demonstrate.

⏩ LinkedIn posts

This may look a bit like Facebook’s news feed, but remember that it is NOT!

Keep in mind that LinkedIn is NOT Facebook, and should not be the place where you share photos of you and your child playing in the snow (unless taking care of children is your profession) or making political statements.

Use Status Updates in your Profile to share good relevant news and other helpful information, including:

  • Share good information posted by other professionals on LinkedIn, whether as a “post” (short discussion in the news feed) or as articles they publish on LinkedIn.
  • Share important happenings in your industry, and whenever you publish an article, are quoted in someone else’s article, or receive other positive visibility, share that as well.
  • Share images, videos, or documents you upload.
  • Link to good information you find (understand the LinkedIn does not distribute links to external websites as generously as it distributes content inside of LinkedIn).

Of course, if you are actively looking for a new job (and are unemployed so you safely can announce this), feel free to post a status of exactly the type of job you’re looking for.

Also, check the “Notifications” stream, and “Like” or share good information shared by others. When appropriate, comment on the others’ posts (positively and professionally, not negatively or nastily).

[Read Publishing on LinkedIn: Gain Both Visibility and Credibility, 3 Benefits of LinkedIn Status Updates for Your Job Search, and How to Leverage LinkedIn Status Updates for Your Job Search for more information.]

⏩ LinkedIn groups

Currently, every LinkedIn member can belong to as many as 100 Groups, and over 2.1 million Groups exist.

You can be found more easily if you are a member of LinkedIn Groups for your specialty (i.e., .NET, SQL Server, Flex, Information Architects).

LinkedIn will suggest Groups for you to join if you click on the “Work” link at the top of your Profile, which opens the dialog box shown on the left here.

As the image on the left shows, you can also find Groups to join by clicking on the “Groups” icon in the options that drop down when you click on the “Work” icon at the top, right of most LinkedIn pages.

Recruiters love to scan discussions on topics related to positions they are working on in order to find “subject-matter experts.” Posting good information or making well-informed comments on Discussions in Groups relevant to your profession, industry, or, even, location can bring you to the attention of recruiters scanning the Group for good candidates.

Employers and recruiting companies even start their own Groups to share news and attract members. Join, and contribute to discussions or provide valuable news relevant to members.

You can meet and even connect with people on LinkedIn through the dialogs that develop over discussions. People notice those who “like” their posts, and also those who make positive, relevant comments — not necessarily saying everything is “Great!”

Don’t automatically “like” a Discussion to bring yourself to the attention of the person who shared it. Read the related web page first to be sure that you do actually agree with it. If you do, then “like” it.

[More: How to Be a Successful LinkedIn Groupie.]

⏩ LinkedIn articles

If you are a reasonably skilled at writing and have good information to share, LinkedIn’s blog is a very visible platform. The articles you publish are highlighted by LinkedIn near the top of your Profile for everyone who visits your Profile to see (and, potentially, read).

Simply click on the “Write an article” link at the top of your LinkedIn home page, as shown above, and get started. You choose when your article is shared with the public on LinkedIn.

Well done, these posts can dramatically raise your visibility as more and more people read and share them. But, even if they don’t end up with 5,000 views in a week (or even 50), they demonstrate your communications skills and some aspects of your professional knowledge. A recruiter scanning your Profile is apt to check your articles to gain more insight into your qualifications and personality.

4. Provide contact info!

If you want to be contacted by recruiters and potential employers, you must share your contact info.

If they cannot contact you, they cannot hire you.

You can list your Twitter handle and can include your personal Web site or blog (which should also have your contact info). Edit the “Contact Info” in the column on the right near the top of your LinkedIn Profile. You can safely include your email address and phone number. Read To Be Hired, Be Reachable – How to Safely Publish Your Contact Information on LinkedIn for how to do it without compromising your privacy or putting your job at risk.

5. Include your photo!

It’s not a bad idea to include a picture, too.

Recruiters roll through dozens to hundreds of Profiles a month. They don’t always remember names they have seen, but they do remember pictures.

This will help them remember if they have contacted you in the past (and check their files accordingly). Also, Profiles without pictures can send the message of “anti-social media” or “not social media savvy” or even “fake LinkedIn Profile” or “hiding something.”

[Read How Recruiters View Your LinkedIn Profile Photo, Why You Need a LinkedIn Profile Photo, and LinkedIn Profile Photos for Job Seekers Boomers and Over 50 for more information.]

6. Be open to connections

Obviously, you need to make sure you are open to invitations to connect or InMails from recruiters. Make sure your contact settings are set appropriately on your profile.  You can include your preferred contact information in this section, as well as, the Personal Information section.

You should be open to connecting with recruiters even when you are not looking for a job. You may not currently be a job seeker now — but some day you likely will be.

If you already have a strong network of recruiters on LinkedIn, you’ll be way ahead of the game when it’s time to look for your next opportunity.

[Read Refusing or Accepting LinkedIn Connections for more information.]


Bottom line

Notice that the advice above is all about getting a recruiter to find you, not the other way around. You are presenting yourself to recruiters without any extra outreach work on your part. All you need to do is set up your Profile well, keep it current, stay active on LinkedIn (ten to twenty minutes a day reading and sharing), and LinkedIn does the work for you.

This post originally appeared in Job-Hunt.org and has been slightly edited.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Are recruiters to blame? 4 tips for working with recruiters

Recruiters are often the front line of the hiring process; they advertise an open position, read more résumés than they’d like, interview and screen multiple candidates, and finally present the best of the best to the hiring manager (HM).

Recruiterman

And for this service, employers pay a hefty price—25% to 30%—of the new hire’s first annual salary. You could say recruiters are the middle-person between job candidates and employers. You could also say it’s a pressure-filled and thankless job at times.

Recruiters earn their salary from their employers. Some candidates don’t understand the pecking order of the hiring process. In this sense, these candidates might feel slighted. I witness this in my role as a career strategist in an urban career center.

Said job seekers feel that recruiters are unresponsive, clueless about the role, don’t have their interest in mind, make them promises that fall through, ghost them, among other faults. In some cases, job seekers’ complaints are warranted, but in other cases their blame is unwarranted.

Understand that recruiters are humans, too

No one takes a job to fail. They don’t start on day one with the mission of being a lousy employee. Some people may approach their job halfheartedly, not quite sure what they’re doing, but they don’t say to themselves, “I want to be the worst employee possible.” This applies to recruiters, as well.

Recruiters face the possibility of failure on a daily basis. Agency recruiters, who get paid only when they place a candidate in a company, face rejection from the companies that employ them.

Likewise, corporate recruiters who have the ear of HM—more so than agency recruiters—get frustrated when they find the ideal candidate, only to be rejected for one reason or another.

According to Steve Levy, a principal recruiter, and social media consultant, a very small percent of recruiters are cut out to succeed in their trade. I talked to him recently to get a feel for the life of a recruiter.

Steve’s goal is foremost to find the most qualified candidates for his boss, but he also aims to help candidates succeed in their job search. The two are not mutually exclusive. If a candidate is not a fit for Steve’s boss, he’ll refer them to other companies where they might be a fit.

Hiring managers ARE the bottleneck

But it’s not this simple.

It’s often said that HMs are looking for the purple squirrel, someone who meets all the requirements of the position, plus some. This might be true, but only because of their reluctance or fear of hiring the wrong candidate and having to start over.

Hiring the wrong candidate is costly. This can include opening a new requisition for a replacement; paying a recruiter fee, yet again; weeks of searching for a replacement; setting up benefits; training; and, if the employee was customer-facing, the possibility of lost customers due to damaged relationships.

Recruiters and candidates are both victims of HMs who are unresponsive, making them wait days, if not weeks, for the verdict. The candidate is in a state of limbo, waiting anxiously by the phone for a yea or nay from the recruiter.

The recruiter on their part tries to keep an open line of communication, but they only know as much as the HM tells them. Being in a state of limbo is disheartening for the candidate and recruiter.

Then there’s the fact that HMs aren’t necessarily astute when it comes to interviewing candidates sent to them by recruiters. I asked recruiters who frequent a Facebook group, Recruiters Online, how they feel about hiring managers.

One respondent, Steve Lowisz, added, “Most hiring managers have never been trained on how to work with internal or external recruiters….We need to stop, and educate them on the process of how to interview”

4 tips to make the recruiter’s job easier

Apply for jobs for which you’re qualified

One major complaint recruiters have of job seekers is that they apply for jobs for which they’re not qualified. If you have little to no experience in program management, don’t apply for a program management position.

“Carefully read the job description,” Levy advises, “to make sure you are qualified. If you’re not, don’t apply.” Sounds like a simple directive, right? Unfortunately some job seekers don’t heed this advice and use what’s called a “spray and pray” approach.

Write a sound résumé

This starts with expanding more on positions that are relevant, not positions you performed in the past. Shelby Mangum weighed in from Recruiters Online about telling the proper story with your résumé:

“The jobs most relevant to what you’re applying to, typically most recent, and had the most seniority should have the longest bullet points. Too many times I see people with barely an explanation of their current director job, but they tell me all about that entry-level coordinator job from 7 years ago.”

There is some difference of opinion when it comes to the length of your résumé. Levy, for example, says, “I don’t care if a résumé is three-pages long. If it has great content, I’ll read the whole thing.”

Other recruiters require that their candidate submit one-page résumés, presumably because they’re too busy to read the deluge of résumés they receive. Levy says this is laziness.

These are two of the basic tenets of résumé writing. Candidates must also sell themselves with their résumé. Keep the summary short, but provide an accomplishment or two within it to entice the recruiter to read more.

In the experience section, this is where you really want to hit recruiters on the head with accomplishments that include quantified results. Trish Wyderka, a résumé writer and coach writes, “The advice that I give to all my clients is to be sure [they] address how [they] can help a company make money, save money or save time.”

Finally, candidates need to submit résumés that can pass the applicant tracking system (ATS). this speaks to a tailored résumé that fits the job’s requirements. A generic résumé, which fails to address the required skills and experience, will fail miserably when it is “read” by the ATS.

Ace the interview

Interview older man

Job candidates need to be better prepared for various types of interviews. Gone are the days when you received a phone call telling you to come in for a face-to-face interview, perhaps followed by another.

Today, the interview process is more complicated, to say the least. Many of my clients who haven’t had to look for work in the past 10-30 years are shocked by the way companies are interviewing candidates.

The interview landscape is changing. Traditional interviewing isn’t going away anytime soon; however, newer innovations are emerging on the scene.

Employers are using personality and analytical assessments. To job seekers, these are challenging not only because of the questions that are asked but also because candidates are timed.

Despite the failings of traditional interviews, recruiters still use telephone interviews to determine a candidate’s salary range, as well as if the person can actually do the job. Recruiters also conduct in-person and Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, and other electronic interviews.

The first bit of advice is to arrive at an in-person or Skype interview prepared to answer the difficult questions. Former recruiter, Jenn Gorius Gosselin, advises, “Know what you can do, what you want to do and why the job and this company interest you. Ask for the job if you indeed want it.”

Recruiters want to hear your enthusiasm for the job and company. During a telephone interview, recruiters need to hear the enthusiasm in your voice, and they need to see it in your body language in an interview.

Know where recruiters hangout

Jobvite.com claims that 87% of recruiters and other hiring authorities use LinkedIn to find talent. However, the majority of job seekers are on Facebook (approximately 65%). This might be the case because two billion people use Facebook compared to 650+ million LinkedIn members.

If you want to know where recruiters hang out, it’s not as simple as you’d imagine. LinkedIn is certainly populated by recruiters, but Facebook has become a platform of choice for many recruiters. Levy says he’s disenchanted with LinkedIn and uses Facebook and Twitter as much, if not more, than LinkedIn.

Louysa Akerley says, “I use primarily LinkedIn, but I really feel that Facebook is an untapped market for recruiting since the majority of the population is on Facebook, while only a certain percentage are on LinkedIn.”

Lastly, create a strong presence on social media

Do yourself a favor by cleaning up your Facebook profile eliminating any incriminating photos and reference to politics. Then befriend recruiters who serve your industry. As for LinkedIn, make your LinkedIn profile complete, connect with recruiters and industry leaders, and engage with your connections. This way you’ll cover the two major social media platforms.

Photo: Flickr, Les Roches Global Hospitality Education

Photo: Flickr, Seattle Search

47 Interview Articles to Help Job Seekers Land a Job

The interview is the most important component of the job search; it’s the End Game. For the job candidate, there’s no room for error. For the interviewers, they can’t make the costly mistake of hiring the wrong candidate. Is the process perfect? No, it’s far from perfect, but it’s what employers have.

Some job candidates find being interviewed exciting, others get anxious being in the “hot seat,” and a few are utterly terrified of interviews. Whichever you are, these articles can help you in the interview process, or at the very least make it easier. Read some of them, or read all. They are still relevant.

Sage Interviewing Advice from 5 Recruiters

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the interview. Now you have to prepare for it. This will involve five components: Preparing for video interviews; Understanding how to answer the questions that will be asked; Thinking of intelligent questions to ask the interviewers; Knowing how to answer the salary questions; and Following up with your recruiter. All of this is covered in this article.

The Thoughts of 7 Recruiters on How to Get to an Interview

If you’re a job seeker who is having trouble finding the right way to communicate with recruiters, this article is for you. You see, there’s an art to communicating with recruiters. It’s not a subtle art; it’s a common-sense type of art.

It’s official; “What is your greatest weakness?” is the most difficult question among 4

It’s almost inconceivable that “What is your greatest weakness?” is a question still asked in interviews, but many job seekers I’ve asked say they’re getting the weakness question in one form or another, which means that hiring authorities see some value in it. Mind boggling.

One of the toughest interview questions: “Why did you leave your previous job?”

This is an interview question that can be a cinch or difficult for job candidates to answer, depending on the reason for leaving their position. Always expect this question in an interview. It only makes sense that the interviewer would like to know why you left your previous job.

The curse of tattoos at interviews

Sixth years ago I wrote this article in jest. However, I was told recently by a good source that a candidate was rejected for a job at her company, because the candidate was sporting a tattoo at the interview. Perhaps there is more to this story than people think.

6 tips for a successful video interview

While some employers are conducting in-person interviews, many of them are still using video interviews—Zoom, Skype, WebEx, MS Teams, Facetime, etc.—to fill positions. Video interviews have become more of the norm because they’re more convenient for employers and job candidates.

5 keys to a successful mock interview

One of my clients told me recently that the mock interview I conducted with her was the best experience she’s had preparing for interviews to date. This was after a session where I reviewed her performance with constructive criticism, at times brutal honesty.

I understood my client’s sentiment, because I also think a mock interview is extremely effective, if done correctly. I’ve conducted hundreds of mock interviews over the course of my tenure at the urban career center for which I work.

4 things to consider when answering personality interview questions

The majority of people I interview aren’t transparent when I asked the questions that require them to reveal something about their personality. The question could be what they enjoy doing outside of work or even something as simple as the genre of literature they prefer.

This is natural; who wants to talk about their personality with a complete stranger? In an interview their focus is on answering questions that are relevant to the job at hand. This is what they’ve prepared for.

5 tips on how to combat ageism in an interview

Three career strategists recently weighed in on ageism in this post. All three couldn’t deny that ageism exists, but the question is when does this deterrent to employment effect older job seekers? The most obvious of stage in the job search is the interview. This is why older job seekers need ways to combat ageism.

Shorter is better when it comes to your elevator pitch: the people have spoken

Has it always been the case that shorter is better? I’m sure there was a time when verbosity was appreciated; when long-winded stories captivated the listeners. Even elevator pitches—statements that answer, “Tell me about yourself”—were longer. I remember a workshop I led where I encouraged two-minute elevator pitches….

Your elevator pitch: why years of experience don’t matter as much as what you’ve accomplished

It’s inevitable. When an older job seeker delivers their elevator pitch to me, they lead with something like “I have 20 years of experience in project management.” My reaction to this auspicious beginning is that it’s not…auspicious. In other words, the person’s years of experience doesn’t impress.

10 false stereotypes interviewers have of older workers

I have the privilege of working at an urban career center where the average age of our clients is 53. For older workers, the job search can come with challenges—one of which is facing stereotypes, due to their age, from employers. This article examines 10 false stereotypes older workers face.

6 soft skills of most importance to hiring managers and how you can demonstrate in an interview that you have them

Going into an interview is nerve wracking, especially when you’re not sure which questions will be asked. Questions like, “What is your greatest weakness” is predictable but what about behavioral-based questions. Read this article to learn which skill employers are looking for and the types of questions they’ll ask.

10 ways to make sure your job-search networking meetings shine

Networking meetings–often called informational interviews–are a gem for job seekers who are serious about their job search. One, two, three networking meetings are not enough; you have to be committed to asking for them and presenting great questions. The account I give at the beginning of this article is not the the to ask for a networking meeting.

Answering, “Why do you want this job?” 3 times when it’s a tough sell

This is one question you must be prepared to answer in an interview. You might think it’s airtime filler for interviewers—a question to check off their list. Not so fast, there are times when interviewers are concerned. Very concerned. Here are three major concerns interviewers might have.

It is 2020 and you are in the job hunt, either because you are unemployed or looking for a better gig. While the hiring process might be painfully slow, you still must shine in the interview, and this means every stage of the process.

Here’s some good news: I asked 5 interview authorities to weigh in on what to expect in 2020. They tell you what to do before the interview, what to do during the interview, and what to do after the interview.

New LinkedIn feature provides advice on how to answer 26 general interview questions

LinkedIn has launched a new interview-practice feature which leaves me with a sense of ambiguity. On one hand, I think it’s a great attempt to educate job seekers on how to interview for a position. On the other hand, there are limitations to this new feature.

What should we expect with any feature that tries to be all things to all people? Where you might love the new information presented, I might see it as slightly contrived and overdone. LinkedIn has done its best, and I give credit where credit is due.

Are recruiters to blame? 4 tips for working with recruiters

Recruiters are often the front line of the hiring process; they advertise an open position, read more résumés than they’d like, interview and screen multiple candidates, and finally present the best of the best to the hiring manager (HM). And all of this leads to the interview.

7 tools employers are using to hire candidates

Even if it’s been five years since you’ve had to look for work, you might not be aware of all the tools employers are using to find the best candidates. Employers are being more creative with their hiring efforts while making it more difficult for job seekers to land a job. Let’s begin with the first and most well-known tool.

4 qualifications job candidates must demonstrate during the interview

There are three obvious qualifications job candidates must demonstrate in the interview—read this article to learn about them. But there’s one qualification you might not have considered. It is revealed in this article.

4 important principles of your job-search stories

Although this article is not specifically about interviewing, knowing your job-search stories is important. They’re important to networking, your LinkedIn profile summary, and interviewing.

4 experts weigh in on the daunting, “What is your greatest weakness question?”

The first article in this compilation begins with what interviewers are looking for in a candidate’s answer; showing self-awareness and demonstrating how candidates are correcting their weakness. Jamie Fischer, CPRW, Brett Lampe, Sarah Johnston: (BriefCaseCoach.com), and Ashley Watkins: (WriteStepResumes.com) are the experts.

5 elements necessary to answer in an interview the Failure question

Tough interview questions can raise the hair on the back of your neck, and behavioral-based job questions usually fall into that category. One behavioral-based question my clients say catches them off guard is, “Tell me about a time when you failed in your job.”

How to answer, “Tell us about a time when you were successful at work”

“Tell us about a time when you were successful at work” is a behavioral-based question you might face in an interview. This is a common question which can be challenging if you’re not prepared for it.

How to answer “Tell me about a time you made a mistake” in 4 easy steps

No one likes to talk about the mistakes they’ve made. However, interviewers want to know about more than just your successes. They want to hear it all — the good, the bad, and the ugly. This includes your mistakes.

How to answer, “Tell me about a time when you had to motivate someone at work”

You might have had to motivate someone to do their work, whether it was a coworker or subordinate. They might have been the bottleneck that was holding up a major project. This is frustrating, especially if you like to finish projects before the deadline, nonetheless on time.

How to answer, “Tell me about a time when you persuaded your boss”

Let’s look at a behavioral-based question whose purpose it is to determine a candidate’s ability persuade her boss: “Tell us about a time when you convinced your boss to adopt an idea that he disagreed with.”

How to answer, “Tell us about a time when you had to deal with pressure” in 5 easy steps

You’re in a group interview and it’s been going smoothly. You’ve answered the questions you prepared for. To your credit, you read the job description and identified the most important requirements for the job, Marketing Manager.

The interview is going so well that you’re wondering when the hammer will fall. When will the killer question be asked? That question would be, “Tell us about a time when you had to deal with pressure.”

To answer a behavioral-based question, keep the S.T.A.R. acronym in mind

Interviewers want proof of what you’ve accomplished or failed to accomplishment. You can achieve can prove your assertions by delivering a well crafted stories. You’ve probably heard of the STAR formula. You’ll use this formula to guide yourself through telling your story.

Keep 8 rules in mind when answering why you were fired

Interviews are not something most people relish, especially if they have to address the fact that they were fired. (I prefer the term, let go.) The fact is that people are let go, good people. So the revelation will come when an interviewer asks, “Why did you leave your last job?”

3 major Skype major interview tips job seekers must heed

One of my clients was supposed to have a face-to-face interview, but it was scheduled for a day of a Nor Easter. With the interview an impossibility, what would be a plausible alternative? The answer is simple: the company could conduct a Skype interview. And that is what happened.

The future of job interviewing may include increasingly more Skype interviews. If you’re a job seeker and haven’t had a Skype interview yet, chances are you’ll have one soon.

Be ready to prove that you can do what you’ve written on your résumé

In my interview workshop one attendee asked if having to perform a skill for an interview is normal. I told her that it might not be commonplace, but it’s a great way to find the right candidate, along with asking behavioral-based questions and tough technical questions.

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.

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.

3 ways to show employers what you CAN do in the future

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Employers don’t care about what you’ve done; they care about what you will do.” If you haven’t heard this, rest assured it’s the truth. By conducting multiple interviews, employers are trying to determine how you can save them money, improve quality, increase revenue, improve productivity, and help the company in other ways.

3 things to keep in mind when answering, “Tell me about yourself”

The directive from the interviewer, “Tell me about yourself,” strikes fear in the hearts of even the most confident job candidates. That’s because they haven’t given serious consideration to how they’ll answer this directive.

5 phases of the extravert’s journey to an interview

We rarely see articles on how extraverts* can succeed at getting to interviews, but we often see articles directed toward introverts on this matter. In fact, I can’t recall self-help articles, let alone books, for extraverts (Es). This said, Es need to focus on their strengths and challenges that get them to interviews.

Nailing the interview process, Part 1: Be Mentally prepared

Succeeding at the interview begins before you sit in the hot seat. The first step is being mentally prepared. This means overcoming the negative feelings that came with losing your previous job. To lose a job for any reason can be a blow to your self-esteem.

Nailing the Interview Process, Know Thyself: Part 2

Interviewing for a job is tough, whether you’re actively or passively seeking. If it were so easy, people like me wouldn’t have to provide advice on how to interview. One of the challenges of the interview process is knowing yourself, really knowing yourself.

Nailing the interview process, part 3: research, research, research

You’ve heard it over and over again: you need to do your research before an interview. Why? Because:

  • When you do your research, you’re more prepared.
  • When you’re more prepared, you’ll be more confident.
  • When you’re more confident, you’ll do better.

The last thing you want to do is wing it in an interview. You’ll fail, especially if the interviewer is good at their job.

Nailing the interview process, part 4: practice, practice, practice

To be an excellent baseball player or pianist, you need to practice, practice, and practice. You wouldn’t expect to hit home runs effortlessly or play at Carnegie Hall with no practice. The same principle applies to interview success.

Nailing the interview process; part 5. First impressions matter

Guess what; all of the lessons you were taught as a child apply today. Now that you’re an adult, you still need to maintain consistent eye contact, deliver a great handshake, smile, and more. And if you’re interviewing, your first impressions count more than ever.

Nailing the interview process, part 6: answering tough interview questions

You’ve been invited in for a face-to-face interview. You feel this job is great for you. You like the variety of responsibilities and have heard great things about the company. You’ve done everything right so far – and now it’s time to answer some tough interview questions.

Nailing the interview process, part 7: following up

Some job seekers believe the interview is over once they’ve shaken the interviewer’s hand and left the room. “That went well,” they think. Perhaps it did go well, but perhaps one or two other candidates also had stellar interviews. Perhaps those other candidates followed up on their interviews with thoughtful thank-you notes.

So when is the interview really over? Not until you’ve sent a follow-up note.

5 keys to a successful mock interview

One of my clients told me recently that the mock interview I conducted with her was the best experience she’s had preparing for interviews to date. This was after a session where I reviewed her performance with constructive criticism, at times brutal honesty.

I understood my client’s sentiment, because I also think a mock interview is extremely effective, if done correctly. I’ve conducted hundreds of mock interviews over the course of my tenure at the urban career center for which I work.

6 reasons why older job candidates shouldn’t discriminate against younger interviewers

As a career strategist, I often come to the defense of older workers who experience ageism, but I don’t talk enough about reverse ageism. In other words, how older job seekers treat younger interviewers during the process.

Don’t take the telephone interview lightly; be prepared for 4 or more potential problem areas.

If you think a telephone interview isn’t a real interview, you’re sadly mistaken. Telephone interviews are generally thought of as a screening device, but they carry a lot of weight and, in some cases, they’re full-fledged interviews. Often times job seekers don’t take the telephone interview seriously, and this is a huge mistake.


Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

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.” He didn’t call.

Essentially he had ghosted me and it left a bad taste in my mouth. It made me think of when people get ghosted like I had. There are three obvious times that come to mind.

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, canceled their plans of attending their child’s event, missed a networking meeting they had set up, or had 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 job 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 later? 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 move on. The job seekers have been 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 seeker 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 wrote in a text. “Please call me as soon as you can.”

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

One recruiter shared a post on LinkedIn in which she said that 13 out of 15 candidates she set up for interviews didn’t even show for them. Read the post here. Imagine that. They didn’t show without explanation.

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 5 steps recruiters use to select the best résumés

This 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.

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(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 weren’t 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, and their branches missing here and there. 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 to 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 Hiring Authorities Dread Reading a Resume

Here’s a fact: very few people like reading resumes, especially those who read hundreds of them a week. Ask any hiring authority (recruiter, HR, hiring manager). I critique and write resumes as part of my job. I’ve read hundreds of them, but I’ve got nothing over hiring authorities.

Sad woman

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

Once you understand that hiring authorities are not dying to read your resume, 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 resume. Don’t let your apathy show in the quality of your product, which shouts, “I’m not into writing a resume 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 resume and would prefer others to do it for them. Do not rely on others to write your resume; it’s your responsibility.

Note: if you simply can’t write your own resume, 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.

2. Your resume 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 resume 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 resume 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 resume to determine if they will read the rest of it. Thus your resume 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 hiring authorities 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 resume 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 hiring authorities 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 resume. 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 resume if you don’t understand the requirements of the job.

8. You lack keywords and phrases. Much has been said about the applicant tracking systems that determine if your resumes will be read by human eyes. While true that you need to have industry-standard keywords, the ATS won’t automatically place your resume in the circular file cabinet.

Nonetheless, your branding headline, much like the headline on your LinkedIn profile, is the first place on your resume where you’ll utilize keywords. Then you will make sure they’re peppered throughout the rest of your resume. Do this for human consumption to make it easy for hiring authorities to spot the skills they’re looking for.

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 resume (stored in Dropbox) must be legible to recruiters and hiring managers. Recruiters and HMs want your resume 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 resume.

A woman in HR recently related this story to me, “I received a resume in a USPS photo envelope (heavy duty mailer) certified mail. The resume 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 resume 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