There is no such thing as a perfect candidate or perfect hire because people are…well, imperfect. But there are certain things that are red flags for us recruiters. If you keep them in mind you just might clear that first hurdle and land a spot in the interviewer’s chair.
First things first. We all know you only get one chance to make a first impression. There are some things you just can’t recover from in the interview process, so make that first impression a good one.
Your resume has a tough task. It has to grab attention quickly and be set up in such a way that the recruiter will keep reading. This might mean having multiple resumes for different jobs. But make sure the resume you submit speaks to the job of interest. Receiving a resume for a marketing job with absolutely no marketing experience listed leaves us scratching our heads. Similarly, never send a resume to Bob’s Building Materials stating in your objective or cover letter that you’d like to obtain a job with Michael’s Mechanics. The only thing you’ve shown us at this point is a lack of attention to detail.
Second, if your resume extends beyond a page, your experience should warrant that. Two to three jobs under your belt does not fall into this category. Concise is key. Remember, we really don’t need to know every single task you performed, only those that are relevant.
Moving from job to job–averaging less than two years–is a clear sign you have no idea what you’d like to do for a living. This might not be an issue if you’re searching for another ‘job’, but if you’re searching for a career recruiters are leery you’ll stick around for the long haul. Be choosey about where you decide to apply. Is it a place you can stay for a while and move up the ladder or even make a lateral move? If not, it could be wise to keep looking.
The exceptions for what may appear to be job hopping are, of course, lay-offs, summer jobs and seasonal jobs. In recent years, however, some people have been using the term “laid-off” instead of what really occurred on the last job: termination. These are not synonymous. One is a result of performance and the other is beyond your control. Be up front about a termination. If it comes out in the interview the recruiter is going to be skeptical of hiring someone who is dishonest.
Professionalism doesn’t stop with the resume. Spelling counts on the application and any follow up emails. An email like the one below is not going to get you moved on in the interview process.
Thx so much for the interview i feel i am a good fit. I look forward to hearing from you.
Punctuation and the ‘shift’ key are your friends. If you have to have a friend proof-read an email before responding to the recruiter it is well worth the time.
What will the recruiter hear when he calls you for an interview? Trust me–we’re not hoping for Bieber or Beyonce. If it sounds like anything other than a good old fashioned ring it’s time for a change. In addition, ‘cute’ voicemail messages—‘At the tone, you know what to do.’—(yikes!) have no place in a job search.
Okay, you’ve made it through the application process and phone conversations and now you’re scheduled to meet with the interviewer face to face. Here are a few more points to remember to ensure at least a good start to the interview.
Let’s face it. Life happens. So if you show up late, after greeting the interviewer your next words should consist of an explanation. ‘I got a flat tire on the way here’ or ‘there was an overturned tractor trailer on the highway’ might be acceptable excuses. ‘I overslept’ or ‘I wrote down the wrong time/address’ probably aren’t. In order to avoid this, check out the location in advance and leave home early. If you find you’re running late pull over and give the interviewer a call.
This includes posture, expressions, fidgeting, eye contact and your handshake. I’m sure your palms are sweating as you read this. Don’t over think it. These are all nervous habits. The good news is, if you practice before the interview there is no reason to be nervous. (More about that in Part 2.)
Wear something that can become business casual in a hurry—by removing a jacket or even your tie. If you opt for khakis and a polo there is nothing you can do to magically change them into a business suit. I have seen jeans, Ugg’s, and white sweat socks with dress shoes in interviews. Believe me, no matter what you say in the interview after falling so short in your dress, there is little chance of recovery.
Congratulations, you’ve made it into the interviewer’s chair. More on how to ace the interview in my next post.