Tag Archives: Hiring

7 Universal Job Search Truths

There is an awful lot of advice out there about how to write a perfect resume or give the ultimate answer (42??) to the ultimate interview question. Some of it is even pretty good. But, the truth is there is more than one way to do it right. Recruiting, interviewing and selection are subjective.

It’s very likely that if you ask 10 recruiters for feedback on your resume, you will get 10 different opinions. It’s just as likely that if you ask 10 recruiters the best way to answer an interview question (almost any interview question), you will get 10 different replies.

Don’t get me wrong; as a profession, we do everything we can to take subjectivity out of the equation whenever possible. We (try to) ignore resume format choices. We create interview questions which focus on past work experience and competencies only as they relate to the skills necessary for the jobs we’re filling. We even create job scorecards and interview evaluation forms that help us stay as objective as humanly possible. But see… that’s just it. We’re human. So recruiting remains subjective.

That being said… there are still some things that are universal truths in the job search regardless of who’s on the receiving end.

  1. Proofread and edit your marketing material. No typos, misspellings or raging grammatical errors in your cover letter, resume, thank you note, LinkedIn profile, or any other material you are using to represent yourself are acceptable. If you claim to have great attention to detail, and spell manager without the second a, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
  2. Do your research. Due diligence is critical to a successful interview. If you don’t at least know what the company does, what people are saying about it and what we say about ourselves, you are not getting to the next interview.
  3. Nobody wants to hear your life’s story. If I ask you to “tell me about yourself” (which I don’t ever do by the way, but many people do. See – recruiting is subjective.) I do not want you to regurgitate everything that’s already on your resume. I want to hear the things that are relevant to this particular role and what makes you uniquely qualified for this job.
  4. Be ready and able to prove that you can do / have done what you say you can do / have done. You can’t just tell me you’re an innovator (or an excellent motivator, or that you impact top and bottom line growth) and expect me to just take your word for it. Arm yourself with metrics, results, and stories about your work history that validate your statements.
  5. Be kind. Be polite. Be thoughtful. I know hiring managers who ask their receptionists how you behaved while you were waiting for your interview. And, I actually know someone who, while parking their car, flipped off the person who was about to interview them. Yeah – the interview didn’t even happen.
  6. Stay positive. Desperate people don’t get hired. Neither do the ones who badmouth their former employers or team members.
  7. Be honest and be yourself. Life’s too short and you spend too much of it at work to not be in an environment where you will feel comfortable and really fit in.

If you happen to be the hiring authority, keep an open mind. Your way may not be the best way, and it certainly isn’t the only way. If all we do is hire people just like us, we’ll never grow. And, stagnation will never lead to success.

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Truth in Recruiting

9269948_sWhat exactly is truth in recruiting? It’s a phrase I have heard no less than 6 times in the last two weeks. And, I’ve heard it from both recruiters and candidates.

Recruiters want candidates to be honest with them about their skills and backgrounds. Frankly, I think this is obvious, and doesn’t need a blog post.

Candidates want recruiters to be honest with them about why they’re not getting jobs. Also fairly obvious…

I’m not here to argue whether or not it’s OK for a recruiter to tell a job seeker why they aren’t a fit. That’s up to the recruiter. It’s a personal (or professional) choice. I understand completely that candidates want to be the right fit, and when they’re not, they want to know why. If there is something they can fix, change, or learn, often I choose to tell them, and give them that opportunity. But that’s me.

The fact is that recruiters work for companies, not job seekers. Companies pay us. They pay us to keep their reputations intact as we search to find them that purple squirrel or flying unicorn. So, if you’re a purple unicorn… sorry… you’re not a fit unless you can fly. I just might not be “allowed” to tell you that.

But I think truth in recruiting is more than that. Candidates want recruiters to tell them the truth about the companies and the jobs in the first place. The real truth, not some sales pitch being used to pique their interest.

Candidates have a right to know details about the actual corporate culture, not just the aspirational one. They have a right to understand the real responsibilities of the role, not just the ones in the well-crafted job ad.

Perhaps the flying purple unicorn lives on both sides of the fence. Recruiters want companies to tell us the truth, too. Without it we add substantially less value. We want to find you your perfect candidate. And, we want to find you one who will be just as happy that they’re working for you as you are.

So, what exactly is truth in recruiting? Perhaps it’s as simple as transparency. Insight. Honesty. Access to hiring managers and their teams.

Real stories by real people doing real jobs for real companies.

Every job may not be the right fit for every person… but there is a person who is the right fit for every job.

So I ask you – all of you – on both sides of the fence – Help us help you find your fit. That’s why we’re here.

5 Changes to Make to your Hiring Process

Hiring the right person into the right role at the right time for the right price… It seems to be the million dollar mystery.  We’re flooded with blog posts and articles on the importance of hiring for culture fit, but few actually offer practical, cost effective advice. So the question I get asked at least once a week is, “How can I, a small business owner who doesn’t have Google’s deep pockets or Southwest Air’s recruiting team, complete for talent?”

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing you’ve always done the way you’ve always done it and expecting different results. It’s time to stop the insanity. Losing candidates who may be the perfect fit because they dropped out of your recruiting process is pure madness. And, the madness ends here.

Time for Action

Matt Charney published an excellent post today about the role of the Candidate Experience in the recruiting process. It’s here in case you missed it…

It got me thinking. Again.

I firmly believe that the small business, the entrepreneurial organization that is still founder-led, the nimble, risk-taking, willing to change business has a significant advantage over the large corporations when it comes to hiring the right people. Yes. You read that correctly.

Fixing your recruiting process doesn’t mean you need to spend large amounts of cash. In fact, it may mean quite the opposite.

Here are five changes you can make today to help ensure you’re not losing people to an ill-conceived recruiting process. And there’s no cost involved!

  1. Stop posting job descriptions. No, not in a Zappos Insider way, although I think that’s super cool! You don’t have to stop advertising your openings… But try posting Culture Statements instead of just job requirements. It has been said that there is no such thing as a bad culture, just a bad cultural fit, so promote the culture that you have. Start by asking your current employees how they would describe what it’s like to work for you. Discover the words they use to label the general atmosphere of your organization and to describe their workplace environment. Then incorporate that into your ads.
  1. Give up the sales pitch. Sure, you need a well-crafted and targeted message, but not a one-size-fits-all line that sounds like it could come out of any generic playbook. Compose a message that explains the value your employees perceive in working with you. And don’t be afraid to vary them team by team or department by department. While you’re giving up the pitch, it’s still necessary to market, so, put that message everywhere. Include it on your career page, in your job ads, on Facebook and on LinkedIn. Talk about it in your initial phone calls with potential candidates and demonstrate it during your interviews.
  1. Lose the application. Or, at least move it. With resumes and LinkedIn profiles, do you really need to capture work history and contact information again? I know the legal needs for a legitimate application, but it does not need to be completed before you even the meet the person.* Respect your prospects. Candidates are people, too. They may already be working, or have other commitments that would prevent them from spending 5 hours applying to your open job. And, while I understand the desire to make candidates jump through hoops to prove themselves to you, their very first interaction with your company is NOT the time for that. (By the way, I’d argue that there is never a time for that… there are other ways, my friend.) Follow the golden rule – treat your applicants the way that you would want to be treated. *If you need to meet OFCCP or similar guidelines, please consult an attorney!
  1. Include your employees in the interview process. A-players love to work with other A-players. They’re inspired by greatness and want to surround themselves with it. So, ask you’re A-players to participate in your selection process.  Give your candidates an opportunity to ask real questions of the people they will be working with every day. Give your employees the freedom and security to answer those questions truthfully. Better to find out someone will hate their job BEFORE you hire them.
  1. Provide feedback. Timely. At every step in the process. Candidates’ number one complaint about the job search process is that they never hear back from prospective employers. Even if someone is not a fit, you don’t know who they know… and negative news travels fast. Every single applicant should have such a great experience with your company that they should tell everyone they know to apply, even if they themselves didn’t get the job.

What other recruiting tips do you have for the SMB marketplace? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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6 Steps to the Top of the Recruiter’s A List

One of the biggest complaints I hear from job seekers is that recruiters don’t return their calls or respond to their resume submissions. Some of this is definitely on the recruiter – everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Everyone deserves at least an automated response. But we know that even with all the tools available, it doesn’t always happen. So, if you want to get to the top of the A list – try taking these six steps:


1. Send a tailored cover letter along with your resume – it shows that you have taken the time to think about the role for which you are applying. I know that some recruiters say they never read cover letters, but the ones I know do, even if only after they have already decided that you’re a possible fit. Help prove them right.

2. Send a tailor made resume rather than a generic one – it demonstrates that you have thought about HOW you are a match to the role (or company) for which you are applying.

3. Quantify your results wherever possible – metrics are “huge” and your results will set you apart from the crowd. Your job descriptions will not. Here are three questions you can ask yourself: How did you help the company MAKE money? How did you help the company SAVE money? How did you help the company ACHIEVE their goals? If you weren’t doing at least one of these things, the company wouldn’t have been paying you.

4. Follow up your resume submission with a phone call when possible. But, when you call, don’t say, “I’m calling to see if you received my resume.” Try, “I’m following up on the resume I sent because I believe I’m a good fit for the position.” And, be prepared to state how and why.

5. Help the recruiter help you. When you’re confident and excited about a particular position, let the recruiter know why. The recruiter may not be comfortable asking you about things they don’t understand that well (please – a topic for another post…), so help them see how to get you in the door. It will make it that much more likely that you get that interview.

6. Treat recruiters just as you would an important networking contact. Be a “two-way”networker. Try to get a referral to them from one of their existing relationships if possible. Most recruiters will take the time to meet with anyone who is referred to them by a valued relationship – even if they are not working on a job opening that is a fit for them at that time. And, refer good fits back to them. They’ll remember you did.

Other than being an unrealistically perfect fit and being able to check 12 out of 10 boxes on the wish list, what other ways have worked for you in getting a recruiter’s attention? Tell us about them in the comments.