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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stay positive. Desperate people don’t get hired. Neither do the ones who badmouth their former employers or team members.
- 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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