Sunday, March 23, 2014

Secrets Job Seekers Need To Know To Get Hired

Here's my way of doing things. If I find a topic I want to investigate I do a lot of digging around the issue to find the answers I need. 

That works pretty well and when the topic is around looking for jobs and career topics I have a range of resources available to cover a lot of issues relating to finding a job, how to search for a job and that kind of thing. You can check out some of them here on my job/career board.

But there were some questions that I couldn't find answers to, that really left me mystified. It seemed like there was a whole secret system in place that nobody talks about but which works against some job seekers when they are looking to get into the workforce. I wanted to know what those hiring were thinking but never saying out loud! 

So I  thought I'd tap in to a local recruitment consultant who does very good work and I asked him to 'spill the beans' on some questions to see if he could shed light on these areas of arcane lore when it comes to job seeking. 

Here's what David Franze from Vespa Consulting came back with in answer to my questions. 

What is the real criterion for selection when,  say the job is entry level but pays what the applicant is willing to work for AND they can do the job easily. 

This is a common frustration for job seekers who apply for roles that are perhaps perceived to me a level or 2 below their skill set. While there are many valid reasons for people applying for lower level roles, employers still struggle with the thoughts that the same individual will leave for a better (higher paying role role) more suited to their skill set when an opportunity arises. 

The way to give yourself the best chance of succeeding in this type of scenario is to position yourself based on the level of the role. i.e. A common interview question employers will use to address these concerns are "where do you see yourself in 1, 3 and 5 years time?" Your answer needs to be in line with the level of the role, so consider answering with why you are passionate about this type of role, how your skill set will add value to the business and that you are open to what the future holds.

When someone has been self employed and looking to return to a employed position - what is the thinking that is unspoken but can rule someone out from consideration?

This is a really interesting, I for one like seeing ex business owners as job applicants. to me, someone who has owned their own business generally has determination, are innovative, decisive and have business smarts. Employers concerns are generally based around how an ex self employed candidate who is use to just managing their own workload will fit into a team environment.

Again, the best way to answer this type of question is to understand the role, demonstrate how your experience in this type of role has benefited previous clients and how you have had to integrate yourself into clients teams on many occasions and give examples.

Again, these are perceived challenges employers see and you really need to demonstrate your soft skills experience well. Prepare for interviews by having scenarios of previous experience in your head ready to go.

What if the person hiring thinks you are qualified to do the job effectively but we don't think it will be challenging /they might leave when they get a better offer/ they won't be able to be managed/ they might not stick around long term if there is no career fast track? 

This is very similar to Q1. 

What happens to a resume when it is received - what are those looking at it wanting to find and what do they hate seeing?

In the current market, with a lot of candidates and not as many jobs, it's not uncommon to see up to 100 applicants for a role depending on the level of the role. In short, 1 recruiter, with 100 resumes and competing priorities means you need to make an impression on paper.

Tip 1  Keep the resume short, nobody wants to see resumes longer than 6 pages, ideally, 3-4 pages give or take.

Tip 2 Use keywords, much like SEO, your resume needs to have the keywords in it that are in the position description or the job advert. So, tailor your resume to meet the criteria with keywords based on your experience.

Tip 3. Have an "Achievements" section for each role. This is where my eyes go first on a resume, to me, the achievements in the role show what you have done that is over and above what was expected in the role. Use your Achievements section to brag a little about yourself. This might include over achieving on targets, delivery of a big project, implementation of a new system and so on.

And Tip 4 , PLEASE, check for grammatical errors. Yes, we may be pedantic, but you never get a second chance to make a first impression so take the time to go over your resume a few time before submitting it.

What do they expect people to do at interviews to be successful

Be prepared, do your research on the company you are interviewing at, who are their competitors, what are they trying to achieve, their history etc etc. Do some pre-work.

Also, have examples in mind of how you can demonstrate your experience and lastly have some questions prepared. When interviewers ask if you have any questions, they would always like to hear at least 1 or 2. So again, its all in the preparation.

What do they think about follow up thank you letters

I think a follow up email is a nice idea and most recruiters or hiring managers would be pleased to see a thank you email. Good touch.

Why don't they bother responding to applicants when the applicants are expected to go to some trouble with their applications and interviews?

This is my biggest frustration in recruitment, and to be fair, its (hopefully) a minority that ruin it for the rest of us. I have worked with recruiters in the past who didn't respond to applicants and quite frankly, didn't care. There are good and bad in every industry but within my own I hate to see this as a practice. Put simply, it's basic human respect, you get what you give. There are also many employers out there who advertise roles directly as well and what recruiters and employers may not realise is that by not responding to applicants, they are damaging their brand. 

Summing up

So there you have it. The questions that are never asked with the answers nobody ever tells you when you are looking for work. Plan this as you would if you were running your own business. In real terms - your career IS your business.

  • Customise each application to the particular position
  •  Tailor your resume and cover letter every time
  • Demonstrate your achievements
  • Research the company 
  • Double check for any errors or omissions in your documents 
  • Follow up with a thank you
  • Rehearse your responses to typical questions you'll be asked 
  • Consider the questions you will ask if you are granted an interview
As well, think about how you can activate your networks. Get your profile 'spick and span' on Linkedin and look for companies you can approach directly, not just in response to an advertisement. 

Oh.. and if it needs saying - clean up your Facebook page if it is showing you in party mode, chronically whingeing or engaged in other activities that don't add to your reputation as a potential job candidate.

Consider how you can be more flexible in the kind of job you might take and the locations you might consider for the right job.  

If you are looking for a role that is not so high-powered as one you have held in the past, make that clear that you are looking for steady work but not the stress that comes from more highly charged (and paid) positions. You're prepared to work hard but not chasing promotion any more.

And while you are in job seeking mode, pursue activities that will aid in landing that job when it finally comes around. Learn some new skills and things to do that you can feel good about while you are not yet in that job you want to find. Feeling good about yourself helps others feel good about you too. 

A word to employers...

Another factor in all this seems to be that many companies hiring don't do it very well and I would suggest that an employer looking to add people to the business would do well to be approaching this part of their business with the same degree of professionalism that they give to operational and customer service areas.  Hiring poorly, whether it is directly or through agencies with low standards of service, you can be doing your reputation harm, in addition to costly mistakes. 

Hiring well begins with knowing your business well and having a well articulated vision for the business, clear roles and responsibilities delineated for each position in the business -  not just making up ads for the position by people who don't understand the role and what's important and what is just 'nice to have'. A bad hire can be costly so using a professional to help you get it right can be much more economical and convenient  in the long term, than being 'penny wise, pound foolish'. 

You can find David Franze at
Vespa Consulting  0402 474 555 

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 Lindy Asimus  0403 365 855
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