As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I routinely send out a job updates email to my unemployed and under-employed friends. In it I include the job postings I am forwarded or run across in the daily surfing of the web that dominates the majority of my day as well as some tips and tricks for them. It’s about time to catalog a few of those ideas here… unedited from the original emails and strung together in no particular order, so it’s a choppy and a little in-congruent but hopefully is helpful.
resume crafting: It is important to note that most resumes are scanned for job titles and company names and rarely read fully in advance of your interview. Therefore it is of vital importance to make those elements stand out in the text separated from the rest of the descriptions and accomplishment profiles. If you worked for well known entities be sure to list them where they are easily visible. If not, and your titles are noteworthy and easily visible. If your titles are more general, be sure to use qualifying notes with them so they are defined to include your department or core role (ie: manager: crm metrics and analysis). Format your resume so your most important jobs are at the head, regardless of when they were performend. It is not always about being in true chronographical order as much as organizing sections so the most relivant information is first. Resumes are a reason for an interview, not the interview itself and although what you say in it is important, it is more important they get the impression they want to interview you in the first place. And, remember, avoid the overused (and now somewhat cliche) terms such as Results-oriented professional; Strong work ethic; Team player; Bottom-line orientation; Met or exceeded expectations; Proven track record of success; Excellent communication skills, etc. as these are now the baseline expectation of most HR and recruiting professionals. (from the 18th)
the interview process: As always make sure you are thorough during the application process. A tip I heard from recruiters are lot was focus on the follow up. it is imperative you are on point with it. Once you send a resume to a potential employer do not let it sit in a black hole ignored. Send a follow up letter summarizing the single most important points of your resume and cover letter. If you don’t have a direct email, follow up with a hard copy through the mail of your materials if necessary. If a recruiter or HR rep calls or emails return the correspondence, ASAP, better within 24 hours, best same day. If someone requests additional information be sure to furnish it, in full and if it is a request for references, be sure your references are given the heads up about being contacted (including sending them the job description so they know how to frame answers regarding your experience as it relates to the position). Be sure to follow up screener calls, interviews, etc. with thank you notes. If someone says they will contact you inside a certain time frame and you don’t hear from them, be sure to reach out and take initiative. (from the 29th)
interview concerns: As the economy continues to impact the job market there are more and more non-traditional screenings happening as part of the interview process. Some of the more interesting ones you may come across include:
*multi-stage interviews including talks with HR, the hiring manager, coworkers, potential subordinates, clients and other tertiary contacts for the position that can last anything from a full day interview to a number of partial day phone and office interviews
*requests for fully detailed and documented portfolios
*requests demonstration work for the company, such as you doing related tasks or related jobs for free during the process
*testing of skills directly or indirectly related to the job
*extensive overview of your references which might include specific requests beyond employeers and personal references to be subordiants, coworkers, former clients, teachers, etc and may include joint-interviews with them
Many of these existed for years but were rarely employed as often and as regimented as they are now. Other things to be aware of however are
*intrusive interview questions or delve into personal beliefs
*requests for non-interview settings to see you in action such as events attendance, dinners, etc.
*supply personal information such as tax returns / w2s / etc.
*request non-job related tasks be performed
Always remember, that as much as you may want, or possibly, need the job, there is never an excuse for any employeer to make you feel uncomfortable or step over any personal line, especially if it might be construed as being invasive and possibly illegal. find your line of comfort and stick with it. Should you run into problems during the process, stay calm, cool and collected. Document the circumstances and if necessary, speak with HR or your local government official to take the next steps if you think you are being evaluated unfairly during the process. There was a great overview of this in the Wall Street Journal not long ago as well that can supply greater insights to questionable hiring tactics. (from the 7th)