Archive for February, 2016

The Strangest Things Job Seekers Have Done to Get Hired

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

When it comes to getting the attention of potential employers, being a little out there can be a good thing – but a little goes a long way. Here are four do’s and don’ts for job seekers hoping to stand out for the right reasons.

There’s “crazy good” – and then there’s just plain crazy. When it comes to getting the attention of potential employers, being a little out there can be a good thing, but a little goes a long way, as some candidates have found out the hard way. A recent study about unusual job seeker efforts to stand apart, conducted among 1,078 hiring managers, makes it clear that some job seekers don’t know where to draw the line between getting noticed – and getting notoriety.

When asked for their accounts of job seekers’ most off-the-wall stunts, hiring managers didn’t hold back. These were the best of the best (err – worst of the worst?). You be the judge):

The candidate…

  1. …found out where the hiring manager was having dinner and picked up the tab.
  2. …lit a corner of their resume on fire to show their “burning desire” for the job.
  3. …had a cake delivered to the hiring manager with the words “Congratulations! [candidate’s name] got the job!”
  4. …answered a call during the interview stating that another company was calling to discuss a job offer.
  5. …sat on the floor during the interview and asked the hiring manager to take a picture of him with the company mascot.
  6. …tried to impress the hiring manager with the history of the business, which was incorrect.
  7. …had her resume gift-wrapped.
  8. …showed pictures of their relatives working at the company many years prior.
  9. …acted like a game show host.
  10. …brought a bag of props into the interview and pulled them out as they were relevant in the questions/answers.
  11. …sent the hiring manager a coupon for free meal.
  12. …had his daughter call the hiring manager in advance of the interview to thank the hiring manager “for giving her dad a job.”

Clever — or cloying?

Hiring managers gave a mixed bag of reactions when it came to whether they thought job seekers’ off-the-wall tactics were effective.

On one hand, candidates should get props for trying to stand apart among the sometimes hundreds of others vying for the same position. Unfortunately, “props” don’t necessarily equate to employment.

As one hiring manager advised – candidates are wise to focus more on making sure their skills and experience are up to par than on whether that “I love ABC Company” tattoo will land them the job:

“While these tactics may succeed in impressing hiring managers, what ultimately determines if they get the job is having the necessary skills and experience hiring managers are looking for.”

So how can you as a candidate get smarter about your own methods for standing out – and get real, positive attention for your efforts?

Here are four suggested do’s and don’ts for job seekers hoping to stand out for all the right reasons:

  1. DON’T confuse pestering with persistence. Most hiring managers don’t mind –and even appreciate – a follow up phone call or email, as it indicates enthusiasm and initiative. Bombarding the hiring manager with phone calls or emails, however, can come across as desperate, annoying or even creepy.
  2. DO know your audience. What charms one hiring manager may turn another off. You can’t always predict what will work for one company and what won’t. Just keep in mind, however, that a company that doesn’t appreciate your unique line of thinking might not be the company that’s right for you.
  3. DON’T overthink it. Sometimes the simplest approach is the best approach. Many of the hiring managers we surveyed were blown away when a candidate sent a handwritten thank you note.
  4. DO keep your eyes on the prize. Don’t let your unusual approach distract from what you’re really trying to do: Sell your skills and qualifications. Even when trying an unusual approach, tie it back to your skills and why you are qualified for the job.

So shine on, you (not too) crazy diamond – and best of luck in landing that next job.

Common Millennial Resume Mistakes

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

As you probably already know, the market for entry-level work is especially competitive. Each national posting for an entry-level or mid-level position in a popular field can easily attract dozens of resumes within an hour, and hundreds in a single day.

If you’re a job seeker in this age category, this information should energize, not discourage you. And here’s why: Because 99 percent of these applicants also lack work experience. And 99 percent of them will quickly remove themselves from the running by making simple resume mistakes.

The common slip-ups listed below can actually help you—as long as other applicants make them and not you. Avoid these errors, and you’ll vastly increase your odds of becoming a final contender.

1. Too much nonsense. Before even reading a word, most hiring managers will reject a resume that contains clip art, photos, moving GIFs, more than two colors, or file formats that can’t be downloaded on the simplest and most primitive devices. If you think you’re being clever or tech savvy by sending your resume in a text or file format other than the latest three versions of Word, think again.

2. Smugness. You’re probably well aware of this by now, but there are many gatekeepers over the age of 30 who resent members of your generation for reasons based on silly assumptions. Avoid some of this stereotyping by using a professional tone in your resume. Stay straightforward (skip the jokes and irony), and never exaggerate your accomplishments, even in ways that can’t possibly be cross-checked. Skeptical employers can spot millennial buzzwords, exaggerations, and overstatements from a mile away.

3. Common language errors. Know the difference between “you’re” and “your,” “they’re” and “their,” and “then” and “than.” If you don’t know these differences, look them up now. And if you don’t know how a semi-colon works and what it’s for, just don’t use it at all.

4. GPAs. Don’t include your GPA on your resume after you’ve been out of school for three years or more. If you’ve graduated within three years, you can include your GPA, but only if it’s over a 3.0.

5. Self-centered summaries. Use your summary statement to emphasize what you can do for the company and the kinds of skills and services you’re able to provide. Don’t emphasize your own goals and desires. This was a common practice a generation ago, but it’s fallen out of favor for now.

6. App-dependence. While you may live your entire life through your phone, don’t be caught staring slack-jawed at a manager who asks you to provide a printed copy of your resume. Yes, you have five different apps you could use to instantly transmit your file, but if these methods are unwelcome, always be ready to simply attach a Word file to an email and click send.