Why I Don’t Want to Hire You

Why I Don’t Want to Hire You

 

When I find myself in the midst of a hiring process for my own team, I am reminded once again why employers are so easily frustrated by the process.  By nature I tend to focus on the positive so for a job search I suggest tips for successfully landing that next job.  But, I’ve been asked specifically if there are things I see candidates doing wrong in their searches and hope to share tips to help avoid those pitfalls.  Here are tops of what not to do in your job search.

  • Rely Solely on Online Applications – While most companies require that you apply online, if all you do is sit behind your computer and submit applications your chances of success are slim. When you are not receiving calls for interviews, submitting more online applications does not solve the problem.  Networking is critical to success in the current job market.  If all you do is apply online you are expecting a hiring manager to find you as the proverbial needle in the haystack.  I always start with the candidates who have networked with me previously or who are passed on by a colleague who met them through networking.
  • Write a Cover Letter All About You – Your cover letter needs to make the hiring manager interested enough in your qualifications to want to read your resume and schedule an interview. While it is important to share highlights of your experience be sure you focus your letter on the relevant skills and experience to address their specific needs.  Customize your letter to the specifics of the job description.  Be careful not to start every paragraph or sentence with “I.”  Make it clear to the hiring manager how you can address their specific needs.  They really are not interested in what you want or unrelated things you did in the past.  And with just a bit of research you can usually find the name of the hiring manager which makes a much better impression than “to whom it may concern.”
  • Didn’t Bother to Read the Job Description – When your cover letters focuses on what you really want to do but that has nothing to do with what I said I needed, I doubt that you bothered to read the job description. Don’t apply based solely on the job title.  Hiring managers expect you to read the job description and to focus on your relevant, transferrable skills.  Failure to do so earns you a quick trip to the no pile.
  • Arrive late for the Interview – Really? Demonstrate your professionalism and time management skills by arriving a few minutes early.  It also demonstrates your interest.  If you are not sure how to get there, do a dry run the night before. Allow extra time for traffic and have an idea in advance of where you can park.  Put your best foot forward.
  • Come Unprepared for the Interview – You should always be prepared to sell yourself but be sure to do your homework about the company, the position and those you will be meeting. It is very easy to do online research.  Review the company website.  Have questions prepared for your interviewer.  Demonstrate your professionalism.  Never ask “so what does your company do.”  Know enough to have specific questions prepared to ask your interviewer.
  • Fail to Follow-up with a Thank You Note – It is rude and unprofessional not to say thank you. The interviewer shares valuable time with you.  Say thank you at the end of the interview.  Send an email as soon as possible to say thank you and to express your interest.  Refer to something specific you discussed.  Mail a handwritten thank you note within 24 hours.  People receive so little snail mail these days, it will be remembered.  Many hiring managers will eliminate a candidate who does not send a thank you note.
  • Ask about Salary, Benefits or Time Off During the Interview – You need to sell yourself during the interview. Asking questions during the interview about salary, benefits or time off sends the message that you are not really interested in the job itself.  Wait until they decide they want you on their team to inquire about the compensation and benefits.  Make the sale before you start negotiating.

Avoid these common pitfalls in the search process to increase your success.  Hiring managers are expecting you to put your best foot forward.

 

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Energizing Your Summer Job Search

As you anticipate the lazy, hazy days of summer, that usual discipline and focus with which you approach your job search may begin to wax and wane.  But despite the mellower mood, resist the urge to play hooky from your job search this season.  Take a prolonged vacation from it, and you’ll miss out on what could be one of the most productive time of the year to take the next step in your career.

Just because business slows down and people go on vacation doesn’t mean that all will be quiet on the job front over the summer.  In reality, these next few months can be an extremely busy time for successful job searchers, so here are a few tips for making the most of this time.

Networking

The single most important thing any job searcher can do is networking.  This can be easier to do in the summer when people have a bit more flexibility in their schedules or a least a more relaxed attitude.  Identify the target companies on your list.  Use your alumni database, Linked In, former colleagues, etc. to identify contacts in those target companies.  Request an informational interview to learn more about the company, but do not ask for a job.  Rather, ask how the company hires, what skills are required for success, and how the function you are interested in fits in that organization.

Set specific networking goals for the summer and hold yourself accountable.  Meet people for coffee, lunch, a quick meeting or even a walk outside.  Take advantage of this time of year to make as many connections as possible.  Always ask your networking contact who else they think you should be talking to, given your career interests.  Ask what professional association meetings you should be attending.  Many professional associations continue to meet over the summer but often have less formal meetings.  Take advantage of these opportunities to meet others in your chosen field.

Have a Plan

You wouldn’t plan your vacation without a destination in mind and at least a rough plan of how you are going to get there.  Your job search deserves at least that much attention – if not more.  It is hard to get where you want to be without a clear sense of where you are going, so create and follow a specific job search plan.

Identify the type of position you seek and the target companies where you most want to work.  Develop a networking strategy and list of contacts for each company.  Have a plan to make new networking contacts every week.  Always thank your networking contacts for their time, preferably in person and follow it up with a written note.  Thank them again if they refer you to a valuable connection.  Keep your network posted on your progress.

Stay Positive

No one wants to hire a complainer or a “Negative Nellie.”  Stay positive and stay focused.  Enjoy the networking along the way; you may just surprise yourself with how rewarding it is to make new connections, learn new things and expand your personal and professional networks!

Reflect on the interesting people you meet and draw inspiration from their career journeys.  Be positive about yourself and the skills you bring to the table.  Demonstrate that you have a vision for what you want to do in your career.  Show appreciation for their time and enthusiasm for additional contacts or activities they recommend.

Also, be open and accepting of feedback.  You may not want to hear it but, you need to hear it in order to grow and get to the next level.  Learn from others who have more experience.  At least seriously consider the advice they offer.  Be willing to learn and to try new things.  Remember, you can’t fix it if you don’t know it’s broken.

It may be summer, but companies definitely don’t take a “school’s out” attitude, and neither should you. They still have business needs to be met, positions to be filled and some hiring managers have more time to focus on hiring at this time of year, so take advantage of it. Don’t take a vacation from your job search – instead, step up your efforts and set a goal of getting your network in good shape for fall.

Summer Dress for Success

Many companies recognize that the pace changes a bit come summer and offer a summer dress code.  While it is great be cool and comfortable in the hot, hazy days of summer it is important to protect your professional reputation.

Summer Dress Code Do’s

  • Know the Culture – It is critical to know the culture of your organization and to follow the lead of the managers in your group or division.  Some companies have no relaxation of the dress code in the summer and any attempt to be more casual would be frowned upon.  In some companies summer casual means no neckties.  Before you head to the office in capri’s, shorts or a golf shirt, be sure you understand what the expectations are in your specific office.  You do not want to stand out negatively from the crowd .
  • Stay Professional – Your goal should be to always appear professional while on the job.  Even with a more relaxed summer dress code it is important that you still project a professional image.  Focus on professional looking business casual attire.
  • Be Modest and Conservative –Think about whether you would want the president of the company or an important client to see you in that outfit.  If the answer is no, don’t wear it to work.  Think about whether it projects the image of the company or your own personal brand. Remember while it may be fashionable, it may not be appropriate for the office.

Summer Dress Code Don’ts

  • Forget the Beach Attire —  If you would wear it to the beach, don’t wear it to work. Modesty and professionalism should be the determining factors in identifying attire for work.
  • Leave the Flip Flops at Home – The most frequent complaint I hear from employers is flip flops.  They are very noisy in the office and most employers consider them unprofessional.  Do not wear flip flips in the office if you want to be taken seriously. If you want to wear them for your walk to work fine, but be sure you have shoes in your bag to change into as soon as you reach the office.
  • Cover Up – Underwear is meant to be under your clothes at all times, not visible to your co-workers.  Midriff baring attire or plunging necklines are also not appropriate for the office.

Protect Your Reputation

Your reputation at work is your personal brand.  You work hard to known as a capable, competent professional who does great work in a timely manner.  Do not ruin or at least tarnish that reputation by dressing unprofessionally in the workplace.  It is not worth it.  Stay professional this summer to ensure your future success.

 

Accomplishments vs. Responsibilities on Your Resume

One of the most common resume errors is to focus on responsibilities instead of accomplishments.  In doing so the candidate significantly reduces their odds of standing out in the mountain of resumes.  To increase your likelihood of success you need to focus on your accomplishments and quantify them where ever possible.

Responsibilities are the laundry list of tasks that are part of job description.  That is not relevant to a hiring manager.  The hiring manager wants to know what difference you made for the company by being there.  What happened because you were there doing this job?  Accomplishment statements demonstrate your successful results.

To effectively create accomplishment statements, identify the Situation, Task, Action and Result (STAR) for each experience.  Then, transform this information into a bullet for your resume.  Where possible quantify the result.  Begin each accomplishment statement with an action verb.

  • Situation/Task – Describe the situation you encountered or the task for which you were responsible. Think in terms of the business problem that needed to be solved.
  • Action – What did you do to address the business need?
  • Results – What was the result of that action?

 

Consider the following examples as transforming the “before” responsibility statement into the “after” accomplishment statement:

 

Before:  Managed contracts and change orders for each project.

After:    Managed contracts and change orders on projects to ensure timely completion within budget.

 

Before:  Managed all online adverting billing.

After:  Managed $7 million of receivable for online advertisements.

 

Before:  Helped promote financial products through direct interaction with clients.

After:  Promoted financial projects to clients, resulting in 30% increase in assets under management.

 

Put you best foot forward in your resume by focusing the hiring manager’s attention on what you accomplished for past employers to help demonstrate your ability to add value to their organization.  Accomplishment statements with quantifiable results will help your resume stand out from the crowd.

 

 

 

Common Interview Questions- Why Change?  Why this Job?

Most interviewers want to know why you are seeking to make a job change and what about this particular company and opportunity appeals to you.  You must be prepared to address this in the course of your interview.

Why Change?

You applied for their position so obviously you are looking to make a change.  You need to be prepared to address why you are seeking to make a change.  It is important to present your reasons without bashing your manager or current company.  Maybe there really are some problems at the company, but don’t come across as a complainer.  No one wants to hire another company’s problems.  Talk about what you learned in that role and why you are seeking an opportunity to help you build additional or different skills and experience.  Maybe you are looking to focus on a different industry or different role.  Have a story of what you are seeking to gain and how you will leverage your transferrable skills.

If you have no answer for this question you are telling the interviewer you have no plan for your career and no awareness of the skills you need to develop and enhance for success.  Sharing a strong vision for your career and an awareness of your skills can be a strong differentiator in your interviews.

Why This Job?

This is your opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the company and this specific opportunity.  Show them you have done your homework by demonstrating insight into what the company does and how you contribute to that mission.  Focus on your transferrable skills and how you could add value in this specific role.  Being well prepared with knowledge of the company and the role demonstrates to the interviewer that you have taken the initiative to do your homework.  It shows interest and a strong work ethic.

Interviewers will expect you to be able to address these questions succinctly and in the process of answering these questions you can successfully differentiate yourself from the competition.

Informational Interviews for Job Search Success – Part Two

Once you have successfully scheduled your informational interview you need to begin your preparation.  In addition to researching the company and the contact, you must also consider the most critical questions you plan to ask the contact to maximize the value of the meeting.

What to Ask in an informational interview

  • Customize the questions to each specific situation and have a reasonable number of questions to respect the contact’s time
  • Prioritize the questions you hope to address
  • Jobs/Roles
    • What responsibilities do you have in this role?
    • What is a typical day like?
    • What do you enjoy most about this work and why?
    • What do you find most challenging about this work and why?
    • What are the obstacles for someone entering this field?
    • What are the most critical skills, abilities and personal qualities for success in this field?
    • What is a typical career path to arrive in this position?  What was your path to this role?
  • Companies/Organizations/Work Environment
    • What you like and dislike about the company?
    • Why did you decide to join this company?
    • How are decisions made?
    • How would you describe the corporate culture?
    • How is the Marketing (or other) department structured?
    • How much work is done in teams?
    • What are the company’s greatest challenges and how does your work address any of those challenges?
  • Industries
    • How could someone with my background enter this field?
    • What are the major current challenges in this industry?
    • What is current demand for jobs in this field?
    • What do you like most and least about working in this industry?
    • What first attracted you to this industry?
  • Contacts
    • Would you be willing to review my target list of companies and share feedback?
    • What other companies should I be considering given my background?
    • What types of organizations hire people to perform similar functions?
    • Do you know anyone I could speak to in this specific role that interests me?
  • Advice
    • What professional journals and associations do you recommend?
    • Given my experience and skills, what advice do you have to share about target industries, companies or role?
    • If you were in my situation, what options would you prioritize?
    • If you had it to do over again in your career, what changes would you make?
    • What advice to you have for a student interested in entering this field?
  • Giving Back
    • Show your appreciation and offer to assist the person in any way you can
    • Ask permission before sending a LinkedIn request
    • Remember to say thank you by sending a handwritten thank you note, make a positive impression so you can stay connected