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Recruiters share 6 things job hunters can do to stand out

(BUSINESS NEWS) Some of this advice may seem common sense, but recruiters confide in us how infrequently candidates actually adhere to their advice.

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Real advice from real hiring folk

Job candidates typically adhere to online reviews, advice from professional friends, and personal experiences for tips on securing their dream position. While some may provide legitimately helpful advice, some may not – and bad advice can be counterproductive in the job search.

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To avoid such, we went straight to the horse’s mouths – the recruiters and hiring managers – and collected a list of things they wish candidates would do more often. If the job search has been solemn for you or any other candidates you know, share and use these exclusive tips.

Six tips for success

1. Ask meaningful questions
Typical questions like, “What’s a normal day look like in the role I’m applying for?” are okay, but candidates should think deeper. The best and most successful candidates treat the interview as a conversation.

Says Renee Diaz, Senior Recruiter with Vitamin Talent, “I would say [candidates] don’t genuinely interview the employer during their interview. They just answer and often ask vague questions. They don’t dig about the people – “rough” days, “best” days, biggest accomplishments, why the interviewer chose this company, or why are they still there.”

Lucas Mitchell, Director of Luna Data Solutions gives a great example: “I wish just one candidate would ask me how their role contributes to the business. I talk to more people than I can count that don’t care what their role does, they just want a job. That’s great, and congrats on wanting to earn an income, but if you don’t know why your job is vital for the business to grow, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.”

Mitchell concludes:

If you don’t know why your job is vital for the business to grow, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.Click To Tweet

Justin Williams, Corporate Recruiting Manager with All Native Group, points out another interesting question to ask: “I have seen on rare occasion a candidate ask to meet with the team or tour the office so they can see what the culture is like. Now normally we won’t tour the candidates or have them interview other people unplanned, but I must say this is really impressive when they do. It shows above-and-beyond initiative and interest in our company. Out of the hundreds of interviews I’ve done, I’ve seen only 2 people do this. I hired them both times.”

2. Follow directions
It’s understandable to want to go above and beyond when applying for a job, but don’t overlook the basics.

Kevin Smits, Owner at Palmas Capital Partners explains that, “quite often [candidates] won’t follow the directions we give them to apply. We are very specific in our process and if they can’t get the steps right, we know they aren’t going to be a fit.”

Even if it’s exhausting, remember that each application, resume, and cover letter should be carefully crafted for each different company and position. And yes, reading and following directions is a part of the process.

3. Follow up
If you want the job, its natural to follow up. Smits also suggests doing so by sending a simple yet thoughtful thank you note. Thank them for their time and tell them you enjoyed meeting them.

Call back something specific from your conversation.

4. Understand and explain the impact of the job function
Brett Simon, Division Director with Modis, says candidates should “understand and be able to articulate how their job function impacts the rest of the organization. People that can do that effectively are always ahead of the curve.”

Renee Diaz once again outlines how imperative thorough research beyond just your desired role is: “Too few candidates research the company – who they are, what they do, their competitors, recent news AND they don’t research who they are interviewing with. It SHOCKS me.”

Good research makes you look more interested, more educated, and better equipped for the role.

Not only that, but it also provides you jumping off points for conversation and deeper questions (hello, #1) in the interview.

5. Have an elevator pitch.
DUH. Allyson Hoffman, agent with Vitamin Talent, explains that having a elevator pitch is a golden yet often forgotten rule, “I wish more candidates had a clear elevator pitch. It’s especially important for those just starting out or making a career shift. Don’t make the hiring manager figure out who you are and what you want to do.”

Don't make the hiring manager figure out who you are and what you want to do.Click To Tweet

6. Don’t dwell on the past
Although past experiences may be applicable and relevant, recruiters want to see up-to-date information. Staci Kae Alter, founder of Click Career Consulting says, “Everyone should have an up-to-date summary on their profile and resume so we understand what all of the past work history listed below has culminated in.”

How do you know what’s up to date?

Rob Howard, Director at Brooksource, suggests: “A candidate should never talk about experience at length that is older than 5 years old. Of course there are special circumstances, but use that as a general rule of thumb.”

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Lauren Flanigan is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, hailing from the windy hills of Cincinnati, with a degree in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati. She has escaped the hills, and currently resides in Atlanta, where you can almost always find her camping at a Starbucks strategizing on how to take over the world.

Business News

Removing remote work options creates a new caste system

(BUSINESS) Remote work has created a democratization of sorts in the workforce, and companies desperate to nix the options could take a hit.

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Many companies are mandating a return to the office after over a year of allowing employees to work remotely, and, according to a recent study, over half of workers surveyed say they won’t stand for it. As remote work becomes more normalized for all levels of employment, it is crucial that employers retain the option for employees to work in this capacity wherever possible – even if it means employing nontraditional methods.

Harvard Business Review references something called “the democratizing effect of remote work” – the great equalizing that took place during stay-at-home orders nationwide.

In short, this philosophy entails workers having their needs met while continuing to fulfill their contracts of employment. Theoretically, this is a win-win situation.

But employers have their own predilections toward in-house operations, with remote flexibility often being reserved for the highest-ranking officials while “lower” employees are expected to commute. It’s a business model with which we’re exceptionally familiar; why change?

The answer to that question may be employee-driven, as many employees cite a preference for hybrid or remote work environments post-pandemic. “Employees are leaving workplaces that don’t suit their needs anymore,” cites HBR.

Many of those needs are emotional, too. Non-white employees and female employees face a higher level of discrimination in the workplace than their white and/or male counterparts; Black employees, in particular, reported stressful work conditions, with HBR citing that only three percent of Black employees demonstrated an interest in returning to an in-office environment (as opposed to 21 percent of white employees).

Allowing stressed and oppressed employees to work from home can improve their mental health, stress levels, and even their “feelings of belonging at their organization” in the case of Black employees.

Outside of race and gender, the publication also stresses the negative effects that mandating a return after allowing for remote work will have: “Creating a new caste system where elites have anywhere jobs and non-elites are shackled to the office full time is a recipe for high attrition among employees who often have a lot of firm-specific knowledge that is valuable to their employers.”

The less-subtle breakdown is this: If companies that are capable of offering remote work want to retain employees, they need to offer some remote options.

We saw the effects of employees in frontline occupations refusing to show up to work because of poor wages and working conditions earlier this year. It isn’t outside of the realm of feasibility to expect the next major workforce shortage to impact corporations as well.

If the solution is as simple as letting employees work from home a few days per week or permanently (especially if their productivity doesn’t suffer), that’s a pretty small price to pay for continued prosperity.

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Business News

The case for nixing your company happy hour forever

(BUSINESS) Happy hour is designed to bond teams and offer a perk, but the design is outdated to benefit few workers – let’s just get rid of the practice.

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The world of work has forever changed from the pandemic. Melinda Gates hopes that COVID-19 makes society get serious about gender equality. Some people are wondering how many people really want to return to the office at all. There are questions about providing customer service, not to reduce costs to the business, but because shoppers don’t want help in the store.

Let’s tackle another tradition in the office – the happy hour. Wondering if employees really want happy hours? Do they even help?

Why do we even have happy hour?

Happy hour is a tradition that dates back to the early 20th century and the United States Navy. It was originally a weekly entertainment created to alleviate boredom on the U.S.S. Arkansas when sailors were at sea. The practice became popular in the Navy, but over time, the emphasis changed from entertainment to drinking. As drinking became less stigmatized after prohibition, employees began drinking at work and after work. Although happy hours declined in the 1970s and beyond, there was a resurgence in the 2000s.

Why do offices hold happy hour?

Hosting a happy hour is thought to help a team develop positive relationships and encourage employee engagement and productivity. Drink o’clock can be a time of celebration to help employees feel good about the work they’re doing.

Employees can interact with each other outside of the stress of work. It sounds pretty innocent, just getting together at the end of the workday at a local pub or bar, but it comes with a lot of issues.

Is it time to nix the work happy hour?

Happy hour can come with a lot of pressure for employees. Some people believe they have to attend in order to keep moving up in the job, because skipping out can be seen as not being a team player, and many who don’t show up to the “optional” happy hours are also the ones who didn’t get to schmooze with the bosses and thereby are not the ones who get promotions.

This disproportionately hurts women, who typically still have the majority of caregiving tasks in the family and can’t stay out drinking on weeknights.

Transportation issues or flexible schedules don’t lend themselves well to the traditional happy hour after work. And don’t forget the drinking atmosphere doesn’t appeal to everyone. There are many religious, cultural, and personal reasons for people to avoid alcohol, bars, and happy hour functions.

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of liability issues for employers. Can your business risk an accident by an employee who went to happy hour and was a little buzzed when they left?

While we’re rethinking workplace traditions in the post-pandemic era, let’s think about how to get employees engaged. Maybe this outdated practice isn’t the best way to build your team anymore.

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Business News

You absolutely don’t need to be a 100% match for a job to apply

(CAREER) Most people believe they should only apply for their dream job if they’re a perfect match, but studies say that’s the wrong approach.

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apply for a job even if not 100% a match

You don’t need to be a 100 percent match for a job to apply. You just don’t.

We’ve all seen the crazy job postings:

-Must be fluent in Mandarin
-Must be be full-stack coder
-Must also have real estate license
-Must be a rockstar ninja (uuugh)

After seeing endless open positions with specific requirements, it’s no wonder that so many job seekers become discouraged. How can anyone fit 100 percent of the requirements on the job listing? And actually, most people don’t. According to a recent study, you only need to meet ~70 percent of the job requirements to be a good fit for a job.

So you’re telling me a requirement isn’t actually a requirement?!

The study analyzed job postings and resumes for over 6,000 positions across 118 industries, and they found that applicants are just as likely to get an interview whether you meet 50 percent or 90 percent of the requirements.

Crazy, I know. That law of diminishing returns will eff you up.

But what about women? I wondered the same thing. Surprisingly, the interview data was in favor of women that meet less of the requirements. In fact, the study shows that as a female, the likelihood of getting an interview increases if you simply meet 30 percent of the requirements. Also, female applicants are just as likely to get an interview if they meet 40 percent versus 90 percent of the job requirements.

Before you start complaining that women have it better in the job search process, correlation doesn’t equal causation.

Interestingly enough, 64 percent of the female users rejected at least one job where they matched 50 – 60 percent of the requirements, while only 37 percent of male users did. This leads us to believe there more implicit factors to take into consideration, like imposter syndrome throughout the interview process.

If you’re a recruiter or employer, this may seem like more work. But in an increasingly competitive job market for both employers and applicants, this presents an opportunity to get to know people for who they actually are, not just on paper. And resumes often do a poor job of reflecting that — especially the ever-important soft skills.

Key takeaways:

As we’ve gone through this study, here are a few practical action items for job seekers:

1. Apply for a lot of jobs to increase your number of interviews.

The study shows that increased interviews are a direct result of increased applications, not just picking and choosing what you think you’re a good fit for. Which brings us to our next point:

2. Go for those “stretch” roles — you never know what may come of it!

Send in a lot of applications, but don’t let that stop you from approaching the process thoughtfully. Recruiters can tell if you’ve skimped on the cover letter or your resume, and a thoughtful approach to the application process will be noticed and appreciated by recruiters, especially for those reach roles.

3. Don’t second-guess yourself.

We’re always our own worst critics, and according to this, we don’t need to be — especially throughout the job application process. Job hunting is stressful enough, so put on your most upbeat playlist (or Beyonce), say your affirmations, and go on with your bad self and start applying!

This story was first published here in December 2018.

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