I recently sat down to dinner with some close friends. Three of these folks were looking for new careers for the new year, and since I’m in the recruiting profession, they had some questions for me. At first I thought these were pretty simple questions, but then I realized that it was because they were simple to me. None of these friends work in the recruiting industry, so to them the information I gave was extremely valuable and helpful to their job searching endeavors. This is what inspired this article. Here are the questions, in no particular order and the answers I gave them.
- What are recruiters looking for when they read a resume? ANSWER: Short concise sentences. Keep the description of your former jobs and positions short and sweet. A lot of extra description and information does not help make you look better. It simply slows the reader down. Keep the format simple and if you can get it all on one page, that is excellent. If not, it’s okay to have two pages, but be sure that second page is only half filled.
- Should I list ALL of my experience on my resume? ANSWER: No. Most resumes go back 10 years and this is plenty. This lets the recruiter know how much experience you have and it keeps the reading brief. If there is a lot of information being omitted because you’re only going back 10 years, condense the next 10 years in an outline. If the interviewer wants more information, they will probe and find out what came before.
- Should I spend a lot of money and time on an expensive paper and format for my resume? ANSWER: Absolutely not. The only exception to this would be if you’re in the graphic arts industry or design industry. Those areas often look for “slick” resumes and designs. Businesses in customer service, human resources, medical technicians, etc. do not need fancy trappings for a resume to be read and understood.
- What’s the most important thing about the interview process? ANSWER: Three items are paramount in nailing an interview: A. Look professional B. Act confident but not cocky C. Do not be late. Other than those three, just be yourself. Don’t speak negatively about former employers or co-workers. Always do research on the company you’re interviewing for so that you can ask questions. Finally, be appreciative at the end of the interview. Even if you’re not being considered, your appreciation should be vocalized to the person conducting the interview.
- Should I be in contact with a company that I’ve interviewed with to keep me in their minds for a job offer? ANSWER: Not necessarily. If you’re a good fit and they truly are filling the position, you’ll get the call. One call, five business days after the interview is fine. More than that, you become a distraction. If you’re going to get the job, they will call you. If not, move on.
- What should my cover letter contain? ANSWER: A simple greeting. A short description of your “professional” self. Your desire to work for the company you’re interviewing for. Cover letters shouldn’t be form letters. They should reflect the company’s culture that you are interviewing for and also why your skills and experience fit so well with that company.
- When I’m looking for positions to apply for, should I look for the same job I’m doing or aim for the next level up? ANSWER: It’s a little combination of both. Obviously, you want to move up in any company that you work for. However, it’s better to get hired into a position that you do very well and have experience performing, than get put into a position above your head and struggle to keep up. Depending on the company, you might be able to move quickly up the ladder. Letting the interviewer know your intentions to move up is very important. This will give them an idea of what you expect from the position you are being hired to do.
A couple of these questions were pretty simple in nature, but I realized that people cannot read minds and professionals in the employment industry or in human resources often take these simple items for granted and we assume everyone knows them. This is simply not true. My overall advice to this group of friends was – keep it all simple. The more you weigh your resume down with flowery information and experience that does not fit the position you’re applying for, the less chance you have of getting an interview. Don’t create a resume or apply to get the job. Create the resume and apply to the position to get the interview. No one is going to hire you based solely on your resume. If they do, you do not want to work for that company.
Happy New Year and Happy Job Hunting!