Things are still tough all over for a lot of folks, and I’ve (fortunately) been in hiring mode in recent weeks. Following up on last November’s post, here are some tips from an employer’s perspective. The bottom line is to make yourself stand out in only the good ways, minimize any potential embarrassing or awkward moments, and follow through.
Using your network
- If you would like a few minutes of a hiring manager’s time to learn more about a position, contact him or her to set up an appointment. Keep it quick, professional, and to the point. If calling or e-mailing, say or write, “Hi, my name is XXXXX, and my (friend/coworker/neighbor) XXXX referred me to you about the XXXX position. Could I please schedule about 15 minutes of your time to learn about this more?” This will show initiative for finding out more, will help you get a foot in the door, and you’re being respectful of that person’s time. Do not assume that he or she will have time to talk to you right then. By all means, do talk to the person right then if the timing works out in your favor.
- If you need to schedule something for a later time, follow up. If a friend/coworker/whoever referred you to someone, follow up, even if you’re not interested in the position, as the conversation might lead to something even better. If you don’t follow up, you’ll only be remembered as a flake.
Applying for the job
- Follow the employer’s process. If you’re supposed to apply online, apply online. Most employers these days use online systems to manage the recruiting, screening, and interviewing process. Your resume is not going off into space when you submit it online. If you don’t hear back from someone, it’s likely that a more suitable candidate was found.
- Believe the company representative when he or she says that you can’t submit a hard copy of your resume. Many employers in this region are some sort of government contractor and are therefore required to keep all submitted resumes (solicited or not) on file for three years. The online system is significantly easier to store resumes and keep track of who’s applied for what than a paper system. You will only tick off the company representative if you persist in submitting the hard copy after he or she has clearly told you “no.”
- Ensure your resume has no typos — this includes ensuring you’re not spelling “ensure” as “insure.” Look it up.
- There is no harm in contacting the company to learn more about the position. The hiring manager can give you details on what the job requirements are and what a typical day might be. If you’re not qualified for that particular position, ask if there are others within the company or industry that might be more appropriate. It does not hurt to ask.
- Allow plenty of time for driving, traffic, parking, any security you may have to go through, and getting inside with enough time to calm your nerves. If you show up more than 10 minutes early, sit in your car or go to a nearby business until 10 minutes before your scheduled time. Sitting in the reception area for more than 10 minutes or so might make you more nervous. Make a quick trip into the restroom to give your appearance one more quick look and also to wash your hands. If you tend to run warm and sweaty, cool off your hands with cold water and dry thoroughly. If you run cold, wash with warm water so you feel human during the handshake.
- Dress conservatively. This is not the time for anything outrageous or wearing something your kids obviously gave you (necklace made of Cheerios, cartoon character tie, etc.)
- If the interviewer offers you a beverage, take it. There’s little more distracting than talking to someone who obviously has a bad case of dry mouth.
- Make sure you keep a small stash of Kleenex in your pocket or purse. With the Sacramento area’s allergens, you never know when a sneezing fit might start. I’ll just leave it at that.
After the interview
- As someone who has always hand written her thank you notes on tasteful note cards (more economical options are just as suitable — I’m a paper snob), I have been downright shocked that a grand total of one person (out of six finalists) sent me a thank you following an interview. It was just an e-mail, but it was at least some acknowledgment of my time and consideration, and it was the opportunity for the candidate to share some of his key messages again. It’s also the opportunity for the interviewer to refer the interviewee to a different position or make recommendations for improvements.
- If you said you would send follow-up information, do so as quickly as possible.
- Even if you’re not interested in the position, follow up anyway, even if it’s just to say, “Thank you so much for your time. I realized that this might not be the best fit for me, but please do keep me in mind if something in the area of XXXXX comes up. May I contact you at a later point to talk about new developments with your company?”
Note: If you’re someone who knows me outside of this here blog, please do not make any specific references to my company or the position for which I’ve been hiring. I keep work and blogging completely separate, and I will disown you. 🙂