Looking for a job? | HR Memories

I spent a few years recruiting and I’ve blogged about it before here. This time I am blogging from a different prospective.

Many people are looking for jobs today. Some are always looking for jobs even when they are content where they are. They are cruising for opportunity.

What makes me crazy is the goofy “advice” you get from hiring seminars, articles on the internet or even books on how to get a job. Most of the tips are not based in reality.

Tip – Don’t send your resume to the Human Resources department. Send it directly to the hiring manager.

Reality — Most companies do not allow hiring managers to interview until the candidate has been vetted through HR. That means that your resume will be forwarded to the HR department and you may lose a day or two until it gets there.

Tip – Always send a follow-up thank you card after an interview.

Reality – What? Who do you think is cheesy enough to be swayed by a card? I always threw it out. It neither helped nor did I let it hinder a candidate’s prospects but it’s a waste of time and money.

Tip – Call three days after the interview and follow-up once a week.

Reality – You will make the HR department and the hiring manager crazy with your pesky phone calls. Depending on whether you are the first or last interview, there may not be any decision. Even if you are eliminated early, they are not likely to tell you until a candidate has accepted the position. Some managers take weeks to make a decision and some are prompt. It’s not wrong to follow-up but I would suggest an email which is easier to answer and as for the interval – ask in the interview when they expect to make a decision. Most recruiters will tell you where they are in the process.

Tip – Find out why you didn’t get the job.

Reality – Except for internal applicants, it’s useless to ask. When you are interviewing, it’s not all about you but how you stack up next to the other candidates. The other candidates may be as qualified for the job as you are. The decision comes down to soft skills – who will fit in best, did someone have other skills that would be useful or maybe they just liked someone else better.

Here are some REAL tips:

  • Don’t get stuck on one job. Send out resumes to all jobs for which you are qualified. Don’t send one out and wait to see if you get it.
  • Don’t hesitate. If you see or hear of a vacancy, check the company’s website. Most companies have a “jobs tab” that lists the vacancies with a link to apply on-line. That is the quickest way to apply. Do it right away. One of my recruiting friends from another company received over 5,000 resumes for one position. Needless to say, they only looked at the first ones that came in. Someone who waited a few days didn’t even get considered.
  • Research the company prior to the interview.
  • In the interview, ask questions like: “Where am I in the interview lineup” “When are you going to make a decision?” “When do you expect the person to start?” This will give you good timing information.
  • About the money – always a sticky question. They will ask you what you are looking for salary-wise. You hesitate because you are afraid that what you say will limit what they offer. For example if you quote something too low, they will start you low and if you quote something too high, they will eliminate you. Truth is the recruiter is trying to gauge whether you are both in the same ball park. A reputable firm will offer you a fair salary based on your experience and what they traditionally pay for that job. If they lowball it or highball it, you salary will be out of line with other employees. You can ask what the range for the position is. Be honest about what you are hoping to get. If you are willing to consider (not accept) any offer, say so. Remember you can always say no when the offer comes.

I wish I could say that all recruiters follow-up but they don’t. I had a good friend who was interviewed several times for a high-level position. The last interview required that she travel to the firm’s 5th Avenue office in New York to meet the top brass. She never heard anything after that despite the fact that it had to be down to two or three candidates. That is bad recruiting!

Most recruiters do follow up. They have been on both sides of the interviewing process. They work to give you the best information so you can make a good decision.

Is there discrimination in hiring? You betcha! It’s not based on race, gender or religion or any of those touchy things. People have biases on personalities, appearance (for heaven’s sake look presentable for the interview! It’s one thing you can control) and quirks. That’s not illegal. They are looking for someone to fit in an existing work group. If you come across annoying in any way, they won’t want to take the chance no matter how qualified you are.

From an employer’s perspective you can train someone to do a job but you can’t train someone to be nice.


NOTE:  There are good websites with solid tips to offer candidates including questions that you will want to ask. Monster.com offers one but there are others.




23 thoughts on “Looking for a job? | HR Memories

  1. Good advice! I wish this was around during my lengthy bout with unemployment a few years ago. I feel that a lot of the advice offered at other places tends to be overrated and trite.


  2. Great advice, Kate. I always wondered about those thank you notes and whether they had an impact. You confirmed my suspicions.

    Some also differ on how long the resume should be. Some say keep it to one page. Others say several pages. I thought the latter is too long for a busy interviewer trying to find the right person and the right fit.


    • As for the length, it depends on the job and yes, several pages is too long — one to two is usually sufficient. You really want to highlight your accomplishments that relate to the new position. You have a paragraph on the cover letter to explain any breaks in working and anything else relevant. You shouldn’t waste that space reiterating the resume. Oh and titles really don’t mean much. Smaller companies use grander titles than larger companies and recruiters know that. The biggest piece of advice is DON’T LIE! Most companies use services to do background checks these days.


  3. Kate, as a career coach, I agree with most of your tips. I am struggling, however, with the thank-you note issue as I feel that hiring managers hold differing views on it. When I was on the hiring side, I viewed the lack of a thank-you note as a negative. My feeling was (and still is) that if the person does not bother with thank-yous and other signs of civility while searching for a job, what sort of ungrateful attitude will they hold if actually hired. I see a general sense of entitlement and lack of gratitude among far too many people, and I would prefer not to hire them as part of my team even if they had stellar credentials. I suspect I am not alone in this view. My advice to job seekers is (and will continue to be) to send a note or e-mail that briefly re-emphasizes their fit for the job and their thanks that the person took time to interview them. Yes, in some or perhaps many cases it will be thrown out,but the one case where it is not may be just the right position for them.


    • There are always differing opinions and I respect yours. I have never sent them and I have gotten some very good jobs. I don’t equate them to lack of etiquette or entitlement but rather that someone read a “how to” article so they did it. My suggestion is to be reasonable with follow-ups and limit them to email. My favorite candidates were the ones who asked permission to follow up, asked for the time frame and the suggested form (some recruiters may prefer phone calls — I didn’t because I usually wasn’t available). The recruiter wants to fill the job so a good one will work with the candidates. I must admit I have never seen anyone selected or eliminated based on a card but you never know. Thanks for commenting.


  4. It’s unfortunate, but I hear the students at the university being told they should send the thank you’s, follow-up with calls…all the things you’re saying don’t help! The truth is that I’ve wondered! To me the thank you seemed annoying and manipulative, and I was quite sure, a turn-off. I have to figure out how to share this information, and counter what they’re being told by the career office at the university! Yikes!


    • Those recommendations tend to be old school when technology wasn’t what it is today and there were more jobs for less people. I have received many thank you notes but the ones that counted to me were the email ones that included new information that the candidate didn’t say at the interview. Often it was clarifying that they would indeed be interested to hear any offer regardless of the salary. There isn’t a problem in following up but you have to do it with the timeline given. Can you imagine a recruiter with 100 candidates all calling to see if you got their resume? Or even a recruiter with 10 vacancies and 5 final candidates each calling every week. Most recruiters have many positions to fill. The trick to getting a job is to somehow make an impression in the interview. More than ever, that is important today.


  5. Really value you flexing your experience on our collective behalf…timely (as ever). Besides, the more perspectives I gain, the more fully faceted I become. Thanks for putting some shine in my smile. Until then, Dan


  6. Great list and practical info. When looking for a job, one of the hardest things is to not get discouraged. Filling positions is finding the right fit for the group – not always the skill set or experience – you are so right that there are “soft” reasons why one is picked over another. Just don’t take it too personally.


  7. Thanks for this, my Son (19) has been searching and applying everywhere in our area for a job, he is limited as he is attending College classes during day and must have 2nd shift, I am sending the link to him to read since some of the things I have told him were obviously wrong. Been on both sides of coin, but applying today is different than when I was first starting out, it is rare that you get to even go to a place to apply, you have to apply online first. Then wait for a response, but he found that with the local temp service if he didn’t keep calling he would not get any job. so it goes both ways depending on the company.


      • yes it does until you tick them off and he knows that they have work cause buddies of his that do the same kind of work are being sent out and they are not sending him out, so he is back to looking for a job through a regular places now too


  8. Love your penultimate paragraph:

    If you come across annoying in any way, they won’t want to take the chance no matter how qualified you are.

    So true . . . “Annoying People Need NOT Apply” :mrgreen:


    • You are so right. Everyone SAYS they want to do the work. That is until they get the job. Then they are looking to move up fast, get more money (after all they deserve more) or move into another department. It is a savvy manager who cuts through all that in a simple interview.


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