I recently had the pleasure of listening to a presentation by Jill Lynn, Human Resources professional at BASi. It’s always interesting to hear from someone on the other side of the hiring process, and she graciously allowed me to share some of her insights with you.
She began by debunking three myths about the application process.
Myth 1: “My professional experience and skills are the most important thing, and that’s all that matters to get the job, right?”
Nope, sorry! Interpersonal skills are the most frequently cited reason for failure of a new hire (2005 Leadership IQ Survey), so they are crucial during the hiring process. How well you fit into the corporate culture is a major , and many companies will “hire for attitude, and train for aptitude”.
Myth 2: “My resume should be unique, creative, and show off my personality and style.”
Again, nope! Hiring professionals receive such a flood of resumes, the thing they most want is an easy to read and electronically friendly resume (meaning one that scans easily, and contains all the appropriate keywords). Resumes that are “unique” are often difficult to read. With so many to choose from, the less work the reader has to do, the better. Your resume should list your professional experience in reverse chronological order, using action words and phrases (not narratives). Make sure to use a professional email address (firstname.lastname@example.org may get you a date, but will not get you a job.)
Myth 3: “A detailed job objective, and information about my hobbies and outside interests, will make me stand out.”
Perhaps, but they will not get you a job. Many hiring professionals view objective statements as “filler” for those who don’t have enough work experience, and hobbies can actually hinder your ability to get an interview because they distract from your professional experience.
Hiring professionals make their living researching and reading people. They may talk to your friends and family, co-workers, and will read your online social networking profile and postings. Any publically available information is fair game (including your Facebook or Linked In profiles), so make sure you know what’s out there about you, and start cleaning it up now, if needed. Be especially careful of whom you let tag you in online photographs or comment on your pictures or posts.
The interview begins not when you meet the interviewer, and not even when you enter the building, but the minute the company receives the first contact from or about you. From then on, everything you say and do is considered as part of the package. You are never off-stage.
Before you go in for the formal interview, make sure to research the company, and even better the person with whom you will be interviewing. Always be prepared with a few questions to ask when it’s your turn, and stay focused on the position and the organization.
During the interview, be professional. Dress to impress, matching the company style if possible. Try to connect to the people with whom you interview, but remember that they are investigating you, and may try to “trip you up” by asking the same question in a different way, to see if you give a different answer. Make sure to give a clear, concise, and always accurate, answer to each question. Before answering, think about what they are really asking. Do they really care where you want to be in 10 years, or do they want to know what you’re most interested in now, and if you have considered your future? Do they really care what your biggest weakness is, or do they want to know how you are working to overcome it?
These few tips will go a long way towards making sure you shine during the hiring process, and find the company that fits your skills, personality and ambitions.
This article was written by Lisa M. Balbes, Ph.D. of Balbes Consultants LLC. Lisa is a technical writer/editor and author of: “Nontraditional Careers for Chemists,” published by Oxford University Press.