Remarkably Easy and Effective Networking Advice

Today is my birthday. I had another topic in mind but the occasion has forced my hand and today I want to talk a little bit about networking. A little over a month ago I wrote this post, Are you prepared for a career disaster?. It dealt with the situation of being laid off and your level of preparedness. Now, a big portion of that is networking. Who you know is often just as valuable as what you know or how well you interview. So what does career disasters and my birthday have in common? LinkedIn. In an attempt to have a robust profile I have filled out every available line. I have a picture, a link to this blog, every job I have had in my professional career, my degree and yes, my birthday. Starting last night around 7pm I started receiving emails from LinkedIn, notifying me that people were sending me messages.

Now this is entirely out of the ordinary, I am a recruiter after all. However, the frequency at which I am receiving these emails and the well wishes make it obvious, it is in fact well wishes for my birthday. Another thing is very obvious to me as well, I am going to receive a lot of these. Being a recruiter as well as a blogger, social media is very important to me. As such, I have built a decently large network. I have just under 9,000 first degree connections on LinkedIn and another 4,200 hundred followers on twitter. While I don’t expect too much in terms of birthday wishes from twitter, my expectation is a steady stream of messages filling my inbox all day through LinkedIn.

Now, I happen to love LinkedIn. It’s a great way to connect, learn about new topics and share information. One of the many great things LinkedIn does is it literally holds your hand through a variety of human interactions. What I mean by that is look at the top right portion of your screen on the LinkedIn homepage. There are 15 reminders up there every single day. They remind you when it is someone’s birthday or when they have an anniversary at an employer or when they switch jobs.

reminder

I once listened to a speaker talk about relationship building. In this talk, the speaker said that every morning he would open the paper and look in a section that chronicled local people’s promotions, new jobs and career moves. He would look for the people he knew and he would write each of them a hand written letter of congratulations regarding the significant career event. Three things came to mind when as I listened to this speech. The first was, wow, what a kind gesture that also happens to seem like a pretty smart idea. The second was, man, that seems like a ton of work. The third was, what is a newspaper? Just kidding, but seriously, in a vacuum, what a wonderful concept.

Now the downside to that plan is that it would be a ton of work. Enter LinkedIn. Because LinkedIn gives you reminders every single day about the happening s in your network and provides you several links that enable various forms of action, almost all of the work has been taken out of it. So if you look at this section in the top right hand corner it shows you a few things. It tells you the person and what has happened with them. It also gives you three options, like, message or skip. Now, technically “liking” there update is better than doing nothing, “skip”. But it isn’t much better. Almost everyone who happens to be on LinkedIn on that given day will hit like.

But what if you did more than that? What if every time you noticed someone received a promotion or a new job or the earth had a rotated around the sun another time, all the while they were employed with their current company, you messaged them? What if you wrote them a quick but personalized message, letting them know you are aware of the events in their life and wish them well? If you click “message”, LinkedIn will provide with a generic message like “congrats” or “happy birthday”, whatever they deem appropriate for the situation. And to be clear, nothing is wrong with that. In fact, it is still a pretty nice gesture. But how much effort would it take for you to write them a small note saying you are happy to see the progress in their career and perhaps recalling something you remember about them?

The fact of the matter is it will take very little work and you will make an impact. Messages like this might lead to conversations and those conversations could lead to meeting up with lunch with an old colleague. LinkedIn isn’t just a place where you can post pictures and opinions that really are more appropriate for Facebook, it’s a catalyst for maintaining and building professional relationships.

So here is my call to action. For a month, log into LinkedIn every day. Once there send a message to every person that LinkedIn brings up in that top right corner. My guess is it will take you less than 5 minutes. Do this and see what happens. The fact of the matter is its employees who are referred to an open position get the job at a much higher percentage than those of us who go through the traditional application process. Today’s workforce can be very volatile. In the time I have spent in Talent Acquisition I have had more talks than I care to remember with people who unexpectedly found themselves out of a job. I have heard those people say a lot of the same things. I didn’t see this coming. What should I do now? I haven’t had to interview is so long. I need to update my resume. However, I have never had someone say to me, I wish I was less well networked.

So try it. Send those messages. Strike up a dialogue with a former colleague. Cultivate relationships. Even if you never find yourself in the position where you find yourself needing to find a new job, there are plenty of benefits to having solid relationships. If nothing else, it’s a nice thing to do and you could make someone’s day. If you liked this post, please “like” and share it with your social media! Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a good opportunity.

I was a guest on an awesome Podcast!

So for those of you who have read my posts and wondered to myself “I wonder what Ben sounds like”, you are in luck! I have recently started appearing on podcasts and I just wrapped up my second podcast appearance. The podcast is on the career cloud website and the podcasts are typically downloaded about 2,500 times a day. It was a really good experience and I felt like it made sense to share it with all of you. In the podcast we covered a variety of topics from interview advice, resume tips and emerging trends in hiring. It was only my second go at doing the whole podcast guest thing and I plan on doing a lot more of it in the future. So with that being said if you want to go check it out, go check the link below.

Career Cloud Podcast

So with that being said, please feel free to share this with all your social media friends. As always feel free to comment below and I hope that you find some value in this podcast. Show up, work hard and be positive. Have an awesome day!

If You Want a Recruiter to Delete Your Message, Do This!

How many of you start out writing an email hoping that the content is completely ignored? I imagine that since you have arrived on my site, the answer to that question is that none of you actually want that. Let’s be more specific, how many of you reach out to a recruiter, hoping that he or she will delete your message without reading it? I’m going to wager a guess that once again, none of you have that as the desired outcome of writing a message. At this point I imagine some of you are thinking, “Ben, you are now four sentences into this post, where are you going with this?”

Fair, let’s get to the point. I am writing this post because I see people write messages every day that I know will be deleted. I also receive messages from people at least once a week that are wildly ineffective and that, simply put are not accomplishing what they were created to do. In fact, I am going to say that this method is the least effective way to contact a recruiter if the end goal is a job, an interview or a relationship. I am going to tell you what this method is now so that you can avoid doing this for the rest of your professional career.

Ok so let’s get to the message. Now, this message can come in many forms. Sometimes it’s an email, sometimes it’s a message on LinkedIn and sometimes it’s even a reply to a post. However, the one thing they will all have in common is that they will soon be ignored or deleted. Let’s take a look at what this might actually look like. Usually it reads something like the following:

 

“Hi Ben. My name is Katie. I am a Mechanical Engineer who graduated from Sterling University. I am looking for a new role, if you have anything suitable please advise.”

 

Do you hear that sound? That is the sound of Recruiters everywhere clapping and yelling “Preach”. I cannot begin to tell you how ineffective that message is. Whatever the goal of that message was, it will not be accomplished. Now some of you might be thinking “Ben, what is wrong with that message? I thought you were a recruiter….recruit!” Well the first thing that comes to mind is that this person did absolutely no research. In fact, besides saying nothing at all this is literally the least amount of effort someone could put in to try and achieve their end goal of employment.

The caveat here is that you happen to have a skill that is such a rare commodity and I happen to be looking for someone with that skill, then that might work. However, if you aren’t a welding engineer or a penetration tester or a paint coatings scientist or a Senior Crystal Growth Scientist (I have filled all four of those roles by the way) then you are probably out of luck. The above message will not resonate with good recruiters. It shows lack of effort when it comes to research and it comes off as lazy.

Now for those of you saying “well Ben, I get tons of messages from recruiters and they are lazy as well and they don’t do the necessary research either!” you aren’t wrong. That is true. It would be impossible for me to defend the actions of all recruiters out there. However, the goal of this post is so help you recognize what not to do and spend the extra five minutes to make your outreach attempt 100x more successful.

Now I most frequently get this message on LinkedIn. So that means someone requested to connect with me or already was connected to me. Which means before they sent that message they had the ability to view my profile. Which means they can see where I work and with just a little bit of leg work they themselves are capable of seeing some of the jobs my company is looking to fill. Now if the recruiter happens to be a headhunter, you may not have access to their jobs making this more difficult but if they are a Corporate Recruiter, this really is quite easy. Now let’s look at an example of a really effective message.

 

“Hi Ben. Thanks for accepting my request to connect. I see that you work for ABC Company. I have been hearing a lot about your company in the news recently and have always respected your company’s products. I was on the website and noticed you currently have a posting for a Mechanical Engineer. After reading the description, not only does it sound really interesting but I strongly believe I meet the requirements. The posting says it requires 4 years of experience, a strong knowledge of metal fabrications and a strong proficiency with solidworks. I have 5 years’ experience, I have over 2,000 hours working with solidworks and a strong background in metal fab. This position seems like it could potentially be a fit. I would love to talk with you more about the role, when would you have a few minutes to chat? You can reach me at 123-456-7899 between the hours of 12-1pm or 3-6pm. Thanks again and I look forward to hearing from you!”

 

Do you see the difference? For me the difference is I am responding to the second one. They showed initiative, were polite and from the looks of it, are qualified. The message will take a little bit longer to write but if you care at all about the success rate of the emails you write, I would advise you to go with option two. Hopefully this helps and I appreciate you taking the time to read it. If you have a few more minutes go check out this post, The Difference Between Great Interviewers and Good Interviewers, it’s one of my favorite posts I’ve written over the last six months! If you found some value in this post, please share with your social networks. Thanks and have an awesome day!

9 Impactful Actions Entry Level Candidate Can Take to Jumpstart Their Careers

In my time in recruiting I have hired for a ton of different roles in many industries. I have filled roles doing everything from Paint Coatings Scientist to Production Manager at a Pizza Manufacturer to Crystal Growth Scientist. Each role I have recruiting on presents its own challenges.  However, out of all the role that I have filled, some of the most rewarding are actually entry level roles. For me there is just something exciting about finding a good fit for a company and also helping someone find their first full time gig. Most of the candidates who I end up placing in entry level roles have a level of excitement that you really only find when this type of novelty is involved. For many it is a point of validation for all the hard work they have out in over the years succeeding in schoolwork, networking and planning their future. With that being said, not all of these interviews got smoothly. In fact, I would say that they have a lower success rate than some of the more senior, niche engineering roles I have filled. You can mostly attribute this to lack of experience. A lot of these candidates who don’t have the best phone interviews or onsite interviews are really good candidates, it’s just new to them and they make a few mistakes that end up costing them. So today I am going to provide you with a few quick things you can do to make sure you go into that interview and nail it!

 

Get your LinkedIn profile looking awesome!

The first thing I recommend doing is making sure you have an awesome LinkedIn profile. Hopefully you already have a profile set up but if not do it right now! I am serious, open another tab, set it up and come back and ready this. If you aren’t familiar with LinkedIn, its social networking for professionals. You are able to add “connections”, follow companies, join groups, message fellow business professionals and potentially land yourself interviews. The fact of the matter is most corporate recruiters and agency recruiters use LinkedIn as one of their top tools for finding candidates. By having a great LinkedIn profile, you are increasing the likelihood that recruiters will reach out to you with potential opportunities. LinkedIn is nice in the sense that they walk you through the set up. They tell you to upload a picture, add experience, add education and add skills etc. Follow their instructions and make sure you are as detailed as possible and odds are you will have set up a solid LinkedIn profile and take a positive step towards employment. Overall setting up a LinkedIn page is pretty simple and most people have no issue doing it themselves but if you want expert assistance getting a fully optimized profile check out my Resource Page for the link on LinkedIn optimization.

 

Join entry level career groups in LinkedIn

Once you join LinkedIn you will see that you are able to follow companies, read cool articles and join groups. I am a big fan of joining groups if you are looking for opportunities. One of the things that makes LinkedIn work is that everyone can’t just message everyone. Now this is good for the most part but if you are looking for a job odds are you want hiring managers and recruiters to be able to reach out to you. In order to message someone on LinkedIn you have to be connected to them, have a special membership that costs money (for everyone else the site is free) or you have to share a group. If you are an Electrical Engineer and you join Entry Level Engineer groups, then odds are you will be giving access to recruiters who are looking for entry level candidates like you. So search LinkedIn, find some great groups and join. If you really want to maximize the benefit, feel free to be an active participant. Post articles, comment on others posts and be. Feel free to Join my LinkedIn Group!

 

Find recruiters who work in your area and connect with them

The next thing I would do is find local recruiters and connect with them. Now that could mean joining a LinkedIn group created for recruiters in your geographic area and sending them connection requests or perhaps you can google local recruiting companies and call in. That might be direct for some of you but as long as you are polite and not overly push you will find that most recruiters will appreciate the effort. The LinkedIn side of this should be easy, find recruiters who work in your geographic area or field and send them the request, that should take care of itself. As far as finding brick and mortar locations, just google them. Find local agencies, make sure they have a solid website and call in to introduce yourself and ask if they work with entry level candidates. You miss every shot you don’t take. And speaking of connecting with recruiters, feel free to Add me on LinkedIn!!

 

Make sure your resume is solid

This should go without saying but if you don’t have a good resume then you are in trouble. If you are an entry level candidate who just graduated, do you remember your classmates? You know the ones that walked across the stage before or after you? Well if they just graduated and you were in similar programs than odds are you are looking at some of the same jobs. Not to make this overly competitive but that is your competition now. You are pursuing the same companies and applying to the same jobs. Let us not forget about all the other schools with graduates who are now eager to join the workforce. The point I am trying to make here is that given there are a finite supply of openings you can ill afford to have a sub-par resume. They may not be fun but resumes are important. Few quick tips, you can google resume templates and find one you like and copy it. Also, go with traditional colors and fonts, we aren’t impressed with the bright colors. Lastly, personal pet peeve, drop the “objective” section of your resume. Why you ask? Because way more people are hurt by applying to a role that doesn’t exactly match their “objective” than people are ever helped by it. I never look at objectives and say “Oh my, they want to do the job I am hiring for, what stupendous luck!” If you are applying to a role, we already know you want it.

 

Upload your resume to Indeed

Once your resume rocks, upload it to Indeed. Indeed.com is a massive job and resume aggregator and its only getting bigger. Put your resume up there and you are again increasing the likelihood you are found. Simple as that.

 

Ask professors if they have industry contacts you can reach out to

DO you have any professors who you really got along with? Any of them have industry experience? If so, ask them if they know anyone who it make sense for you to reach out to regarding opportunities. Now, ideally you will have done great in this professor’s class and you will have cultivated a relationship with them. If not, they probably won’t have a lot of motivation to help you. But if so they can certainly become a resource for you. In my time in talent acquisition I have placed many a phone call to a professor at a school asking how I can share my jobs with the school’s students and alums. At the end of the day, they may not have any way to help you but again, you don’t know unless you try.

 

Network with classmates who have landed jobs already

Do you have any classmates you have already landed jobs? If so don’t just feel jealous, reach out and congratulate them! The fact of the matter is the last four years of your life wasn’t all about fund and learning but it was also about relationship building. You were networking without even knowing it. If you had classes with someone and you see they have landed a job at a company you respect, reach out to them! (By the way this all can be done on LinkedIn) Start up a dialogue with them. As them how they like the company. As the messaging back and forth wraps up let them know that you are still looking for that perfect fit and since they like the company so much and you are looking for similar things that you would appreciate hearing about any openings in the future. Simple as that. That could be the end of the conversation but they could also say, “well actually, we are hiring two more Jr Test Engineers, send me your resume and I will pass it along to my manager”. Now some of you are thinking, “well Ben, why would they do that?” They will do it for two reasons. The first is that generally speaking, people like helping other people. Sometimes it’s because they hope you could help them in a similar situation down the road and sometimes it’s just because they are genuinely nice people. The second reason is referral bonuses. Most companies have a referral program in which you are compensated when they hire someone you referred for an opening they have. This could be anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand. People like money, if they have an opening and a referral bonus and you weren’t a terrible classmate, they will probably help you.

 

Practice interview questions

One of the things I see often is that entry level candidates just aren’t prepared for the interview questions they get during phone interviews and in person interviews. While I know interviews are hard and you are new to them, you really don’t have an excuse. I don’t mean that to sound harsh but you have all the tools you need to not only have successful interviews, but to be great them. You have Google!!! You can google the term interview questions and hundreds of websites just like mine will pop up and help you. You can get a list of questions you will likely be asked, write out your answers on a piece of paper (trust me that will help you remember these answers) and practice answering them in a mirror. Get to a point where you say these answers confidently and enthusiastically and as it makes sense, passionately. Even if you aren’t as confident as you would like to be, fake it. Don’t worry, it will come with time. And while I have your attention, check out this post I did about that very topic 5 Important Interview Questions You Must Be Prepared to Answer.

 

Take the interview

The last piece of advice I have for you is take the interview. Think the company is just ok? Take the interview. They are in an industry you consider boring? Take the interview. You had never heard of them until they called you? Take the interview. I counsel people to interview often and there are two reasons to do this. The first is you never know when you are going to find the right opportunity. I have had conversations I thought would go nowhere turn into awesome opportunities. The fact is you never know until you actually go down that road. Secondly, even if you don’t take the job, the experience of interviewing will help you become a better interviewer. It’s all about repetition. In the same way Steph Curry has launched thousands upon thousands of shots over his lifetime to become arguably the best shooter in NBA history, you too are going to need to practice if you want to be great. And yes, that goes for interviews as well. Now, I am not advocating the wasting of people’s time. Go into every interview with an open mind and if it isn’t a fit, then it isn’t a fit. But trust me, getting those reps help.

 

Well there you have it. I hope you found these useful, actionable and easy. Do some or all of these things and you will have an easier transition into working life. Always remember, preparation is key. You will never leave an interview saying “Well, I blew that because I was too well informed” but most people can look back at interview they probably could have done better in, including myself. Lastly, is there anything I missed? Are there any good, easy and quick things entry level candidates can to do position themselves to land a job quicker? If so comment below, I would love to read them. Thanks for reading, I hope this help and have a great day!

5 Dead Giveaways That a Recruiter Isn’t Worth Your Time

Last week I wrote a piece called 5 Strong Reasons to Answer the Phone When a Recruiter Calls You in which I made a case for talking to recruiters when they call you, regardless of whether or not you are looking for a new role. In the week since it’s been out it’s safe to say that it has been one of my most polarizing posts to date! Now if some of you were expecting the push back I received after the post to be a surprise, well, then I have some bad news for you. As a recruiter, I certainly expected some people to have a strong reaction. Guess what, to all of you who bashed recruiters after you read that article, you weren’t all wrong. Some of the criticisms were very fair and as a representative of the industry, I accept them. However you were only partially right. While there are a lot of bad recruiters out there who unfortunately give us all a bad name, there are also some great recruiters out there as well. Like any professional you will find that the vast majority of people who do this for any length of time will fall somewhere in the middle. However you will also find some people who perform above average consistently. The opposite is true as well, there is certainly a group of recruiters that don’t so the profession justice. However this isn’t an apology post, far from it. As one of the recruiters in the industry who considers himself to be one of the good guys, let me tell you exactly what you need to know to avoid talking with those recruiters who will ultimately leave a bad taste in your mouth. Below are three dead giveaways you can use to determine if this is a recruiter worth engaging. For your convenience I placed them in the order they would happen.

 

They send you a terrible, generic message with a lame subject for a title

 

How many of you have received a message that was you were immediately able to tell was a template that was sent out to 100 other professionals just like you? How many of you have received an email with the subject likes saying “Great Opportunity” or “Job Opening”? Let me save you some time, if you receive an email that says job opening, you can probably delete it and not worry about you missing out on you dream job. Good recruiters don’t use subject lines like this and really good recruiters are going to write you a message indicating they have taken the time to look at your profile. If you want to maximize your time and talk to good recruiters, then this can serve as an easy way to determine if they are worth that time. Now, plenty of good recruiters will utilize templates however a generic subject line or messages that  simply sell a role instead of asking if you have time to talk should give you an idea if that conversation is worth having.

 

They mention a role that is obviously not a fit

 

Another dead giveaway is when you receive an email about a role that would have made sense for you 5-10 years ago but at this point in your career is totally not a fit. What most likely happened is you were one of many people who received that same message and the sender wasn’t particularly choosy on who they messaged. If you get a message like this then having that conversation likely won’t be worth your time. I am sure this one is no surprise to many of you reading, in fact it was one of the comments I received the most of after my last post so I felt I had to include it on the list.

 

They have a very basic, underwhelming LinkedIn Profile*

 

Another tell is the recruiters LinkedIn profile. While not everyone value’s LinkedIn equally, for the most part recruiters understand what a valuable tool it is. I personally have worked very hard to build it out over the years and amass a large LinkedIn network (if we aren’t already connected add me here My LinkedIn Profile). So if you get a message from a recruiter, go check them out on LinkedIn. Once you arrive at their page you will very easily be able to gather a lot of helpful information. How long have they been in their current role? How long have they been recruiting? How many connections do they have (once you reach 500 connections it says 500+, if they have less than 500 they might be an indicator that they aren’t very well networked)? How many recommendations do they have? Do they have several roles on their page? Are those descriptions robust and well written? Do they have endorsements? If so how many? These are all things you can look at that will let you know if the recruiter who contacted you has good experience, attention to detail and is well networked. If they aren’t these things, do you really want this to be the person setting up your phone interviews and prepping you for your onsite interviews? One last thing, I added the asterisks because some of the best recruiters I have ever met had very basic LinkedIn profiles. Now most of them had been recruiter for 30 years and had reached a point where it wasn’t necessary for them to have LinkedIn in order to be successful. They are the exception, but I felt it was necessary to add this in.

 

They aren’t flexible with when they can speak with you

 

The best recruiters know that the best candidates are busy. If you get back in touch with them and they will only talk to you between the hours of 8-12 and 1-4:30 odds are they are not good recruiters. I have fielded many a call during lunch or after work or very early in the morning. If you are a recruiter who wants to succeed it’s the price of poker. A lot of your candidates are working and they don’t want to try and find a conference room at 10am on a Tuesday. They don’t want coworkers and managers wondering why they were gone for 30 minutes. I personally start my day at 6:30am so I am able to talk several calls before the traditional work day and I am always available to talk during the lunch hour. If you talk with a recruiter and they say you are going to have to make the call happen during the typical work hours you probably aren’t talk to an A player. My advice is to move on, you don’t want to work with someone who won’t be flexible for you anyway. If you want more advice on managing the recruiter relationship I have a few chapters on it in My eBook.

 

The conversation is absolutely about them

 

When you talk to a recruiter for the first time, pay close attention to the first couple minutes of the conversation. Who is it about? Is it about you? Are they saying “I” and “me” a lot? The fact of the matter is if the relationship starts being totally about them and a role they have then that’s the way the relationship will remain. A truly good recruiter will always make the conversation about you. What are your goals? What do you see yourself doing? Are you open to discussing new opportunities? What aren’t you being offered in your current role that you would like to find in your next position? What factors about an opportunity are important to you? Does that sound a lot better than, I have a role? My client needs. I am looking for. You get where I am going with this. It’s your career. If you take a new role, that recruiter doesn’t have to hand in his or her two week notice. They won’t have to box up their belongings. They won’t have to memorize a new route to work and traffic patterns. They won’t have a new boss, a new set of places to eat and a new team to assimilate into. This is about you and if the recruiter doesn’t get that, move on and find someone who will make it about you.

 

Well there you have it! Those are my 5 Dead Giveaways That a Recruiter Isn’t Worth Your Time. There are of course more than this but these are five really good indicators early on that will let you know that you can do better. So if you have read this far I have a challenge for you. What is the worst subject line you have ever received on a message you have gotten from a recruiter. These are always fun and since so many of you probably get messages like this all the time, I would love to see some examples below of terrible attempts to grasp your attention. It doesn’t have to be the subject line, any part of the message that was terrible will work too. For those of you who are feeling positive today please feel free to share the best subject lines you have received from a recruiter. Alright everyone, thanks again for reading and have an awesome day!

7 Horrible Phrases to Avoid Saying During Your Interview

This post focuses on phrases you absolutely need to drop from your vocabulary when it comes to both phone interviews and onsite interviews. If you have read my blog or My eBook then odds are you know the value I place on preparation. Those of you who go into your interviews prepared to field a variety on behavioral interview questions as well as properly vocalize your skills are giving yourself the best chance to do the one thing this blog is all about, get the job! However, some of us do so much preparation on the things we need to say and the topics that we want to touch on that we sometimes kind of forget that there are those topics we absolutely need to avoid. Now I know I am probably going to get a couple of comments where people are saying “well duh Ben, obviously I wouldn’t say that.” Well if that is your response to every single one of these great job! However I am writing this because I have conducted interviews every single week for the last six years and I can tell you that I actually hear most of these weekly. Some of them seem innocent and perhaps you thought nothing of it but let me be clear in saying that in a competitive market where the attractive jobs are few and far between, sometimes it’s the little things that can be the deciding factor. In the words of Confucius, “A single grain of rice cab tip the scale”. I know this to be true. I have seen it over and over again where we end up with two great candidates, with similar everything and the decision comes down to a single thing said by one of the candidates that didn’t quite sit well with someone on the interview panel. That fact of that matter is, if you can only hire one candidate and the two you have are great, you have to find a way to differentiate them. Don’t be the person on the wrong end of that decision. Let’s get into it!

 

So what does your company do? (or any question available online)

 

I wanted to start with this one because it happens to be a pretty big pet peeve of mine. When people ask me what my company or what my client does it feels as if you thought to yourself “Hey, instead of preparing for this interview…why don’t I just not?” Or “Oh my god!!! Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 2 just came out on Netflix! Instead of preparing for my interview, I think I am going to binge watch that!!!” And while I totally get your enthusiasm for a pretty entertaining show, it’s the wrong choice. You can re-watch an episode, you can’t redo an interview. My rule of thumb is this, if information is available on the internet, then I’d avoid asking it during an interview. The more easily assessable it is or more essential it is to the company, the worse you asking about it will be perceived. Be prepared, don’t shine a spot light on the fact that you aren’t by asking a question you shouldn’t need to ask.

 

Any phrase containing an expletive

 

So let’s chalk this one up as an obvious one. If you are interviewing, don’t use expletives or offensive words. Here is a nice rule of thumb. If you wouldn’t say it in front a classroom of the second graders, avoid saying it in your interview. Now look, some of you might think “Come one Ben, you are being old school. People are more relaxed nowadays”. I would counter by saying, perhaps you are right. In fact, let’s say for the sake of argument that you are right 50% of the time. 50% percent, hypothetically, of the people who will interview you won’t care. Now under the assumption that’s correct, which I think is generous, are you able to tell which are which? Let’s look at it from another angle. Do you ever think it is to your benefit to swear during an interview? I can’t ever imagine a hiring manager saying to me “Ben, she was great. Everything we are looking for in fact….but…there’s just this one thing…she didn’t use any vulgarity during the interview.”  Ridiculous right? I say err on the side of caution and avoid it altogether.

 

Any phrase that expresses political views

 

This one should be another no brainer but it’s not. This one baffles me more than most actually. The thing I think is most puzzling about this is that I think people just make the assumption your views are similar to theirs. Let me be as clear as possible on this avoid, don’t talk politics during an interview. First of all, it’s probably 50/50 that they have the same political beliefs as you, maybe worse. But, even if they agree with you, they might think to themselves “wow, that is some poor judgement bringing that up during an interview”. If someone had an identical political opinion as me and brought it up during the interview I wouldn’t be thinking, “wow, now that’s a candidate with a fantastic grasp regarding the interworking of our government and the political landscape”. Rather I would be thinking “Wow, bringing that up was unnecessary and showcased very poor judgement. I wonder what else they think is appropriate to bring up during an interview”. Bottom line is this, even if you don’t offend them with your opposing views, you might be giving them pause regarding your judgement. It’s better to avoid it.

 

I am looking for a new role because I want more money

 

You can find this mentioned in one of my most popular posts about how not to answer why you are looking for a new to here 3 Terrible Ways to Answer the Interview Question “Why Are You Looking For a New Role?”. That link will give you more complete answers but I’ll give you the quick reasoning here. One of the things recruiters look for is your motivation. What is the reason you are looking? The answer we come away with makes a significant impact on how you are both viewed as well as pursued as a candidate. Finding out that your principle motivator is financial is never a good thing. And you know what, money is important and maybe it is your biggest motivator, we still hate hearing that, Here are some things to say instead of that 3 Excellent Ways to Answer the Interview Question “Why are you looking for a new role?”.

 

I am not really looking for a new job, I just thought I would do the call to see what’s up

 

This one another one I get now and then that I find kind of funny. The thing is, I get what most of the people who say this are trying to do. They are trying to gain leverage by positioning themselves as a passive candidate. By appearing as if they aren’t in the market they are hoping to gain leverage for negotiations down the road. However saying it like this is just kind of poor execution. Let me draw a real life example. Imagine you are on a date and you say “I am really glad you let me take you out to dinner tonight, I am having a great time” and in response they say “Well I wasn’t really interested in going but I had nothing in my fridge and had never been to this restaurant.” How incredibly deflating would that be? And while no, you sating this won’t hurt my feelings, it will make me feel like I may be wasting my time. If you want to position yourself as a passive candidate you might want to say something along the lines of “While I am very happy in my current role and wasn’t actually looking, I have always admired your company and the role seemed to be such a great fit for my skills etc.”  This accomplishes the goal of positioning you with leverage but also showcases your interest in the role.

 

I didn’t get along with my boss at that job

 

I have mentioned this in the past but it’s worth mentioning again. You have nothing to gain by saying you didn’t get along with an ex-employer. While to some this is obvious I hear this frequently. Again, you have nothing to gain by saying this and in addition to that certain interviewers will hear this and think, this candidate must be difficult. You never want that to be the takeaway. We have all had bosses we didn’t get along with or bosses we thought weren’t good at their job. I know I have however I have never once said it in an interview. You know why? Because it can never help you but it can certainly paint you in a light that won’t work in your favor. Regardless of how terrible your boss is/was, shy away from mentioning.

 

Any mis-truths…especially involving your past employment

 

I have a pretty strong stance on lying during the interview process. Companies invest a lot in making a hire, so if there is a stone they are able to turn, you better believe they are going to turn it over. Not only that but if you have spent any amount of time in the same geographic area, odds are someone you are interviewing with knows someone you have cross paths with. It can be as simple as a text. “Hey Bill, did Jim leave on his own or was he fired from ABC Company.” Stories don’t match? Well then you are still looking for a job. You are much better off telling the truth, even if it’s a truth that doesn’t make you look so great. You know the question will come, prepare and present it in the best possible light. The fact is that a lot of people actually lie about things that wouldn’t keep them from getting the job in the first place. Then when the employer finds out, they decide they can’t hire you, not because of what you lied about but rather because you lied. Employers are much more likely to look the past that you were let go from a role then they are to look past the fact that you lied about it. Skills can be taught, integrity cant.

 

Well there you have it. Those are the 7 Horrible Phrases to Avoid Saying During Your Interview. If you can avoid saying these seven things you will be putting yourself in a much better position to nail the interview and get the job. Recently I have gotten a lot of great comments, especially in the LinkedIn groups regarding additional points. Can any of you think of things I missed that people say? I would love to hear any of the others. As always, thanks for reading and I hope this helped!

3 Essential Tactics to Automating Your Job Search

We have all been there.  The day has come that you have decided you are no longer satisfied where you currently are and it’s time to pursue other employment options. Maybe you have another rough day in a string of too many rough days or perhaps you have just come to the realization that your current employer can’t offer you what it is you are looking for. So what do you do? You go home, flip open the laptop and you update your resume.  Since you probably haven’t touched it since you got your most recent position you have to add this role, mention any updates to educations or certifications and make sure address and phone number are correct. Once you have done, that, then it’s time to get yourself out there. You pull up your internet browser of choice and you start looking for jobs that might interest. You find them and you apply one by one. It’s a painstaking process but there is no other way, right? Wrong! There is a better way and this post is all about the 3 essential job search automation tactics that are going to make your life so much easier when it comes to finding a job. Also, stay reading to the very end, I have a question I want to ask and get your feedback on after I show you these steps that are going to simplify your search.

 

  1. Have a great, optimized LinkedIn profile

Now to some of you this is going to be an obvious suggestion, “well of course Ben” you are thinking. I would counter with two points. The first being if you feel this way then you have no idea how many people tell me they don’t have one or they have one but they set it up forever ago and never use it. The second point I would make it that there is a significant difference between having a LinkedIn profile and having a full optimized LinkedIn profile. So why is it important to have a LinkedIn profile or better yet, an optimized LinkedIn profile? The answer is that because there are over 600,000 recruiters on LinkedIn and if you add in HR Professionals you are looking at over 1.5 million. Like me, many of them creating a LinkedIn profile for the sole reason of finding candidates like you! As a recruiter, there are many tools we can use to find candidates but from my experience, the most commonly used tool is LinkedIn Recruiter. LinkedIn Recruiter is basically a membership level that adds functionality to help HR Professionals or Recruiters search for and contact candidates. From my experience, it is an absolute favorite among those in search. So with that being said, the point of having a great LinkedIn profile is that it becomes a tool to help people find you. Having a great LinkedIn profile does the leg work for you. Once you have a great LinkedIn profile recruiters will find you and pitch jobs to you. How great is that? You set it up, they come and find you and pitch you on opportunities. That way you can do your research on a company and decide which ones you want to pursue. So how do you make sure that you get found?  Well let me show you what we see and what we do to find you. Below is a screenshot of my screen when performing a search.

Sample Search

So in the above picture I am doing a search for a Software Engineer. In the search bar I put together a search strong using LinkedIn’s Boolean logic (which differs slightly from google). Basically it’s just the way you conduct a search within LinkedIn. So the first thing you do is you add in the potential titles. Now normally I might add in more titles based on my knowledge of the role or the conversation with the manager but I kept this search simple because I wanted you to be able to see the entire search bar. By typing it in like (“software engineer” OR “programmer”) LinkedIn will bring up everyone within 25 miles of the zip code I put in who has one of those two terms in the profile. In addition to that I added in (“C#” OR “C++”) to my search. Finally, I clicked the choice below stating that I was looking for someone with 3 to 5 years’ experience. With those criteria entered it narrowed my search down to 790 potential candidates. Now, most of these people won’t be candidates. Some of these candidates would have been a fit in the past but now are in managerial roles and wouldn’t be interested in an individual contributor role. Now, as I start to look at these potential candidates LinkedIn will push forward the candidates who most closely match the search strong I have put together. As a potential job seeker, you want to be on that first page, or as close to it as possible. How do you guarantee that happens as often as possible? The answer to that question is optimizing your LinkedIn profile. Many people make the mistakes of having some of their roles on their page, but excluding some of the other positions they have held. People also don’t take advantage of the opportunity to load up the descriptions of previous roles with the keywords that will get them found. The sad part is there are probably plenty of software engineers who live within 25 miles of the zip code 60061 who have experience with C# but they didn’t include C# in their profile. It’s important to write a summary of every role you have held in your career and it is equally important to use those summaries as a medium to load up your LinkedIn profile with keywords that will get the job opportunities to come to you. (If you are looking for help optimizing your LinkedIn, my Resource Page has links to several great services that specialize in doing that.

 

  1. Make sure your resume is uploaded to Indeed.com

 

So first and foremost, what is indeed? So most people know that Indeed.com is a job search engine, which aggregates job postings from thousands of sources and posts them on one site. So in terms of looking for a role, Indeed is a great place to start. However, in this post we aren’t talking about where you should go to find a job, we want the jobs to come to you. Now there are a ton of places you can choose to upload your resume. You could go to local job boards or perhaps one of the other big names in the game like CareerBuilder or Monster. Now while these aren’t bad ideas, the best bang for your buck for uploading your resume would be Indeed. Why is that? Well for me, Indeed is where I recommend putting your resume if you want to be found because of how friendly the site is in terms of functionality to recruiters. I like using Indeed because the searching is easy, the outreach functionality is great and the daily resume update feature is seamless. So let’s talk about that last part. When I do a search on Indeed for a type of candidate, Indeed actually prompts me to receive daily emails of candidate who meet my criteria. So if you upload your resume and you meet the criteria of a recruiters saved search, that recruiter will actually be notified that day of your uploaded resume. For us recruiters it means we have a system basically doing some of our job for us but for you it means recruiters looking for people just like you will be notified you just uploaded your resume and in all likelihood are looking for a new role. So if you have interest in automating your job search I strongly recommend making sure you have your resume fully updated and optimized (similarly to how I suggested with your LinkedIn profile in terms of keywords) and upload it to Indeed’s resume database.

 

  1. Building Recruiter Relationships

 

So out of my three recommendations this one is probably my favorite to talk about. While unfortunately this is the one that will take you the most time it is also the one that could have the biggest impact on your search. I am willing to bet that every single person reading this has at some point been called or emailed by a recruiter (or been the one emailing or calling). Now some of those of those calls/emails might have been from corporate recruiters asking about your interest on a specific opening and some of those roles might have been from an agency recruiter who might have been asking about a single role or perhaps a variety of roles (I have made too many to count of both). I am also willing to bet that many of you responded by saying “I am not interested, thanks anyway”. I can’t fault you for that, I have done that myself. However let me tell you why you and I were both wrong to have done that. Let’s just say you have a great job that you love and you would never consider leaving. You receive the call and you think to yourself “there is nothing this person could tell me that would make me consider leaving my wonderful job”. First, if that is you congrats, not everyone is to have a job they love that much. Secondly, unfortunately, many times we are not the one who makes the decision of when our employment will come to an end. Downsizing happens all the time, entire teams and locations even are eliminated due to market conditions or a change in company strategy. Just because you would never willingly leave your role doesn’t mean you won’t one day, very abruptly, be put into the position of finding another role. So, as I always advise people, take the call. Now let’s circle back, how does building relationships with recruiters help you automate your job search? It’s quite simple really. The first step is every time a recruiter calls you, take the call. Every time you get an email from a recruiter, reply and ask for a time to talk (I understand every time is a lot, so if it makes sense for you do it less frequently but do make an effort to have several of these calls). Now, good recruiters won’t just pitch a job to you. The good ones will make it about you first, ask you what you are interested in and see what they might be able to offer you in terms of a fit. But for the sake of argument let’s just say they call you, you take the call and they pitch you a job that absolutely isn’t a fit. Does that mean the call was a waste? Well yes, if nothing else happens, then that was most likely a waste of your time. But it won’t end there, you are going to maximize the benefit of this call. You will listen to the pitch and then you will say something this effect “I appreciate you letting me know about this opportunity, I don’t think that it’s a fit for me at this time. However…” At this point you can tell them the type of role that would pique your interest. You can tell them why you are an excellent for for the role and then you will encourage them to reach out to you should they happen to get a role like that. If the recruiter is impressed with you as a candidate, guess what, when they get a role that meets your requirements they are going to call you. Now a few tips, the first thing is that this has to be a phone call. If you just respond via email, the likelihood of them remembering you and contacting you with the opportunities that fit your specific requests is very low. You need to have a good conversation and you want them ending the call thinking “well this candidate doesn’t want this role, but I could definitely place them somewhere”. The other thing I want to mention is you want to get their email and send them a copy of your resume (which should hopefully look great) perhaps a paragraph selling your skillset, a reminder of the type of roles you would be interested in hearing about and finally a reminder that they can feel free to contact you should they get something that fits your interests. Bonus points if you happen to give them a referral for the role they initially contacted you about. If you can do this effectively then you have done a big part of automating your job search. Good recruiters will come back to you with opportunities and perhaps even present you your next role (I know because I have done it). If you can do this several times then you have done a great deal towards automating your job search.

 

If you read to the end this great job! I know that was a long post but if you can implement these 3 essential tactics to automating your job search you are well on your way. Now I mentioned earlier I would have a question to ask you all at the end of this post. My question is, if you were able to ask a recruiter any one question, what would it be? Please feel free to comment on my site or if you find this in a LinkedIn or Google+ group, feel free to comment there and I will try and answer. If you liked this post please feel free to share it with your network or give it a “like”. I appreciate it a ton. If these posts help you get an interview, head on over to 7 Critical Phone Interview Mistakes Candidates Make to get yourself prepped. Thanks again and have a great day!

 

7 Critical Phone Interview Mistakes Candidates Make

Phone interviews are viewed as the easiest, most painless way to interview for a new position. Think about it, you can do them from anywhere, nobody can see you and it ends up being a pretty small investment as far as your time is concerned. They also tend to be the quickest and easiest. If you are interviewing for a technical role, you might not even approach technical competencies because usually these interviews aren’t with a hiring manager. However, just because these first round phone interviews are easier than their longer, in person counterparts don’t mean they aren’t crucial to the process. In fact, in most cases if that first call doesn’t go well it will be your only contact with that company. Now I know that isn’t exactly groundbreaking however you would be surprised as to how many people end up messing something up in that first round. The thing that I consider to be most curious is that often it’s the little, easily avoidable mistakes that end up torpedoing an otherwise excellent interview. In my time in recruitment I have had thousands of first round phone interviews for hundreds of types of positions. Throughout all of these conversations I have noticed a pattern of the same easily avoidable mistakes that just keep popping up. This post will chronicle these mistakes, detail how they adversely impact you and explain how you can avoid these mistakes to make sure they never happen to you again.

 

  1. Not answering the call

 

I started with this one because it is the first opportunity you have to either do something correctly or incorrectly during your phone interview. Believe it or not this little mistake happens all the time. As a recruiter, when I call someone for an interview at a time we agreed upon and they don’t answer I can’t help but think, now why in the world would you miss this call? In fact, I think I say in my head “well that’s not a great start”. Some of you are probably thinking, “well yea, obviously that is not a great way to begin an interview, I would never do that”. To those of you with that approach, great job, your head is in the right place. However I bet a second group of you are reading this and saying to yourself, “Ben, what’s the big deal? They probably had a meeting run long or are walking to their car”. In fact, those are the two reasons why people miss the call most frequently. However I look at it like this, in terms of an interview, that’s your first impression and you will not get to make it twice. If I call someone and they don’t answer it is simply unavoidable that I don’t come away with some kind of judgment of their preparedness or perhaps the value they place on my time. The fact of the matter is, if you miss a recruiters call for a phone interview, whether or not you call them back 45 seconds or 5 minutes later, they will reach some kind of conclusion and it won’t be one that positively impacts your candidacy. So, if you feel like you might not be able to answer their call at a certain time, pick another time. It is much better to select a time the recruiter didn’t suggest then simply agree with their recommendation and miss the call.

 

  1. Walking to your car after you answer the phone to do the interview

 

So this one is kind of similar to the first mistake you can make. I can’t tell you how many times I call someone and I hear something like this, “Hi Ben, hold on (silence) one second (silence)…I am just walking ..out…to…my…car…”. When this happen I know exactly what is going on, they need to get to a place where they are free to talk. That is understandable, you can’t do an interview next to your colleagues. That just won’t work. Now it’s not the worst thing in the world but I will tell you what, it’s annoying. There have been times where I literally call someone and I am waiting four or five minutes as they walk to their car. So obviously this happens when someone is unprepared. Being unprepared never reflects well on you. You never want to have someone associate you with unpreparedness. Especially when you consider that your qualifications are being closely compared to other people who want a role. But let’s just say for the sake of argument that the recruiter doesn’t consider this a knock on your ability to adequately budget your time. Recruiters are very busy people and often if they schedule 30 minutes for you they are going to need every minute of that 30 minutes. Not only that but they may have someone they need to attend to right before your call and directly after your call. So even if it doesn’t reflect poorly on you in their eyes you might be robbing yourself of the necessary time to have a full phone interview. That three minutes you lost, will it be a question that allows you to sell yourself fully or will it perhaps be your chance to ask questions you were hoping to get answered? Either way, the fact of the matter is having less time to talk isn’t a good thing and if you can avoid it, you should. Make sure you budget extra time to get to that empty conference room or to your car.

 

  1. Interrupting

 

This one is pretty simple and straight forward. No one likes to be interrupted. Being interrupted by someone frequently makes it really hard to enjoy having a conversation with someone and it’s important that the recruiter like the conversation with you. Now some of you might be thinking, “Ben, I disagree, it’s really not that important that you like me, just that I can do the job”. And yea, there is certainly merit to that point. We don’t need to have matching friendship bracelets in order for you to be able to code in C# or for you to be able to run an effective Kiazan event. However, if there are four qualified candidates and the hiring manager has asked to see my top three, it certainly behooves you for our conversation to be a pleasant one. Nobody who gets interrupted thinks “Oh man, thank goodness this candidate interrupted me, clearly what I am saying isn’t as relevant as their thoughts”. Luckily this one is a simple fix, just be cognizant to not interrupt and if you do, say sorry.

 

  1. Not answering questions

 

One of my personal pet peeves is when I ask a direct question requiring a direct answer and I get something other than a direct answer. When I ask a question during a phone interview, it is usually something that is important to know when deciding if you are a fit for a position or perhaps even a direct question the hiring manager wants to know. So with that in mind, when I ask something like “How many years of project management experience do you have?” and I candidate says something like “well at ABC Company initially they have me in the mailroom and after that….” It drives me crazy. There are times when a question gives you the opportunity to expand and sell yourself however if none of that answer includes the answer to my initial question than you haven’t really done yourself any favors. If you have 8 years’ experience of project management then I am sitting there with my hands on my keyboard waiting to hear your number and if instead you go off on a tangent (regardless of how relevant you feel it to be) it can be pretty frustrating. If you do this one or two times than it won’t be that big of a deal.  However there are people who do this with every other question you ask them and I have to say, these might be the most frustrating people to interview. If you are asked a direct question, respond with a direct answer and if you plan on expanding, at least make sure you answer the question directly on the front end.

 

  1. Talking too quietly or too quickly

 

As someone who has spent the lion’s share of their experience recruiting engineers I have to say, this is another one that drives me crazy. Not that engineers talk more quickly or more quietly, just that they have so many acronyms and technical terms. The funny thing is that I totally understand this one, when you talk about what you do for a living you should be excited. And when people get excited or passionate they have a tendency to speak quickly. Totally understandable, however if you are trying to type down every word they are saying so the hiring manager can get an accurate picture of the conversation, this can be hard. I am always an advocate of being passionate. People buy your passion, just be cognizant of the speed at which you are answering these questions. As far as volume, sometimes this can be as simple as a weak connection. Towards the beginning of the conversation simply ask, “are you able to hear me ok?” and let the recruiter know if they have any trouble hearing you to let them know. This is simple, courteous and effective.

 

  1. Not having questions to ask

 

If you have been to my blog before (if you have, thank you and if this is your first visit, welcome) then you know how I feel about having questions to ask every person you talk to at every stage of the interview process. Its super important. It shows you prepared, are thoughtful and have interest in the role. All three of those points are important. If you don’t ask questions, how interested can you really be? Plus you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn more about the company. Do yourself a favor and  always have at least five questions to ask everyone you speak with during the interview process. If you need help with the questions check out my post 5 Excellent Questions You Should Ask in Your Interview. You would be surprised how many people say to me “I don’t really have any questions to ask at this time”. It’s quite a few. I have never thought to myself “Jeez, it was annoying answering that candidates questions” however I have thought to myself many times “Really? Not a single question to ask me….ok?”

 

  1. Not writing a thank you letter

 

Writing a thank you letter is easy. However even if it is something you consider hard you should totally do it. If someone holds a door open for you, social norms dictate a gesture of gratitude right? Imagine standing a few extra seconds to hold the door open for someone and instead of saying thanks they avoid eye contact with you and walk by you. What would your reaction be? You would probably think to yourself “Well I never?” and then be reluctant to the door open for that person as long as you are able to remember their face. While that is perhaps a tad on the dramatic side, the fact is when an interview has concluded you have two options, you can either write a quick thank you note or you opt to not write a quick note. While perhaps it won’t be the straw that broke the camel’s back in your quest for employment, wouldn’t you rather err on the side of caution? If it comes down to you and one other person with almost identical education, experience and salary requirements, would you not rather be the one of the two that wrote a nice thank you note? When a recruiter gets a note thanking them for their time, on some level they appreciate it, trust me. Even if they don’t respond (shame on them), they appreciate it.  If you want an easy guide to writing a great thank you note check out my post How do you write a thank you letter after an interview? A four step plan for success.

 

Well there you have it folks. There are the 7 Critical Phone Interviews Mistakes Candidates Make. If you can avoid making these mistakes I guarantee that you will be better off and have a better chance of advancing to the second round. What did you think of the mistakes I included? If I missed anything you consider to be a common mistake I would love to see them below in the comment section, either on my blog or on LinkedIn in the group chat. As always, thanks again for reading. Feel free to follow my blog, add me on twitter or LinkedIn and if you have any questions you would like me to answer, let me know!

5 Interview Mistakes Entry Level Candidates Make

What an exciting time! You have just finished school and with all the enthusiasm in the world you create a resume and attempt to land you first real job! While that sounds like quite the adventure, I can remember not too long ago when that was me and what I ended up finding out is that adventure can be longer than anticipated. I have a unique perspective on this seeing as how I went through it not too long ago and I speak with entry level candidates all the time. Now don’t get me wrong, some entry level candidates come off sounding like experienced vets. Their resumes look perfect, their LinkedIn profiles fully optimized and they are networked well better than those five or even ten years their senior. However this wasn’t me and quite frankly it’s not most people. Even if you have had jobs before, it’s a totally different call game when you finally get to the big leagues. The questions are tougher and the reality is the competition is a lot stiffer. At the same time you find yourself graduating, a ton of other people with similar goals and ambitions are also ready to enter the job market. According to the National Center for Education Statistics during the 2015-16 school year colleges and universities will award 1.8 million bachelor’s degree and over 800 thousand masters degrees. Talk about competition. Knowing that, it only makes sense you would want to arm yourself with as much information as possible. Well today is your lucky day because I am going to share with you the 5 interview mistakes entry level candidates make so that you are able to avoid them. These are the mistakes I have noticed frequently occur when I interview entry level and early career candidates.

 

  1. Unfamiliar with the company

You would be surprised how many times I have someone say to me, “what does your company do?” during an interview. What does your company do? What does your company do? It is an absolutely terrible question to ask because it highlights several negative things to us. You can tell right away this person didn’t adequately prepare. It also gives us a sense that they don’t value the opportunity. If this was something that was really important to you, you would already possess this information. Going into an interview not knowing what the company does is literally the second biggest indicator possible that you didn’t prepare for this interview. Literally the only thing indicating it more would be if you didn’t pick up the phone when you are called at the pre-agreed upon time. The thing that is most frustrating about it is that this information is painstakingly easy to find. If you are reading this, whether it is from your computer or your smartphone, it is possible for you to find out what pretty much every company in the world does in virtually no time at all. Be prepared and know a good deal about the company you are interviewing with and if you can’t do that, at least don’t broadcast your lack of preparedness by asking this question.

 

  1. Failing to familiarize themselves with the position description

There is usually a significant gap in the time between applying for a role online and when you find yourself in that first interview. Given this gap it is natural for you not to remember details about the job description. Now, that doesn’t mean it is ok. Not knowing the details of the job description  not only makes it looks like you aren’t prepared but it also puts you at a disadvantage when  it comes to answering questions. If you are familiar with the tasks and responsibilities of a role you are better positioned to answer many of the questions that typically come up during a job interview. Job descriptions are pain points for companies. If they need someone to do something it is because they don’t currently have someone doing it. If you can incorporate components of the new role into answers about your skill set you start to make yourself sound like you are part of the solution. Even better would be to find a role you are interested, look at the responsibilities of the position and then customize your resume to match the duties of the role you are applying to. The fact of the matter is the likelihood of you being asked a question related to the job description is extremely high. If you are unfamiliar with the job description you are positioning yourself to potentially miss on questions that should be opportunities to sell yourself.

 

  1. Failing to ask questions 

In most interviews you will be given an opportunity to ask hiring manager or the recruiter questions. All too often I have candidates have the opportunity but ask me nothing. There are so many good questions to ask at this point and so many things candidates should be curious about that it strikes me as odd when someone doesn’t take advantage. Most people view asking questions in a job interview as a way to obtain information. While that is true, what they are overlooking is that it is also a way to convey interest. Well worded questions citing information about the company can even be used as an opportunity to showcase your knowledge about the company. For example you can ask something the like this “In 2015 your company experienced a 8% improvement in international sales, what would you contribute that to and what does your company have planned moving forward to make sure those trends continue?”. A question like that not only gives you useful information about the company but it also lets the interviewer know that you did your homework. Make sure you go into every interview with questions to ask not only for yourself but for them as well.

 

  1. Not researching salary

This is a mistake a ton of entry level candidates make and quite frankly I get it. If you haven’t ever had a full time professional role before, it can be easy to not know what you should be making. However the fact of the matter is, any good recruiter is going to ask you a question or two around salary. The last thing you want to do here is throw out a number that’s too high and disqualifies you are throw out a number too low and had them low ball you when it comes time to get an offer. The solution to that is you need to go in there prepared. There are many websites that can help you with that but I personally like Glassdoor. Look at the pic below, by clicking on salary it will let you search by occupation title and geographic area.

Glassdoor

 

Feel free to use this link to check out the tool and see how you stack up in your current role in your area Glassdoor Salary Tool. This is a simple way to find out what people who do the job you are interviewing for make in your area. That way when a recruiter asks you what you are looking for in terms of compensation you can say something like “My research shows me that an Jr. Accountant in Milwaukee, WI makes XYZ a year. I would be targeting a salary in that range but I am open to a fair and equitable offer”. In my book, Getting the Job, I have a great chapter on negotiation if you want to learn how I recommend positioning yourself for the strongest offer they are able to make.

  1. Not being prepared to expand on their experience

Entry level roles are the quickest phone screens I ever do. On one hand this makes a lot of sense, they don’t have as much experience to talk about so their interviews are shorter. However its often because they don’t really expand on their experience. Whenever I ask questions I get a lot of short, one word answers. Or I asked them to walk me through their experience during an internship and they finish telling me everything they did in a sentence or two. Not only does this leave me asking myself “is that really all this candidate did here?” but it is also selling yourself short. Most of the time there is a lot more that was done besides what the candidate is offering up. What has always helped me was writing down each role I have had on a piece of paper. The under that I write my tasks but more importantly I write a few things I accomplished in each of my roles. Usually there are a few questions asked during an interview that afford you the opportunity to share accomplishments from previous roles. If you have these already written down it is easier to recall them and use them as examples.

 

There you have it, those are my 5 interview mistakes entry level candidates make. Have you made any of these in the past and are brave enough to share them below in the comments? I know I have made a few. Now moving forward you can avoid these mistakes and nail the interview. I hope this helped and thanks for reading!

 

-Ben

5 Things Hiring Managers Look For in a Resume

In my time in Talent Acquisition I have presented tens of thousands of resumes to hiring managers who were hiring in a variety of industries. Some of them have significant experience in hiring and some are making the first hire for their new team. However with a few exceptions most of these hiring managers were looking for the same 5 things. It has been said that perception is reality. To a point, this is also true with resumes. What you are able to convey, in the very limited time that a hiring manager is looking at your resume, is exactly how they are going to see you. If you leave off accomplishments and the impact you have made in previous roles, as far as they are concerned, it never happened. With competition for great roles being so intense, it’s crucial that you are able to vocalize why you are someone they can’t afford to not speak with. But what are those things you ask? What is it hiring managers need to see on a resume in order for you to be given the opportunity to interview for the role you are pursuing? Over the last 6 years and working with hundreds of hiring managers, below is the list of the 5 things hiring managers look for in a resume.

 

  1. Job Stability

Even as more and more millennials enter the workforce and the trend of remaining with a single company your entire career becomes an extinct concept, hiring managers still want to see some sort of job stability. They don’t want see any unexplained gaps of employment and they don’t want to see stints of jobs less than a year. What typically passes for job stability is a bare minimum of two years at each company but averaging three or higher over the course of your career. It also can vary from hiring manager to hiring manager. If someone has been at a company for 25 years and you have been at your company for 4 years, they might look at you leaving already as a potential red flag whereas another hiring manager might look at that as commonplace. While this isn’t something easily remedied, it is certainly something you should take into account when deciding if it’s time to look for a new role. That being said, there are a few easy things you can do to make your resume appear as if there is a little more stability. For example, if you had a contract or a consulting role at a company, make sure that you is something you convey. Too many people have three or four jobs in a row that are one year stays and when I talk to them I find out that they were consulting roles. It is one thing to have worked a few contract roles in a row during a tough economy, it is a totally different thing to have a string of one year stays.

 

  1. Clear and concise points of job duties

When hiring managers look at the bullet points of prior roles they are looking for points of comparison. They want to be able to look at your prior roles, clearly see what your responsibilities were and then be able to stack that up to what you will be doing on their team. They don’t want redundancy or convoluted explanations. They want to know what your responsibilities were. Make sure you look at the job you are applying for, look at the responsibly for that role and try and match up what you have done in the past. I am not suggesting you make anything up but if you have done everything under responsibilities of the job you are applying to, you are certainly not doing yourself any favors if you don’t showcase that you have done those things in prior roles. While there are many ways to format a resume, I have always been in favor of a summary of the role, followed by bulleted tasks and accomplishments. This clearly shows the hiring manager what you have done in the past and how it relates to the role you have applied for. If there are tools specific to the role, make sure you include those as well.

 

  1. Measurable Results

Making an impact in a prior role is great, but if you don’t do a good job of clearly defining that impact then it might as well not be on your resume. Let me give you a few examples. Saying “I was able to increase productivity through the implementation of lean manufacturing practices” is ok. However saying “Was able to improve productivity 18% over a 12 month period resulting in 150k cost savings by implementing lean manufacturing techniques and leading three Kiazan events” is way better. It gives the hiring manager a clear idea of what you did and the impact you may be able to deliver to their organization. Even better, if the job description specifically states a responsibility you would have in the new role and you have had successful projects in the past that are similar, use the above technique to sell yourself for that role. If you can find a pain point and align that with one of your strengths, it is a great way to guarantee the hiring managers enthusiasm towards your candidacy.

 

 

  1. Technical Competencies

Now while this doesn’t necessary hold true for all roles, if you have a role with any sort of technical requirements, you better believe the hiring manager is looking for them on your resume. For example if you are a computer programmer and the role requires you to code primarily in C and C# it would behoove you to have that in your resume. Some people do this by having a competencies or skills portion of their resume and some people will just include it in the bullet points of their previous roles. Really smart candidates will do both. Not only is this smart when it comes to impressing the hiring manager, but many ATS’s (applicant tracking systems) will assign you a percentage value for your fit to the role by examining your resume and the job description. So if you see a role requires you to be proficient in C,C+ and C#, make sure you have those in terms in your resume where applicable. Not only will it stand out to the recruiter and hiring manager but the algorithm used in the employers ATS will most likely take note of that and assign you a favorable score.

 

  1. Education and training

I have worked with many hiring managers over the course of my career who look straight to this section of the resume. Whether they are looking for a degree from a specific University with a well-respected program or if they are looking for the certifications you have racked up along the way, believe me they look. Most people who obtain a certification such as a 6 Sigma black belt proudly display it on their resume and with good reason. If you have done the work top obtain degrees and certifications, make sure they are properly displayed because for most hiring managers it is a crucial component to your candidacy. Most people have a section for education and certification so I know this isn’t groundbreaking information but I can’t stress its importance. Also, if you have undergone company training’s or have other applicable training, make sure you make mention of that too.

 

Bonus

 

In today’s world your resume isn’t your only resume. If you are looking for a job (and even if you aren’t) have a well put together LinkedIn profile. I have been contacted via LinkedIn for two of my last four jobs. I didn’t have to apply, someone reached out to me and sold me on the opportunity. Each time I am happy I listened. Not to mention I have reached out to thousands of people on LinkedIn to offer them the chance at a new opportunity. Check out this post I wrote on just why LinkedIn is so important for modern professionals LinkedIn for Job Seekers. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to post below.  Thanks for reading!