Advice For Job Applicants?

DT22 - PPeople who do a lot of hiring know exactly what the Do’s and Don’t’s are for the job application process—how applicants can best get themselves in the door, and how they can make their best possible showing in the interview. On the other hand, people applying for jobs are often total or near amateurs at doing so and will inevitably make rookie mistakes in the process. 
The WBW community contains a ton of people on both sides of this—so let’s try to narrow the gap. If your work involves screening, interviewing, or hiring applicants in any way, or if you’re an experienced applicant, let us know your best advice—especially the less obvious things you think applicants are likely to get wrong. And if you’re applying for a job and have questions, ask away.
___________
Tim’s Answer: During my years in the business world, I did a decent amount of hiring, so while not a lifelong pro, I do have some experience. Some of these may seem obvious, but in my experience, a lot of people have messed up each of them. It should also be noted that different industries will have a different set of norms—my particular advice is catered towards small startup-y type companies. My advice:
  • Keep your resume to one page. Sprawling resumes reek of non-professionalism.
  • Put time into the cover letter, and write a different one for each job you’re applying to. Hirers can smell a form cover letter from a mile away—the cover letter should show that you know all about the company and the position you’re applying for and should explain articulately why your experience and personality are a great fit. I personally like when applicants showed some personality in the cover letter, but other hirers might view anything other than total professionalism as a negative, so you might want to be cautious—you can show plenty of personality later, in the interview(s).
  • Before the interview, do your homework—you should come in crystal clear about A) why you want this particular role B) at this particular company C) in this particular industry, D) how this all fits into the story of your career, and E) why you’re exactly what the company is looking for.
  • In the interview, showing honesty goes a long way. Every interviewer has a finely-tuned bullshit meter, so admitting a fault of yours or an insecurity you have will usually make the interviewers trust you and believe you when you say good things about yourself.
  • In the interview, be your most likable self. When companies hire employees, they’re also hiring the people they’ll have to spend half of each week with, and in any good company, culture is a top priority. If you’re stiff and over-professional, you’re not acting like someone people want to spend half of each week with, and you’re not showing them how you’d contribute to the company culture. If you’re yourself in the interview and you’re a good fit for the culture, that’s going to be a huge plus for you—if you’re yourself and you’re a bad fit for the culture, it’s not a company you’d be happy working at anyway. Win-Win.
  • Come into the interview with some smart, high-level questions to ask the interviewer—most people don’t.
  • Definitely, definitely don’t forget to write a short, friendly thank you email to the interviewer later that day. It’s not that the thank you note is important in itself—everyone knows it’s contrived—it’s that it signals to the interviewer that you get it—that you know how to play the game and can act the part you’re supposed to in a given situation, which is what they’ll want you to do as their employee.

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  • Peter

    Here’s one regarding the dreaded what is your greatest weakness question?
    I find that a good counter is that (assuming this is the case) you only speak one language thus leaving a large amount of the world’s population that you are unable to communicate with. I feel that a lot of people can relate to this when being interviewed.

    • herv

      If a prospective hiring manager asked me that question in an interview, I would almost immediately determine I did not want to work for them.

      😉

      • chendaddy

        I don’t know how many interviews you’ve been on, but I have been asked this question in almost every interview. This is far more common than even what are your salary expectations, which I find to be a far more difficult question.

        • herv

          Yes. I have gotten it many times as well. I was being a little tongue-in-cheek. It is not a good interview question and i cringe whenever I hear it.

    • chendaddy

      The answer to what’s your weakness needs to go further than that. Whatever you pick as your weakness, you must also already be working on a solution to rectify that weakness. If you tell me the biggest glaring weakness in your life is that you only speak one language but then don’t tell me you’re taking classes in or personally studying a new language (and which one), then to me you’ve missed the point of the question.

      • Ecoecon

        What if I pick kryptonite as my weakness?

        • chendaddy

          Then your Kryptonian ass better be working on an immunity, Kal-El.

    • Ecoecon

      “what’s your greatest weakness?”
      Me: “Being too honest.”
      “I really don’t think that’s a weakness.”
      Me: “I really don’t care what you think.”

      J/K someone posted 10 Snarky Responses to the Worst Interview Questions on LinkedIn and I stole it.

  • Tea

    I would definitely emphasize the thank you letter, I understand some countries don’t do it but so much the better to give yourself the leg up!

    • Jane

      Would you recommend writing it by hand or sending by email?

      • laura

        I think it’s more common to send an email. Sending an email ensures the recipient will receive it. It also helps create a permanent record of your interaction. I’ve had people respond to my “thank you” emails telling me that while I was not a good fit for a certain position, I’d be a great fit for a different position. I one time re-responded to a thank you email chain a year later, when that company posted a job opening for the other position they had suggested to me.

  • Liam

    One good tip for someone going into an interview is to sit down with a friend the day before to do a mock interview as preparation. The more prepped you are, the more comfortable and less anxious you’ll be. Also, you may even go over one of the questions that you get in the actual interview.

  • Tanios

    I have no hiring experience, but I’ve done a fair amount of interviews that were successful. My advice is to be yourself and stand out from everyone else. Show off your personality, be funny, kind and memorable. Like Tim, said you’re being interviewed as much for a friendship than the position- if you have a good time during the interview, cracking jokes and having meaningful conversations, then the interviewer knows they’ll have a good time working with you for sure!

  • MooBlue

    Some time ago, I used to give advice to people applying for a scholarship to spend a year studying in the States even blogged about it a little bit. Since that time, I found out helping people with resumes and applications is a lot of fun and I do it often. All my advice ever boils down to one thing: do you actually want it (the job, the scholarship)? If you do, really do, imagine yourself “having got in”. What is it like? Will you bring baked goods every Friday to the office, will you travel to South Korea for that one conference, will you be able to use all that you’ve learned to do the job right,…? Just picture what actually working at the place will be like. Then – if you’re properly excited about the prospect – let you personality speak through your writing the cover letter. I’ve found it helps if you’re weird, you then allow yourself to risk a little bit more and actually be different. The combination of rigorous preparation and tailoring your application to the occasion, you being excited not about “getting in” but “being in, doing the thing”, and a little honest quirkiness goes a long long way. [that is after you’ve made sure you vaguely qualify for the job of course]

    • You mean “wired”, right? Because I have a lot of experience with being weird and I’ve found it doesn’t always guarantee success…

      • MooBlue

        =D Nice. [just in case it wasn’t clear: I definitely meant weird]

  • laura

    This is good advice. The interview process is extremely stressful, so I think it’s really important for an interviewee to remember that he/she is also interviewing the staff/company to confirm that the position is a good fit. It’s really important to ask questions centered both on the culture and roadmap of the company and those centered around the specific role the interviewee intends to fulfill. It’s less stressful (at least for me) to think about the interview as a way to glean information about the company/fit.

    I have high stress when interviewing for jobs, so I created a word document with the “standard” interview questions and compiled my answers. I add new interview questions to it after every interview experience, and I update my answers periodically to reflect my current role and responsibilities. This step helps me feel confident and prepared for each interview, and it can be really really useful during a daunting phone interview. 🙂

  • Shack

    One thing that most people lack is the confidence and attitude towards the interviewer. I won’t dive into body language details, but when you go to an interview you shouldn’t look like you are going to some sheep slaughter place.
    Being nervous about it and starting to shake it’s normal but you can control it by being confident in you and your skill. Basically you are going to a place where they pay you in exchange for your knowledge and skill …and time. That place is not the only one out there and you are not forced to work with them. At least this applies to people with experience and for most job categories. But even if you don’t have experience, you should look like you know what’s going on. No cocky arrogant attitude, but confidence and seriousness, with some minor jokes will take you a long way. Take away the needy attitude and “please oh please god hire me”. Basically, don’t look desperate.

  • Andy Johnson

    There are millions of articles out there on the Internet about how a job applicant should act before, at, and after the interview. They all say roughly the same things, and this Tim’s post is along the same lines. What strikes me is that all these articles focus only on one side, and we never hear the other side of the story: what the interviewer should do to convince the best candidates to join their company. All these articles come from a premise that there are thousands of equally qualified applicants who all desperately need this job, and therefore you, the reader, as one of them, need to jump through hoops to convince the interviewer that you are a bit better than others. Which, I guess, is true in many cases for many businesses, especially the large established corporations. But if you are an interviewer trying to attract the best talents, the general rules don’t work anymore, and this is especially true for small startups. A job interview is a two-way street.

  • Claudette

    I interview within non-profit health-care. It’s unforgettable when a candidate has researched the mission and vision of our organization and can clearly state why their professional goals make them want to work here.

    One-page résumé: yes.

    Health-care IS both team work and critical solo work. Successful candidates can comfortably describe their personal pet peeves in the workplace (ex: gossip instead of collaborative action to improve working relationships, or “lazy people who don’t pull their weight) as well as events that “make their day”, send them home with satisfying smiles (ex: seeing a patient feel better, appreciation from team mates, success making hard discernment and decisions.)

    Tim’s response is packed with value.

  • Grunt

    One format that I like for a cover letter is the “You-Me-Us” format. In three short paragraphs you’d cover:
    – “You”. This is the company/department you’re applying for. Shows that you understand their business, their market, their strengths and challenges.
    – “Me”. Quickly summarize your experience without paraphrasing your resume. Only pick the experience relevant for the position
    – “Us”. Explain why you think the “You” and the “Me” can become an “Us”. Why are you a great fit for this company and this job position.

  • Jon Olson

    With regard to technical interviews, particularly those found in the software engineering world, try to treat the interview as a conversation with a colleague rather than a quiz. I’ve been on the interviewing side for a couple hundred candidates between two large tech companies. Both of them had similar interview processes (at least from the candidate’s perspective) — a loop of 4-5 engineers or managers asking a few background questions, but with the meat of each interview spent solving some coding or design challenge. This is a fairly common pattern, everyone knows it’s awful, but it’s the least awful thing most companies have found that scales. So it goes.

    Right, so, treating the interview as a conversation. What the hell do I mean by that? First, recognize that for the problem you’ve been given the interviewer probably has some solution in mind. Unless they’re a total sadist[0], they even want you to get to that solution, and they’re willing to help you along the way. So, rather than silently trying to rack your brain hoping to develop a channel into their mind through sheer force of will, do what you’d (hopefully 🙂 do if an actual colleague came to you with this actual problem — ask clarifying questions, propose (and dismiss) inefficient but correct solutions, and most of all seek to understand the problem at least as much as trying to produce a solution. If nothing else this gives the interviewer lots of nice things they can write about your attention to detail, and it also gives them lots of opportunities to prompt you with the good kind of hints, ideally leading you straight to the solution they have in mind.

    Now, what’s this about good hints, and what the hell is a bad hint? A good hint is the kind that doesn’t actually feel like a hint. It comes with a smile as I say “Yes, why don’t we see what a solution would look like if you tackled this with a heap”. The bad kind of hint is the one where I’ve already tried every gentle tactic I know to get you back onto the path and up just flat out telling you something to the effect of “If you sort the input, I think you can do better than O(n!); perhaps we can even find something polynomial”, which is in and of itself a gentle way of me saying “Optimal is O(n lg k) and you’ve just proposed something on par with sorting all of the atoms in the universe by size, so at this point I’ll be happy if we can just get back within the real, of computationally tractable”. I’ve most often found myself giving these sorts of hints to candidates who dive straight into solutions or worse, refuse to have a conversation[1]. Sometimes there’s just a communication difficulty[2] between the problem the candidate thinks I’m asking and the problem I’m actually asking, but even if this results in some very awkward conversation at the beginning, it’s better than making it to the end having beautifully solved a totally different problem[3].

    Anyway, my point is that as a technical interviewer I’d rather have an hour long conversation about trying to solve a problem that I think is interesting than spend an hour watching a candidate flail about hoping to just emit a perfect solution. Many candidates treat interviews as a quiz, and panic when they don’t immediately know a given problem. It’s human nature, but remember that the person on the other side of the table is also human, and maybe even the nice sort of human who really wants this to be a fun (or at least, minimally painful) experience for both of you. That’s certainly the sort of person I’d like to work with.

    [0]: It’s probably unfair to call them sadists, but having been on the candidate side of this at least once, I know that’s certainly how it can feel. If you are an interviewer, don’t be the one who thinks their job is to trip a candidate up. It’s mean spirited and you probably learn less about them than if you treated it as a constructive exercise.

    [1]: This is actually a thing. I’ve had multiple candidates who would push back against any attempt at conversation with “No, no, I don’t need a hint, I’ve almost got it”. I imagine it’s incredibly frustrating on their side, and it’s certainly frustrating on mine. Moreover, if they don’t come up with a good solution, I’m at a loss for what to write about how they solve problems, as I haven’t actually gotten a view into their problem solving process beyond “thinks about it really hard; given another hour, might have produced solution, who knows?”.

    [2]: Note that I’m just as likely to blame this on myself as the candidate, but it’s still awkward, as the best outcome if this doesn’t get resolved quickly is for me to put in an ‘undecided’ vote where I say I don’t have enough information to weigh in on a candidate’s packet.

    [3]: Actually, that’s not entirely true. If the problem you solved was more interesting or difficult than the one I had in mind, I might be perfectly content to pivot over and talk about that solution instead. I will still ding you for not asking clarifying questions, but practically speaking this happens on the job all the time, too, so it’s not that damning.

  • CDBD

    Keep the cover letter simple and only one page. Most hirers skim it anyways, so you want it to be concise, and for them to be able to take away the key points easily. They’re not going to read your heartfelt prose about how some childhood experience inspired you to a career in XY or Z. Make it easy for them. Believe me, I used to spend hours crafting beautiful cover letters, and getting very few call backs. Then, I worked hiring people, and I realised that reading all that prose was a chore, and the people that we called back were generally the ones who kept their letter on point, simple, and clearly answered the job description.

    Some tips:
    -Use bullet points – its skim-able, and allows you to pull out a few highlights of your experience that are pertinent to the job description. Once a hirer knows that you’re qualified, they’re more likely to read the rest of your letter and your CV with more interest. Too often job applicants burry the lede. Bullet points are your friend. Except don’t go crazy. Keep it to max 5 bullets, one line each.
    -3-4 paragraphs max, with 3-4 sentences each.
    -Brand yourself – I use a common heading on my CV and cover letters so they go together, and I also have a go-to summary paragraph about myself that I use. Have a one-two sentence statement that clearly presents who you are, what you do, and even why you do it.
    -Don’t close with ‘Hope to hear from you.’ Be proactive. Ask for the interview at the end of the letter. Dangle it out there like a carrot. Tell them you have a lot of ideas to offer that you would like to discuss with them in more depth in person. (Of course, you then need those ideas, but you get the gist).

    I’ve been using the formula, and it’s highly successful. Last time I was applying for jobs, my cover letters got positive responses from 1 out of every 3 job applications. At the end, I had two employers making offers. Of course, the cover letter is just the first step. You then need to impress in the interview. That’s a whole nother story.

    • Monica

      Thank you, CDBD, that is highly useful advice.

    • vervas

      I agree with your foreword, which is however contradicted by your following tips in the sense that formulating an application with imho strict guidelines like put bullet points or don’t close with a ‘hope to hear from you’, are just restraining on expressing your true self and style in your application which is extremely valuable to also get a job in which you will like for being liked and chosen by your individual character and approach.

      • CDBD

        That was a really long run-on sentence, so I’m not sure I get what you’re asking. There’s plenty of room for you to shine as a candidate in my approach. Such as with your 1-2 sentence pitch about who you are as a professional. But, the idea is not to get super personal, but to be effective and efficient. You’ll have other opportunities, like the interview, to go into greater depth about who you are. In my experience, hiring managers don’t want to read your entire biography or thesis on life. They want to know if it’s worth the time to interview you. Meaning, they want to know if you are qualified for the role. You’re job with the application is to get the interview. You can still be creative in your letter by following a formula. No reason why you can’t!

  • herv

    The best advice I can give after a few years of hiring people:

    ONE PAGE RESUME – cannot stress this enough. Please make the resume one page. Please don’t put objectives or goals on there. I know your objective is to get a job with my company. Also please be consistent in formatting. When I look at your resume I want the metadata to tell me a lot

    BE ON TIME – cannot believe how many people show up late or just in the nick of time for interviews. I put a lot of time and effort into the schedule of a job candidate’s day. When you are late it throws it all out the window. Also, please don’t arrive an hour early. 10-15 minutes is fine.

    BE SPECIFIC IN THE INTERVIEW – when I interview someone I asked activity-based questions. “Tell me about a time when you…..,” “What are the tools you use to effectively….” What I want in these questions are specifics. “I think the example that best shows how I manage a complex projects is when I did….” “I keep touch with my network in the following ways….” Please tell me what you did; how, when and what the results were. I don’t ask theoretical questions and I don’t want theoretical answers. I am trying to gauge whether you have the necessary experience and demonstrated results to succeed in the position I am hiring for.

    PRACTICE – find a site that lists standard interview questions – I love http://www.manager-tools.com and download some questions. Work out your answers to them ahead of time (for the type of answer see above) and practice. You will be a lot less nervous.

    THANK YOU NOTE – at a minimum an email within 24 hours of the interview. If you really want to impress me, send me a handwritten thank you note.

    • Pen Guin

      I find I have made my decision by the end of the interview…an email or card is not going to persuade me to change my mind.

      • herv

        I would agree with that. However there are two things I would say, 1) it’s just polite and the right things to do and 2) if I am trying to decide between two equally excellent candidates, little items like this matter a lot

      • vervas

        Completely agree in combination that getting thank you notes, especially standardized ones, to me seems like a failed sucking effort.

    • Ecoecon

      Great, just had a person from the career center at my MBA program tell me to add “objective” to my resume. SMH

  • d

    One thing I would recommend everyone do as a good mental exercise is to imagine themselves in the opposite role. Use a mirror and interview yourself. It will give you a lot of useful information that you can then use to perform better or at least make you aware of at least some of your personal biases. If you have a friend who is good at role play then by all means ask them for help, especially if they work in the same field.

  • delajoo

    One thing that is rarely mentioned, and I have a solid solution for: How to get you resume picked off the pile and actually looked at.

    Agree with most of what has been said, but this is often one of the hardest steps to get past, especially when you are applying with limited experience/out of college for entry level positions.

    The key is simple. Send a direct email to the hiring manager, or to an employee as close to the hiring manager as possible asking to learn more about the position.

    The trick is usually how to figure out who that is, and what their email is.

    1. Find the target(s)

    Do an advanced LinkedIn Search for an employee in the same office/same department, or an associated department at the company you’re applying. As a rule, I send one to a Hiring Manager, or someone who I can network to the Hiring Manager, as well as someone in HR or Recruiting.

    2. Find out their last name

    Most Linkedin Profiles are privacy protected and only show their last initial & limited profile. You can circumvent this by going to their limited profile, and picking out keywords from it (like their name, last initial, and places they’ve worked), and inputting them into Google along with the word “LinkedIn”.

    The search will usually return a link to the full, unlimited version of the profile with that person’s last name. Bingo.

    3. Figuring out their Email.

    Use this handy App: https://thrust.io/mail

    Input that person’s first and last name, as well as the company’s domain (usually just the companyname.com

    It should spit out their correct email. If this doesn’t work, usually using every combination of their first name/initial and last name/initial and putting it in the “BCC” field so you can batch email all possible combos at once will do the trick.

    4. Sending a polite and brief request for a conversation.
    Now that you have the email, this is your chance to explain who you are, what position you are applying for, and how you sincerely would appreciate the chance for a brief phone or email conversation to ask some burning questions you have about the opening. Remember to attach your CV & Cover Letter here (bonus points if you name them in the cover letter).

    Most of the time, I get a response after less than one or two follow ups from this email. I almost always get forwarded to the relevant person if I wasn’t emailing them already, and most importantly, I always have my CV reviewed. Sometimes they tell me flat out that I am not a fit, but very often, this leads to an interview, as it creates an a somewhat casual situation to network yourself in to an interview if you play it right.

    Hope this Helps somebody!

    • g

      As someone who hires people, please don’t do this unless you have actual, relevant, important to know before you apply questions about the position. I have not hired people in part because of calling me to ask questions about the position that are irrelevant to someone who has not been offered an interview. It is annoying and VERY obvious and won’t get you anywhere if your questions are time-sucks for me.

  • vervas

    I’m not sure who invented or hired people for disqus but she should probably suffer a lot.

    • Tim Urban

      Agreed.

  • Sarah R.

    Any rule can be broken. If you have a compelling story about your past/future relationship with the company or industry then tell it – even if it takes an extra page. While qualifications are basic deal breakers if they are absent, the deal makers are fit with the dream and the culture. If that company’s dream and culture uses more words, (and maybe even pictures) then let yourself do it.

  • PopJack

    I have hired a lot of people over the years, which means
    that I have also NOT hired a bunch of people.
    I’ve read over the other responses, and here are a few of my thoughts:

    Letters/ Resumes:

    Temp or Union Work:
    if you were working for a union or temp company and had twelve assignments in
    14 months, make sure that someone who doesn’t know you can tell what is going
    on only by looking at your paper. If
    they can’t, it looks like you can only work a few weeks before everyone hates
    you and sends you down the road.

    Have someone proof
    your resume and letter. If you can’t,
    get a text to speech reader and have the thing read it to you. Let it sit as long as possible before you
    send it to increase the likelihood that you have no mistakes.

    Use good paper for
    letters and resumes and do what you can to make sure they look nice when they arrive. Don’t
    use fancy colors or scents, but make sure your letter doesn’t look like it came
    from the quick copy store.

    Keep your family situation and religion to yourself unless
    it’s applicable to the job.

    Interviews:

    The Interviewer is
    NOT your friend, but (s)he’s NOT your enemy either. In the end, it is in the interviewer’s
    best interest to help you do well. The company
    is looking for a person; they want to know if you are that person. Relax and help the interviewer person do
    their job. There should not be trick
    questions or things that trip you up unless you have set off alarms that you
    are lying. (In the event that the
    interview actively tries to trip you up or mislead you, you probably want a
    different job anyway).

    Do your homework. If you don’t know the job you are
    interviewing for, then you should not be doing the interview.

    Know the culture of
    your company. You need to dress and
    be the person the company wants. If you
    are interviewing for a bank, wear a formal business suit of some kind. If you are interviewing for a startup
    computer gaming company, some other dress is appropriate. If you are interviewing for an apprentice
    program, khakis and a nice button up. In
    general, dress one level up from what you would wear on the job.

    Don’t be negative
    about anything. If your last boss
    was an ass and you left because (s)he was checking you out in the bathroom, in
    an interview, you still, “decided it was time to change direction.” Always talk about where you want to go, not
    where you are coming from.

    Be honest. It is good to present yourself in a good
    light, but don’t say things that are not true.
    They will come back to haunt you.

    Believe the
    Interviewer. If I tell you something,
    I am not just filling time because the interview has to last an hour. I am saying things that are important. It’s hard to listen and comprehend because of
    the stress (study that if you are bored), but try and listen carefully. I can help you if you listen.

    We understand that people get nervous- don’t worry about it.
    We’ve done this before.

    Be Yourself. When doing an interview, I have normally gone
    through over a hundred applications. I’ve
    narrowed them down based on things like education, experience, Job stability etc. In
    the interview, I’m looking for “Fit.” I
    need to see certain characteristics depending on the job- aggressiveness,
    cordiality in some cases, reserved emotions in some cases. If you are not a good fit, you probably
    really don’t want the job.

    Be conscious of the length
    of your verbal responses. Practice if
    you must. There are two kinds of bad answers- ones
    that are two long and ones that are too short.
    A too short answer is usually the interviewers fault.

    (Bad Question: Q: “Were you happy at your last job?” A: “Yes.”
    Good Question: Q: “What did you like about your last job?” A: “Blah blah blah.”)

    I would be very cautious about an answer that takes over
    maybe 45 seconds or a minute to answer. Many
    people get a bit “chatty” when they are nervous, but I have had some people
    take 5 or 10 minutes to answer a simple “Tell me about yourself” question. This comes across as self-centered and gets
    boring very quickly.

    Be Careful about
    Humor. You don’t know your
    interviewer. If you try and inject
    humor, there is a good chance it will be received poorly. If you are having a great interview and have
    personally bonded with the interview, okay, but otherwise don’t.

    Figure out the
    standard questions and have some answers: Look up answers on the internet
    if you must. Standard questions include:

    “Tell me about yourself.”
    “What is your greatest strength/ weakness” “Where do you want to be in
    five years.” “Have you ever been asked
    to do something you thought was immoral or unethical? What did you do?” “Why did you leave your last job?” “Why
    should we hire you over the other candidates that we have interviewed?”

  • Tracy Irvine

    I’ve been a recruiter for 14 years and PLEASE do not keep your resume to one page… 2 average, 3 max but only if you absolutely have too.

    Use LinkedIn, build out that profile of yours. Add keywords, get recommendations.

    And network with your peers and hiring managers. Don’t be shy.

  • HockeyMom47

    Three things, hoping I don’t overlap with everyone else too much:
    1) Make sure your resume MATCHES what you put in LinkedIn and anywhere else you posted your experience: Today’s recruiters check more than one source
    2) Don’t be afraid to go for a job that you’re not 100% qualified for – Show that you have something else to bring to the party besides being an exact match to their often-not-well constructed job description
    3) If there’s an opportunity to join the hiring manager or your future team for a meal, take it! You’ll so much more about their dynamic and who they are as PEOPLE than you ever will in the interview.

  • Liz at Human Nature

    Be yourself. Even if you circumvent the bullshit meters that most interviewers have, any company that actually cares about the people it employs won’t keep you if you don’t fit. If you bluff your way into a company by pretending to be someone you’re not, you probably won’t make it through your 90 day probation.

    Also dress well for interviews. I can’t believe the number of people who turn up for interviews looking scruffy. Recently I interviewed someone for a sales job. He wore a suit, but had dirty fingernails, the hem of his pants was frayed, and he was wearing scuffed up cowboy boots. It doesn’t look good. And suggests that you really don’t care. He had an attitude to match, actually.

  • Tracey G.

    I have applied for lots of jobs. I mean, LOTS of jobs. Had a crisis of occupation a few years back where I became convinced that teaching was the wrong career path for me, so I set out in search of greener pastures (spoiler alert: didn’t find any, mostly because it turns out that I have an AMAZING job and I was the one who really needed to do some serious changing). Beyond the basic resume and interview stuff, I was given a ton of other advice, so here’s what actually worked for me:

    1. Want the job. Yep, we have all been in situations where we have to apply for stuff that we may not want for the long-term. Regardless, your job as an applicant is to want it in an authentic way. Not in the over-eager, i-just-skimmed-your-home-page way, but in a way that makes you seem like a natural fit. For me, LinkedIn and networking were the two best (albeit least comfortable) ways of infiltrating company culture–told me WAY more about an organization than I could have ever learned from a home page.

    2. Get uncomfortable. I am an extreme introvert and I fear meeting/talking to new people over the age of 13. I do, however, enjoy being gainfully employed. Full-time. For a salary that affords me things I need (and sometimes just want) in life. That forced me to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I connected with friends of friends over LinkedIn, which was hard and awkward and, according to my own understandings of social graces, a bit of an imposition. But it worked. It worked well, in fact. I met some fabulous people who really helped me out and guided me to some great opportunities. I also joined professional networks–again, really uncomfortable, as I was surrounded by strangers. It did, again, connect me with people who were instrumental in helping me to hone existing skills and develop others that were fast becoming necessities in particular industries. I also sought out committee work, which added lines to my resume and closed any potential gaps.

    3. Tell all of your friends, and your friends of friends, and all of their relatives. Opportunities come from all sorts of places, mostly unexpected ones. You never know who knows who, and it has been my experience that, in general, people really do want to help other people who are authentic and motivated in their search.

    4. Buy your own pitch. If you don’t believe, I mean truly believe, in your own approaches (cover letter, interview style, response to questions and overall self-marketing campaign), don’t expect someone else to believe, either. It won’t happen, they will see through you, and you won’t get the job. Find an angle of each position that speaks to you and build your approach from that point.

  • Mike

    If I could give one bit of advice to anybody it is to be honest at the interview and on your CV (résumé). In the feedback from interviews I have received this is what has always been commented on. There is are great ways of answering questions by turning a honest negative into a positive response usually by highlighting similar experience and a willingness (and proof of) to learn.

    Some other advice would be to turn of track changes on your CV (résumé) I have seen an example of somebody applying for a trainee actuary saying that was their dream job but had left track change on and going back through the document showed a number of other professions that were also their dream job. Needless to say that was as far as they got.

  • meregoround

    Spelling and grammar!! It immediately sets you behind applicants who have equal (or even less) experience because it’s so easy to get right! Spell check, get someone to read it for you and/or let it sit for a day or two and reread it for simple mistakes and strange wording.

    Also, turn up to your interview. This one happened to me, he unfortunately won’t get a look in for other jobs either.

  • a2squaredfl

    Always a valuable topic, no matter which side of the table you are on. My three (almost cardinal) rules to follow are:
    1. Remember The firm has a problem, a vacancy, and you are the solution. You are there to help fix this person’s problem. Keep your own agenda to yourself. The company does not exist to benefit you so if you are asked a question in that area, give a brief response and circle back to how you will help the company.

    2. The main purpose of the interview is to gauge how you are as a person. You have already demonstrated you have the qualifications thru your resume or you wouldn’t have gotten the interview in the first place. The unspoken question being asked by the interviewer is will this person fit in with the rest of my team or will they create a problem for me?

    3. Never, EVER, diss a previous employer, never. It will only reflect poorly on you and taint you as a potential troublemaker.

  • Gretchen K

    First, be qualified–or very close. I immediately weed out anyone who ignored the posting’s requirements. Getting hired is about being the right fit–for you and for us. You will have to be extraordinary to beat out someone who is qualified. If the position is anything other than an entry-level position, you must be qualified.
    Second, write a unique 1-page cover letter that shows you researched the company and that you want the job. Don’t talk about how great you are. Talk about how great the company is and what you can do for the company.
    Third, when I interview you, answer my questions–the actual question I asked. Repeat the question if necessary. Be concise, friendly, positive, and alert. Talk fast enough to show you aren’t wasting my time, and slow enough to think before you speak.
    Fourth, have questions specific to my business that show you looked at our website and tried to learn something about our company. Consult your notes and take notes. If you don’t have notes and look like you’re thinking of questions on the spot, I can tell you aren’t that interested.
    Fifth, LOOK INTERESTED. Dress to impress, sit up in your seat, lean forward across the table, make eye contact, smile, *say* you are excited about the job.

  • Elizabeth

    1 page resume right out of college, yes. But in my company, a 1-page resume would be frowned upon for someone with 10+ years of experience.

  • Justen

    Have a range of what you’re worth. I just interviewed last month actually and told them I had another job offer for 70K. He said “well give me a range to work with.” I thought in my head “okay, uh, somewhere between 70K and a million der herr herrrr.” Instead I just told him I don’t know. He said “you don’t have a range of what you’re worth?” I said no. Then I got an offer for 70K. I think he wanted to offer me more.

    • chendaddy

      Any advice on how to find that range?

  • chendaddy

    At what point is it okay for your resume to go over one page?

    • vervas

      At the point when you have important enough things to mention in order to do so. I personally modify my CV over time to approach a natural number of pages – so not like a page and two lines or even one and a half. Fill in the page, keep adding new things and keep it in on one page by throwing out useless info, decreasing your font to readable levels or even changing your layout, until it gets so restraining so that you jump to a page and a half plus, by reverting those shrinking techniques.

  • Rena

    What do you mean by “smart, high-level questions” to ask the interviewer?

    • chendaddy

      Questions that show the research you’ve put into the interview and genuine interest in growing with the company. If hired, which project would I be on? Where do you see the company growing over the next few years? What types of training programs does your company offer? Not stuff like do you like it here or how much vacation do you get (ask this after you get an offer)?

      • chendaddy

        To clarify, ask the question about vacation after you get the offer. Do you like it here, ask that after 2-3 beers.

  • Karen

    Follow directions. If the ad says submit cover letter and resume in a single attachment, do it. If it asks for salary requirements or 3 references, do it. I can’t really believe how easy it is to narrow the pool based on “can’t follow directions.”

    • vervas

      No. Not by dogma, but following directions is probably for the ones who don’t stand many chances

      anyway and putting those as a recruiter is just a lazy way to deal with a big a big load of applications by trying to put those in a stupid standardized process, which is probably going to remove any motivation from someone with descent self-esteem. Especially on the salary part I can’t disagree more; see http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

      • Tara Southwell

        It depends on the industry. In food service for example, “can’t follow directions” means “will end up with third-degree burns or cross contaminating everything and making people sick.” Most jobs are not creative. The employee is a cog in the machine, and if they can’t perform to specs they’re not worth buying in the first place.

      • Elaise

        Great blog entry, Vervas! Thank you for posting it.

  • It seems like most folks are focused on the interview, in my opinion, that’s too late. I actually wrote a book on this topic after teaching all of my friends how to do their own job searches.

    Do the work. The thing you believe in, the things you want to learn or know about your industry – do those. Do them on your own time, on your own dime, and do the work. This isn’t exactly the best advice if you’re an ebola researcher, you know? But for most careers… if you want to learn about coding – code something. Make a game. If you want to be a graphic designer, build your own portfolio. If you want to be a writer, write. Document it. Showcase it. Show it off. Learn that your first few “pieces” of work will probably suck, and recognizing that it sucks (and why) is a sign of growth.

    You can only get better by making your own project, learning how it comes together, learning all the pieces.

    I’d also say – do the work around your project, too – learn about project management, business communication, how to set and meet deadlines, what happens when deadlines slip and how to recover, how to set a budget, how to organize your day. Fail fast and learn quickly, don’t be afraid to try again with your modified hypothesis.

    Most of all: BLOG. Blog relentlessly. Blog about what you’re doing (assuming it’s not confidential), what you’re learning, what you screwed up on and how you fixed it, blog about everything and everything in your industry that you find fascinating. Think critically and show that you can think critically. Document it all.

    My best employees have been those that understand the components around the work; they are hungry for knowledge – but more than that, an attention to detail that shows they understand the value of time and not passing along externalities. Have learned how to deliver above and beyond a request. Let’s say I ask somebody for a report. “It’s on Dropbox” is a good answer, but “It’s on Dropbox, here’s the link to save you some clicks: ” is a better answer. That little bit of attention to detail/follow-through/follow-up and courtesy goes a long way in my business in front of clients, so it’s a quality I look for in employees.

    • vervas

      As I mentioned on my post, acts like blogging is a general career advice and not an application tip which is probably worthless for someone with no professional experience on a topic. It is a great marketing tool having a website, a blog, a github profile etc, etc, etc, but those who already have those don’t need to go through such a thread anyway and getting to those needs you to do get a first job in the very end. Until then you are probably someone reading along those lines over here, kinda trying to decipher what an “honest” application means.

      • The best application you can possibly have is a litany of strong projects built from your own blog/portfolio and experimentation. You can literally do an end run on the entire job application system by making the right contacts as you grow your own experience. All a job application *is* is marketing (esp. the cover letter).

        This is true even if you’re just starting out or making a switch to something new.

        • vervas

          Totally agree and I think this is is an attitude of pro-activity and indeed a great career advice that would lead you to a successful professional direction anyway. I was just trying to say that this is mostly about what the hell shall one write in this 10^? cover letter and probably a well presented and personal aggregation of the things you mentioned is the best tip. Then you can build upon those while deeper in the interviewing process.

        • vervas

          Unfortunately today’s market only values experience and portfolios and probably even the ones who could afford hiring anyone, by just giving them a chance to show their will and potential, even those won’t eventually do it. I think there are a lot of good people to be missed because they didn’t even get a chance and while this escalates you lose motivation and get desperate about the situation of things nowadays. Our parents most likely got their first jobs by just willing to work and very unfortunately this is not any more the game and it instead needs to be played the way you precisely describe.

  • vervas

    By the time I started to reply on this post there where only a handful of comments, until disqus terribly failed me in the critical moment of pushing the press button by throwing my comment on the trash bin. Since then quite a few opinions appeared so I’ll try to keep that as a meltdown of my thoughts after reading those.

    The above paragraph is definitely not a good way to start any CV, cover letter or discussion probably in any context in general. Being concise and straight to the point is key, as many mentioned. While CV should be a generic description of your profile, showing particular and individual knowledge on the targeted position you are applying to, instead of copy-pasting the job post’s description or google-found answers in it, is essential to getting some attention.

    Nevertheless most discussions like that tend to lose their point cause they start analysing super-professional approaches in such a subject, when chances are that people you may have never even managed to get on to an interview need this advice the most and not the ones who are experienced, since those must have mastered the craft of applying to and getting jobs anyway on their way to getting hyper-experienced.

    PS.: do yourself a favour and try to control the heat of starting to type in a disqus comment box and rather open an editor running on your machine, write your words, and then paste into this worthless software that made me go to bed early many times.

  • Thiene Sousa

    Everything in life has other sides, so here goes what I could perceive over the years. I developed a strong sense to detect bullshit and bad recruitment practices, and I could live and hear about the most horrific jobseeking experiences. Recruiters take advantage of the fact that we have more jobseekers than job openings, but here goes my advice to make your recruitment process more appealing:

    RESUME SELECTION: Recruiters always say the resumes need to stand out of the crowd. But please take at least some minutes to examine ALL the ones you have in your hands. Don’t simply CTRL+F 20+ matching words in the few ones you eventually open. Lastly, if your company prefers referrals and internal applications, consider not posting that job, as it can be a waste of someone else’s time, including yours.

    TIMING: Try to arrange the process in a way it does not take 2 months to be concluded. Try yo keep your candidates informed about how things are going. And when you arrange the interviews, make sure the interviewers are on time, too.

    INTERVIEW PROCESS: Do you believe those standard interview questions of 20 years ago are still effective? Do you believe your questions will determine the best fit? Some interviewees are great talents, but they lose because they are introverted.

    You may be losing great talents just because you judge candidates solely by what they speak. Hence, I don’t believe every recruiter has a finely tuned bullshit meter. I heard most of the recruiters just stick to “what they want to hear”, which is most probably a bunch of jargons and no practical examples. What about trying other interviewing methods and practical tests?

    Lastly, do not behave as everyone NEEDS to work for your company. There are excellent companies around, and you also want to stand out of the crowd.

    In the era of employer branding, these changes could probably make your recruitment process more fair and effective.

  • Scott Pedersen

    I’m a programmer, and I interview programmers. I don’t know how well my advice will apply outside that. Also I know how I do things, but I’m probably a weird outlier or something. Generally speaking, there’s always a lot of candidates out there and most of them suck. That’s because the good ones get hired quickly, and the same crappy ones keep circulating hoping to get lucky. If you can traverse the gauntlet and communicate to me that you aren’t an idiot, you are nine tenths of the way there.

    How to get your foot in the door? Networking. Out of the seven different jobs I’ve had, I got seven of them through direct or indirect personal connections. And my employers have always looked for referrals over random people wandering in off the Internet. Most, if not all, of the people I’ve been involved with hiring were referrals.

    What to do with your resume? Keep it short. Also don’t get cute with the formatting. Cute inevitably gets mangled by conversions and e-mail systems between me and you. Don’t just put C/C++/C#/Java on your resume because it seems de rigueur. If you are going to list it make sure you know enough about it to talk intelligently. Also, make sure your resume relates to the job you want. If I’m hiring someone to write and debug drivers for ISCSI NAS systems, and I’m not going to spend a lot of time on a resume that’s mostly Javascript and web UI stuff. I’ve had far more resumes that talked me out of hiring a candidate than I’ve had that talked me into hiring one.

    What to do in the interview? Communicate. Hopefully, you can communicate you’re not an idiot. One of the best ways to do this is honesty. I am a thousand times happier with a candidate that says “I don’t know” than I am with one who tries to bullshit their way through an answer. When I give you a problem to work on, talk it out. I’m more impressed with a candidate that can work collaboratively and asks for help when needed than I am with a candidate who struggles silently even if they get the answer right in the end. Also communicate your interests honestly. I can’t count how many times candidates have tried to convince me that they love any and every possible job equally and no matter what I want they’ll do it. If you manage to succeed in fooling me all you’ll get is a job you’ll hate and all I’ll get is a new hire that bails at the first opportunity. If I’m hiring for a position that is mostly debugging and solving customer problems in released software and your interests are mostly in developing new products and features we should stop wasting eachothers’ time.

    And, apropos of nothing in particular, if you are applying for a senior developer position and claim twenty-plus years of experience, you should be able to at least code FizzBuzz.

    • Tara Southwell

      I’ve seen resumes on pink paper, with football stickers, in Comic Sans, etc. “Don’t be cute” is the biggest rule everyone thinks they’re exempt from lol.

  • Edward Walker

    I work in graduate recruitment in the UK. My best advice would be as follows:

    1. Most people who leave an interview cursing their performance feel let down by their interview technique rather than their knowledge of the role/organisation they are applying to. Solution get the balance between research and interview practice right.

    2. Try to find out who the interviewer will be in advance. This allows you to research them and not just the company. This helps both when building rapport and when asking questions of your own you can ask intelligent questions on most interviewer’s favorite subject – themselves!

    3. If in doubt ask. If you are unclear what the format of the interview is or if you need reasonable adjustments to be made in order to perform at you best, then let the person organising the interview know in advance (typically HR in a large organisation). As a minimum you give the impression of being proactive and keen, best-case scenario you receive some useful information that gives you an edge over other candidates.

  • Tara Southwell

    I worked in fast food as an assistant store manager, which means my advice is on how to get a job most people don’t actually want. At least, not in the “Generation Y my-career-should-be-fulfilling” way. I saw more than my fair share of first-time job seekers, many of them college students (there was a small campus right across the street). My advice:

    1. Don’t talk out of your ass. The BS meter of a manager in fast food is much more sensitive and expansive than one might believe. Never assume that because someone works at a McDonald’s (or similar) means they’re an idiot, and that flinging a bunch of technical jargon about the field your studying is going to make them poop their pants with excitement to hire you. You’d be surprised how many well-educated people work at a fast food joint, for one reason or another.

    2. Contrary to popular belief, looks aren’t everything. We’re not going to hire you just because you’re an attractive person we can put in front of the customers to smile winningly. Fast food requires a great deal of multitasking and the ability to cope with pressure. Those two attributes, above all others, are what we’re looking for. Everything else is frosting on the cake.

    3. Learn the menu. On your own time, research the menu. If it’s something like Dunkin Donuts, learn the difference between cake and yeast donuts. If it’s a Burger King, learn the difference between the specialty sandwiches.

    4. Knowing how to make change in your head is a skill that’s invaluable. Cash handling can be highly stressful and there are con artists who will try their best to confuse you and make off with as much of the money out of the register as they can get their hands on. Get comfortable with counting money, handling money, the look and feel of real money. The texture of money paper is the first line of defense against forgers, and no matter how sorry you are that you got short-changed or accepted a fake bill, you’re responsible for that money.

    5. Be trainable. It’s difficult to convey this quality, but even a simple, “I know I’m new to all of this, so I’m ready to learn,” will do wonders. Managers are looking for people who recognize the fact that they’re entering the corporate world and the corporation doesn’t look to the layman for innovation. There are procedures in place for a reason. Everything from the amount of mayo you slather on a bun to how long you wash your hands after going to the bathroom has been calculated to be as efficient and effective as possible. You aren’t there to revolutionize the industry, and no one above a certain pay grade cares about what you think. It’s hard for Generation Y’s and Millenials to accept this. EXTREMELY hard, sometimes impossible. Everyone believes they’re smarter than average and intrinsically valuable, when statistically speaking this is impossible.

    As Tyler Durden once said, “You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”

    • Grace

      I am not a dinner table member – that is I don’t get the emails- but YAY. Please this! It is not just for fast food!

      “Be trainable. It’s difficult to convey this quality, but even a simple, “I know I’m new to all of this, so I’m ready to learn,” will do wonders. Managers are looking for people who recognize the fact that they’re entering the corporate world and the corporation doesn’t look to the layman for innovation. There are procedures in place for a reason… You aren’t there to revolutionize the industry, and no one above a certain pay grade cares about what you think. It’s hard for Generation Y’s and Millenials to accept this. EXTREMELY hard, sometimes impossible. Everyone believes they’re smarter than average and intrinsically valuable, when statistically speaking this is impossible.

      As Tyler Durden once said, “You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”

      •Even though many of us big corps SAY we like innovation, we do’t like it much from young whelps.

      Reply

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  • doodlebug2

    I am a professional resume writer and career consultant. Your resume does NOT need to be one page unless you’re a recent college graduate. Someone with several years of experience can have a two-page resume. This is standard and commonplace. But whatever you do, don’t go beyond 2 pages!

    • Tara Southwell

      I think the “one page” rule is like any rule, it’s a general rule meant to keep people from including irrelevant information or fluffing up the language.

      • SelectFromWhere

        Plus, it probably goes back to school days when everyone tried to make their term papers LONGER; it’s one of the few times you have to stress to make something SHORTER, however, the exercise is very good at learning what about yourself and your past is actually useful information.

  • CatieD

    After years of experience applying for jobs, I am now at the point where there are things I will NOT do for a job application:

    1) Tell an interviewer what my current salary is, or what my expected salary is.

    2) Take a non-skills-based exam (for example, a Myers Briggs test, etc).

    3) Apply to any and every job

    1) The dreaded expected salary question – This question is almost ALWAYS used as a screening question. Answer it too high, and they may eliminate you. Answer it low, and you stand a chance of getting low-balled when an offer is made. Basically, the first person to show their hand when it comes to the salary loses out. For example, you may state an expectation higher than what the organization is planning to pay, and thus be screened out of a job. This is unfair, as I’ve been in situations were I’ve been screened out in this way (recently in fact) and I may have entertained a lower offer because I really wanted the job and only asked high with the hopes of negotiating, but I wasn’t even given the opportunity. From now on, I don’t answer that question with an actual number. I’ll say something like: “Salary expectations commensurate with my experience and skills,” or “Salary expectations negotiable for the right role”. The last time this came up in an actual interview, I told the person: “I don’t divulge my private, personal salary information, as I imagine you can understand. But I am happy to negotiate because I really want to work here? Why don’t you tell me what range you’re expecting to pay and I can tell you if I’d consider an offer within that range?” I’m sorry, but asking for what I make or what salary I want without an offer on the table is rude and invasive. I know this doesn’t help for those online applications in which this question is a required answer for you to submit the application, and I know that when you’re desperate, sometimes you’ll answer anything an interviewer asks. But if you can, I highly suggest not touching this question, and if you do, do so in a way that puts you back in the driver’s seat. Never again!

    2) The non-skills-based job exam – Something weird has happened in the world of job applications. Faced with a glut of skilled resumes, employers are looking for more creative ways to weed out applicants based on algorithms and personality tests. I will no longer take these things unless an offer is contingent upon it. Now, I think a skills based test is just fine. For example, there’s nothing wrong with asking a person applying for a comms job to write a press release. But asking that person to take an IQ test with a serious of long-form math questions? Asking them to take a personality assessment is cruel and unusual because, firstly, a personality exam is a pretty personal experience. You’re giving an unknown person a look inside you’re mind, and then they’re no longer judging you as a candidate who can or cannot do the job, or based on whether they like you or not, they’re judging you based on the essence of you. No one likes to be screened out because an employer doesn’t like the person you are. Secondly, there’s no way to “pass” this test. A secret I’ve learned is that employers don’t use these to decide if you have a “good” or “bad” personality. They use these tests to determine if you have a personality that is compatible with the other people who already work there. There is no way for you to know who these other people are, or the traits they are looking for. So, while you might be a great person and capably of doing the job, if they’re looking for an ENFP and not an ENTJ, you’re out of luck. In my experience, employers send you these screening tests before they ever meet you. In my most favourite example, I was given such a test by a nameless person over the phone who had memorised the questions by rote, wouldn’t answer any of my questions, and then after I was told my personality wasn’t suitable for the job, I was also told that I couldn’t see the results of the test, and that they were going to keep the results of my test forever. Don’t do this to yourself. Ask yourself if that job is really worth putting yourself through that type of personal, invasive judgement.

    3) Applying for all the wrong jobs – I know that sometimes it’s easy to feel desperate for a job, and to go out there and apply to all and any jobs you might even be remotely eligible for, but unless you’re pending eviction, starvation, or death is imminent, I implore you to stop and assess. I’ve seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness – working all day, going home at night and pounding out application after application to jobs they don’t even want. I was once such a person, and it ran me ragged, and it wasn’t until I went for a couple interviews with companies I didn’t actually really want to work for that it dawned on me that I was wasting my and those companies’ time. Applying for jobs is a numbers game, sure. But just because you’re increasing the quantity of job applications doesn’t mean that you’re increasing the quality of the opportunities you’re getting back. You can get just as many interviews with a more targeted approach. Over time, anyway, you’re looking for that one right opportunity. When it clicks, you’ll know.

    • bill r

      Over the past twenty years I have worked with over 100 CEOs as a business coaching. From their vantage point their batting average for hiring people is very often low and the cost of a bad hire is huge.
      What drives hiring is typically ‘experience’ and ‘job and organizational fit’. When presenting themselves on their resume, candidates appear bigger than life (think of a resume like a push-up bra). Surprisingly few employers really dig into the candidates actions related to the headline results. So often ‘experience’ is not what the employer believed it to be when they were hiring.
      For ‘job and organizational fit’ interviewers usually recommend the people that they like. The personality tests (Myers Briggs) are an attempt to find out who people really are. It creates a data point for interviewers to dig deeper into what could be a personality strength or weakness for a specific job. It is also a common reference among various people who are interviewing. People are hired for what they know and fired for who they are. The personality tests are an attempt to understand who they are before you hire.

      • CaitieD

        Yes, but I’d argue you can’t really know who a person really is from a piece of paper. Haven taken the Myers Briggs, I’d say that they are easy to manipulate, and people often fill them out based on what they think a person wants to hear, not what they really feel. I also, in reading my Myers Briggs results, don’t feel it captures me at all! Nor, does it capture who I am in the work place. I have excellent references from all my past employers and a track record of success for a reason. But one might be turned off by my being an ENTP or ENTJ rather than one of the more diplomatic types. That doesn’t mean that they won’t like who I am. And I disagree. I’ve seen people fired over incompetence more frequently than over whether they “like” them. This is just silly, and it doesn’t address that it’s downright invasive. I won’t take those tests again. Ever.

        • SelectFromWhere

          I love tests like Myers-Briggs, believe that they do give a certain amount of info about a person, but would never take one for a JOB, because we really are not “ourselves” at work, now are we? And, a lot of people have particular bias against Introverts, for example, believing all the stereotypes without understand what “Introvert” really even means. If it’s a cold-calling sales job, then yeah, an INFJ is not going to work, but in general, you can’t put everyone in the world into 16 buckets and presume that those within a given bucket are homogeneous. I am an INTJ and there are more than a few of my fellow INTJs I would shoot myself if I had to be around all day long!

      • CaitieD…again

        And here is an article about why personality tests are, maybe, not the best way forward: http://fortune.com/2013/05/15/have-we-all-been-duped-by-the-myers-briggs-test/.

        I especially like the test about low-test reliability. I’ve taken the Myers Briggs several times, and each time, I think I have received a different result. So either I have several different personalities or the test isn’t that great and can’t tell you a lot without meeting a person and seeing how they react or respond in an interview. Or, you know, checking references or giving them a skills-based exam. Or, you know, not testing them and then withholding the results and never getting rid of the results. Not an ethical use of time. Besides, according to the Myers Briggs own site, when discussing ethical uses of the test, I’m sure that they wouldn’t like their test being used to exclude people from jobs. Their site specifically says there are no bad or unhealthy personalities. The idea that you’d decide not to interview someone because you don’t like ENFPs, or INTJs, or you have a lot of ESFPs on your team is utterly bogus.

  • librariana

    Read the blog Ask a Manager! I have learned so much from it!
    http://www.askamanager.org

  • Eric Nehrlich

    As somebody who has been a hiring manager for the past several years at a large tech company, the piece of advice I would give is to remember that the interview process is a sales process. Every single thing you say or do as an applicant should be to sell me, the hiring manager, on why you are the person for the job.

    Specific examples:
    — Your resume should be customized to bring out the experience you have that is relevant to the job you are applying for. It is not an academic C.V. where you list everything you’ve ever done. Tweak your experience to match the job requirements. If you don’t know what experience is relevant to the job, then do your research. This is especially important if you have a non-traditional background for the position – if you are interviewing for the finance team and you aren’t an MBA (which I did), bring out the aspects of your experience that show you can do the job.
    — Your resume is not to get you the job. Your resume is a sales brochure and its only job is to get the hiring manager to pick up the phone and call you. On a sales brochure, you don’t see all the details and caveats and exceptions – you see shiny things that present the best side of the product so you want to call. Do the same for your resume.
    — That being said, don’t be smarmy and used-car salesman-like in the process. Remember that you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you. You are trying to find a mutually beneficial arrangement where both sides benefit – look for the win-win scenario here.
    — Think of the interview process as several steps – the goal of the resume is to be a sales brochure that gets you noticed and gets somebody to pick up the phone. The goal of the phone interview is to go into further depth and impress the recruiter (and then hiring manager) to want to bring you in for an in-person interview. Once you’re in person, then you’re actually interviewing for the job and explaining why you’re the best option. But don’t expect the resume alone will land you the job – that’s skipping steps.

    Anyway, I found it helpful to think of interviewing as a sales process, so I thought I’d share that. It doesn’t mean to lie or to bend the truth, but it does mean frame your experience in the best light to make the sale and get the job.

  • Louis A. Cook

    Getting a position in the typical hiring process always involves factors beyond one’s control. Even if one does their best and truly is the best candidate, they still might not get the job. Truly making peace with that and looking at the process as something to experience- with new people to meet and new places to be- can bring clarity and enjoyment that enhances performance. Without that, I for one get anxious and that hurts my ability to do my best.

  • Umba

    ONE THING: Always ask why you did not get picked after an interview, it sucks being rejected but when you ask why you get some constructive criticism that would help you to do better in the next one and other times you might feel good knowing that you were not picked because you were too experienced or they could not afford you 😉

    • SelectFromWhere

      Do you find that you actually get answers for this? It is my understanding that most HR departments won’t let them tell you specifics, because it could be the basis for a lawsuit. If they say “you weren’t educated enough” and you were able to find out that someone was hired with the same degree of education, you could sue. Most of the time the whole reason for an interview is to gauge “soft skills” in addition to what’s on your resume, and sometimes you just might not give as good an impression as someone else, but no way would they tell you that. This is the case in the US, at least, that I’m aware of.

      • R1ck

        Oh… so religious. “We will tell you the path to salvation, it’s in this book. Tithe us 40-60 hours of your life every week and we will reveal it’s secrets.”

        Don’t question their dogma either, it’ll start a holy war.
        I gotta get the hell of this post, It’s making my blood boil.

  • Instant gratification monkey

    A note on the CREATIVE world, where thinge are a little different.
    The ‘be-yourself’ thing is almost everything here. If you are funny and like travelling and surfing on top you win!

    I select students for a university program (creative stuff) and we basically select whom we like and find interesting and at least a bit funny.
    If your cover letter expresses a clear point, seems honest, is original and funny you’re at 99%.
    If on top you do a lot of travelling and like surfing (or any equivalent easy-going sport) you’re in.
    Actually, I think almost anyone that was funny, liked traveling and surfing AND could clearly express why they wanted to join had an impressive CV too.

    • Instant gratification monkey

      It’s Germany, so maybe that differs entirely from the US- SAT- university system. And would leave Andrew with full-time writing too!

  • Instant gratification monkey

    And in the interview: just figure out if our program is the right thing for you. You clearly couldn’t know beforehand and if we see you are confident and smart enough to do this (instead of saying what you think we want to hear) – great! If we then notice you decided you will be a good fit- you very likely will be.

  • I’m currently in the second stage of the interview process for jetBlue Airlines and I’m grateful I was selected. Still waiting to hear back about that. Any advice about going through the interview process for In Flight Crew? I have never been a flight attendant before.

    The first step was a questionnaire. The second step was a virtual video interview where I basically Skyped my video responses and they were recorded. There was no live interviewer either, the answers were written out for me and I have five seconds before it started recording. It felt a little awkward because there was no one on the other side I could “get a read” on and I fumbled a little with the very first question which was the question I knew they would ask, “why jetBlue?” Yikes.

    We’re coming up on 2 weeks since I did that interview, they said it could take a few weeks before I hear back. I guess it’s a good sign I haven’t received a “Dear John” letter. I would guess the next step will be a live video interview with a living person on the other end. Fingers crossed!

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Em

      I was a flight attendant and although it was a while ago, some things probably are the same. They used to like nursing students to give you an idea of the caretaker personality they like. Calm in a crisis (there are very few, if any) smart and most of all, kind and service oriented. Good luck!!

  • Jason Kay

    After the computers scan through the resume looking for key-word searches, people do the same… as stupid as it sounds, make your resume scanning friendly – bold the key words. Make it stand out. I’ve worked at 10+ different companies (not counting spin-offs). I also have 35+ patents – they are all listed (along with other published works on their own page. My resume is 2 pages otherwise. I’ve hired 10 people throughout my career…

  • Spencer

    My main problem is the wording of the resume. There are certain buzz words that make a resume sound “better,” but to me come across as unnatural. Instead of “Led a small group project” you put “Demonstrated Leadership abilities by…” or other words like facilitated, established, or collaborated instead of helped, made, and worked with. I get that these are good action words, but I also feel like they’re a cliche when I type them. And if I think that, the employer MUST realize that after looking through x number of resumes. The question is, do I stand out in a good light for avoiding those cliches, or do I come across as someone who only has a very basic vocabulary? I hate using them, because then it seems like I’m putting them in there only because I know that’s what they want to see…

    • Lysistrata

      Also very curious to get a response from a recruiter here. I too have always gone for authenticity in life, and rather be real than fake. I hate bullshitting, playing games, and all that. Sometimes this is what needs to be done, so please recruiters (@Brendan), any opinion on this?

  • Scott Coveau

    Good advice thanks

  • charlie

    This is primarily for students who are just getting in the search.
    1 Clean up your act; drop words common to too many students such as “like”, “hey”,”you know” etc.
    2 Clean up your self; haircut, nails, facial piercings etc.
    3 Clean up your clothes; dress up not down

    4 Look people in the eye
    5 smile and be charming
    6 Follow the earlier posts re one page non jargon resumes, cover letters that are tailored, thank you notes (hand written shows some class) know your company, have intelligent questions, do not ask about vacation or salary on the first interview or even the second.

  • Brendan

    Little background – I’m a recruiter, I’ve interviewed over 2,000 people in the past 5 years.

    Be yourself. The interviewer doesn’t want some cookie cutter BS person who just spouts off words that they think will impress someone. They can tell you’re being fake. Be yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask questions you’re genuinely curious about with the company and the direction. Let the interviewer know WHY you want ot work there – “I just need a job” is a terrible reason. Why do you want to work in THAT SPECIFIC POSITION at THAT SPECIFIC COMPANY? What will it do for you? What will you bring to the organization? How can you contribute?

    • Lysistrata

      Brendan, do you have an opinion on what Spencer posted? Quoting him here:

      “My main problem is the wording of the resume. There are certain buzz words that make a resume sound “better,” but to me come across as unnatural. Instead of “Led a small group project” you put “Demonstrated Leadership abilities by…” or other words like facilitated, established, or collaborated instead of helped, made, and worked with. I get that these are good action words, but I also feel like they’re a cliche when I type them. And if I think that, the employer MUST realize that after looking through x number of resumes. The question is, do I stand out in a good light for avoiding those cliches, or do I come across as someone who only has a very basic vocabulary? I hate using them, because then it seems like I’m putting them in there only because I know that’s what they want to see…”

      • R1ck

        God I hate the fucking hypocrisy…
        But I too would love to see the rhetorical gymnastics as Brendan addresses this.
        If he’s good, I’ll even give him a gold medal 😛

    • Chiel Wieringa

      You know why most people want to work in THAT SPECIFIC POSITION at THAT SPECIFIC COMPANY?

      Because there is a job opening that they know or think they can do and they are in need of a job. That’s the truth for bye far the most people. I mean, bye far the most job openings are at companies you never heard off. If you look at their website you find a nice and slick marketing presentation of that company and news articles about the company are mostly biased. So when that question is asked I am forced to give a cookie cutter BS answer to be selected bye people like you. If I tell the truth I will never get hired.

      The only people who WANT to work at a specific company or a specific position is because they know someone at that company and want to CHANGE their CURRENT job. Or it is a really famous company. But let’s face it, more then 99% of the companies in existence you have never heard off.

      So mr I have done over 2.000 job interviews and haven’t had this insight, what should I say when I apply for a job BECAUSE I AM IN FUCKING NEED OF A JOB and can’t possibly find out if I really want to work at that specific company other then through knowing someone there or working there (or at an affiliated company)?

  • Keith

    I’m not in a position to hire anyone now. But I did just recently go through a 3+ month layoff from my job, and just found a contract position two weeks ago. I’ve never been laid off before, so the impetus to quickly find a job was something that I’ve never experienced. I discovered that an extremely high percentage of people who look at job applications and resumes seem to have little expertise when it comes to looking at a person’s experience and determining if he or she is capable of making it in another industry. If certain key words or phrases aren’t there, then the hiring manager will rarely see my resume. I don’t like knowing that the only real way to get noticed enough to warrant an interview is to either lie – which I will not do, because it won’t end well – or to know someone on the inside. I simply don’t know that many people, regardless of my Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. Maybe there are a lot of qualified candidates out there, but if the only people you will consider interviewing are people who are already in your industry doing the exact job you are hiring for, then I think you are missing out on some tremendous people who would do a fantastic job for you. I know; you get so many resumes that you can’t possibly really read each one, so you look for the key words. Or you subscribe to some resume service that electronically scans them and only forwards the “best” ones to you. Personally, as much as the Internet has made job searching and applying really easy, it has dumbed the process down so much that I’m beginning to doubt that it is any better now than 20 years ago. I don’t know how to make it better, exactly. I just know that the current system doesn’t work very well. The job I got? Only because a staffing agency took the time to read my resume, called me and spoke with me at length, heard about my background from my own lips, and discovered that I was more than capable of performing in a totally different industry – going from the nuclear power industry to pharmaceutical manufacturing. And you know what? I like it, and my boss and coworkers couldn’t be happier that I’m there. Thing is, their – oops, our – own HR department would not have given me a second glance, because I don’t have those key words in my resume. Some genius out there needs to figure out a better way to do this.

    • R1ck

      TIM!! TIM FIX THIS SHIT.
      Time to speak truth to power again. Go on TED*!

      *Does anyone ever apply what they’ve learned on TED in their businesses? I’m rather skeptical of this.

  • yann.berry

    RECRUITERS/EMPLOYERS: State the salary!!! I’m not going to spend hours and hours writing a cover letter and fine tuning my CV and turning up to an interview when the only salary info stated on the job description is ‘on application’ ‘exceeds minimum wage’ or ‘excellent plus bonus’. What if the salary is lower than I can afford? What a waste of time for the both of us. I find this infuriating and will never apply for a job when I don’t know the salary, or at least the salary band, first.

    At the end of the day, we work to earn. I may genuinely want to work for your company but if I can’t afford to pay my rent then it’s simply not going to end well.

    • Michael

      Hi Yann, Ex-recruiter here. Unfortunately, recruiters are sometimes just looking for good candidates to field out to their existing clients, so the job doesn’t exist until their client sees your CV (hence no salary).
      Or, often, clients are pretty flexible on the salary/experience for a particular role they have in mind and wont tell the recruiter until after the first round of interviews. At this point the client can get a feel for who is applying and what they are after. Its better for you to know what you are worth (Which is likely what you are on now in your most recent job, +/- 10%).

      Putting a salary expectation on your CV and posting your CV on recruitment portals is the easiest way to screen out recruiters with jobs offering much less than you can afford.

  • jennifer baum

    i relay this story as an example of what many employers are looking for (and probably one reason why i get offered jobs rather than apply for them) the point being that companies are looking for people who are honestly curious, confident that they can learn and eager to learn – sometimes they need someone who already *knows* stuff – but looking to learn can go a long, long way.

    i was in Hong Kong in 1987 and was looking through the job ads in the paper. i saw an ad for Human Resources Manager at the fashion company Esprit. it was the first time i had ever heard of such a position (again 1984, it was the new buzz word) so i sent in my CV, called and set up a meeting with the CEO. when we sat down and got through the chit chat, he asked why i thought i would be good for the job. i said, ‘i don’t know what human resources manager is so i thought i should come find out. it sounds interesting.’ after staring agape for a minute he explained what it was. i said if he gave me two months i could do that. after another minute of agaping, he said he needed someone who could start right away and be able to do it. then he said, ‘but what department are you interested in, we’ll get you a job there’.

    doing something like this takes balls as big as Pluto, and a certain naivety that truly believes it is not weird to take up the time of a CEO to get the definition of a job description.

    Be honest and curious, because you are honest and curious.

    • R1ck

      And pray to God you’re tall, white, and hansome. 😛

      Sorry, I just HAD to XD

    • aina

      You’re very brave for saying something like that at a job interview. But I think for every person who got a job after a bold move like that, there are hundreds who just made a fool out of themelves… It has a very low probability of working for you…

  • AprilO

    Just a general complaint (but not an important one). I spent four years working in a video rental store. When it closed and I was laid off, I went around mostly applying to retail and service industry jobs, as I thought those would be easiest given my experience. I was told at retail jobs that I just didn’t have any retail experience, and at the service jobs that I just didn’t have any service experience. So what kind of crazy voodoo job did I labor at all those four years, that managed to qualify as absolutly nothing when I was laid off?

    As an epilogue, I have two jobs now that I’m very happy with and, hopefully won’t look like a joke or question mark on my future resume.

  • Anna

    I would definitely advise reading Mark Goulston’s “Just Listen”. It specifically mentions some questions it’s great to ask at job interviews. Also it’s a great book overall, did magic to my life.

  • Rodolink

    Is it ok to ask for how much will the payment be?

    • Rodolink

      Also what to say when asked “how much you expect for salary? “

      • SelectFromWhere

        This is also cagey, as you don’t want to give them a number that’s too low, causing them to pay you less than they were going to, but also not one that’s too high which might price you out of the offer. Ideally you would have researched what similar jobs in this industry and region pay (if you are applying in different parts of the country, be sure to note that salaries for the same jobs vary accordingly), and you could answer something like “I understand that the range for this kind of position is somewhere around $XX-$YY (use a wide range)” and then you could turn it around and ask if that is the right ballpark for what they had in mind.

        Note that in any situation, it’s better not to be the first one to name a specific number (this also applies to selling something–note how the guys on Pawn Stars always make the seller quite a price first), but in a job interview, you are at a distinct disadvantage, so you usually can’t make them say first (if you have particularly rare skills or it’s an applicant’s market, that’s different), so at least give a reasonable but wide range so they might have to narrow it in.

        You also could say “I don’t think I could accept less than _____” but again, don’t lowball yourself.

        • Rodolink

          thats great, thanks for the help!

          • SelectFromWhere

            I’ve just been reading further down this thread and seen more posts on this topic that are more eloquent than mine, and some contradict me–read them all and be aware that different interview situations call for different steps in the “dance”. Certainly if it’s a hard-driving directorial kind of position, going in knowing what you want would be seen as a good thing…I don’t have that kind of personality so I am basing it on more common mid-level interview experience.

        • andrea

          If they ask you should know the range for the job and where you fit into it. If they don’t ask and don’t offer the info, you need to know before you accept the job offer. YOU don’t want to be lowballed by a cheap employer. THEY are buying your skills, somewhere you need to find the price they are willing to pay.

    • SelectFromWhere

      I would shy away from that–if they give you an offer, they will mention it, and if they don’t, then it doesn’t matter anyway. The problem is that despite the fact that you want a job means you need a paycheck, there is this little etiquette dance where you are pretending that you want to work there because it’s a great place to be and to help THEM. (Some jobs, such as sales, may vary in this approach). If it gets to the very end and nothing has been brought up about salary, you might very politely say something like “Are you allowed to give an approximate salary range?” but for some reason, asking outright is often considered too “forward”. Just one of those things like shining your shoes and wearing a nice suit that are all about a good impression and little about your actual skills.

      • Rodolink

        thank you for the advice that explains a lot…

  • Breene

    Learn how the business makes money. Then tell them how hiring you will help them make more money. Usually that’s in a few ways (can make product/service better, people like working with you-which is good for clients and employees, you think about how to make things better, etc.).

  • Reinhardt

    I think the best advice I can give is: bragging a bit isn’t always a bad thing. I’ve got many jobs just by talking myself through things I actually really didn’t know much about.

    Now I read this quote from Richard Branson a couple of weeks ago, and it’s more or less the same as what I mean.

    “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”

    I’ve learned a lot of the things I was supposed to know about on forehand just by doing it as soon as I was in position and every employer has been more than happy with my work in the end.

  • R1ck

    I would just like to say Tim…. the bullshit mysterious voodo hiring process in this country is mind-boggling to foreigners. Please do a post on the absurd business cargo cult-ures here in the States.

    Seriously, it’s worse than the tipping situation!

    Everything is a big fucking secret. And you have to be perfect.
    Does anyone know a perfect secret? Name one!

    • d

      It’s not just in the States, that’s the case everywhere. At least you don’t have to worry about perfect bribes like some countries where you not only have to have the right connections to even be interviewed but have to have bribed all the right people with all the right amounts or with all the right gifts. Still, the worst thing is that the societies we live in reflect who we are. Ugh.

  • Brian Luptak

    Has anyone at the Dinner Table had any success in furthering their careers using LinkedIn??

    When searching for my first job out of University, I had very little success on LinkedIn, Indeed; and online application forum, really. Asking around my graduation class, this seemed to be the consensus. I ended up scoring my dream job through good old-fashion networking (my girlfriend sent my resume to a contact at her old company).

    My advice to others looking for work has been to avoid applying on any sort of online forum. Instead, I suggest to look through a list of everyone you know and where they work, and see if one or two friends can kick your resume to their HR dept. or a manager they know is looking to hire.

    Is this bad advice? Has anyone had luck applying online?

    • Louis A. Cook

      I have gotten most of my jobs through a personal connection despite trying other means. That could be because of the type of person I am and the type of work I do (communications & strategy design, product design & fabrication) I remember when monster.com came out, I had just finished college and used it to apply for over 100 jobs with only one automated reply to show for it. My experience with linkedin has been much better. I’ve been contacted by several recruiters offering legit contract opportunities, but turned them down because my mental bandwidth to pending tasks ratio is already way fucked. My sister signed up for the pro version and got a job despite a tough market (pharma). It may be that linkedin serves those with established careers better than those just leaving school.

      • Vysakh S

        True. LinkedIn is more useful for highly experienced professionals. I had 2 years of experience but even using the PRO version didn’t help me get an interview.

  • g

    I hire entry level, post-college folks. My tips:
    1. Don’t lie on your resume about your experience. I do call references and they tend to be honest.
    2. Speaking of references, ASK THEM BEFORE giving their contact info to a potential employer. Let them know about the job (send them the announcement if possible). I have received responses from references that are negative, apathetic, or even annoyed.Hint: those people were not hired
    3. Be polite, try not to use slang (“like”, “anyways”, “and stuff”, “or something” )
    There is a lot of disagreement on this post on what to do or not do. I think this means that there are a lot of interviewers with a lot of jobs looking for a lot of types of people. Be yourself, the one where you are polite, honest about your skills and abilities, and keep trying. If someone asks me to explain why they did not get the position, I try to respond. It is almost always because someone else either had more experience or sold their experience better.

  • Lightforge

    Don’t take failed interviews or a lack of job offer personally. Highly trained and experienced job interviewers are demonstrably unreliable in their ability to choose the right candidate, which may or may not be you, and neither of you will ever know otherwise. Learn what you can from what you found, then move on to the next one. Now.

  • I_cant_even

    Lots of great tips, but let me add one….

    For a recent entry-level admin job at my company (no degree required, pay grade in mid-$30,000’s), only ONE resume out of 150 was formatted correctly with no grammar or spelling errors. The job requires excellent written communication skills and it is explicitly stated in the job posting. The problem, I think, is that most people don’t realize the mistakes they are making so here is a list of what I look for when I review resumes:

    – misspelled words
    – grammar mistakes (verb tenses matter!)
    – lack of consistency (if you use a period at the end of one bullet point, use it on all of them)
    – lack of organization (list skills/traits like ‘proficient in MS Word’ in the profile or qualifications section at the top or the skills list at the bottom) from job responsibilities (which go under the job titles in bullet point form).
    – too wordy (don’t just list everything you did at a job; take the time to lump together similar tasks and to summarize when possible; omit anything that is minor and irrelevant to the job you are currently seeking)
    – tailor your resume to the job you are seeking (include words from the job posting IN CONTEXT throughout the resume, not just listed at the top. It shows that you understand how the resume matching software functions AND that you know how to connect previous job tasks to the job postings’ requirements)
    – write a cover letter that explains why we should hire you, not why you want a job. We know why want a job, but what we need to know is what you can do for us!
    – show your resume and cover letter to people who can help, especially those who are sticklers for grammar, and take their advice.
    – if you don’t get a job after an interview and you want to know why, email the interviewer and ask if he/she will give some tips. I will take the time to coach people in this area because I know how tough it can be and I like helping people. Never hurts to ask! That person may remember that you are the type who seeks constructive criticism and call you when there is an opening because managers need people who are into self-improvement.
    – name your resume with first and last name followed by ‘resume.’ It bugs me when I save them to my computer and have to rename them for you. Same for the cover letter.
    – upload it in pdf form to the application site if possible so you retain formatting. Always use a normal font, no graphics, and simple formatting. You’d be shocked by how the resumes look to us when the software strips them of the bells and whistles.
    – proofread the application too. Seriously. And don’t use all-caps.

    I’m on mobile and I’m sure I have violated every rule I’ve given. lol But it’s good advice, I promise.

  • Gareth Collins

    I’d say it’s best to be yourself, within the protocols and atmosphere of an interview, and also be honest. Don’t invent or grossly exaggerate skills as it’ll count against you in the long run.

  • John Smith

    A cover letter may make sense for a job you really want, but if you are applying to a bunch of companies, most recruiters will ignore the cover letter and spend 15-30 seconds looking over your resume.

  • Chiel Wieringa

    I guess this post is meant for people who still believe that there is actually skill involved in getting picked for a job. Well there is, but then you need to have studied marketing to be successful at it. The rest is just pure luck and highly depends on the mood of the person doing the selection. I’ve gotten invited for interviews with some of my worst letters and have heard nothing from applications I have put a lot of effort in (even where professionals have looked and reviewed my letters). So DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE. It will safe you a lot of discomforting feelings of being rejected.

  • Cali Fornia Cat

    I’m a hiring manager. Years ago I worked in job placement in a bad economy. Job seekers should stop believing that there’s some magic formula “do this, don’t do that, wing of bat, sprinkle essence of parachute on cover letter” and you’re guaranteed the job.

    Human beings decide if you get hired. You may have noticed that humans are quite different, with wildly varying preferences and prejudices. Humans Who Hire have other job duties, to which hiring is added. HWH are rushed and possibly as inexperienced at interviewing as you are. The process is often compressed to fill the post ASAP, but is occasionally drawn out forever because 2 or more people have to coordinate interview slots. And don’t forget you’re competing against other humans.

    Thus, every job and every person who decides to hire will be, must logically be, different.

    So, resume & cover letter advice can be general at best. If anyone claims to know “the right way,” they must be partly wrong. [side note: I think personal goals on a resume are stupid. If your personal goal isn’t the job you’re applying for, wtf? Don’t waste our time.]

    I agree with the guy who says to show personality in the cover letter. Also that you should do your homework and be error free. And yeah, I don’t care what this job will do for you; what can you do for me? How will you fit in with my crew? And desperate though you may be for work, if you’re not what is needed, you may have saved heartache by being passed by. Remember, you’re looking for a good fit too.

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