I’ve never considered myself a good test taker, in fact, I still have this same view about myself today. I do not like to be tested on or about anything. I’ve always just been more of a “get out there and do it” type of gal. I rather show you the results then try to convince you in a test-like atmosphere that I most likely may be equipped with the knowledge that you’re looking for. Unfortunately, life is all about being tested and in more ways than one. One of the many ways we’re tested is during our job search. From the application process to all stages of the interview, we’re being tested. I hate that!…but somehow, I make it through. Being able to provide for yourself is the single most important thing in ones life. Not only being able to provide for yourself but also finding a career that you thoroughly enjoy. Well, I’ve teamed up with Reginald Smith, national recruiter for ICONMA, where he recruits candidates for Fortune 500 and 100 companies around the United States. I’ve sent Mr. Smith several questions concerning the job search process and he has delivered excellently. Check out his tips for success below!
AM: What do companies look for while scanning resumes?
RS: When creating resumes, it is very important that candidates are tailoring their resumes to fit what the company is looking for. Starting off, it is very important to make your objective very clear and to the point. In a paragraph, be sure to sum up exactly what it is you’re looking for, the type of background you come from and be sure to add descriptive words that describe your work ethic. For example: “Accomplished retail business leader, with demonstrated success driving revenue growth by improving operational efficiencies, increasing profitability and providing excellent customer service, seeking a Retail Operations position. Skilled in building partnerships, developing productive integrated teams and driving sales initiatives.” A lot of staffing companies (and companies in general) turn to sites such as Career Builder or Monster (to name a few) to find job seekers. In this case, tailoring your resume to fit a specific position isn’t needed, however, it is very important that you are including all your skill sets.
A lot of recruiters use a Boolean search with keywords to find potential candidates. By adding a lot of skill sets, it increases the chances of a recruiter discovering your resume a lot easier. A cool trick is to add your skill sets at the bottom in white(this only works for resumes submitted through Monster or Career builder. Do not do this on hard-copy resumes); stemming from this, your resumes will be pulled faster in a Boolean search.
Be sure to include month and dates on all positions and make sure that they go in order. Recruiters often times look for employment gaps and want to know how consistent the job seeker has been while working. If you have employment gaps, be sure to include on your resume the reason why.
For example: May 2012 – January 2015: Unemployed Stemming From schooling OR Actively Seeking Employment Opportunities. Be sure to answer as many questions as you can before speaking with the recruiter.
- Bullet point all of your skills and responsibilities under each position. Be mindful that recruiters and/or hiring managers are going through several resumes. Get straight to the point, bullet point your skills and try to be as detailed as possible.
- A nice flowing resume with easy to read font is very important. Be sure to use a font that is able to be seen on all computers. Basically, stick to Times New Roman or Arial. STAY FAR AWAY FROM COMIC SANS!
AM: If a person is looking for a new job, on average how many job applications should they be submitting every day/ week?
RS: When actively seeking employment opportunities, apply to as many positions as you see yourself fit for. The more, the better because you have the opportunity of raising your chances of employment. However, be sure to keep track of the positions that you are applying for so you are never caught off guard by a recruiter or hiring manager calling you. Apply only to positions in which you see fit for yourself. Do not apply to whatever and whoever is hiring. When seeking employment, a great way to keep track of the positions in which you are applying for is to keep a binder with job descriptions and other important information of the companies you have applied to. Therefore, you are always prepared for those phone calls.
- Be sure to post your resume on job boards such as Career Builder and Monster. A lot of staffing companies are connected with Fortune 500 & 1000 companies and this is their number one method of seeking candidates. With that being said, be open to random numbers calling you and always be polite and pleasant when answering the phone. Also, make sure you have a very professional voicemail stating your full name and stay away from things such as ring back tones.
AM: Cover Letters… what makes a good cover letter?
RS: Like an objective, a cover letter is an awesome way to stand apart from other candidates that are applying and a way to showcase your skill sets and overall employment background. It is very important to keep your cover letter focused on the company in which it is directed towards. Along with showcasing your skill sets, it is important that you show a genuine interest in the company and prove that you have what it takes to be on their team.
- Keep your cover letter short enough for one to read in less than 30 seconds. Three paragraphs is typically a good enough; first paragraph as an intro, the second for the meat (background, experience, why you would be a good asset) and the third as a wrap up.
- Keep the readers interest. Be perky, fun, yet professional.
- Scan the job description for the position in which you are applying for and show the company that you have the skills.
- Use statistics and numbers to back yourself up especially if you are applying for a position that may be heavy in metrics.
- PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD: Recruiters are heavy on paying attention to detail and so should you.
AM: When called to come in for an interview, what should one be doing to prepare?
RS: When being called into an interview, it’s all about doing homework. First, it is important that one does their research on the company and get information to back up why you’re looking to work for them. Websites’ such as Glassdoor or even a simple Google search will be able to lead you in the right direction. Things such as how long they have been in business to information about the CEO are always good directions to go in.
- Go over the job description and make sure you know why you are a fit for this position. What can you bring to role? What in your background experience makes you the ideal candidate for this position and why are you the obvious choice? Be sure to know the ins and outs of the position and if you have it, show hiring managers that you are the obvious choice and you have what it takes to be successful in the role.
- Dress professionally: when in an interview it is very important that you fit the part and look your best, first impressions are everything.
- Bring 2-3 copies of your resume.
- PRACTICE: I’ve attached an interview prep guide for candidates to go over.
- Send a thank you email to the hiring manager express your gratitude for the opportunity to interview with the company (I’ve attached a template).
- Go over the STAR Method (attached).
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions; hiring managers like to know that you are interested enough to get your own information and aren’t afraid to take that approach.
AM: Social Media… are companies really scanning people’s social media accounts? Do you know of any candidates that were disqualified due to what they had on their social media accounts?
RS: Yes. Stemming from the popularity of social media in today’s society, recruiters and hiring managers typically do a search for their candidates online. With that said, create a professional social media account such as LinkedIn. Not only is site a great site to connect with other professionals, but recruiters and hiring managers use this to search for qualified candidates as well. Also, sites such as LinkedIn will typically generate at the top of searches when recruiters or hiring managers are searching for social media handles of their candidates. Most importantly present yourself online in a way that you are comfortable being viewed as.
- Don’t use your real name on sites that aren’t necessarily “the most appropriate.”
- Never use Twitter, Instagram or mention your companies name on Facebook. Most companies are notified whenever their name is mentioned on social media in general.
While working at Quicken Loans as a recruiter, I’ve across several situations where candidates would tweet certain things which either got their offered revoked or them dismissed from their job.
AM: Are jobs able to access private social media accounts?
RS: I can only speak from my experience and no, we have not had access to private social media accounts. However, I have heard that bigger companies are teaming up with social media companies to be able to access things about their company from private social media handles.
AM: What advice would you give someone whose looking to land their dream job?
RS: It is most important that you are comfortable being uncomfortable. Interviewing and seeking employment opportunities can be extremely stressful and nervous for some. However, be confident knowing that you ideally have what they’re looking for. Be confident (not cocky) and most importantly know what it is that you want to do and know why you should be selected for the position. Use sites like LinkedIn and connect with people in the roles in which you are looking to get into and pick their brains, a lot of professional love speaking on their area of expertise and helping others along the journey.
Be sure to download those free resources Mr. Smith provided and as always remember to — Stay Ambitious, Stay Motivated!
Free Downloadable Resources(3)