Howdy y’all! I’ve been in my current position as a Human Resources intern at a large, multinational software company for about two months now. While that may not seem like a very long time, I have learned a ton of tips and tricks, ins and outs, of the industry during my time there. Unemployment being what it is in the current economy (getting better, but still higher than everyone would like to see), I’d like to share some of my new knowledge with you in order to help you in your job search.
(courtesy of pinterest, themetapicture.com)
Here we go.
6. How to write a resume recruiters want to read
I work specifically for the recruiting portion of HR at my company, and due to a new hiring push from upper management, we go through an extremely high volume of resumes every day. They are not all the polished, professional products we would like to see from people applying for software development, finance, and managerial positions. Some of them are downright awful. Here are a few tips on writing a resume that doesn’t make the recruiter cringe:
- Use your full name, first and last, at the top of the page. You may be surprised by the amount of people who give only a first name and a last initial when submitting a resume to Careerbuilder.com or Monster.com. When I am going through these websites to pull resumes for my recruiters to look at, it’s off-putting to not have a last name on the page.
- Don’t use a cover page. Your resume is not an APA formatted paper, and does not need a cover page. Simply put your name, phone number, and email (and address, if you so wish) at the top of the page, then begin listing your experience. Also, your resume should not be 20 pages long. This isn’t a contest of who has done the most stuff – we just want to know if you can do one specific job.
- Use only one or two fonts. If every line of your resume is in a different font, the whole document looks incredibly childish and unorganized. Great fonts for resumes are Arial, Times New Roman, Georgia, and Calibri. These, of course, aren’t your only choices, but keep in mind that you want the hiring manager to look at what you’ve accomplished, not how it’s written.
- Don’t put weird graphics in the background of your resume. Unless you are an artist of some sort, the only picture on your resume should be a small one of your face, tucked in a corner, and even that is optional.
- Please don’t put your social security number or birth date on your resume. We’ve had people do this, and it is… a security issue. Why anyone would willingly give out his social security number without prompting is beyond me, but please think about this: do you really know who you’re sending your resume to?
With these things in mind, here are some online resources to help write a good resume. Just remember, if you use a template, please fill out all the information – don’t leave blank spots from the template hanging in there. Then we know you used a template and that you don’t know how to write a resume. It’s fine to get help, just, please fill in the template correctly.
5. How to ace those aptitude tests
Many companies now screen applicants using aptitude and personality tests. Our company does, and it is surprising (having taken these tests myself) how many people do not pass. Often, these assessments are timed, which can make some people nervous (I am a sufferer of test anxiety myself, so believe me, I understand), but there is no need to worry. Here are my tips for these tests:
- Call the HR department to ask if it’s alright to use a calculator. Seriously. Our assessment is online, and states that you can’t use a calculator or scratch paper, but our company allows it (the test is through a third party, so the rules differ). Give yourself every advantage you can; I promise, the people in HR don’t mind letting you know their rules for the test.
- Make sure that your computer is running smoothly. Most companies will be pretty forgiving if your internet crashes while you’re taking their test, but it’s still better to be prepared than have to sheepishly call afterward and ask for a redo. It saves time for everyone.
- Give yourself a quiet, distraction-free space to work. Whether this is at home, the library, or at a park, make sure you can concentrate on the assessment. Nothing is going to mess up your score more than having to stop in the middle to do something else.
- Brush up on your math and verbal skills. Many of these tests include a math and/or verbal portion, which harken back to ye olde SAT. If it’s been a really long time since you’ve done anything of the sort, (and hasn’t it for so many of us?) be sure to brush up on these skills before taking the test. Often, the link to the test will be good for a couple of days, or can be resent if you ask, so take the extra time to, well, study. You don’t want to miss an opportunity just because you haven’t taken algebra in 15 years; it’s not fair to anyone. Here is a free SAT practice test to use: http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-practice-test
I can’t guarantee that these tips will get you an A on every test, but I hope they help. As for personality tests – consistency and honesty is key. We really do want to know how you’ll fit in at the company and for which role. We want you to be happy at your job when you get it, and that’s why we give those tests – not just to bum you out. Promise.
4. Phone interviews
A large portion of my day is spent scheduling phone interviews for my recruiters. I don’t have too many problems in this area, and most people are great about making themselves available for interviews. I just have a few tips:
- Know what time zone the company you’re interviewing with is in. I work in Arizona, which is Mountain Standard Time, all year round. This means we match up with Pacific Daylight Savings Time in the summer, because we don’t do daylight savings time. I know, it’s weird. But what’s weirder is the amount of interstate candidates I have who don’t know where our US headquarters are (we only have one site in the US). So when I ask for availabilities, and I get a list of times without time zones, I have to assume you mean your time zone, but… come on. Did you even look at our website when you applied?
- Make sure you’re somewhere with reception, or a land line. I have had to reschedule several interviews due to bad reception, and it’s a waste of everyone’s time. Be prepared.
- Practice. Just like an in-person interview, phone interviews ask certain questions: “Why did you leave your last job?” “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” “Why X company, instead of others?” Think about your answers to these questions before the interview. If you tend to get nervous on the phone (like I do), have some note cards written out with cues and answers. Give yourself the advantage.
- Have questions for the interviewer. There is always time at the end of the interview when the recruiter asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” Your answer should be “yes,” followed by intelligent, well-thought-out questions. Some of the best examples are below:
(courtesy of pinterest)
3. In-person interviews
In-person interviews, much like phone interviews, are all about making impressions. I find them more natural and relaxed than phone interviews, but that’s probably due to my phobia of talking on the phone. I haven’t personally witnessed any candidates coming into their interviews ill-prepared or shabby looking, but I’d like to warn against it anyway. You are trying to let the recruiter know not only that you are fit for the job, but that you want it. Please dress like it.
Here is an infographic about how to prepare for your interview. Good luck!
(courtesy of pinterest)
2. Taking rejection gracefully
Nothing makes my day better than a strongly worded email letting me know what a horrible person I am for not giving so-and-so a job. I’ve been accused of agism, racism, being generally stupid and mean, and honestly, it just makes me laugh.
Yes, part of my job is sending out rejection emails to applicants who didn’t make the cut for whatever reason. It’s not particularly fun, but guess what? I don’t know anything beyond your first and last name, and what position you applied for. It would be pretty difficult to be prejudiced against someone who I knew nothing about. Unless I really hated people named Tom, or something (I don’t). Also, yes, while I have access to more information about applicants, it would take extra work for me to look at it and decide to find in there some reason to discriminate against you. Beyond not wanting to be discriminatory, I also just don’t want to do any extra work, so I promise I’m not violating any EEO statutes.
This goes for everyone in HR I’ve ever met, in this company or others. People who work in Human Resources tend to like, well, humans and take things like confidentiality and fairness very seriously. And again, we are already busy, so we aren’t going to put in extra effort into being prejudiced when there’s so many other, useful things to do.
Finally, I’d like to add this note: the company I work for now actually has the decency to write rejection notices and send them out – we make sure that no one waits more than a week to find out whether they’re getting an interview or not. The times that I have been job hunting, getting any communication from a potential employer, positive or not, was rarer than gold, so please appreciate the time we take to do this. And remember, it isn’t fun for either of us.
1. Please don’t connect with me on LinkedIn
This may sound cold, but it really weirds me out when applicants do this. Every week, I send assessment reminders to applicants who haven’t taken our test yet, and my email signature goes out with this. Several times people have used this to find my profile on LinkedIn and asked to connect with me.
My answer will always be “no,” and I’ll tell you why.
You, the applicant, have not even assessed yet. If you pass, you will get a phone interview, then an in-person interview, and maybe even a job. But at any point in that process, you may get rejected, for any number of reasons. It may be as simple as having you wait until a different role opens up, or it may be that you didn’t pass the assessment. Either way, guess who has to send you a rejection email?
That’s right. Me.
I don’t want to have to do that if I have some more personal connection with you, and that is why I will not connect with you on LinkedIn. I also don’t want you to think that connecting with me will give you any sort of advantage over other applicants, because my recruiters don’t have anything to do with my LinkedIn account, and they are the ones who are really in charge – not me.
I’m not saying I don’t like networking or meeting new people. I’m just saying, until you actually get the job, let’s keep this strictly professional.
(courtesy of pinterest, someecards)
Okay. Not entirely.