Wednesday, August 14, 2013

8 Secrets of Hiring Managers

Alison Green -

Hiring managers see a lot of job applicants make the same mistakes over and over again, many of which are easily preventable if only applicants knew how hiring managers operate. Here are eight things that hiring managers wish all job candidates knew - both to help them hire more easily and to end some of the frustration for job-seekers.

1. You can ruin your chances by being too aggressive. When you're searching for a job, enthusiasm helps. But some job applicants cross the line from enthusiastic to annoying or pushy - and in doing so, kill their chances for a job offer. If you're doing any of the following, you've crossed the line and may turn off hiring managers who might otherwise consider hiring you: Dropping off your résumé in person when the job posting instructs you to apply online, checking on the status of your application more than once within three weeks, repeatedly calling and hanging up when you get voicemail or cold-contacting numerous employees at the company to try to get extra attention paid to your résumé.

2. We really want you to be honest. Too many job seekers approach job searching as if their only goal is to win a job offer, losing sight of the fact that this can land them in the wrong job. But if you're honest - with yourself and with your interviewer - about your strengths and weaknesses and if you give the hiring manager a glimpse of the real you, you'll both be able to make a better informed decision about how well you'd do in the job. (Of course, if you just need a job at any costs, this might not resonate with you, but if you want a job where you'll excel and be happy, it should.)

3. You don't get to choose your references. You might think that employers will only call the references on the list you provide, but in fact, they may call anyone you've worked for or who might know you, on your list or not. In fact, smart reference-checkers will make a point of calling people not on your list, since they assume you've only listed people who you know will speak of you glowingly.

4. No matter how positive things seem, you shouldn't count on a job offer. No matter how confident you are that an employer wants to hire you, you never have a job offer until you have a firm - preferably written - offer in hand. That's true no matter what an interviewer says to you, even if they say things like, "You'll be great at this," "We're excited to work with you" or "You're exactly what we're looking for." None of those things means that an offer is coming, no matter how encouraging they sound.

5. The small details matter. Candidates frequently act as if only "official" contacts, like interviews and formal writing samples, count during the hiring process. So they'll send flawless cover letters and then check up on their applications with sloppily written emails that include spelling errors, or they'll be charming and polite to their interviewer but rude to the receptionist. Good employers are paying attention to everything during the hiring process, not just the official pieces.

6. If you can't produce references, most hiring managers will be wary. Some candidates wonder what to do if their past employers have a policy of not giving out references, but most employers will expect you to find someone willing to vouch for your work anyway. Unfair? Maybe, but the reality is that if they have two great candidates and one has references and one doesn't, they're going to go with the one who does.

7. Wondering how to stand out? Use your cover letter. A well-written, engaging cover letter that's customized to a particular opening can open doors when your résumé alone might not have gotten you a second look.

8. Your personality matters a lot. Good hiring managers think a lot about your personality. You could have great skills but not get hired because your working style would clash with the people with whom you'd work. Often, one personality type will simply fit better into a department than another will - and whether that style is quiet, loud, thick-skinned, aggressive, informal or stiff is hard to know from the outside.

Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog, where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mistakes Made In An Interview – Can Cost You A Job Offer

by Carole Martin
That first impression can be a great beginning, or a quick ending to your interview. Three areas of performance, that should be considered dangerous and deadly:
1.Poor non-verbal communication image
  • Show confidence by believing in yourself and showing it. (head held high – shoulders back)
  • Good eye contact is essential. (Note the color of the interviewer’s eyes.)
  • Connect with a good, firm handshake. (No limp noodles or bone crushers wanted)
  • Posture is a key indicator of confidence. Sit and stand erect. (Slumping = lazy attitude.)
2. Poor verbal communication skills
  • Good communication skills include listening and letting the person know you heard what they said. (“Sounds like…”
  • Observe your interviewer’s style and pace - match that style and pace.
  • Use appropriate language. (Beware of using slang words or references to age, race, religion, politics, or sexual preferences) No, “You guys…”
  • Telling the interviewer more than they need to know could be a fatal mistake. (Too much information – particularly personal information – could get into some areas that are best not discussed in an interview.)
3. Not asking questions – big mistake.
  • When asked, “Do you have any questions?” if you answer “No,” - WRONG answer!
  • Asking questions gives you the opportunity to show your interest. (The best questions come from listening to what is said and asked during the interview. Ask for additional information.)
  • Asking questions gives you the opportunity to find out if this is the right place for you. (Your chance to find out what goes on in the company.)
What’s the best way to know whether you are breaking any of these rules – get feedback. It’s important that the feedback be straight-forward and honest. Otherwise, you will keep making the same mistakes.
Give yourself every advantage by preparing and practicing before the interview. Be aware of your verbal and non-verbal performance and the messages you are sending. It could make the difference between a job offer or not.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

4 Reasons Hiring Managers Don't Send Rejection Letters. (

One of the most frustrating things in life is putting time and effort into applying for a job, acing the interview and then never hearing back from the company.

Being rejected is one of the biggest annoyances experienced by job seekers. But it's not just being turned down that infuriates people. It's having an interview and then not being turned down, or so much as contacted by the company ever again.

We interviewed company leaders and hiring managers to find out why companies no longer send rejection letters - and why those who do, still do.

1. Sheer volume. It's a buyer's market out there in today's economy. Record numbers of applicants are applying for fewer jobs, with companies receiving on average 250 résumés for every job opening, according to a recent article by Dr. John Sullivan on the recruitment community website
"The reason we can't always respond to job seekers is simply a matter of volume," says Joel Gross, CEO and founder of Coalition Technologies. "Considering the sheer number of responses we get to a single job listing, it's impossible for us to even open all of the emails, let alone respond to each one personally."

2. Fear of being sued. The decrease in employer response to job applicants may be a natural consequence of the faceless online applicant tracking system, but also the result of a greater fear. "With today's recession bringing more employment lawsuits, your company's applicant rejection letters could be very costly if written in a way that could spark legal action," warns George Lenard, the originator of George's Employment Blawg.

3. They put office staff in the firing line. Sending a job rejection email with a name or number included may have unintended consequences. "Mounting layoffs are creating a glut of qualified job hunters who are desperate for work," says a source at "As their frustration grows, more applicants are reading deeper into their rejection letters - sometimes spotting job promises you never intended."
The last thing your office staff wants is to spend time on the phone with rejected job-seekers who have called with the hopes of talking their way back into the job, or worse - questioning whether you made the right hiring decision.

4. They're keeping their options open. Companies may also linger to reject you in case another candidate falls through. Sometimes the No. 1 candidate doesn't work out, so the No. 2 candidate is then called and offered the position. "The company doesn't want to completely shut that door," says Katie Fuller, a recent graduate from UVa McIntire School of Commerce. "If they never come across a good candidate, they can't extend any sort of offer if they've rejected you."
Reasons to Send Rejection Emails

There are many good arguments for notifying candidates that their application has been unsuccessful. Sending job rejection letters can actually build brand goodwill by giving applicants closure. "When you apply for a job, it often feels like your résumé goes into the same black hole that sucks up your socks in the dryer," says Ellis Blevins, the director of Amadeus Talent, a technical recruiting division of Amadeus Consulting. "We find that a personal approach alleviates a lot of the stress and frustration that happens when applying for jobs."

"The hiring process is an important part of building a company," agrees Jessica Nobrega, director of talent at Grammarly. "Clear communication across all departments and channels is a key piece to ensuring that the company's culture is one of integrity and respect for others."
Whatever you do, avoid this move, posted by a frustrated reviewer with the user name "Pixilated" on the website "The most memorable [rejection letter] came via email, with the subject line: REJECTED. Wow."

What to Do If You Don't Hear Back
So what's a job seeker to do? The best way forward is to ask at the end of your interview about the next step in the hiring process. "Asking about the timelines gives you the opportunity to follow up," advises a hiring manager at the career coaching website "If the employer says, 'We expect to let people know by the end of this week,' you can then say, 'If I haven't heard back from you by the beginning of next week, is it OK if I call?'"
Asking for the green light to check allows you to take positive action to follow up on your interview, rather than being left in the dark.

When Being Gracious Pays Off
It takes a rare person to respond to rejection with positivity, but writing a gracious thank-you note if you actually do receive a rejection letter will make you stand head and shoulders above other candidates. "If you can muster the professionalism and grace to thank the people who interviewed you, you could transform yourself from a reject into a pearl," says Julie Bauke, president of Congruity Career Consulting. Every time Bauke gets a thank-you letter in response to a rejection, she finds herself wondering: "Did I make the right decision?"