You’re dressed for success and waiting to be called upon. Your palms are sweaty, your knee is bouncing and you’ve cleared your throat ten times. You’re fidgety, and for the past ten minutes you’ve tried to convince yourself what you’re experiencing is excitement and joy, but really, you’re nervous. You’re about to jump up and into a full-scale pace when suddenly you hear it, your name is called. IT’S TIME!
In the thirty seconds you have before settling into the hot seat, numerous questions go through your mind: do you have enough copies of your resume, is three pages too long, should you take notes during the interview, will they ask about that six month gap between your previous and current job, did you research the company enough? Don’t worry! All your questions are valid and quite normal. You’ve now entered the room and ashed your most engaging smile, because the ultimate goal despite the nerves and questions, is to ace the interview and land the job. Go get ‘em, tigress!
We know, we’ve been there and we relive the experience each time we field resumes and interview candidates. With a combined total of thirty years experience within the Human Resources industry we have seen the good, the bad and sometimes the really ugly when it comes to reviewing resumes, interviewing and ultimately hiring employees. We are Nakia McKenzie, Assistant Director of Total Rewards and Vanessa Johnson, Assistant Director of Human Resources Technology with the American Chemical Society in Washington, DC. Everything we share here is based in career experience and while nothing here is a secret, we do promise it will assist with the questions that plague you from the moment you submit your resume to landing the job.
How do you ensure your resume will be seen by the hiring manager(s) and not end up in the black hole of the organization’s applicant tracking system?
- Avoid fancy-shmancy layouts, fonts, and other special effects. Craft your resume in a simple Word format that can be easily viewed and submitted via most applicant tracking systems.
- Delete the objectives and summary. Employers really do not care about your objective. We care about OUR objective.
- Cease with those warm and fuzzy keywords. You know the ones we’re referring to; customer oriented, exceptional communication skills, self-motivated. Instead let what you’ve actually DONE show that you are all these things.Trust us, these words do absolutely nothing to assist you with getting an interview.
- Aww, you’ve added a nice head-shot to your resume?A resume is no place for a photo. You’re trying to look for a job, not a date!
- Proofread, proofread, proofread. A small typo could end your chances of getting invited to an interview. So, please (we beg of you) make sure you proofread your resume at least three times, and then have someone else take a look.
- We’ve seen a lot of resumes that have “references available upon request.” DELETE that phrase! If you’re sending your resume to an organization it’s a no brainier that you’re available for an interview and that references will be provided.
What do hiring managers seek and expect from the interviewee? How can you truly leave a lasting impression?
- Do your research before the interview! This is a HUGE pet-peeve of most hiring managers and recruiters. Check out the company website, conduct a few Google searches and follow their social media sites. Know the big name initiatives and be able discuss them with the hiring manager. Many a promising interview has ended early because the candidate knew nothing about the organization.
- Arrive about ten to twenty minutes before the interview. A late arrival is inexcusable and shows that if you arrive late for the interview more than likely you’ll arrive late for work.
- Ugh, a weak handshake!?! Honestly, it’s a little creepy. When you’re greeted by the hiring manager offer arm handshake to demonstrate that you are con dent, positive
- No matter what your best friend says, don’t take notes during the interview. It’s distracting to the hiring manager. Seriously, we’re supposed to be having a conversation with you, not your pen.
- Please, do avoid (yeah, we’re begging again) using poor language, slang and the infamous pause words: like, yep/yeah, cool, OMG, ah and um. Use proper English…um,like…please? Kaaaay? Thanks.
- Avoid talking so much the hiring manager forgets the question they have asked. We understand you may be a nervous chatterbox, and while it’s important to share stories that support your experiences, be careful not to get lost. Instead, be precise and to the point.
- Please don’t tell the hiring manager you’re willing to do anything they ask, including taking out the trash or picking up their laundry (really?!?). Be honest with your limits.
- About last night…you rocked out a little too much, but you read this article and have arrived twenty minutes early. Good job…err—not so much! Don’t party the night before—even if it was your birthday. Trust us, we can tell.You want to be on your A-game for the interview, get a good night’s sleep the night before!
- When asked if you have any questions, you better have something! How can you NOT have any questions? It says to me you haven’t done your research and your mind has been focused on something else for the last sixty minutes.
- Last but not least, SMILE! Smiling sets the mood for the interview. Hiring managers secretly LOVE when a candidate smiles, it shows the candidate is engaging. Flash
those pearly whites!
After the Interview
You did all you could do, now what?
- Say thank you. Twenty four hours after you rocked the interview, send out a “thank you” email. We love receiving those emails. No need to pull out the fancy card stock or send an edible arrangement, a simple email will suffice.Be sure to include something specific you learned from the interview, so the thank you note doesn’t feel so plain and generic.
- Being proactive is key. Follow up with your interviewer, it shows your interest and desire for the position.
- Don’t stop looking. Despite that you rocked the interview and a job offer is on the horizon, continue the search. Job-hunting is hard work! However, we do hope some of these tips and tricks, will help you successfully write an effective resume, rock that interview and ultimately land your dream job!
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2017 print issue of Sass Magazine.