7 Best Practices for Job Seekers
By Angela Parra, Recruiter, Launch Talent
You’re back on the job market and looking for your next opportunity, hoping to land a better job than you just had with even more pay. You revamp your resume, begin to network, apply to job postings and reach out to recruiters. You may get a few calls, or several. You might land one or more interviews, all in the hopes of getting an offer. Now let’s say you get an offer, or several, and you take one. Your job search is over and you are back to work. Congrats!
All sounds pretty simple, right? But what about all the little things that seem to get looked over during that process? Those “common sense” things that employers (and recruiters) actually pay attention to. The little things that help demonstrate your decision making skills.
I have been in the staffing world at some capacity for about 8 years now, amongst 3 different industries. And the common denominator between it all is that I continue to see the same mistakes occur, especially during the interview process. When a candidate is working with a recruiter, it’s the recruiter’s job to make sure that the candidate is well informed and is well prepared for every stage of the recruiting lifecycle. From resume submission, to interview preparation, and all the way to the offer/acceptance stage. Recruiters tend to think that they are representing some smart people with common sense, but some things can unfortunately slip through the cracks.
Below are my Top 7 Best Practices for demonstrating sound decision making skills while on the job market:
- Keep track of all the opportunities you apply for or have been submitted to. I frequently talk to candidates that don’t even remember they had applied to a position. They just “applied to a bunch of jobs online” hoping to get some responses. I suggest writing each opportunity that you apply for down on a piece of paper or even create a spreadsheet. You can include the date you applied, the job title/company name (if possible) and maybe even save the job description. This not only demonstrates your attention to detail, but it shows that you took time to actually read the job description and have an interest in the opportunity.
- Research the company. There have been many instances in the first round of interviews where candidates are asked: “Tell me what you know about our company” or “Why do you want to work for our company?” This is then followed by the standard responses of “I don’t know much about the company” or “I hear it’s a great place to work” without explaining why. It is in your best interest to do as much research about the organization prior to the interview so that you are able to be specific in your response. This small step indicates that you are proactive, interested and have a clear understanding as to who you are interviewing with, which results in a more productive interview.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Be accessible via email and/or telephone. Have a professional voicemail greeting and a professional email address. Return calls from recruiters or HR personnel in a timely matter (ideally 24 hours). There have been instances that an employer has requested to interview a candidate, but the candidate is slow to respond/confirm and it ultimately leaves a bad taste in the employer’s mouth, possibly questioning just how interested in the opportunity that candidate may be. Prompt communication doesn’t take much effort. This can help demonstrate your reliability.
- If invited for an interview, bring multiple copies of your resume. Pretty basic, yet frequently forgotten. The best thing to do is to bring copies of your resume in a professional folder, along with a notepad and pen. This step helps to illustrate your ability to be prepared and organized.
- Always dress in business professional attire, unless told otherwise. I know that all industries are different, especially in the Tech World where the culture has become very casual. Just remember, you don’t work there yet! It is essential to make a good first impression and that starts with your apparel. Not all company cultures are the same, so if you are unsure of what to wear, just ask the recruiter or HR associate during the pre-interview preparation. Some staple rules to follow: Don’t wear jeans to an interview. Remove the sunglasses from the top of your head. Spit out the gum. Put your phone on silent or turn it off. Iron your clothes. Tuck in your shirt, etc. This step demonstrates your ability to remain professional.
- Come prepared with questions for after the interview. These can be pre-written in the notebook that you bring with you or kept in the back of your head. Some example questions that you can ask the interviewer may be: What do you like most about the company? What does the ramp up time look like for someone in this role? What are the characteristics of someone who has been successful in this role? This small best practice will showcase your interest in the role, the organization and will ensure that you, as the interviewee, have all of the answers you need to make a sound decision, should they extend an offer to you.
- Be on time. This actually means to show up 10-15 minutes early (but not any earlier, as you want to be respectful of the employer’s time and you may be awkwardly sitting in the lobby for a while). Traffic and parking should always be taken into consideration. I have had candidates do a trial run a day prior to the interview to estimate travel time. This step helps demonstrate good preparation and planning.
I am sure that some of you were reading through these best practices and thinking this is Job Searching 101, but unfortunately many of these steps are often overlooked. These are all simple techniques to help demonstrate sound decision making skills. Skills that employers and recruiters look for when they seek new talent to join their company.
What other interview tips do you wish all candidates would remember?