I never heard back. Why?

There comes a time when everyone thinks, “I thought I interviewed well.  What happened?  Why didn’t I get through to the next round?”  I think it’s human nature to always be asking “why”.  Let’s split this into a few scenarios:

You submitted your resume, but never heard back.  Why?

  • Before I make the decision to email/call you back, I look at your Facebook page, your Twitter profile, your blog posts, your Google+ page.  I Google you.  I have seen the rants about your job, how much you hate your boss, how you can’t wait for the day to be over.  I have seen the, sometimes, “unclassy” pictures of your drunken stupor from last weekend.  Would you hire you after seeing these things?
  • Your grammar.  Did you pass 2nd grade?  If so, I expect you to know the difference between “their”, “there”, and “they’re”.  Not only is this a poor reflection on you, but I risk my reputation as a recruiter as well.
  • Your resume is hard to read.  Why is it not in chronological order?  How long did you work at XYZ Corp?  When did you leave XYZ Corp?  Why is the font so small???  
  • Your resume is lackluster.  I can tell when you just copy a job description into your resume.  That’s great.  But tell me what YOU did in that role.
  • Your resume lacks information I want/need to see.  You’re in sales, and you don’t tell me how AWESOME you are at closing deals?  Why not?  Are you not proud of your accomplishments?  Things that make me go “hmm” will quickly put you in the reject pile.  

I had a phone interview with the recruiter, but never heard back.  Why?

  • You didn’t do your research.  Tsk tsk.  Always – ALWAYS – do a little reading on the company you’re interviewing with beforehand.  Know what their offerings are, know who their target clients are, know what questions you want to ask.  What else can you research?  The recruiter.  Find out where they went to school, their career history… use it to your advantage.  Build rapport with them off of any commonalities you might have.
  • You talk too much.  Long-winded answers rarely get you anywhere.  Why aren’t you listening to questions I’m asking?  Why aren’t you answering my question directly?  What are you dancing around?  Nerves are hard to overcome in interviews, I get it.  But you have to listen for cues.  What is the recruiter asking of you?  What kind of information does the recruiter need to evaluation your background? 
  • Your answers sound rehearsed and redundant.  Are you telling me the same thing using different words?  Have you said these sentences/phrases over and over in front of a mirror, and in every interview?  We can hear these nuances.
  • You don’t follow directions.  I found you on LinkedIn, I already have access to your profile.  When I ask for a resume, please send it to me.  Don’t direct me back to your LinkedIn page.  Not following an “ask” is a tell-tale sign of how much you want something.  
  • You interview poorly.  I have said it a million times, “interviews are just conversations”.  We are here to learn about each other.  I talk to some candidates where I feel like I’m trying to pull teeth.  Brag about yourself!  Be confident in your abilities.  Ask questions right back at the recruiter.  Just as we’re interviewing you, interview us!

I had an interview with the hiring manager, but never heard back.  Why?

  • Lack of detail.  By the time you’ve gotten to the hiring manager, they are looking for details on why you’d be great at a job.  If you can’t back up statements like “I’m a successful sales rep” with things like “I achieved 200% of my quota YOY by continuously prospecting my territory, fearlessly hunting and cold calling, and continuously analyzing my plan of attack”, the hiring manager isn’t going to be able to assess how well you’d do here.   
  • You didn’t send a “thank you”.  Call it what you will.  Some hiring managers don’t care.  Some do.  Some make it a “mandatory”, while others are just a “nice to have”.  But, why not increase your chances by taking 2 minutes out of your day to email them?  Show them you want it!

Job searches are hard.  Some would say, interviews are harder.  They’re stressful, they put you in a position of vulnerability.  Approach your job search like you would any other tough situation in life — head on!   

Remember… head down, chin up!  

 

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Burning Bridges, Part II

I am an optimist.  I always try to find the best in people… Until I encounter something ridiculous.  I am always surprised by what I encounter on a weekly basis as a recruiter.

When interviewing with a company, the rule of thumb “don’t burn bridges” applies greatly.  I had a candidate who was interviewing for one of my open positions.  Seemingly great background, good personality match, and he and I had a great conversation.  But, we aren’t moving forward with him…  And here is why:

  1. Hung up on his interviewer.  He was mid-conversation with the Hiring Manager (HM) when the HM asked a tough question about management, who he works under, etc.  Understandable question since HM used to work for this candidate’s current company.  The candidate must have been terrified because he quite literally hung up on the HM, and was not reachable after that.
  2. Was misleading about their employment.  As mentioned above, the HM had previously worked at the candidate’s “current” company.  I put current in quotes because the candidate was no longer an active employee.  Naturally, we (recruiters) will find out as much as we can about a candidate through means of our own.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts… We know people, who know people.
  3. Hit on the recruiter.  Check out the final email I received (below).  This is not ok.  Ever.

Image

My advice?  There is a way to bow out of an interview (or anything, really) gracefully.  Don’t burn bridges; you never know when you will need that network.

The Importance of Candidate Experience

Lately, there has been a lot of focus on the importance of candidate experience.  The value that candidate experience brings to a company is extremely powerful.  A poor candidate experience can ruin an otherwise great company and employment opportunity.  On the other hand, a great candidate experience has the power to give a company that competitive advantage in the hiring market place.
I have come to realize that there are just not enough “positive” candidate experiences out there.  In my own past job searches, I can’t even begin to count the lack of communication, lack of answers, and lack of genuine “care” for my candidacy.  Any offers I received, my preference almost always went to the company that provided me with the best overall interview experience – the one where the recruiter was responsive and kept me informed, where the managers were very informative and interactive, and where I felt I was being treated like a human being rather than a “just another resume”.
When I began my own interview process at SuccessFactors, I was overjoyed to find that my recruiter cared and made my interview experience fantastic.  I could not have asked for more.  As a company, SuccessFactors has always preached that we should “drink our own champagne”.  And, so here I am, as a SuccessFactors Recruiter, sharing how I hope to provide you with a great candidate experience.
SuccessFactors strives to keep as connected as possible with candidates through TwitterFacebookLinkedIn andGoogle+!
To me, the definition of candidate experience is how a company (and its recruiters) approach the recruiting process – how they interact with the candidate, how the candidate feels throughout the process, and ultimately how that all affects the candidate’s decision making process.  I firmly believe that recruiters have the power to influence an applicant’s attitude towards the company.  They are, after all, the first “face” of the company an applicant comes in contact with.
1)     Be warm and knowledgeable.  Answering all candidate questions with warmth and enthusiasm seems to matter heavily in the eyes of the applicant.
2)     You can never over-communicate.  “No news is good news” does not apply in recruiting.  As a recruiter, I try to let my candidates know of their application status weekly and will send them an email even if just to say “I don’t have an update for you yet”.  This goes a long way.  Be honest and keep the candidate as informed as possible – even if they are no longer being considered for the position.
3)     Offer feedback.  The interviewing candidate thought he was a good fit for the role, which is why he got to interview with the manager.  Offer to provide any feedback on why they did not get the job, where their weaknesses were, and/or how they can do better next time.  This falls under the “communication” category (see #2).
4)     Be reachable.  Whether it is by phone, email, or text messages, I try to make myself available to my candidates at all times.  I will answer promptly when they have questions about the interview process, interview preparation, or candidacy updates.  How many times have you felt your recruiter fell off the face of the earth?  Not with me.  I’m at your disposal for any question, big or small. On Twitter or LinkedIn.
In the end, when a candidate has a positive experience, whether they were offered the position or not, they are more likely to recommend the company to a colleague or another candidate, or return again in the future for a new opportunity.
That said, we promise to try to provide you with a great candidate experience.  And, if we’re not, please let us know so we can fix it!  We appreciate your interest and look forward to working with you.


** This blog appeared here on the SuccessFactors Blog

Maintaining Recruiter Relationships

In the world of recruiting, building and keeping relationships are key for both parties.  As a recruiter, it benefits us to “keep tabs” on our best candidates, even if we don’t have an opportunity for them right now.  At some point down the line, we will have the perfect opportunity for you and we will reach back out to you to check your interest.  As a candidate, it is in your best interest to maintain a good/professional relationship with your recruiter since they may have the keys to your dream job… in a couple of months.
I cannot tell you how many times I have cut someone out of my network simply because they called 10 times too many in the course of a week, or how many times candidates lowered their “professional wall” because they were not an active viable candidate.
Maintaining recruiter relationships is good.  Setting expectations and boundaries are better.  Here are some ways to make the most out of your recruiter:
1)     Know your skill set.  I have received a number of emails from a number of candidates expressing interest in any and all job openings posted to our job boards.  Did you read the opening and the requirements?  If you don’t have the skill set we are looking for, you will likely not hear back from us.
2)     Be positive.  “Do you KNOW who I am?? I am ’s #1 sales rep and your email is offensive, rude, and unwanted.  Please take me off your spam list.”  You got it.  Coming off as rude will, almost always, put you immediately into our “trash” file.  We are just doing our jobs, and our jobs are to find the best talent out there for our company.  A “thanks, but no thanks” works wonders, and may work in your benefit down the line.
3)     Network.  Whether you are working with an agency recruiter or an in-house recruiter, it’s likely that you have a network of colleagues (or former colleagues) that they may be interested in.  Making this relationship a mutually beneficial one will help keep you on top of a recruiter’s mind.  On the other end, connect with the recruiter via a social media outlet like Twitter or LinkedIn.  Many recruiters are utilizing Social Media tactics to attract and advertise to new talent.
4)      Mind your manners.  When I was in sales years and years ago, I remember being trained by the renowned motivational/sales trainer, Zig Ziglar.  While the outline of his presentation was “Will + Skill + Refill = Success”, he stressed the importance of etiquette.  Calling four times a day, leaving no messages, “Following up on my follow up” emails are not the way to win anyone.  A call/message and/or an email once a week is fine.  Anything more and you run the risk of making yourself look like a pest.  Sell yourself appropriately.
5)     Express thanks.  Today’s recruiters are very proactive, versus the reactive nature of yesteryear’s.  We are headhunting and talking to candidates who are not actively pursuing other opportunities.  We don’t win over every candidate, but we appreciate your appreciation.  Always.

As a recruiter, I ask you to heed some of the above advice.  In return, we promise to keep you in mind for your dream job, speak great things of you to hiring managers, and to provide you with valuable and constructive feedback.


** This blog appeared here on the SuccessFactors Blog

The Worst Interview Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

As a recruiter, there have been plenty of situations that I have come across that have left me scratching my head.  I once had a candidate who came in to interview at a very business-formal office.  He arrived wearing sweatpants (not joking), then asked for a bathroom so he could change… into jeans and a t-shirt (also not a joke).  He asked me to take his bag to his car for him so that no one saw anything “suspicious”.  The interview day proceeded to unveil a slew of surprises – he didn’t know the company or position he was applying for, did not bring copies of his resume, did not have any questions prepared, and started using inappropriate language with the interviewer!  Little did he know that just because he was an employee’s son, it did not serve him well to disregard interviewing etiquette.
Below are some of the biggest interview mistakes.
1.       Weak handshake.  A good handshake can really make or break an interview; they help make those first impressions.  A handshake should be firm (but not too firm) and enthusiastic.  Maintain eye contact with the other party, and smile.
2.       Being late, sometimes VERY late, to an interview.  Nothing makes a worst impression on your interviewer.  It shows, not only disregard for their time, but also gives some insight to how you may be as an employee.  Leave absurdly early to ensure you are on time to your interview.  However, beware.  Do not arrive TOO early to your interview site.  “Only fools rush in.”  If you are early, head to the closest coffee shop or restaurant.
3.       Being rude to the receptionist.  Oftentimes, EVERY party involved in the interview process (from recruiter, to receptionist, to managers) take a part in the hiring decision.  If you are rude to the front desk, how will you act towards other colleagues?  Smile, be courteous, and treat them as if they are your employer.
4.       Dressing incorrectly.  The rule of thumb, “don’t judge a book by their cover”, goes completely out the window when it comes to interviews.  A lot of the time, the decision as to whether or not they like you is made within the first few minutes.  The remainder of that interview only helps the interviewer validate their initial judgment.  First impressions count.
5.       Bringing a friend.  We understand that you may have nerves, or that you needed a ride to your interview.  But actions like this scream “dependency” and most employers want someone who is independent and ready to do anything at a whim’s notice.   Leave them outside the building, and especially outside the reception area.
6.       Not doing homework.  Please, please, please.  Do research on the company that you are interviewing with.  Coming to an interview unprepared shows a lack of care and interest.  Learn about the company, the brand, its products/services, and competitors.  Formulate questions around information you find, and around things you did not – like, “what is the culture like?”
7.       Saying negative things about your former employer.  It is a shame you were fired, or that you didn’t get along with your boss, or that you hated the corporate structure.  Leave those feelings at home, and don’t ever badmouth your former workplace.  This will only brand you as a complainer.  Instead, focus on the positive things you took away from the experience and find ways to grow from it.
And finally…

8.       Name dropping.  Your attempts at playing the “I know so-and-so” can backfire terribly.  Many employers will, no doubt, contact these individuals and ask for “backdoor references”, and they may not come back favorably.  A better way to use internal contacts is to have your contact introduce you directly to the appropriate individual.
Bear in mind that these are just guidelines.  But also be aware that as much as you are being interviewed, you are interviewing the company for the best fit for yourself.  So, take an interest in your career path, and take these informative meeting seriously.