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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What did I do wrong??

Have you ever:

  • Sent an email to a recruiter… and never heard back?
  • Applied for a job… and never heard back?
  • Interviewed… and never heard back?

Let’s face it, the answer is a resounding “YES” to all of the above.  Don’t be shy.  We have all been there.  Even the best of us have struggled in our job searches.  And that’s ok!  So many times, I get asked “What did I do wrong?”

I can sum it up into one word: PRESENTATION.  This applies to anything and everything involved in an interview process.

Imagine the following scenario.  You email a recruiter, “Hi there, I’m intrested in the sales postion your posted on LinkedIn.  Selling SaaS software is my life, and I can’t wait to here from you!”  What’s wrong with this?  You want me to believe you’re great at what you do if you can’t use spell check?  Your crazy. (See what I did there? :))

Let’s try another scenario. You sent your resume into the “resume black hole”.  Why didn’t you get a call back?  I can go on and on and on about reasons why you didn’t.  But, let me list the most common.  1)  You weren’t a fit for the role.  Did you read the job description?  Do you have the required hard skills?  2) Your resume says another company’s name in the Objective.  “I want to help build NOT-YOUR-COMPANY’S brand to it’s potential.”  Great, good luck with that!  3) No contact information.  Surprised?  Don’t be.  A lot of times, candidates do not provide a good phone number or email address for us to reach them.  If we can’t reach you, how can you be considered for the role?

Ok, one more.  You got the call back!  Congrats!  You interviewed with the team, thought it went well, and… nothing.  I will say that it is NEVER ok for a recruiter/company to not provide you with an update to your candidacy.  But what could have possibly gone wrong?  You thought you had it in the bag!  Again, PRESENTATION.  Did you research the company?  Were you an off-the-wall bundle of energy interviewing at an old-school, play-by-the-rules corporation?  Did you wear jeans and a t-shirt to a super formal workplace?  Perhaps your thoughts were all over the place, or maybe you were a nervous wreck.

The moral of the story is: presentation.  Be diligent with you who present to your potential future employer.  How do you want them to see you?  What kind of person do you want them to view you as?  What is it they will gain by hiring you?

As always… head up, chin down!  Good luck!

“Help me, help you”

As Jerry Maguire so famously said, “Help me, help you.”

I receive emails from former colleagues on a weekly basis, without fail.  “Can you help me with my resume?  Can you help me with my job search?  How do I go about this interview?”  I would LOVE to help you.  Honestly, I would.  The whole reason I got into recruiting was because I love helping people.

But, unfortunately, I can’t do it FOR you.  If you need help with your resume, have a barebones/skeletal one that we can work off of.  I can help you make improvements, can offer suggestions, and offer insight from a recruiter’s point of view.  If you want me to help you with your job search, tell me what you’re looking for… show me you’ve done some work researching the company, position, and qualifications.  Want help with the interview?  Great!  What exactly do you want to work on?

Too many times, I feel people want me to DO their work FOR them.  I can’t do that for you, friends.  I don’t know your deepest, darkest desires.  I don’t know what makes you excited, nor what makes you tick.  I don’t know where you want to be 10 years from now, let alone where you want to be tomorrow.

So, before you go out and ask your recruiter friends for help, do yourself (and them) a favor and do your homework first.

 

Chin down, head up! 🙂

What Happens When You Assume…

I oftentimes get asked by friends to make edits to their resumes.  I actually really enjoy doing this.  It allows me to do a few things:

  • Sharpen my own skills
  • See where “the norm” is for resume writing
  • Realize where a lot of people go wrong
By example, I recently was helping a friend edit their resume.  The resume went back and forth with some edits, both on formatting and content.  My friend’s final draft came back with a note saying, “I took your edits and am using them as a guideline for interview questions, and I have answers prepared for them.”  The suggested edits were not in the resume. 
I cannot emphasize this enough – DO NOT ASSUME.  Do not assume anything.  Do not assume you will GET that interview to tell the interviewer your answers to the questions he wants to hear.  Do not assume that the recruiter knows what you are talking about when you say “Displayed great communication skills” (what does that even mean??).  
Leave nothing to chance.  If you want someone to know, tell them.  You may feel it will sound redundant if/when you get that interview, but at least you have covered your bases.
So, as you are preparing your resume, ask yourself:
  • What do I want the reader to know?
  • What do I know about my skills/qualifications that the reader does not?
  • How can I explain this to a reader who doesn’t have a background in what I do?
  • How can I show the reader that I am good at what I do?
  • How can I make myself stand apart from everyone else?
  • What kinds of questions would the reader have for me? How can I best answer them?
  • How can I make my resume easy for the reader to pinpoint me as the best candidate?
Good luck!  And, as always… I’m all ears!

Your Resume: The Basics

Ok.

So you’ve finally decided to get off your butt and look for your dream job.  Whether you are a “freshie” (coming right out of school) or just someone who has been off the job market for 5, 6, 7, 15 years, the following rules will always apply.

  • Make it readable.  6 point font is not okay!  After reading thousands and thousands of resumes, our eyes just aren’t what they used to be.  If it is too difficult to read what you’ve accomplished, we will not read what you’ve accomplished!  If you are trying to squeeze your resume onto one page, throw that rule out the window; old habits die hard.  
  • Tell me where you live and how to contact you.  Does that sound creepy?  It’s not meant to.  A lot of positions will require a certain geographic territory.  Whether the office is based in San Francisco and needs an onsite employee, or the sales territory is in Chicago and needs a sales rep who already resides in the area and has a network.  You aren’t fooling anyone if you don’t put your location on your resume.  Address is not necessary, but City/State are appreciated.  Also, please make sure your email and phone number (the one we can reach you on most reliably) are on there.  And make sure they are correct.
  • Make it chronological.  I’ve seen resumes where applicants list their experience by “relevance”, which really confuses the heck out of me.  How did your resume jump from 1999 to 2013, back to 2002, to 2012, back to 2001?  I don’t get it.  Again, if it’s too difficult to read, we aren’t going to read it.  Harsh, but it is the truth.
  • Organize.  If you have more than 5 years of work experience after college, your Education section no longer belongs at the top.  Experience is worth more than your degree.  
  • Quantify.  This is especially true for anyone in sales.  Quantify, quantify, quantify.  Tell me how much over-quota you did in 2013 Q1, Q2, Q3.  Tell me how much you make your fellow sales reps look like they’re lazy!  If you saved your department $100k in licensing fees, tell me that.  If you oversaw 21 customers, tell me that too. 
  • List skills.  Fluent in Spanish?  PowerPoint pro?  Excel guru?  While the position you are applying for may not require them, recruiters/managers are always looking for someone that can enhance their team.  What can you do for us?
This is just a short-list of “must haves” for a resume that will get a glance.  Do this, and you are well on your way to dream-job-success!
PS – Don’t forget to spell check!