1. Lose the vanity email account and get one that tells me who you are, not what you are. Seriously, studmuffin@whatever or hotfoxymomma@someplace is never going to win you points with anyone in Human Resources. And yes, we do look at the email address. Gmail and Yahoo both offer free email accounts. Set one up just for your job hunting if you are loathe to give up the one you have had since you were a preteen.
2. Follow the instructions in the job advertisement to the letter. Did you know that we assess you from the moment you contact us, including whether you follow the instructions we put in our job advertisements? This is one of the areas people may lose out to the competition. They simply don’t follow the instructions we place in the recruitment ad.
3. In HR we are always going to want references so save some time. Instead of putting on your resume, ‘references provided on request’, include the references in your cover letter, or as an attachment to your resume. If you don’t want us to contact your present employer until further down the road in the recruitment process, no problem, just tell us. Be sure to include both an email address for your references and telephone numbers.
4. Leave your high school information off your resume. That’s just taking up space. We are going to make the assumption you have either graduated from some form of high school or have enough life experience to equate to a high school diploma. The only exception to this is if the advertisement says must be a high school graduate, then under education go ahead and put the high school you attended and the year you graduated.
5. On the same note, please don’t share your hobbies with us on your resume. We’ll save asking about your work-life balance for the verbal or face-to-face interview. We also don’t want to know whether you are married or single, what your religious affiliation is (unless you are applying to be a member of the Clergy) or how many children you have. These are all questions we can’t ask anyway, so please don’t share it with us.
6. Don’t have someone submit your resume on your behalf. It is extremely rare in this day and age for a person to not have some sort of access to the internet and to not have the ability to create a resume. We want to keep your information safe and secure so, we need to know your resume is coming from you.
7. Use a resume building template or better yet, have a professional create your resume for you. Your resume is the only initial way we have of seeing if you are going to be a good fit for the company we represent and the role we need filled. Whether you are in sales and marketing or not, that’s exactly what you are doing when looking for employment, marketing and selling yourself.
8. Make sure your voicemail is appropriate. Huh? What? Simple, if we like your resume, we may either email you for a follow up, or we are likely to call you to set up an interview. If our call goes to a voicemail that says something like, “Yo babes, do your thing, talk to me, talk to me”, we probably aren’t going to talk to you. You can go back to your creative voicemail after you land the job.
9. You landed an interview! Great, come prepared! That means get on to your friends, family, LinkedIn, and Google and research the company you have the interview with, (hopefully you did this before applying for the job). This is the time to really dig deep and learn about the culture and history and what the company is all about.
10. Don’t be surprised if we ask you to leave your bag, backpack or smart device at reception. For security reasons, most HR departments are moving towards not allowing potential candidates to bring any item into the interview room except a notepad and pen. Be sure you have those so you can take notes if you want.
11. Speaking of that notepad and pen, draw up a list of questions ahead of time that you want to ask. We are usually happy to answer all questions. Some we may not answer as it might not be the proper time, but we prefer candidates that interact with us, especially when they ask insightful questions.
12. During the interview, don’t answer questions with answers you think we want to hear. Trust me, most of us in HR have been trained, extensively, in all sorts of ways of determining whether a person is answering a question truthfully or not, or if they are saying things they think we want to hear. What we want to hear, is your honest answer, even if you think it might be a negative answer. Remember we are trying to get to know you, your skills and your abilities.
13. If you have burned every bridge with every employer, let us know. We probably already know that fact anyway. There are always a dozen or so sides to all stories, so when we ask why you left your previous employment, be honest. If it was because you were fired, let us know and tell us your side of the why. Believe it or not, honesty is always the best policy. But, if you have signed an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) that prohibits you from talking about the terms of your employment and even what you did, let us know, we respect that.
14. You know all those things your grandparents and parents told you to do and not do in social settings? Remember them during an interview and follow those rules. Do not chew gum, do not fidget, do not look away when we are talking with you, do not wear too much scent, makeup, bling, whatever. Do not swear, do not slouch. Sit up straight, focus. You get the picture. If you are asked for a breakfast, lunch or dinner interview, remember your table manners. There are plenty of sites on etiquette to help you navigate through any situation.
15. Unless you have a disability or other situation that requires you to have assistance getting to your job interview and attending it, do not bring friends or family to your interview, unless they are invited. Oftentimes, reception areas are small. Having half your family waiting while you interview, is taking up much needed space for clients. If you do require special assistance, let us know ahead of time so we can accommodate your situation.
16. Don’t hesitate to send a thank you follow up email, but give it a few hours. We appreciate those thank you emails. But make sure you allow a few hours before you send it. I’ve had applicants pre-prepare their thank you emails and send them as the door is closing behind them. While we appreciate efficiency, timing is everything and that’s a little too soon. By the same token, don’t wait a week to send that thank you either. By the way, the thank you email is not mandatory and some HR folks would prefer you skip it. A good way to tell if they will be receptive, is to ask them if you have any more questions that you think of can you reach out via email. If they say yes, then they will be fine with a thank you. If they say, ‘we will contact you’, then allow them to do just that, contact you, not the other way around.
17. You’ve got through the interview process and you have a job offer. Congratulations! Read it over carefully. Then read it again. If there is something on the offer that you don’t like, now is the time to let HR know, not after you accept and show up for your first day. If there is something you want, and didn’t get, or the salary isn’t within your expectations, respond back and be very specific. HR may have wriggle room, or they may not. If you don’t ask, you don’t get and remember, sometimes you don’t get.
18. Don’t ‘ghost’ an employer. HR people have long memories and an extensive network. Believe me we are master communicators. While we can’t go into specifics about anyone that doesn’t have the authority to know about your personnel records, we have code words when someone asks us about a candidate they may know we have had interaction with and we will use those code words. Don’t know what ghosting is? It happens more often than you would think. It’s when an employee is offered employment and they have accepted and either they stop communicating before the first day and fall of the face of the earth, or they don’t bother to show up for the first day. They do this because they’ve gone off to greener pastures and they don’t have the professionalism to let us know. Just don’t do it. It will catch up with you in the long run.
19. It’s your first day on the job. Show up 15 minutes before your start time with a smile on your face, a greeting for your colleagues, ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Whether it is a day of orientation, or you have to hit the ground running, it is a truism you only get one chance to make a first impression. Make sure that impression is the right one.
20. You may very well be the expert in your field, but check your ego at the door. Being confident is one thing. A true professional will be open to learning how their new employer does things. They won’t constantly remind their colleagues that whatever is being done is wrong or was done differently at your old job. Worse, because you are an expert, you make sure everyone knows only your way is the correct way. There may well be a reason for why something is being done differently than the way you would do it. Give yourself time to settle in before you decide that the entire company needs to be overhauled to your specifications.
21. Don’t rely on bonuses and raises as part of your income but recognize your worth. When the timing is right, ask for that raise, if it’s appropriate. Many companies do not offer bonuses or salary increases on a consistent basis. If you have been in your position long enough that you can show a record of the accomplishments that have proven profitable for the investment the company makes into you (including all of your benefits and salary), then prepare a document showing exactly those items and how it has added value to the company. It’s called ROI – return on investment, and that’s what businesses look for. Don’t just waltz into your boss’s office and say I want a raise. Just like when you were trying to get the job, you have to market and sell yourself and why you should get the raise. You also need to be specific on the amount. The more detailed and specific you are, the more likely you will prove successful in getting that raise.