Begin with Character and Integrity.
Unethical behavior is alive and well. In my own case, as a recruiter or hiring manager, I have witnessed deplorable behavior and practices by those senior to me, those who should have known better or didn't really care. We, as individuals, must look within ourselves and follow leaders with a proven track record and either pattern ourselves after them or build our own ethical blueprint -- one that becomes clearly evident by our own actions, by the reputation we build over time, and by the questions we ask and those we answer truthfully, as well as our own experiences and how we represent or share them.
Ethics and proving character can be a difficult hurdle when it comes to securing job interviews, let alone a new job. I have been a recruiter for years and have been lucky enough to work for several organizations that put character first. I have never invited any jobseeker in for an onsite interview until I was able to determine some semblance of "character" during a phone interview or as the result of a personal referral. If a candidate, initially, doesn't fit in with the culture of the company during this early stage of the hiring process, chances are they never will. And if it can be ascertained that the applicant is even the slightest bit sycophantic, they will never pass an interview with the hiring manager or a direct supervisor.
Over the years, I have compiled a list of tips to aid jobseekers in showing their best face, letting the light of their character shine through loud and clear. It is my hope that with this modest list, a general understanding of how a recruiter or hiring manager thinks will result.
1. Your IEI Quotient. Whenever possible, indicate on your resumé that you hold three vitally important characteristics: Intelligence, Energy and Integrity. Employers seek these in every applicant, Every. Single. One. These three qualities show hire-ability. Simply add an instance which demonstrates your IEI under your most recent job or project -- this could even be a school-based project for new jobseekers and recent grads
2. An LOR. Include a Letter of Recommendation with your cover letter from a previous colleague or supervisor that simply attests to your possession of the above three qualities. Should a previous employer indicate they would hire you again, if given the opportunity? All the better.
3. Establish Your Interest. If you are invited in for an on-site, face-to-face interview, prove your intelligence and interest with a strong understanding of the position and the company, itself. Do the online research necessary, make some calls to contacts or past employees who may have valuable insight or could directly refer you.
4. Résumé Review. PLEASE have your resumé reviewed by a recruiter and several friends who will give you the critical feedback you need -- maybe there is something key missing or misrepresented that you are just too close to see.
5. Make it Pop. This you should know: A good recruiter will be able to ascertain within the first 10-15 seconds of opening your resumé or application whether or not you will even get a call or second look. Make something stand out at the top of the resumé or within the first paragraph of your cover letter.
6. Avoid Buzz Words. Be very careful when using cliché buzz words of the day -- thought leader, expert, guru, etc. -- these are an instant turn-off to most recruiters and most recruiters will stop reading and immediately dismiss your application/ resumé.
7. Take the First One. When offered a selection of interview time slots, do anything necessary (re-arrange your life, if you have to) to take the first interview (phone or face-to-face) time offered -- Now, early in the process, is the time to show interest in the position and company.
8. ASK Questions. Too many candidates are not prepared to ask questions, again, show your interest in the prospect company and the people who work there.
9. Do NOT go around the Recruiter or Hiring Manager. As a recruiter, I can tell you, this is most often a bridge-burning tactic and exceedingly undesirable. If the company advertises online and has an online application process, a recruiter will not appreciate a resumé being sent to the CEO (neither will the CEO) or a resumé and cover letter being hand-delivered or snail-mailed, it is now a digital world and depending on the job, paper is most likely out. I cannot tell you how many times I have dismissed a candidate simply because they didn't work within my parameters of a search.
10. Online Profiles. Make sure every online profile or searchable social network testifies to your desirable qualities. Nowadays, most recruiters will Google your name before they even pick up the phone to call you. If you do not have a LinkedIn profile, get one. This is a great place to show these qualities, get recommendations -- even from past teachers or colleagues. Be proactive when it comes to your online presence -- not passive. Passive doesn't pay.
11. Employee Referral. If at all possible, get a referral from a current employee of the company where you are applying. This is still the best way to get into an organization. Sometimes, it really is about who you know.
12. Ethics. Simply, be ethical in all you do. Conduct yourself the way you truly think you should. Act according to the dictates of your heart, your own personal standards. Think outside of that box, and act according to the dictates of what YOU would expect if YOU were the senior hiring authority. If you wouldn't hire you, why should anyone else?
13. Be Qualified. Recruiters and Hiring Managers are inundated with rsumés and applications right now. Unemployment still hangs at 8.2 percent. It's pretty simple really. Do NOT Apply for a job for which you are not qualified or skilled.
When just getting past the front door is so very difficult, why not do all you can to stand out among the masses who apply for job openings? It isn't always easy to know what to do or how to act. The best advice has always been to follow your gut. It seems to have done all right by me. Perhaps it will even work for you.