What has this got to do with job search? Everything. I submit to you that the recruiter who advances you to the hiring manager is ‘co-signing’ for you. Recruiters put their careers on the line every time they pass someone through to the next level. Yes, their careers. Here’s how you can earn that measure of trust in a very short time.
- First and foremost is your professional appearance. You and I both know that there are entire books written on the topic so let’s keep this short: Be professional and be current in your attire. My advice has always been to drop by the business or address of the building you will be interviewing beforehand if possible. Take a look at how the on-the-job staff is dressing and then take your attire a notch up. You’re not trying to outdo anyone; you just want to be contemporary and classy.
In the event you can’t make it by the work place or perhaps yours is a long-distance interview, you can never go wrong, male or female, with a good looking, well-fitted dark suit, white shirt or blouse, contemporary tie and/or jewelry. Grooming is always important. Pay attention to the details. Remember that it’s that first 3 to 6 seconds that can make all the difference. Smile and offer a firm handshake. And guys—shine your shoes!
- Let’s talk about your LinkedIn image. (You already know “Google is the new resume” so clean up any mess you might have left behind.) LinkedIn is now utilized by 100% (!) of all recruiters prior to and during the candidate selection process. What does your profile say about you?
I recently had the opportunity to review a LinkedIn profile for a guy who was getting all the first calls but no follow up interviews. Looking at “Mike’s” profile the first thing I noticed was his scraggly beard and casual attire. He may have impressed himself with his look-how-cool-I-am laid back photo but for a guy who was seeking a managerial position he certainly didn’t look the part.
Conversely ladies, I see way too many head shots culled from ‘boyfriend hugs.’ Yes, you may have achieved the look you have been seeking in a professional shot but unless you can Photoshop® your boyfriend, bar name and glass of beer out of the photo don’t lead with it. In both cases mentioned above a picture is worth much more than a thousand words.
- Let’s pretend I’m your recruiter. I have gone through the motions—pre-interview, meet & greet, preliminary review stuff, etc.—and I have determined that I’m going to take the leap of faith and “co-sign” for you. There are two things you MUST do to uphold your end of the bargain and the first is Deep Research of the organization. This isn’t difficult but it requires due diligence on your part. If your target company is shareholder owned seek out the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) 10K (annual) report required by the SEC and/or most recent 10Q (quarterly) report. These reports can be found on the company website. I’m not fond of annual reports because it is so easy to gloss over company problems with footnotes and slick language. The 10K on the other hand discloses problems, warts and all, that a company may be dealing with. It can be mind-numbing reading but this is good information to know prior to your interview. Other great sources of information are most recent press releases and you should be familiar with every page of the company website—including other job postings. It’s good to know what the company is hiring for. It’s an indication of the vitality of the organization. Lastly, just do a simple web search of the company. You never know what may pop up.
- The second thing you must do to hold up your end of the co-signing bargain is to have a list of prepared (meaning written down and readily apparent) questions for your interviewer. Over my years of questioning recruiters the one thing that really drives them crazy is when a candidate comes to the interview without these questions. Why? Simply because you are showing a lack of interest and respect for the company and for the recruiter’s time. And the funny part of all this is that it is SO simple to prep questions! Beyond the easy ‘what kind of growth opportunities’ might be available with the company, you should have some well thought out zingers on your list. Questions that indicate you spent more than a cursory minute on the company website. Don’t know what to ask? Google “job interview questions” and the title of the position you seek. You won’t believe how much information is available online to help. While you are at it you might also Google “interview questions for ______ (company name)”. You just might hit the bull’s-eye and find that someone before you has provided you with all the prompting and prep you may require!
- The latest information says that most people are accessing their mobile phone on the order of 150 times daily. Could that be you? If so turn your phone off. Leave it at home –OK, I’m joking. But seriously the number of war stories I have heard from HR professionals and staffing companies regarding phones going off during the interview is astonishing. What an amazing lack of courtesy and professionalism. Look at it this way—turn off your phone now so that you can afford to pay for the darn thing by landing the job.
- If you have ever read any of my stuff you would know I’m a fan of Thank You cards written on premises. This is SUCH a powerful tactic that it can literally set you apart from the competition within an hour or less of your departure. My candidates tote along 10 to 20 blank 4”x 5” panel cards and upon completion of the interview they plant themselves in the lobby or in their car and write a thank you note to each person they have had the pleasure to have met during their interview. (Email TY notes are not elegant and snail mail takes too long.) Next you will hand the note or notes to the receptionist with the request that they be delivered ASAP to the person(s) you just interviewed with. How cool is this? The next person up for consideration has just had their day ruined. Upon completion of the interview process they won’t be remembered. You will.
- I get a lot of questions regarding follow up to interviews. Let me preface this by saying that I DON’T like the ‘traditional’ question most job seekers ask upon termination of the interview: “So, what’s the next step?” Wrong question. In fact never end an interview with a question. This is a sales presentation and you are selling yourself. Salespeople never close with a question. The correct way to end an interview is with a statement. In my case that statement is “Mr. Williams, I want this job.” Clear and concise. Always leave by looking them dead in the eye, shaking their hand and stating that you want the job. Most people don’t close the sale! But you will now that you know.
BTW, seeing as how you could potentially earn a million or more dollars over your working career it might be interesting to note that the recruiter that took that chance on you really may have co-signed that $1,000,000 note for you—even if you won’t for me!
Good Job Hunting!