Ask a Recruiter

Ask a Recruiter: Losing the Job Before You Even Get to the Formal Interview

Is it possible to ruin your chances of getting hired before you even meet your interviewer? Yes it is.

We frequently get questions from readers about the interview process. One of the most common is why they never make it past the first interview.

Although we covered interview tips in a recent blog, here’s one more key fact—the formal interview process often starts before you even step foot in the building. We’re talking about the phone interview and any other interactions you have with your recruiter or HR professional leading up to the interview. Many times, this is when mistakes happen.

Here at Movin’ On Up, we don’t fault jobseekers for tripping up. If you’ve never had a phone interview before, how are you supposed to know how that world works? Everyone has to start learning somewhere.

To help prevent you from committing these pre-interview mistakes, we asked our recruiters for their thoughts. Here’s what they had to say.

  1. Constant Calling

If you’re the best person for the job, recruiters and HR professionals want to see you succeed. After all, your success is their success! Although calling every once in a while is fine, this means that calling every day to check in is not only unrequired, but also rather bothersome. In extreme cases, applicants have even been known to treat their upcoming interview like a side dish to a main course. Literally.

“I once had an applicant call to follow up on their application while going through the drive through. Then they put us on hold to order a number one with a soda.”Tracy S., MI.

But the real reason to stay away from overcalling your recruiter or HR contact? It makes it look like you’re unable to do work on your own, and need constant contact. Employers frequently look for applicants that are clearly able to handle deadlines and projects on their own.

  1. Too Much Negativity

The job search is hard. Constant rejection can sting. However, you should never bring up these experiences in your interactions with recruiters or HR professionals. They want to see you at your best, not your worst.

“I’ve had some applicants start our first phone call off by speaking poorly of their previous managers. While I understand bad managers exist, when an applicant starts off an interview that way it makes me think about how they’ll talk about their future manager if we hire them. I’ve also had applicants speak at length on businesses they have applied to and been rejected from. Basically, try to keep negativity out of any interaction with your recruiter or HR professional.”Carlos D., OR.

“It’s hard to make an offer to an applicant who reveals too many personal issues during a phone interview. Although I get that a bad divorce or single parent situation can be tough, I want to use the phone interview to see what you might look like as part of a business. Spending so much time on negative personal experiences takes away from that.”—Roxanne P., TX.

Keep the conversation to your accomplishments and accolades. Although everyone has bad experiences, a phone interview is not a great place to share them.

  1. Lack of Professionalism

Regardless of how friendly your recruiter or HR contact is, you still need to remain professional. Whether they’re nervous or tired of the whole job search process, some applicants say or do things they shouldn’t. This can be over the phone during an initial interview, or by email.
But what exactly does “professional” mean when it comes to the job search? Not doing these things.

“Sometimes I’ll call an applicant and have a great phone interview, but then they disappear. I’ve had some cancel interviews multiple times with issues such as car trouble, personal problems, and last minute emergencies out of town. Once I received all three excuses from one person! Although I get that life happens, we can only reschedule so many times.” —Tracy S., MI.

“What gets to me is when applicants don’t do their research. I’ve had people come in saying they think we’re just a temp service and don’t do anything else before I can even tell them about how I can help them with a temp-to-hire or other eventual fulltime position. They come in hurt and frustrated before I even say anything. Since we’re in a smaller market and have established clients, I might be the only one with access to that job posting. And they’re perfect for it!”—Shannon J., WA.

The job search can be frustrating. However, put that frustration away when you’re having a phone interview or emailing your recruiter or HR professional. Be the best version of yourself, and always believe that this one could really be the one. If you don’t believe in yourself, they won’t either.

Click here for more in our Ask a Recruiter series.

Have questions for our recruiters? Let us know in the comments below!

Ask a Recruiter: Your Questions Answered—Part 2

More of your questions about the recruiting process answered.

Last month, a few of our top recruiters answered some of the questions readers had about recruiting.

This month we are answering the rest of those top questions.

  1. I’ve been asked the following: “With all your experiences, how do you attribute your successes?” What are good answers?

The answer to this question is going to depend on your individual experiences. There aren’t any specific “good answers” our recruiters can provide here, since everyone is different. However, there are a few topics you can cover and adapt to your personal circumstances.

“I think good answers are ones that are quantifiable!  For example, an accounts receivable person could say that they were successful in their last role by cleaning up the aging reports and collecting over 1 million dollars in 2016.”Shannon Jacoby, Bellingham, WA.

“There are three main inspirations I see great applicants come up with: other people (for example, mentors, former managers, or co-workers), luck (being at the right place at the right time, working with the right person or company, etc.—they show how they turned a random moment or connection into an opportunity to succeed), and commitment (when they get knocked down, they come back up and try again no matter how many attempts it takes).”Heather Buster, Texarkana, AR.

  1. What are the behaviors recruiters and hiring managers look for in an interview?

Although much of the interview focuses on testing your hard skills (your job experience and abilities), your soft skills are being tested as well. How do you handle stress? Do you make the proper amount of eye contact? How does your personality fit in with the company culture? Interviewers look for certain cues for insight on how you might function as an employee.

“I recruit primarily on the industrial side, so I look for behaviors that indicate that the individual can handle the position. For example, if someone can physically do the job, can understand the industry terminology I use, can fill out their own paperwork, etc.”John Calabrese Jr., Utica, NY

“I look at eye contact and body language. Is the candidate staring out of the window or are their eyes darting around the room? Also, how do they treat the front office coordinator? If you’re rude to my staff but play nice with me, that says something about your character.”—Desiree Stevens, Littleton, CO.

  1. Do staffing companies offer insurance for temporary and evaluation hire workers?

The answer to this one depends on the staffing company, as benefits can vary.

“I can’t speak for all staffing agencies, but Express does have insurance available for temp and contract to hire positions.  If the position is a direct hire to the client, then it will depend on what the client offers.”—Kevin Nissen, Oklahoma City, OK.

“Yes, many staffing companies offer benefits to their employees. You can also check online at the affordable care act website for available insurance plans if your company or agency doesn’t offer benefits.”—Heather Buster, Texarkana, AR.

We hope you enjoyed this two-part series! Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns!

Have any more questions for our recruiters? Let us know in the comments below!

Ask a Recruiter: Your Questions Answered—Part 1

Everything you wanted to know about the recruiting process.

Last month, we asked readers what they wanted to hear about from recruiters. The response was huge.

The same few questions kept popping up again and again, so we decided to feature them in a two-part blog series. We took your questions to our top recruiters, and they replied with expert responses.

  1. If an employee asks for a staffing company to help them find a new job, do they tell your current job that you are looking for work elsewhere or keep that information confidential?

All our recruiters agree that keeping the job search confidential is key. They never notify your current employer that you’ve started the job search, and they recommend that you keep quiet on the topic as well.

“It would depend on the situation. I have found that when a layoff is imminent, managers know and understand that their cohorts will be looking and interviewing at other companies. If this is not the case and business is ‘good,’ I would advise against letting your manager know that you are looking for work.” Desiree Stevens, Littleton, CO.

“In my experience, many applicants ask that we do not contact their current employer in fear of losing their job. Last week, a coworker of mine was working with an associate who was looking to leave their current employer. The employer overheard a conversation that took place at work and fired them for it.”—John Calabrese Jr., Utica, NY.

  1. Why do companies require a college degree when it isn’t necessary for the job?

Many companies use a college degree as a baseline. Sometimes a degree is indicative of passion and hard work. However, that doesn’t mean that you might not be able to make up for the lack of a degree in other ways.

“Sometimes this is a company policy. I tell people to never let it deter you in applying. Many clients will take on-the-job experience in lieu of a degree.”—Shannon Jacoby, Bellingham, WA.

“Some positions may require a degree for specialized positions, for example, a mechanical engineer. For other positions, completing a degree signals to an employer that you are a person who is determined to see a task through and committed to doing so.”—Desiree Stevens, Littleton, CO.

  1. Why do some companies/staffing companies continue to post jobs that have already been filled ?

This one’s a bit complicated. When it’s a posting from a staffing company, it could be that the same position is being offered at multiple companies. In addition, some job listings are purchased for a certain amount of time and will stay online regardless of being filled or not.

“A lot of the time, for a staffing company, there is more than one job available or the same job is available with a different company. Also, when a job is posted, it usually has an ad run time of 30+ days to attract the most job seekers. Even if they find an applicant before that time, the ad will continue to run.”—Heather Buster, Texarkana, Arkansas.

“Our office often leaves jobs up on the job boards just in case the candidate who was chosen doesn’t work out. It is good to have extra candidates in our back pocket if we need them. We also use the same strategy for jobs that we may not have now but know we will get soon, so we can cut down on the time it takes to fill the position.”— John Calabrese Jr., Utica, NY.

Have any more questions for our recruiters? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Impress a Recruiter

Top tips from working recruiters

Many job applicants express frustration with the post-interview process due to not receiving any follow up. They want to know what they can do to improve future interview performance. However, interviewers are unable to provide this information, often because of potential legal issues or simply not having the time to write personalized letters for each applicant.

At Express Employment Professionals, our recruiters interview numerous job seekers every day. They know what works and what doesn’t, at both the staffing agency and client levels. We asked our top recruiters to tell us what they look for in job candidates, as well as characteristics job seekers should avoid.

What Makes a Great Job Candidate?

Preparation

A promising candidate is one who arrives to an interview (either by phone or at the worksite) fully prepared.

“They come with a resume, references, and any supporting documents or credentials that could potentially give them a step up in the hiring process,” said Shannon Jacoby, a recruiter at the Bellingham, WA, Express office. “They know what they are applying for, they have done research on the company, and they know how they could fit into the organization.”

Attitude

A candidate should also be friendly and personable. This is your chance to make a good impression.

“I like candidates that have friendly, personable attitudes,” said Carlos Delafuente from the Portland, OR, Express office. “I should be able to tell that they are reliable, punctual, and dependable. They can impress me by showing that they can hold a normal conversation, that they have a sense of humor, and optimism.”

Honesty

“Ideally, a great job candidate should have a relatively stable work history,” said Desiree Stevens of the Littleton, CO, Express office. “However, we understand that there may be mitigating circumstances as to why a position ended. Be honest about those reasons.”

If you’re looking to contact a staffing company, be truthful with what you know and what you want.

“Being honest about your skills is huge,” Stevens said. “That helps us market the candidate to clients. If the candidate lies about the level of proficiency in a particular program and they’re placed in a position that requires it, it not only makes us look bad, but the candidate as well.”

What Makes a Poor Job Candidate?

Not Being Prepared

There is no way to hide a lack of preparation. And if you aren’t prepared for the interview, then why would a recruiter think you would be prepared on the job?

“An unprepared candidate is more difficult to place,” said Lee Cox from the Woodbury, MN, office. “If a job candidate has no idea what they want to do, or has done little or no research about the field or position, I have no reason to expect them to perform well on the job. A candidate should know the company inside and out—their job duties, distance they are willing to travel, their minimum required wage, etc.”

Unprofessionalism

An interview is a chance to impress. Regardless of how casual the interview is, what you may see as overdressing could show how serious you are as a candidate.

“Just the other day, I had an administrative candidate come to her interview in see-through leggings, a baggy sweatshirt and gym shoes,” Stevens said. “I expect, at the very least, dress slacks, a blouse or blazer, and dress shoes. Shirt and tie aren’t necessary, but are a good indicator that the candidate cares about first impressions.”

Never talk over your interviewer or insult a previous employer.

“Talking over me while I’m asking a question is an indicator that the candidate has passive listening skills or thinks they already know what I have to say and has no reason to listen to what I am saying or asking,” Stevens said. “And as for bashing employers, there’s a way to tactfully state why you left a positon. Instead of saying ‘My boss was a jerk,’ note that management didn’t see eye-to-eye with you on your vision for the position or the company.”

Oversharing

Showing the interviewer why you’re right for the position is important. A great job applicant understands how to do this quickly and succinctly.

“Don’t take 20 minutes to answer the first interview question,” Jacoby said. “Focus on how your experience applies to the job, not on covering everything you’ve ever done. Answer each question quickly and succinctly.”

“Try not to bring personal issues into the interview,” Delafuente said. “Instead of talking about your personal life, focus on the professional.”

Know What You Want

Getting a job isn’t easy. Applicants know that. But the key to a successful interview is knowing as much as you can. Know the company’s history and culture. Know what you want, both in terms of your career and your monetary requirements. Know yourself and your personality, and how that plays in an interview.

Questions for our recruiters? Ask them in the comments below!

Ask a Recruiter: How to Highlight Experience Over Tenure on Your Resume

ask_a_recruiterWhen it comes to preparing for a job search, acing interviews, and creating resumes, we know you have a lot of questions. To help answer your job search questions, our very own industry experts at Express Employment Professionals are posting their answers here on the Movin’ On Up blog.

Question: Help! I’ve been laid off from my last two jobs in the span of one year due to budget cuts, and I’m back on the job search. How should I format my resume to make my skills stand out to recruiters rather than tenure at companies?

Answer: There are two types of resumes that job seekers commonly use; chronological and functional. In your situation, I’d suggest creating a functional resume.

A functional resume will focus on your skillsets and how they might transfer to the role you are applying for, whereas a chronological resume typically lists the most recent positions that you’ve held. It’s important that you do your homework when building a functional resume.

I would suggest tailoring each functional resume you send to the specific role in which you are applying. List those skillsets that are clearly desired from the job description or were noted during a conversation with the recruiter or hiring manager. Then help draw the commonalities between their job description and your background. 

Thank you to Joe from Express for providing the above answer! The Movin’ On Up blog has featured articles on how to create and when to use functional resumes. In the changing workforce where more people are spending less time with one company, a functional resume format can help your resume stand out and keep it from heading straight to the trash can. See what a functional resume looks like.

Or if you can’t decide which resume format to use, try both!

Do you have a question about the job search, hiring, or recruiting process? Now’s your chance to have your question answered by industry professionals who find, interview, and hire people every day. Ask your question in the comments section below and check back soon to read what our experts have to say!

Ask a Recruiter: Using Volunteerism on Your Resume

ask_a_recruiterListing volunteer efforts on your resume can seem a little tricky. And, some may wonder if it’s even worth it? We know there’s a lot to learn, and we want to help by answering your questions. Our very own industry experts at Express Employment Professionals have offered up helpful answers right here on the Movin’ On Up blog.

Question: How do recruiters view volunteer experience on a resume? 

Answer: Recruiters are people, just like everyone else. To that end, each recruiter will probably view previous volunteer work in their own unique way. At the end of the day, most recruiters are paid by clients to find the best candidate based on skill sets that are defined by the client. If the skill sets are very specific, and experience crucial, volunteer experience most likely will play a small role in the recruiter’s decision to present a candidate or not. That being said, it’s still important to include.

In my experience, volunteerism can take center stage in other places during the hiring process. First, it can be a differentiator between yourself and another equally qualified candidate. Adding volunteer service tends to show how well-rounded a candidate is, or illustrates that they share time and abilities outside of the office. Often, for recruiters, making a great placement is about a culture fit or soft-skills fit, not solely based on past work titles. Volunteerism is a great way of illustrating your soft-skills to a recruiter or a hiring manager.

Additionally, if you are just entering the marketplace (think no experience or little experience) or you are changing seats in the marketplace (new industry, new specialized area, etc.), volunteerism can be a great way to show that even though you don’t have experience in a certain role or industry, you have picked up transferable skills while being a solid community member and giving back your time.

Finally volunteerism is a great conversation starter. If you’re interviewing with a company that is civic minded, and you’re passionate about volunteer work, share that enthusiasm during the interview. Employers in today’s marketplace want employees who get excited about working toward a goal bigger than themselves, and that’s what volunteering is all about!

Question: What are some tips for listing volunteer experience on a resume?

Answer: Unless you are new to the marketplace and volunteer work is the majority of your experience, I believe it’s best to keep it simple. List the organization, dates you’ve been associated, and possibly one sentence about the work you’ve been doing with the organization. When you can work in lessons learned from volunteering during the interview itself, it’s more impactful than listing volunteer experience on the resume.

If you’re someone who has lots of volunteer experience, don’t feel like you need to share every organization you’ve been a part of! In most cases, being affiliated with 10 or more civic organizations won’t necessarily gain you any more street cred than listing two or three. Pick the organizations in which you’ve invested the most time in, or the two or three that you’ve most recently been affiliated with.

Thank you to Joe Paquette from Express for providing the above answers!

Do you have a question about the job search, hiring, or recruiting process? Now’s your chance to have your question answered by industry professionals who find, interview, and hire people every day. Ask your question in the comments section below and check back soon to read what our experts have to say!

Ask a Recruiter: What Experiences Count as Experience

ask_a_recruiterFinding the right job to fit your skills and personality can be difficult—especially when you’re starting a new career. We know there’s a lot to learn, and we want to help by answering your questions. Our very own industry experts at Express Employment Professionals are posting their recruitment and hiring answers right here on the Movin’ On Up blog.

Question:
In the fourth installment of our series, “Ask a Recruiter,” we’re excited to feature a question from Movin’ On Up reader, Caroline.
Caroline asks, “I’m a recent college graduate and need some help finding a job. I don’t want to take the first job that’s out there, but it seems like every entry-level job I’m interested in requires 3-5 years of experience. How am I qualified for anything at this point?”

Answer:
This is a great question, Caroline! There are a lot of jobs out there that do this, and when it comes to entry-level jobs, you may find some with requirements that seem a little ridiculous. I recently had a conversation with a young grad who complained about this very same thing. She even showed me this tweet. It may feel like employers are asking you to walk on the moon before you apply, but this isn’t actually the case.Entry Level Job

The typical job ad goes something like this: “Account Executive—entry level, 3-5 years of experience required.”

When you’re a new graduate that “3-5 years of experience” concept can be intimidating, but employers are using that stipulation to weed out the unqualified. You’d be surprised how many people are turned off of applying for a job by it. What they want really want is someone who is driven and has a few skills already in the bag.

The new entry-level job, experts say, is the internship—this provides young professionals with the much needed experience companies desire. According to Courtney Lukitsh, principal and founder of Gotham Public Relations, “A junior prospect should be eager, very smart, have a few internships under their belt, and approach me with specific questions about the industry and the practice.”

In the minds of employers, the experience you need can come in many forms. Here are a few for you to consider:

  • Internships – Had an internship? Excellent, because that counts. List it on your resume under experience and explain what your responsibilities were and any impact you had. Whether it is paid or unpaid, it counts as experience.
  • Volunteering – Volunteering for an organization you are passionate about can go a long way toward making you more employable. It can also count as that elusive experience. Just think about it. You’ll be sharpening your skillset and showing off your expertise in a variety of ways through planning, organizing events, managing information, leading teams, writing, public speaking, and team work. According to theCorporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), volunteering raises your odds of finding employment in today’s job market by 27%. Now that’s a leg up on the competition.
  • Relevant Coursework – If you just finished your degree, you do have some experience. You spent several years of your life getting experience in the area, so don’t be intimidated by that 3-5 years requirement. Get around this by adding a section on your resume that highlights specific upper-level courses and projects you have completed.A degree isn’t technically experience, but it shows that you can commit and complete something, so show it off.
  • Extracurricular Activities – Whether you have served as an officer in an academic club, been elected to student council, or served on a committee in a sorority or fraternity, you have been building experience. Your work is worth highlighting, so add it to your resume.
  • Part-Time Jobs – This isn’t something I’d normally recommend, but when you are looking for an entry level job, it counts! Just create a separate resume heading titled “Work Experience” and place those items near the bottom of your resume.

Bottom line: Just apply. You may feel like you’re not qualified, but you might be underestimating yourself. Don’t be intimidated by the experience requirement. Think outside the box and get creative with what qualifies as experience. If you think the job is perfect for you, go for it. Forget the requirement. Go in there, sell yourself, and land the job.

Thanks for asking, Caroline! And thank you to Joe Paquette from Express for providing the answer!

Do you have a question about the job search, hiring, or recruiting process? Now’s your chance to have your question answered by industry professionals who find, interview, and hire people every day. Ask your question in the comments section below and check back to read what our experts have to say!

Check out previous installments in the “Ask a Recruiter” series:

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.