Tag Archives: application

Ask a Recruiter: How to Build a List of References

ask_a_recruiterNavigating the job search, acing interviews, and creating resumes can be challenging. We know there’s a lot to learn about these processes, and we want to help you 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.

In the second installment of our new series, “Ask a Recruiter,” we’re excited to feature a question from Movin’ On Up reader Anthony.

Anthony asks, “What do you do if you were terminated from a job and when you ask for a reference, the manager says they can’t give you a reference, only a phone number to call for verification of employment?”

In an ideal situation, your previous employer would provide your potential employer with all the details needed for you to land your next dream job. However, most companies don’t offer specific details about previous employees – regardless of whether you left the company after termination, down-sizing, or by choice.

Employers do this to protect both their company and you. If an employer is called to provide information about a previous employee, they must be careful to provide factual and well-documented information. To avoid claims of defamation and to restrict giving out any confidential or protected information, many companies have strict policies in place about providing references for past employees. Some companies will only share basic information, like the length of employment or positions held.

Keep in mind that when an inquiry call is made about a previous employee, some companies send these calls straight to the Human Resources department. From there, only your dates of employment along with other small details are released.

I’m betting your previous manager doesn’t have a choice but to direct people to HR to handle referrals. Instead of listing your manager as a reference, I would consider asking a previous co-worker to be a referral. If you worked together at the same company, they can talk about your work ethic and what it was like to work alongside you.

Since the information shared from company to company varies, it’s generally unknown what a potential employer may be able to learn through a reference. Play it safe by choosing references who can easily speak about your experience and skills as they relate to your job performance. These people may include previous teachers, co-workers, or mentors. And remember to ask for permission from anyone you list as a reference so they are prepared for calls from your potential employers.

Thanks for asking, Anthony! And thank you to Blake Whisenant 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 soon 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.

The Results Are In: What Causes Communication Breakdown in Your Job Search?

communication_breakdown_poll_smallThere are a number of factors that can make or break your chances of landing a job. Your resume, the interview, and how you follow up with potential employers can positively or negatively affect your job search.

One factor that plays a significant role in your job search is communication. Clear and concise communication is important in all areas of your life, and your job search is no exception. Since communication is such a big factor in landing a job, we asked Movin’ On Up readers what causes communication breakdown in their job search.

What Readers Think
With 35% of the votes, “lack of follow up from the interviewer” was the number one answer to what causes communication breakdown. “Unclear job postings” earned 22% of the vote, followed by “unmotivated workers/interviewers” with 12%.

Other answers included “the job application” with 7% of the votes and “poor leadership” with 5%. “Stress” also earned 5% of the votes, and “lack of planning” received 3%.

Additionally, 10% of respondents selected the “Other” option in our poll and left responses including:

  • Poor interviewer planning
  • No response to applications
  • Online applications, which remove personal communication
  • Use of internet to screen applicants

What Leaders Think
Interestingly, in a similar poll on Refresh Leadership, the Express blog for business leaders, the areas of communication breakdown don’t seem to match for employers and job seekers. While “poor leadership” only received 5% of job seekers votes, it was the number one response from business leaders (33%). Likewise, the number one response from job seekers was “lack of follow up” with 35% of the votes, while only 10% of business leaders selected this option.

Since the number one factors causing communication breakdown seem to be very different for job seekers than they are for business leaders, it’s no surprise that there may be a lack of communication in the job search. To help you better your chances of landing a job, take a look at the factors Movin’ On Up readers selected. If lack of follow up from an interviewer is affecting your job search, take the lead and follow up with them yourself. If unclear job postings are holding you back, reach out to the recruiter or hiring manager and ask for clarification. Doing so shows you have a clear interest in the job.

Likewise, take into consideration what business leaders are experiencing. Many business leaders reported that unmotivated workers were a source of communication breakdown, so break the mold by showing motivation and interest in the job. Show up to your interview on time, have an excellent resume ready, and follow up with the interviewer frequently.

How do you plan to use these results to help with your job search? Let us know in the comments section below!

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

Ask A Recruiter: How to Document Short-Term Jobs 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.

In the first installment of our new series, “Ask a Recruiter,” we’re excited to feature a question from Movin’ On Up reader Amanda.

Amanda asks, “When filling out job applications, should you include short-term jobs and ones that resulted in termination? I would think it looks bad, but isn’t lying on an application frowned upon?”

It’s important to note that a resume and an application for employment are two very different things. Let’s start with the resume. A resume is your career billboard and should highlight your most significant experiences in regard to the position you’re applying for. In fact, it’s a good practice to tailor your resume for each role you’d like to pursue. The most common resume form in the job market today is the chronological resume, which lists in order the roles you’ve held during your career. If you feel you may have employment gaps on your resume, consider using a functional resume.

Functional resumes focus on your skill sets and experiences, rather than the jobs you’ve held. The functional resume is also a great choice if you’re looking to change fields. And here’s some good news – if you search the internet for functional resumes, you’ll find hundreds of examples at the click of a mouse! Express Employment Professionals has a great example of a functional resume that can help in your job search.

Now, when it comes to the application, it’s very important that you don’t lie! In many organizations, falsifying an application can be grounds for immediate dismissal. So, let’s discuss how to document gaps in employment and short assignments. Before you do anything, consider calling the office and speaking with the recruiter personally. Ask them what they need on the application and what’s necessary for the position. Many times, the recruiter can clarify how they’d like you to proceed. Usually, they will look to see what experience you have that would qualify you for the available position. Of course, no recruiter likes to be surprised by additional information you provide later in the process, so don’t hide your work history.

If a position resulted in termination, it does need to be discussed. You gained vital skills and experiences in the position that could qualify you for the role you’re seeking. To falsify or omit such experience could lead to consequences down the road. The fact is – you’re not the only person out there who has been terminated, and you won’t be the last. Being honest and open about the situation will most likely yield a better outcome than pretending it didn’t happen. Just make sure you’re ready to discuss the termination if you land an interview. Never bad mouth your previous employer, don’t place blame on others, and be ready to share what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown from the experience. Do some homework and try to get letters of recommendation or references from people you worked with at the previous job who can vouch for your character. Remember, honesty is always the best policy.

Thanks for asking, Amanda! 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 soon to read what our experts have to say!

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

Deciphering What a Job Description REALLY Means

Job descripton decodedDuring my job search, I felt like I became a master at decrypting and interpreting the slightly vague vocabulary and jargon used in job descriptions for the variety of positions for which I applied. Healthily

I always thought it funny how people make careers out of teaching job seekers how to format and maximize their resumes; we even have a whole category of the blog dedicated to resumes and cover letters. But, there doesn’t seem to be as much emphasis on employers developing clear and concise job descriptions that contain the same types of generalities.

What are they really looking for when the description wants someone who “thinks outside of the box?” If job descriptions want someone “highly motivated,” does that mean there are employers looking for people who are “highly unmotivated?” All of these questions and concerns can be cleared up with these explanations.

“Good interpersonal skills”
Even if you will be alone or independent of a team, the ability to collaborate is a very important aspect for any job. You don’t have to be the office social butterfly, but you need to know how to work with those who could have different communication styles than you.

“Highly motivated”
Yes, the job market is slowly recovering. And yes, you might not have the experience yet to land your dream job, but that doesn’t mean you should apply to any and all jobs available. Do your research to find out if the job and employer are things you want to be a part of instead of just a means to a paycheck.

“Work well under pressure”
We all have deadlines. Some deadlines can be made at the beginning of the year to be a certain amount of units sold or made by the end of the year, and others can be projects due by the end of the week set by your boss an hour ago. You need to prove that you can consistently make deadlines and keep your cool when they are short or get pushed ahead.

“Critical thinking”
When employers want someone who can think outside of the box, they aren’t asking for a candidate who thinks he or she is the next Steve Jobs. It’s true that a critical thinker is often someone with unique, groundbreaking ideas with the drive to implement and see them through, but they really want someone with a balance of teamwork and initiative. Show employers how well your teams have performed, then display the unique ideas you’ve implemented in the past.

“_____ – level”
So they are hiring for an entry-level, junior-level, or a senior-level job. How do you know which one you are qualified to be in? Entry-level jobs require little to no previous experience and are generally best for those just graduating from college or looking to enter an industry.

Junior-level jobs tend to require three to five years of work experience, but you should also consider the size of the company, too. A few years of previous work may qualify if you want to move into a management position in a small company or nonprofit, but you may need at least five for the same position in a large corporation.

Senior-level roles generally need at least five years of experience. These are generalities, and you shouldn’t be discouraged if you’re short a year or two of experience if you can make a strong case that your skills and accomplishments are a good fit for the open position.

This can get confusing since levels won’t always be spelled out. For instance, most Administrative Assistants are junior-level jobs, which will need more experience than entry-level Receptionists roles.

“Working Knowledge”
You don’t have to have actually used a program, tool, method, or knowledge to have working knowledge of it – you just have to be familiar with it. Even though my primary responsibilities are writing and research, I’m familiar with using Adobe Photoshop® and InDesign®. I just won’t be able to make a pamphlet or logo.

When skills or experience are preferred, the employer would like you to have them but it won’t necessarily disqualify you. Required experience are skills or tasks the employer is expecting you to have.

The exact amount of experience is sometimes negotiable, and you can use more general experience and transferable skills that could apply to the specific job. But, sometimes it seems like employers can get these confused or at least undefined. There have been a few jobs where I met the required experience but not the preferred experience. Apparently, several people did too, because a few weeks later, they would repost their job description with the preferred experience as the required.

“Command of” or “proficient in”
I love it when job descriptions use these words. It brings back memories of my fraternity days when we’d have our memorization tournaments and the sheer competitiveness of proving our proficiency with the rituals. In the job market, being proficient means that you should have good hands-on experience with tasks or techniques, but not complete mastery. To have command of a skill means that you are so experienced with a skill that you could teach it to others.

You don’t have to feel like Indiana Jones trying to decode ancient languages on a treasure map when reading job descriptions. With these guidelines, tailoring your resume to fit the description will be a lot easier. What are some of your favorite phrases mentioned in job descriptions? Let us know in the comments section below.