I have stated many times that external recruiters can be helpful to you even though you do not pay them. I know this may seem counterintuitive, but the reality is, they cannot do their job without you. Even so, many job seekers keep them in the dark about their job situation or requirements. It is important to realize, it is hard for a recruiter to do their job well (on your behalf) when they are unsure of your specifics. Take a look at my latest article for job-hunt.org for more details on this tedious balancing act.
When an employer asks you what your salary expectations are during the early stages of the interviewing process, you are trained to say you are open-minded on salary and are more concerned about the overall opportunity. Many say, “I look at the entire package and opportunity before I make decisions about salary.” And from there, the conversation may go in a few directions, hopefully leading to an ideal result.
When working with an external recruiter, the process is slightly different. Read this article I wrote for Job-Hunt.org to learn more about how to manage this aspect of the interviewing process when a recruiter is involved.
Article: The Starting Salary Question
New grads are accustomed to interacting with on-campus recruiters representing hiring companies. But not nearly as many external recruiters help place new grads within their clients’ organizations. The reasons for this are pretty straightforward, but does this mean New Grads should not include external recruiters in their job search? Read the article I wrote for Job-Hunt.org for insights:
Article: Recruiters and New Grads
Being stressed about job interviews (and let’s face it, in this age of joblessness, who wouldn’t get a little worked-up over an upcoming interview?) comes with its fair share of psychological afflictions. If you’ve been making the rounds at various interviews long enough, you may even start to have interview-related dreams or even nightmares. And that’s pretty rough. Of course, it’s nothing compared to the sheer terror of seeing those nightmares become realities.
Here’s one that’s actually been happening more and more often, at least if the correspondence of various HR representatives is to be believed.
You sit down for a job interview, perhaps your last one after a grueling cycle. This is the job you are most eager to land, the position that excites you the most. And you feel like the interview has been going smoothly. Then, all of a sudden, a taboo topic emerges. For whatever reason, the interviewer steers the question toward politics. And you panic. Ducking out to the restroom would look bad, and feigning choking isn’t going to fool anyone. So what do you do?
Well, for starters, you should know that the interviewer really shouldn’t be asking this question. In fact, it’s wrong for any employer to discriminate based on political or religious beliefs. So if they ask you any direct and possibly contentious question about your deep-seated values, it could well be an illegal question, and you’re well within your rights to politely decline answering it. You should also know that, unless you are applying for a position as a political science professor, your political opinions are probably not relevant to the job, and the employer probably doesn’t really care what you think; rather, the interviewer is probably asking the question to gauge how you respond.
In other words: It’s about you and your character, not about the politics themselves. So if you do answer the question, think about what your answer is saying about you as a potential employee. Think first about the way in which you answer. Does it indicate a willingness to be honest but also eloquent and tactful? Does it show that you are able to be respectful to a superior without completely cowering to them? Does it demonstrate free thought, but not insubordination? And perhaps most importantly: Does it indicate that you are able to remain calm under pressure? This actually might be what the interviewer is really looking for–not the answer itself, but your ability to offer it without breaking into a sweat or developing a sudden stutter.
As for the answer itself, simply consider what it might reveal about your own, personal values and how those values square with those of the company itself. Certain political stances might come across as being contemptuous of corporate America or of big business. If you’re applying for a job at a big corporation, this is probably ill-advised. Likewise, taking a position that seems radical in a work environment that tends to emphasize a strong, unified corporate mindset is also a bad idea.
For example, earlier this year there was a big skirmish about unions, and the issue was hot enough that many HR representatives reported the topic arising in different job interview scenarios. This is a great example of a question that’s probably best to simply not answer. It’s controversial, and it’s directly related to a business’ bottom line. The best response is going to be a tactful and eloquent one that doesn’t actually indicate what you truly believe: “I think unions can be a complicated matter,” or, “Unions are a mixed blessing.” You’ll probably want to think up a similar response for questions related to, say, business tax cuts or outsourcing.
More than anything else, it’s simply important to remain poised, even if the question feels like a bit of a sucker punch. Again, politicians are not the ones who are auditioning here–you are. So your top priority should be to make yourself look good. Respond to the question in a way that makes it clear you are thoughtful, respectful, and discerning. And perhaps that you are ultimately less interested in politics than you are in performing your job to the very best of your abilities.
Terry Crenshaw is a writer for www.peterorszagsite.net who has focused her attention on what political professionals and their advisors, such as Peter Orszag, have to say about current economic policy. Through her work, Terry hopes to develop the public’s understanding of how politics can influence the economy.
I’ve talked about asking the right questions in interviews before. It’s an important topic. Especially when you consider it’s towards the end of the interview–part of the lasting impression you’ll make after you’ve worked out of the office.
If you have a recruiter involved (or even an HR representative at the company), asking the wrong questions of the hiring manager could be squandering a great opportunity to shine. Read more about this in my latest article for Job-Hunt.org.
When being submitted for a position by a recruiter, in most cases, you SHOULD know who will be viewing your resume. Even if your job search is not confidential, there are many reasons for this. Take a look at my latest article for Job-Hunt.org for more details about this sometimes mysterious process.
And if you’re a recruiter and have an opinion about this, please feel free to add your comments within this blog article.
Article: Who Has Your Resume?
I’m not a big fan of the breakfast or lunch interview. Perhaps for an all-day, meet-tons-of-people type of interview, a meal might serve as a nice break from the standard format. However, I’ve been witness to many interviews where the only meeting is at a dining table. Why am I not a fan of the mealtime interview? A simple rule my mom taught me years ago: Don’t talk with your mouth full.
I’m sure you can provide your own tips for interviewing while eating. Feel free to add comments to add to my list of tips on lunch or breakfast interviews.
As old as the art of resume writing is, you’d expect there to be changes in standard practice, right? After all, the way we communicate has changed dramatically, both in content and speed. We like our information given to us Just-In-Time and in Sound-Bytes. However, many resume writers still provide the same formula in presentation, format, and content to be included.
My guest blogger, Brendan Cruickshank, Vice President of Client Services of Job Search Engine, provides his thoughts on the subject, and of course, I couldn’t resist adding my two cents along the way. If you know me at all, you’re not surprised.
See if you agree with our thoughts. If not, feel free to chime in within the Comment Section.
Thinking Outside the Margins:
Five Old-Fashioned Rules of Resume-Writing that You Should Break
Job-hunting can be a job in and of itself – and it’s a job that has changed over the past several decades. The rules of resume-writing that applied in the 1980s don’t always apply today. Here are five old-fashioned rules that you would be well-advised to break:
1. Your resume should be no more than one page. The length of your resume depends on you and the job you are applying for. If you are a recent graduate, chances are that you don’t have enough experience to justify more than a page – but if you do, don’t hesitate to run a little longer. On the other hand, if you feel strongly that you want to keep your resume to one page, but you have more experience than will fit, the solution is to include a link to a web site where a potential employer can get the rest of the details.
Jeff’s Two-Cents: Couldn’t agree more. Many hiring managers first review a resume on their computer, not paper. There are no pages to turn, just scrolling down. Often times, you don’t even notice you’re on page two or three. The key is to include all pertinent info, but be concise. I’m not a big fan of a second source (link to a web site)–don’t make your reader do extra work to learn the pertinent facts. A good use of links: examples of your work.
2. You must include an objective or a summary section. Most career advisers still swear by this, but my feeling is that you should include personal objectives or a summary at your own risk. A well done summary can do wonders. But I can’t remember the last time I saw one. Most summary sections, and most objectives, are full of corny jargon that make the job candidate sound sycophantic and brainless.
Jeff’s Two-Cents: I definitely agree an Objective statement is not needed when you are applying for a job that matches your background. If you are changing your career path (i.e., from Finance to Sales), you’ll have to spell that out (likely in a cover letter or email). However, I think Professional Summaries are critical. The first one-fourth of Page 1 must tell the reader who you are and what you’ve achieved. As cautioned above, stay clear of the generic, mundane phrases: A team-player who contributes to the bottom-line of successful companies using clear communication, excellent problem-solving skills, and keen decision-making.
More on this topic is covered in a video with Peggy McKee–link is below.
3. You must include an education section. Whether or not you include an education section depends on you – and whether or not your educational background will help you in the job you are applying for. If you didn’t finish your degree, mentioning the college you attended for only two years will only draw attention to the fact that you didn’t finish. There is no need to mention your high school diploma or where you attended high school.
Jeff’s Two-Cents: I agree. Keep in mind, Education includes training and certificate programs. Where you have applicable skills through training include it. Often times, I tweak resumes to have the heading: EDUCATION and TRAINING.
4. Include a letter of reference with your resume. If you include something like this, it is most likely to be thrown into a file and never looked at again. Likewise, don’t add a line to your resume that says “References available upon request.” Instead, bring names and phone numbers for your most recent supervisors when you go to your interview. Most human resource managers will not check references for all job candidates, just for the ones they are seriously considering hiring – so they won’t check any references until they have already talked to you.
Jeff’s Two-Cents: Correct. And do you really want to bug your references that much? You want to have them called only when the hiring manager is serious. And obviously, if you hold references until asked, you will know when to give your references a head’s up on who might be calling them. Some hiring managers will ask for three completely different references than provided.
5. Print your resume on the nicest paper you can afford. This rule is an outgrowth of the rule that says you should wear a suit to your interview. You should still wear a suit to your interview if you can, but printing a resume on special paper is just silly.
Jeff’s Two-Cents: Yes, any paper will do, because most likely the interviewer will have their own copy anyway. I always thought fancy paper was a distraction. It’s like saying, the content of my resume isn’t so great, so let’s make it as pretty as possible. Again, in the digital age, paper is secondary. Although, always bring the extra copy. One of my most recent interviewees didn’t, and my client was testing him to see if he’d bring it. Never know…
Brendan Cruickshank has been involved in the online job search and recruiting industry for over eight years and has acted in senior client services roles with companies like Juju.com and JobsInTheMoney.com. His advice is often sought on topics in employment and jobs trends from publications including the Washington Post, Forbes and US News & World Report.
Video with Peggy McKee on this topic: Formatting Your Resume to Be Read!