A short time ago I was talking with someone who is responsible for finding and hiring new people for the company they work for. With their permission, today is a good day to share some of that conversation as a learning opportunity or reminder for those of you job searching.
The process of finding new talent has both positive and negative aspects to it from her perspective. On the upside, there is the possibility that the organization will be enriched and strengthened with the addition of a person who will bring a fresh perspective, new skills, add to the chemistry of the workforce, infuse some energy and enthusiasm, and obviously fill a need that exists. By meeting a need, the other staff can concentrate on doing their own work, not over-extending to cover off a vacancy which affects their own productivity.
The downside occurs if and when the wrong person is hired; the fit is bad, and the chemistry is adversely affected, the person misrepresented their abilities and commitment, their skills are not current and now there is not only a need to still find the proper person, but there’s a person to be removed.
Hiring the wrong person costs money, takes time, disrupts the workplace, can damage the reputation of both the company and the person who made the hiring decision, and in some cases the person may have done damage that takes a long time to repair.
In answer to my question regarding most-desired attributes, she said honesty, enthusiasm and delivering on what was promised ranked highest on her list of must-haves if someone is going to be interviewed and hired. “The challenge for me is the last one; doing my best to figure out if the person will actually be able to deliver on what they claim they can do before I offer them a position.”
As we talked, she mentioned that with so many people out of work or underemployed, any job posting attracts a large number of resumes and applications. And while that means there will likely be many good people to choose from, it also means there are equally a large number of people who are desperate to find work and will make all kinds of claims that misrepresent themselves. And then she quietly said, “And many people don’t write their own resumes anymore; they get Employment Counsellors, and Resume Writers to do it for them. That makes it harder for me to pick the ones that are genuinely right for the job, because these professionals make so many of the people they work with look extremely good.”
Wait. Was that a shot at me? I’m an Employment Counsellor, and I help people with their resumes and interview skills every day! Actually it wasn’t a shot. Turns out that she actually appreciates it when job applicants have enlisted the help of a professional to craft their application. And the reason? Resumes are clearer, demonstrate skills and attributes that match the job posting better, and help her to see up front what a person can do. “After all”, she said, “People who can do the job I’m advertising don’t necessarily have the skills to put together a great cover letter or resume, and when I do interview them, I want to see the real person come out. People like you help them do that.”
The major issue she had with applicants were the ones who – with a professional’s help or not – try to get interviews and jobs that they really aren’t qualified to do at all. “We’re running a business here, and my job could be at stake too if I make too many poor hiring decisions. If every person was qualified and it was just a question of finding the right personality to inject it would be easier. But unfortunately many who don’t meet our needs still apply, and it takes time to open their emails, read their resumes, or answer their calls. It a time-waster for both them and me.”
I listened closely as she talked about meeting and interviewing people. She said that when she first meets applicants, she sizes them up in the first six seconds. Six? Yep six. “Count six seconds out loud”, she said, and I did. “In that amount of time, I see their clothing choice, their posture, their confidence or shyness, can see if they’ve brought any material with them or came empty-handed, can read a lot in their handshake, and their voice even saying hello tells me if they are nervous, assertive, reserved etc. The rest of the time I spend with them either backs up my first impression of them or changes it. But I do make an assessment in that six seconds.”
And after the interview? She told me that when she finds a few people who are qualified, she hopes they take the initiative to follow-up on their own. “Who really wants it?”, she said.
Now if you read this and haven’t learned anything new, it’s still time well spent even if only as confirmation of what you assumed and believed employers are thinking. If its new information, then it’s been time better spent for you because it may change how you’ve been going about things and that can bring a change in results.
Finding a job is a job itself. Put in the work, and work smarter not harder.