In the past few months, a significant amount of my time has been filled with recruiting on behalf of my clients for various professional roles and I have to say I’m disappointed. Not in the skill sets that I’m finding, but in the effort candidates are putting forward throughout the process. Perhaps I’m becoming jaded or perhaps in the ‘war for talent’ there is less emphasis on the candidate to have to sell themselves, but it seems as though some of the basics are falling to the way side.
Candidates – A little effort goes a long way!
I apologize in advance that this blog feels a bit rant-y and that these may feel like simple things; however, based on my recent experience they need to be reinforced.
- Do your homework.
Show me you are familiar with the organization and what we do. In your cover letter, tell me what attracts you about this role and how your experience ties into in. It shows effort. When I’m reviewing upwards of 50 resumes for a position you need to stand out and a generic cover letter does not.
In the interview, show me you’ve done your homework and know what the organization does. Ask me questions that tie directly to the organization and show that you’ve given some thought as to why this role is for you. If you don’t, it seems as though you are just applying for everything under the sun (and even if you are, fake it! In particular, don’t tell me you are applying for anything – yes, this happened).
- Watch out for spelling errors.
Re-read your resume. Then read it again. Double…triple check it! If you’re like me and grammar is not your strong suit, have someone look over it for you. When your cover letter has errors, it signals that you didn’t spend the time to review what you wrote. In particular, when the role you applied for calls for strong attention to detail, an error in your application may hinder your candidacy even if your experience is strong. If there are errors in your application, how can I know that there won’t be errors in your work?
- Respond in a timely manner.
We live in an age of technology and most of us are never far from our phones, which means phone calls and emails can be responded to in a timely manner. When you are on the job hunt keep an even closer eye to ensure you are not missing any communication from a potential employer.
If asked to provide anything after the interview, such as references, do so as quickly as possible to show your interest in the role. If you need time to reach out to your references and give them a heads up that they may be called, do so, but communicate back to the employer that you are working on it and what your estimated timeline will be. Remember that in many cases organizations are looking to fill a gap and eager to do so as quickly as possible (with the right candidate of course). Once they find a candidate of interest they are often eager to move the process forward quickly.
- Dress the part!
Even if the organization you have applied for is more casual in nature, over dress for the interview. You are making a first impression and this is important. Take the time to ensure your outfit is clean, wrinkle free, appropriate and that you look professional. Dry your hair and make sure your fly is done up (all real situations).
Now this does not apply to everyone of course. I have recently met some fantastic candidates who got it right and impressed. They were also among the group that were hired. So to the rest of you…time to step it up!
Devan is a Partner with Acuity HR Solutions. For more information about what Acuity’s team can do for your organization, visit our website at www.acuityhr.ca