The employment market is a two-way street, meaning that young applicants and HR (human resources) team members face each other in a strange sort of relationship in which one holds the keys to a potentially rewarding career and the other hopes to meet the requirements for obtaining the keys during a live interview. Each side has its own point of view and special challenges for getting what they want. Hiring agents want the best possible candidate for the open position, while applicants want a promise of employment. How can both sides maximize their chances for success? Did you know that the range of candidates interviewed is between 4:1 and 20:1? Consider several suggestions that can get positive results, regardless of which side of the interview desk you're on.
For Job Seekers
Education and relevant work experience are the two most powerful weapons in any job seeker's arsenal. That's why before you can create an impressive resume the first order of business for future professionals is to earn a master's degree, preferably the versatile MBA, Master of Business Administration. But before leaving a current employer, it's essential to give official notice of resignation. Just be sure you get the timing right. Other worthwhile points to remember including scrutinizing contracts before signing, assembling a scan-friendly resume, being ready for interview questions, never making negative comments about a former employer, and arriving to the meeting with a few prepared questions of the hiring agent in your back pocket if they were to ask. Here are more details.
Don't Delay The MBA
Obtaining a post-college degree, preferably an MBA, is an essential piece of the job search puzzle. Paying for advanced education is equally important, which is why millions of grad students take out education loans to cover the majority of expenses and fees. There's no reason to procrastinate about adding an MBA degree to your resume. Today's business schools offer a wide selection of attendance methods, including self-paced home study, traditional in-classroom learning, weekend coursework, and other arrangements. It's even possible to work full-time while going through MBA school. But none of it is possible without a student loan. Check out your options in terms of interest rates and other terms before choosing an institution or setting a specific start date.
Be Careful About Giving Notice
Giving official notice that you are resigning is a tricky proposition. Timing is everything. Never make the mistake of telling your current boss you're leaving until you secure a position with a new employer. Where many people make mistakes is in giving notice too early, well before the new company has completed the background check portion of the process. Even if you believe that an investigation will come back clean, don't say goodbye to one company before you're 100% certain that you have a secure, paying position somewhere else, then feel free to give at least two week notice, which is standard.
Scan Employment Contracts For Oddities
In today's business environment, numerous employers offer new hires a formal contract and expect to have it signed before the deal is official. At this point in the hiring process, you need to be cautious. Ask for at least one full day to review the contract. If possible, have your lawyer look it over to see if anything is out of place or potentially harmful to your financial interest. It's rather common for HR departments to include arbitration clauses that require workers to setting most or all disputes out of court and in front of an arbitration committee. Other conditions to watch for are unusually harsh conditions on giving notice before quitting, how vacation time accrues, and more. Always read the entire document before putting your signature on it.
Optimize Your Resume For AI Scanners
Expect your resume to be scanned by an ATS program. Applicant Tracking Systems are special, sophisticated pieces of software that search for particular words and phrases related to the job's requirements.
Corporations and smaller entities use ATS software to screen out certain kinds of applicants, like those who don't have degrees or the right amount of experience. Work with a certified resume writer who has several years of experience with ATS scanners. Be sure to inform the writer of any special requirements for the position that are not listed in the official announcement. Additionally, get paper copies as well as digital versions of the document. That way, you'll never be at a loss if a prospective employer asks for your resume. The bottom line is you need an ATS-friendly document that will make it through the automated scanners. Only then will the company invite you for an interview?
For HR Teams
In the 2020s, applicants are much more tech-savvy than those who sought work just a few years ago. Many are aware of how to game the system, particularly the ATS programs. But they grew up in the digital era, which means they sometimes forget to clean up their social media profiles before looking for work. A number of your interviewees will know all the right answers to the most common questions. For that reason, remember to ask open-ended questions at least a few times during the face-to-face session. Here are the relevant points to consider before beginning an interview.
Use The Best ATS You Can Find
Set ATS parameters and keywords carefully. It's tempting to include as many specific terms as possible, but that tactic can backfire and leave you with just a few interview subjects or none at all. Instead, only use keywords that are specifically relevant to the position and avoid setting the bar too high with respect to experience. It often happens that the very best applicants have only worked a year or two before arriving in your office.
Check Applicants' Social Media Pages
It only takes a few minutes to enter names in a search engine and scan a person's social media and online footprint. Modern job seekers know enough to clean up their main socials, but a few either forget to do so or have a vast amount of online comments, articles, and social mentions. There's no need to read every word. Instead, focus on comments and activities that could present a problem for your company.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
When people prep for interviews, they can take advantage of dozens of books and online tutorials about how to respond to the most frequently asked interviewer queries. To cut through the memorized stuff and see what applicants are really like, ask one or more open-ended questions that are unique to the position. For example, you might ask, "Tell me how you feel about putting in extra time on important projects?" or "If this job weren't available, what would be your next plan for finding employment?" Avoid the most common subjects by crafting several unique queries that are sure to get people thinking spontaneously. Only then can you get a true glimpse of what their thought processes are like.
Verify Resume Claims That Seem Embellished
If anything in an applicant's resume looks a little off or too good to be true, dig in and ask about it. While the majority of candidates are 100% honest, there are a few who go overboard with resume embellishment. If an education listing includes the claim of a 4.0 grade-point average at a top college, consider asking the person about how they achieved perfect grades and what it was like to be valedictorian. Further, contact the institution to verify the claim.
Avoid Group Interviews
For the most part, group interviews are a waste of time for employers unless the goal is to disseminate information to attendees. Group dynamics can get in the way of your ability to gather relevant information from individual candidates and get a feel for what they might be like as workers. However, group video meetings with multiple candidates offer an excellent opportunity for hiring agents to do Q&A sessions for the benefit of top-tier applicants.
Assess Social Skills & Amount Of Preparation
Video meetings are okay, but in live, face-to-face meetings, it's possible to assess a person's social skills in more depth. What should you watch for when interviewing someone? Keep an eye out for off-color or improper language, poor posture, odd personal habits, substandard hygiene, and the person's knowledge about your company and the open position. Ask yourself, "Is this just one of many interviews for the applicant?" It's a fact that many show up to interviews unprepared. If that's the case, you need to be able to weed them out of the hiring process as soon as possible.
Allow For Nerves & Youth
Don't read too much into the nerves that many people have when applying for a first big job out of college. A misspoken word or fact here or there, a shaky countenance, and nervous laughter should not be a deal breaker for anyone. Put yourself in the candidate's shoes and remember what it was like when you first sat on the other side of the desk. Looking for work can be a harrowing, physically taxing experience, so try to have a bit of empathy for those who are doing their best to find gainful employment.