Saturday, November 19, 2011

Back to The 22 Secrets....Part III

Last week I had to rant about the Penn State mess. This week we pick up again on the “22 Secrets HR Won’t Tell You About Getting A Job”. Week before last we looked at the first 8 secrets. Now I’m ready to tackle Secrets 9-16.

HR Secret Number 9:

“Most of us use applicant-tracking systems that scan résumés for key words. The secret to getting your résumé through the system is to pull key words directly from the job description and put them on. The more matches you have, the more likely your résumé will get picked and actually seen by a real person.”

This is probably good advice if you are responding to a job posting with a large corporation. Just don’t put a laundry list of key words on your resume. It may get you past the ATS, but when a person looks at it they will not be impressed. Take the time to work keywords into your resume where it makes sense and if your actual work experience supports their inclusion to your resume.

HR Secret Number 10:

“Résumés don’t need color to stand out. When I see a little color, I smirk. And when I see a ton of color, I cringe. And walking in and dropping off your resume is no longer seen as a good thing. It’s actually a little creepy.”

Agree. Me too. Ditto. Just don’t do it. Yes, it really is creepy.

HR Secret Number 11:

“It’s amazing when people come in for an interview and say, ‘Can you tell me about your business?’ Seriously, people. There’s an Internet. Look it up.”

It’s even more amazing when a headhunter has taken the time to tell the candidate about the company AND the position AND provided links to the company website AND perhaps given the candidate even more information about the company’s key executives, competitors, financial results, etc etc….and the candidate still acts like he just landed from another planet five minutes before the interview.

HR Secret Number 12:

“A lot of managers don’t want to hire people with young kids, and they use all sorts of tricks to find that out, illegally. One woman kept a picture of two really cute children on her desk even though she didn’t have children [hoping job candidates would ask about them]. Another guy used to walk people out to their car to see whether they had car seats.”

I don’t know about this one. I guess there’s still some bias out there, but this one seems pretty dated. I think most people realize that kids and families are part of the deal. And you can make a case that someone with young kids is very motivated to work and earn a living. There are probably some jobs and situations where young kids can be an issue if the employee is the primary or only caregiver. If you have young kids and you need some flexibility to handle kid issues, focus on jobs which can accommodate that need.

Now don’t walk into the interview with the “kid thing” as your number one talking point. Don’t even bring it up if you don’t have too. Just make sure that this potential job situation will fit your personal life requirements whatever those may be. Otherwise, you might get the job, but it won’t turn out well in the long-run.

HR Secret Number 13:

“Is it harder to get the job if you’re fat? Absolutely. Hiring managers make quick judgments based on stereotypes. They’re just following George Clooney’s character in Up in the Air, who said ‘I stereotype. It’s faster.”

The bad news if you’re fat is that this is TRUE. The good news is that with so many people in our society now being significantly overweight, the odds are pretty good that the hiring manager is also fat. So it’s all relative. If the hiring manager is fatter than you are, you’re probably ok.

The real question is do you appear healthy and energetic? Weight is only one of many factors that can work against you. For example, if you smoke you smell like a smoker (and probably look like a smoker). In most cases a big negative. If you’re old AND you look a lot older than your age, it can be a problem. If you’re 50, but look 60, and you smoke, and you’re fat…you need to give some serious thought to a makeover. I know that sounds harsh, but it is what it is.

HR Secret Number 14:

“I once had a hiring manager who refused to hire someone because the job required her to be on call one weekend a month and she had talked in the interview about how much she goes to church. Another candidate didn’t get hired because the manager was worried that the car he drove wasn’t nice enough.”

There are a lot of reasons why hiring managers reject candidates. Life is not fair and the playing field is not always level. Prejudice is alive and well and cuts both ways. Sometimes you get the job for the wrong reasons and sometime you don’t get the job for the wrong reasons. This should not be a secret.

HR Secret Number 15:

“Don’t just silence your phone for the interview. Turn it all the way off.”

I’ll take it one step further. Don’t take your phone into the interview.

HR Secret Number 16:

“If you’ve got a weak handshake, I make a note of it.”

This is old-school and still relevant in the U.S. and Europe. But if you go global, just be aware of handshake customs and preferences in other cultures. A firm handshake might cost you a hand in some places.

Next week we’ll wrap up the 22 Secrets. In the mean time, have a Happy Thanksgiving.
If you’re reading this blog you probably have a lot to be thankful for. Chances are that you are living better than 99% of the people currently inhabiting this planet and better than 99.99% of those who have ever lived. So quit your bitchin’ and count your blessings.

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