By Brian Kreissl
I find it strange how there are so many different opinions on how best to land a job.
And — at least to me — it sometimes feels like “experts” and non-experts alike might be giving advice that doesn’t quite jive with some of my own experiences as a recruiter.
I worked as a recruiter for more than four years in both agency and in-house environments and have been a hiring manager — so I feel qualified to comment on what it’s like to be “on the other side of the desk” in an interview.
Following up after an application
One piece of advice I often hear is, “Always follow up after you've applied for a job.”
No doubt this can be good advice in some situations — especially in a smaller company or where there are relatively few applicants, you know the hiring manager or you are confident you’d be a great fit.
However, I don’t think this is great advice when applying to a large corporation — especially where postings specifically say “no phone calls please” and that only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted. In most large organizations, it’s very difficult to get through to the hiring manager, and the staffing department often isn’t even set up to receive unsolicited incoming calls.
And if everyone followed up on their applications, recruiters would be swamped. One job I was recruiting for had more than 1,200 applicants, 99 per cent of whom weren’t a fit. Imagine how inundated I would have been if even just 10 per cent of applicants had followed up?
Strangely enough, one thing I noticed was, rarely were the people who followed up our top candidates (although they may have thought they were superstars). Mostly, they just came across as desperate and sometimes even quite annoying. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.
Nevertheless, following up can help if you’re absolutely certain your background and qualifications make you a superstar candidate. But give it a week or so before calling. And when you do follow up, you'd better be able to sell yourself to the recruiter or hiring manager and not just meekly ask if they received your résumé.
Applying for everything and anything
Another widespread misconception many people have is they should apply for just about anything even remotely related to their field (or sometimes unrelated) because, “You never know. They might just give you a chance, or they may consider you for another role.”
This is rarely good advice.
People who apply for jobs they aren’t even remotely qualified for (a big problem today — just ask any hiring manager or recruiter) end up looking naive, immature and desperate.
A few years ago — back when jobs were still advertised in newspapers — a friend of mine was browsing the classified ads when she found an ad in the paper for a “data architect, HR systems.”
She was adamant I should apply to the job simply because it had “HR” in the title and it paid well.
Even after I explained it was a technical job — one I wasn't even remotely qualified for — she still thought I should apply for it because “you never know.” But, actually I did know. I would have looked like a complete imbecile if I applied for that job.
That’s not to say people should only apply to jobs where there’s a 100 per cent fit. As we all know, employers are being extremely picky these days, yet they often know they won’t find someone with absolutely everything they’re looking for.
Therefore, I agree with something I read recently suggesting people should only apply for jobs where there’s at least an 80 per cent fit between their skills and background and the job requirements.
Thank you letters
My opinion on thank you letters is slightly different in that I think it is good advice to send them after an interview — yet so few people actually do. While they may seem contrived, a thank you letter is a great way to thank the person for interviewing you (after all, her time is extremely valuable), remind her about your candidacy and why you would be a good fit for the role, and to cover anything you forgot to mention during the interview.
Personally, I like receiving thank you letters. My time is valuable and I appreciate it when people understand that.
I also believe candidates who send thank you letters can stand out by letting me know they’re really interested in the job and how they would be a good fit. But I don’t personally believe they need to send a card or a handwritten note on fancy stationery. A simple e-mail will suffice.
Brian Kreissl is the managing editor of Consult Carswell. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.consultcarswell.com.