May is here and as much as April is the official start of spring, I feel that after the winter we endured, spring really hasn’t been “springing” until now. If you don’t mind, I’d like to take a break from my usual silliness and spend some time talking about jobs and hiring.
This is a perfect time of the year for companies to post positions and, conversely, the ideal time for job seekers to hit the pavement and find new employment. I want to chat about the mistakes job seekers make and also talk to companies, big and small, and those HR people who hold the power of God in their hands when it comes to hiring and firing. Frankly, a few of them need a lesson in common decency but let’s begin with the job hunters.
Whether you are just out of college or doing a reboot to your life in your 40s, I’m amazed at the recklessness some people display when looking for work. So let me give you five easy tips that will help you land the job.
1. Don’t start looking until you are really ready. That means have a resume that is updated, neat and ready to go out when someone asks for it. Also if you aren’t sure you really want to leave the situation you are in, don’t apply for jobs and waste people’s time. Nothing ticks people off more than folks dipping their toe in the water but when it comes time to talk terms they say, “Nah, I’m good where I am.”
2. Clean up social media. Yes, there’s a good chance your prospective new boss is going to look at your Facebook page and form an opinion, be it fair or not. People always worry about photos of themselves “partying” but I’d be quicker to take down all my “I hate Hillary or Trump” stuff. Nobody wants to bring someone into their work environment who is going to throw fresh buckets of poop on the fan every day over politics. Bosses like peace and quiet and output; period.
3. Do exactly as the person posting the job asks. If it says “no calls,” don’t call. If it says “attach resume,” attach the resume. Don’t mail it or cut and paste it or drop it off in person. If you can’t follow the very first instructions someone gives you, why would they ever hire you?
4. Be prepared to take time off for interviews. If you work 9-5, you can’t expect the company you are courting to grant you a job interview at 6pm. Save up some time off and use it for job interviews. And if they need to interview you quickly, like tomorrow, be prepared to give a Meryl Streep-caliber performance and bang out sick.
5. Listen more than you talk. When they meet you, shut up and listen. It is “their” interview not yours; let them conduct it. Smile, give short, precise answers and show them why they should want you on their team. That’s it. Don’t ask about holidays off or how much sick leave you get or what happens if it snows and you can’t get out of the driveway. You’ll just scare them away. Follow those five rules and you’ve got an 18% chance of landing the job. Hey, it’s better than zero.
Now to the HR people, managers and bosses who post a job and interview candidates. My instructions for you are simple and easy to follow. You ready?
Be a decent human being. Treat people applying for work like people, not cattle. Chances are someone is taking time off from something important to come in for the job interview so if you schedule them at 10am, see them at 10am. Don’t leave them sitting in a lobby for 40 minutes.
Be clear what the job is and expectations are, that includes FULL expectations. Is this 9-5 or will you be calling them on Saturday mornings to answer questions or pop in to work? These things matter when it comes to salary and the personality type you might hire.
Most important, do what you promise. If you tell someone in an interview you’ll be making a decision by Thursday, then either make the decision by Thursday or email them Friday morning and say, “This is taking a little longer than we thought; please be patient with us a few more days.” People who want or need a job literally will pick up the phone every ten minutes checking to see if you called or emailed. They will take the phone into the toilet so they don’t miss your call. This is especially true if the person is unemployed and really needs the job. So be a nice person and treat them exactly as you’d like to be treated if you were the one looking.
That’s it. Not so hard to follow, now is it? Oh, one last thing for the bosses out there. I know you want to save money and hire cheap but don’t forget the old saying, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” Wise words indeed.
John Gray is weekly columnist for the Troy Record and the Saratogian newspapers and news anchor at ABC 10 and FOX 23. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.