Feature: What Employers Want
I get a lot of e-mail from frustrated job seekers. Most of it is a riff on a single theme: in essence, the messages say, “I’ve spent the last two, three, four or more months sending out resumes to employers, and I’ve yet to get a single interview.” It is, of course, hard not to be moved by such communications-job searching is the loneliest and most humbling of experiences even when things go well. Without any sign of hope, it can be painfully debilitating to anyone with a sense of pride in his or her work.
I am also troubled, however, by something else in these messages. They reveal that many of us simply do not understanding what employers want. We seem not to know what the recruiters in direct employers and staffing firms expect of job seekers. And that missing piece of the puzzle is the real source of much of the frustration in today’s job market. We have to fill in that bit of knowledge if we want to see our fortunes change in the search for a new or better job.
So, what do employers want? What do they expect from those of us in the job market? I think they’re looking for us to demonstrate six personal factors. They are:
Realism. Employers and recruiters expect us to make a frank assessment of our true capabilities-not what we would like to be able to do, or expect to be able to do at some point in the future, or might be able to do with a little training and coaching, but what we can actually do right now. In addition, they also expect us to apply only for openings with requirements that correspond to what we can actually do right now. They are put off by candidates who persist in treating their job search as a pipe dream or a treasure hunt because that wastes their time.
Effort. Recruiters are overwhelmed today with resumes (often from unrealistic job seekers). Every opening generates a tsunami of new applications, and there simply isn’t the time to give each the scrutiny it deserves. So, recruiters use an array of “identifiers” to isolate the resumes on which they will focus. One identifier, of course, is the keywords that are contained in a candidate’s resume. While that will identify those who are potentially qualified, however, it often yields more applications than can be carefully evaluated. So, recruiters use a second identifier: the initiative a candidate shows in pursuing their job opening. In other words, if we submit our resume and sit back and wait for the recruiter to find us, we’re likely to wait a very long time. On the other hand, if we submit our resume and then use networking, online and in the real world, to find another way to get our resume brought to the attention of the recruiter, we’re much more likely to get noticed and considered. Yes, it takes more effort, but that’s precisely what recruiters want to see. For a further explanation of this “two step approach,” take a look at my newsletter archive by clicking here.
Accuracy. Employers want your resume to be a detailed and absolutely correct description of what you’ve done in the workplace and how well you’ve done it. Most recruiters subscribe to the view expressed by Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, in his latest book, Winning. Welch says that the best way to determine a person’s ability to perform in the future is to look at their performance in the past. For that reason, recruiters want total and complete accuracy on our resumes.
Self-knowledge Employers also expect us to know where we can be successful and where we can’t. In other words, they want us to figure out which organizational environments will enable us to feel comfortable and thrive and which will not. Research shows that the #1 reason that people fail to work out, once they’re hired, is not their inability to do the work, but their inability to fit into the culture of the organization.
Objectivity. Employers expect us to get the facts, to do our homework on their organization and its employment opportunities. They want us to know (and be able to discuss) what they do (i.e., their products and/or services), where they do it (i.e., their industry and marketplaces), with whom they compete, and their track record. They correctly believe that having that information is essential if we are to (a) make an accurate assessment of the fit between our qualifications and temperament and the requirements for a specific opening with their organization and, (b) provide an accurate description of what and how we’ll be able to contribute on-the-job to the organization’s success.
a Non-casual outlook. Employers expect you to take your search for a job and their employment opportunity seriously. At every point where they interact with you in the employment process, they want you to convey the sense that what is happening is important and that you are treating it with the maturity and conscientiousness it deserves. To do so, you should dress in attire that is appropriate for business and/or follow the norms of traditional business behavior when:
• attending a career fair,
• interacting with employers during campus visits,
• meeting a recruiter at a professional event,
• sending your resume through the mail,
• exchanging e-mail messages with a recruiter,
• talking on the telephone with a recruiter, and
• visiting an employer’s facility and interviewing.
If you show recruiters all six of these personal factors-Realism, Effort, Accuracy, Self-knowledge, Objectivity and a Non-casual outlook-you’ll give them every REASON to take the next step … call you up and invite you in for an interview.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Please tell your friends and colleagues about WEDDLE’s newsletter. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness and benefit from your recommendation.
Section Two: Site News You Can Use
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that temporary employment is growing in a wide range of occupations. Now, not everyone wants to work as a temporary employee, but doing so during a job search can be an effective way to get into an employer and show what you can do. What occupations are above average in their use of temporary workers? According to the BLS they include the following white and blue collar jobs:
Find-a-Human provides some much needed help for those who want to find a way around the automated voice response systems installed by a large and growing number of organizations. How can job seekers use it? Say, you’re trying to contact a hiring manager or a recruiter within a certain organization, but can’t find a human to connect you. This site may have the solution. For example, if you want to find a recruiter at Apple, dial its toll free number (800.275.2273); then, when the automated system starts up, hit zero three times and say operator. Next thing you know, you’ll be talking to a human who, of course, may or may not help you out. The site lists the secrets for bypassing telephone systems and reaching humans at banks and financial institutions, hardware and software companies, as well as companies in such fields as insurance, pharmaceutical products and retail.
Gardere, Wynne Sewell LLP, a law firm in Dallas, TX, recently offered an important tip for those of us who use a BlackBerry, Treo or other PDA (personal digital assistant). These devices often hold very sensitive personal and business information, including credit card numbers and passwords. If they’re lost or stolen, therefore, you can find yourself with a huge headache and considerable financial exposure. What’s the solution? According to Peter Vogel at the law firm, using a password to lock your PDA. That might not prevent a thief from gaining access to your information, but it will certainly slow them down and give you time to protect yourself. In addition, companies can install special software that allows them to remotely delete data should a PDA go missing.
The Society for Human Resource Management published an instructive article on instant messaging (IM) etiquette in the September issue of its HR Magazine. While IMing can be fun and helpful, it’s important to observe certain rules when using it in the workplace. Among those listed by the article were: (1) Ask before starting an IM session-not everyone in the office is available when you are; (2) Be brief-extended messages are for e-mail or the telephone; (3) Watch what you write-anything sent by IM can be saved, copied and forwarded; (4) Avoid typos-even in a casual communications medium, too many typos may make you look careless, ignorant or both; (5) Don’t use ALL CAPS-caps are the equivalent of shouting in electronic media and too much shouting can be off-putting; and finally (6) Recognize that IMing is not appropriate for every situation-it is a complement to, not a substitute for face-to-face meetings and telephone calls.
Staffing Industry Analysts, a publishing firm specializing in the staffing industry, announced that there are a number of skills and capabilities that are in especially high demand right now in the information technology (IT) field. These include Java, C++, WebSphere, data architecture, client server support, project management (particularly with PMI-certification), ERP, and business analysis expertise with specific industry experience or certification. What’s unspoken but also true is that if these are the hottest skills in the IT field right now, other skills are less hot and probably getting colder. The half-life of one’s expertise in IT and other knowledge-based fields is getting shorter all of the time; that means we must continuously refresh our skills if we want to stay competitive in the job market. Acquiring one or more of the skills above may be a place to start.
Section Three: Site Profiles
Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?
1. You’re a seasoned corporate communications manager who’s just moved to Atlanta, GA. Which of the following sites would convey your credentials clearly to top employers in the area?
2. You’re a physical therapist who’s stayed at home raising kids for the last eight years. Now, you want to get back into the job market. Which of the following sites would strengthen your search for employment?
3. You’re an experienced lab tech who would like to break into the biotechnology field. Which of the following sites would likely provide your search with just the right formula for success?
Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2005/6 Guides and Directories
Job Postings for Benefits, Compensation & Human Resources
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Post full time jobs: Yes
Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – Part time
Distribution of jobs: International-USA & Canada
Number of jobs: 100
Salary levels of jobs: Not Reported
Offer a job agent: No
Resume database: Yes
How long are resumes stored: 6 months
Restrictions on who can post: None
Other services for job seekers: Listserv/discussion forum for networking
Answers to Site Insite
1. All but CorporateComm.com, the site of a “digital marketing agency.”
2. All but PTPeople.com, the site of a consulting company called Performance Through People.
3. All but WhereTechsConnect.com, a job board for veterinary techs and other staff.