If there’s one area that I have had a tremendous amount of experience around, is in the hiring process. When I was at Microsoft, there was a period of time, where that was practically all I was doing as Microsoft Advertising was in a hiring frenzy back in 2006 or so. Literally 30-40 phone, and in person interviews not to mention all the reviewing of resumes.

While I certainly don’t interview at that pace anymore, since joining Strategies 360/ShowPony, I’ve continued to have to interview as we grow our team. To this day I am amazed at some of the choices (or lack thereof) that folks make when it comes to presenting themselves as a worthy candidate. We recently hired a new design director for our team, and I felt compelled to post something about what I experienced this go around. So without further ado, here are my top 5 things you can do to ensure you don’t get hired.

  1. Fit in with the crowd. The last position we posted, we literally got over 100 resumes within the first few days. That’s a lot, and the reality is, when I get that many, I’m skimming. Don’t want to make the Yes pile? Send in a a resume that screams template and doesn’t stand out.
  2. Overlook the cover letter. One of the most important facets that I look for in people is their ability to write well. All things being equal, this is a tremendous measure of a person’s ability to think critically and communicate effectively. Send me a copy/paste cover letter and you’ll find yourself in the maybe or no pile easily.
  3. Don’t get to the point. We received a ton of resumes that read more like short stories, sometimes in excess of 2 pages. Avoid being concise, using bullet points, detailing specific result oriented taks, and you’re sure to get skimmed over.
  4. Don’t ask thoughtful questions. What many folks don’t realize is that when an interviewer asks if you have any questions, the interview isn’t actually over. We’re looking for insightful questions from you to see if you have put some thought and preparation into the interview. Most folks I’ve interviewed actually don’t ask very many questions, or ones that are trivial at best. If you only ask what the dress code is or what time you have to be in, that’s a one way ticket to NEXT!
  5. Don’t send a thank you email. How can something as trivial as a quick thank you email turn you into a no hire? Because regardless of how insignificant it may be in the grand scheme of things, it sends the message that you’re not that excited about the opportunity and that’s enough for me to look elsewhere. Hiring managers want to hire people that are ape shit excited about working for you and not sending a thank you email doesn’t really convey your excitement for the opportunity.

It’s a competitive landscape and if you don’t combine doing the necessaries with going above and beyond, you’re never going to stand out enough to be considered. And that comes first hand from someone who’s seen a fair share of folks that were shown the door vs. being hired. What have your experiences taught you?