The goal of the job interview, resume and networking
Believe it or not, the goal of a job resume and job interview is not to land a job. For those of you wondering “WTF you talking about HRNasty? What have you been blogging about all these years?” I know and I apologize. I have posted about how to write a resume, cover letter and how to interview. But I haven’t ever been specific in actual goals of the cover letter or the interview.
The goal of the job resume is NOT to land a job offer. Landing a job offer is a series of steps and we need to make sure we get through each step before we think about the job offer.
The goal of the job interview is to make it to the next interview. This is a different mindset than thinking about landing a job offer
Sales (Professional analogy)
Professional sales people don’t try to close a sale on the first meeting. Their goal is to build a relationship and land the NEXT meeting. The closing of a sale is a long process with multiple meetings. This happens over a long period of time. Job interviews are no different.
Final Four (Sports analogy)
Just like competing in the Final 4 basketball tournament, the goal of each game is to win the current game. This is the only way we can move to the next round. Teams don’t focus on winning the final game, we focus on the current game and making it to the next round.
LTR (NSF analogy)
If we are interested in a long-term relationship with Mrs. Right, the goal of the first date isn’t to get into her pants. The goal is to land the second date. The only other comparison I can make is the teenager wearing a condom on his first date thinking he is going to get laid. The first date is just an at bat and we need to round the bases to get to home plate.
This week I will focus on what candidates should think about when it comes to networking and job resume’s. Next week we will focus on the various interviews and the goal at each step to land the job offer.
Step one, Networking
Based on all the networking meetings I have taken, I believe that a lot of candidates believe it is possible to receive a job offer after a single introductory meeting. I have blogged about networking so I will just provide the Cliff notes. We are not going to receive a job offer after meeting someone for the first time. Our goal when networking should be to figure out how we can help our counterpart so it isn’t just about us. When appropriate I think it is perfectly acceptable to ask for an introduction to someone who might be able to provide us advice, information or guidance on how we can achieve our goal (what ever that might be). If I could leave a few bits of advice to job searchers:
No No’s when networking
The person we are networking with understands why we are looking for a job. If they have a job in mind, they will offer an introduction. With this in mind, asking “Can you give me a job?” becomes inappropriate. Pulling out a resume with the intent of explaining our background makes the conversation about us. Resist the advice to bring your resume and just get to know your counterpart. Pick their brain for advice and knowledge. We can always email our resume in our follow-up thank you email. Yes, that was a subtle hint.
There is a myth that cover-letters are not read so most candidates don’t write them. I have ranted incessantly about cover letters, why they don’t work, how they can work and provided effective templates in prior posts. Yes, absolutely write them. They work and they are read.
The goal of the cover letter is to inspire the reader to look at the resume. A cover letter isn’t going to land us an offer. We don’t want to talk about how we are a hard worker or a quick learner. Those are opinions and not quantifiable. We may THINK we are a hard worker but if that manager has employees working 50, 60 or 70 hours a week, hard work just got re-defined. Instead focus on providing quantifiable data that is directly relevant to the job description. This will inspire the reader to look at your resume with interest and excitement vs. “just taking a courteous look”.
We want to keep the cover letter short, easy to read and keep humble opinions to a minimum.
99% of the cover letter’s goal is to pique enough interest such that the reader is interested in your resume. The other 1% is to show you understand how to format a business letter and know where the Spellcheck button is.
Because I get so few of them, a cover letter WILL get me excited. When I see a full-page written in size 10 font, I get turned off. Just give me enough information to make me excited to turn the page.
2 goals of the resume
Is to peak enough interest is us as a candidate to generate a phone call. We are NOT going to receive a job offer after a hiring manager reads our resume. We will hopefully receive a phone call where the hiring manager can go into more detail about the accomplishments listed on the resume. So the more accomplishments we can list that directly answer the job description the better. Using the same vernacular that the job description uses will only help. If the job description asks for customer service accomplishments, and we were in a customer success unit, we should list customer service accomplishments.
Recruiters and hiring managers have a lot of resumes to review. Remember, the recruiter could be looking to fill 10 – 20 other positions. Because this becomes a numbers game, most resumes are skimmed within 5 seconds. Resumes are not read line by line. If we know we are only going to receive less than 5 seconds, we want to try to increase the eyeball time on the resume. We want to draw the reader to relevant information that directly connects you to the job description. Increasing eye-ball time from five seconds to 10 seconds is an eternity.
Bullets and bolding
Accomplishments will be much easier to read when formatted with bullets. Paragraphs of accomplishments are harder on the eyes. If the resume is looking for high volume customer service experience than use the words customer service and bold the key words in the accomplishment. This will be easier to recognize than a format where sentence after sentence is listed in paragraph form.
Top ½ of the first page of the resume
This is the very first thing a reader will see when they pull up the document on their computer screen. The bottom half of the page will be cut off from view unless the reader scrolls. The goal of this section is to give the reader as much relevant information as possible that relates directly to the job description and nothing else. We want to associate you as a close fit for the job.
The home address has nothing to do with the job description and companies are not going to send us anything in the mail. We want to use the space taken up by the address to show our relevant skills. We want to inspire the reader to look at the rest of the document if we want the job interview.
Listing personal interests at the end of the resume can separate you from the rest of the pack. As a reader who is looking at many resumes most of the candidates have a similar background and experience. It is only human nature to form a mental picture of the candidate as I review the document. Adding personal interests can humanize an otherwise technically written resume.
“Passionate Seahawks fan, just ran a half marathon and training for a full marathon”
Hopefully this explains the real goal of the various steps as we strive to go through the job interview process. Next week we cover the goal of the phone interview, in person interviews with the team the hiring manager, and the VP.