Back to January Means Back to Basics

January means a new year, and for many a new start – things like looking for a new job and planning for the future. With the flip of the calendar to 2014, January also means that companies are solidifying their budgets and strategic plans and know that in order to be successful, they need the right people in the right seats to move the business forward.

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Where the holiday season is huge for retailers, this time of year is very busy for hiring managers. Which is a good thing for job seekers, most of whom needed a job yesterday.

In my recent blog, “Tis The Season To Keep Pushing!” one way to stand out is to keep applying when others are not over the holiday break. But what do you when January arrives and the floodgates open? As a person who helps company find and retain top talent, I can tell you that we generally peruse 100 to 300 resumes to find our client’s next superstar. And during this pre-screening process, I see many poorly prepared candidates who aren’t ready to speak with us as recruiter, not to mention a client’s hiring manager.

If you’re jobless or looking to enhance your career situation, now is a time to change your mindset, and get back to the basics of an effective job search. Here’s a refresher on job search etiquette, with some common blunders sprinkled in along the way:

You’re submitting a hundred resumes a week, but are you tailoring them to each position? I can’t tell you how many times we get resumes with typos, referencing the wrong job, or not at all connecting their background to the position of interest. This happens with all kinds of positions, at every level of the workforce. You might make that connection in your cover letter, but it also has to be in your resume.

Organization is key. Keep record of the jobs you’re posting for – what they are and with which companies. If your resume is posted on any of the job boards like Monster or Career Builder, refresh them often and keep them up to date.

Be accountable. We hear from almost every candidate, “I have been sending resumes, but I never hear anything back.” Meanwhile we hear from employers and even our own recruiters, “We never heard back from that candidate. Why did they even send us a resume or apply?” The frustration is mutual. The lesson here is that if a hiring manager calls or emails you, reply. Even if you’re no longer interested or have already secured a position. It’s the considerate and professional thing to do, and you never know what the future holds.

There is no crying in baseball. If you’re contacted personally for an interview, be professional and be prepared to tell your story in a way that connects to that specific position, and shows how you can help that organization. We constantly hear from candidates that only want to talk about being the victim. As hiring authorities we want to speak to excited, motivated individuals that are ready to talk about their background and how they can provide value. You also have to be prepared for when the hiring authority hones in on what you don’t have – candidates typically become offended by this and, in turn, defensive. This line of questioning must be handled with readiness and professionalism. Respond with something like, “While I may not have the exact skillset you’re looking for, this is what I have done in the past to get up to speed with the requirements of my position.”

Play your part. According to our hiring clients, everyone needs interview coaching. Many candidates just show up and expect the employer to control the interview. The most effective interview for the candidate, and the most valuable for an employer, are extremely interactional. Be ready.

Follow up. As a job seeker in 2014, it’s your responsibility to appropriately follow-up on any candidate process you participate in. Many times I speak with candidates who tell me about an interview they thought went very well. Then I ask them about their next step, and they don’t know what to do. It’s entirely appropriate at the close of an interview to ask about next steps, but then do your part to follow up accordingly. Check in with your contact during the recruiting process, and do so with respect. Do not become impatient or stalk that person.

It’s a new year. Make it a new you. Employers will love interacting with you!

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