Second chances are rare in life, but a New Year allows for a clean slate to better oneself. As millions of Americans ponder different resolutions for self-improvement, job seekers, recruiters, and hiring managers can use this opportunity to propel themselves to professional success in 2014.
With the economic outlook slowly improving, job seekers, staffing agencies, and HR departments will find themselves busy as they try to meet their goals, but to be successful, they will need to break some common habits.
For job seekers, 2014 will be a critical year as more jobs continue to be added. Despite this increase in the number of open positions, there are still millions of people unemployed, so competition is stiff. Here are some resolutions to ensure a successful job search.
1. Tailor your resume to the position or company
Companies don’t want to see generic resumes and cover letters. Show the employer that you have researched the organization, and it differentiates you from other candidates who gave generic resumes and cover letters. Custom resumes also show employers that you’re interested in the position. In addition, pay attention to details such as the format and font. If you’re faxing your resume make sure the font is 12 pt. to ensure it is legible and clear once received.
2. Don’t neglect your digital presence
While social media is the main digital channel people use, some people have personal websites and blogs as well. It’s important to clean out your social media profiles to make sure there aren’t any questionable materials that might discourage a recruiter from hiring you. In addition, get a LinkedIn profile and update it constantly. Many recruiters use social media in scanning for applicable candidates. Make sure you don’t neglect any channels because it may give the impression that you quit or leave things unfinished.
3. Continue Networking
Networking doesn’t just apply to meeting new people. It’s great to make new connections, but be sure you keep in contact with old connections. You never know when you might need a favor or a lead. Don’t be too forward because you never want to annoy a connection.
4. Practice Storytelling
During an interview you want to sell yourself to the recruiter. Practice your interviewing skills and anticipate possible questions the recruiter or hiring manager may ask. Remember to keep the interview professional and not to provide too much personal information. Let your personality come through the interview and answer questions thoroughly without droning on. The best way to engage a recruiter is avoiding generic textbook answers and keeping them engaged.
5. Never go to an interview unprepared
While this may seem obvious, there are many individuals who believe they can “wing” an interview. This is not the case because the recruiter or hiring manager will catch on quickly based on body language. Nonverbal communication sometimes provides an employer with more answers than verbal responses. Be sure to research the organization thoroughly and prepare thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer.
While most of the burden seems to rest on job seekers, HR departments are also pressured to hire the right person or they risk putting their organization in jeopardy. A bad hire has many negative effects such as a lost productivity and money. HR departments must dedicate themselves to avoid bad hires in 2014, and here are a few “resolutions” to help:
1. Be prepared
Just having a list of questions isn’t enough. Make sure you set the tone of the interview by outlining the proper structure and leave time for follow-up questions and probing. Also, allocate time for interviewee’s to ask questions and make sure to study the candidate’s resume and cover letter to avoid reading it during the interview (especially for the first time). Nothing is more distracting than an unprepared interviewer.
2. Actively listen
There’s a difference between listening and actively listening. Be engaged throughout the interview to ask appropriate follow-up questions, listen carefully to the candidate’s responses, and watch for any body language that may send opposite signals. Be sure to follow the 80/20 rule, so you don’t dominate the conversation. You want to get as much information from the candidate as possible.
3. Conduct reference checks
With high unemployment comes more applicants for HR to manage. Despite the number of individuals applying to limited positions, consistent reference checking can help save an organization in the future. It’s not only a good resource to make sure the candidate wasn’t exaggerating or not being completely truthful, but also get answers the candidate couldn’t provide. The past is the best predictor of the future.
4. Stay focused
Don’t get too distracted in the conversation that you forget to evaluate the candidate throughout the interview. Be sure to take notes for future reference and “debrief” after the interview. No matter how lively the candidate may seem, make sure the person is right for the job and has the necessary skill to succeed in the position. Most of all, be sure the person is able to bring value to the organization.
5. Think about the overqualified
It may not seem desirable to hire an overqualified person because they will most likely leave the organization if a better opportunity comes along, but there are some hidden benefits. Most bad hires occur when positions need to be filled quickly to avoid a lack of production. Why not hire the overqualified person for the time-being if the individual is right for the job? That person may pass down his expertise, which can benefit the organization down the line. If the individual is the best person for the job, hire them!
The New Year will bring exciting new challenges, but developing these habits early will allow for a prosperous 2014.