5 Ways to Kill Your Chances with a Hiring Manager

I’m a big fan of the X-Men comic books, and have always loved the powers of Dr. Charles Xavier, who is telepathic. Who wouldn’t want the ability to instantly read a person’s mind and affect their behavior? This skill would come in extremely handy during interviews with hiring managers, many of whom seem to belong squarely to the school of “Say little and express even less.”

Here are 5 of the biggest hiring manager turn-offs to be on the lookout for:

1) Lack of Specificity in the Resume

A big mistake jobseekers make is submitting overly-general resumes. This makes sense in theory: after all, the more applications you can shoot off, the more interviews, right? But this can really turn off a hiring manager, who wants to know EXACTLY how your background will enable you to tackle the problems they need solved. Clichés just won’t cut it at this stage.

-Create a shortlist of 5-10 positions you’re an ideal fit for.

-Study the job postings for positions like this, as well as LinkedIn Profiles for people who currently have these jobs.

-Tailor your resume to quickly communicate fit for these roles.

-Here’s what separates the best from the rest: once you have a solid framework in place, include METRICS-BASED ACCOMPLISHMENTS for every major position you’ve held that PROVES your ability to execute. Here’s an example:

  • Saved global Telecom company $500M over 2 years through development and deployment of end-to-end Complexity Reduction methodology resulting in purchasing and inventory efficiencies.

2) Too Aggressive about Career Advancement

Look, it’s great to be ambitious. And of course the job you’re after today is probably not the one you want to retire on. But you need to place your focus squarely on becoming the ideal candidate for THIS job before even talking about the next step. Neglect to do this, and a hiring manager will naturally start thinking that you might jump ship within a year, and they’ll be back to square one.

-Create a short “Value Presentation” for the interview which talks about how your 3-4 strongest skills can be applied immediately towards helping the company. Get creative here! For example, if you’re going after a product development position, why not run some quick usability tests on a company’s products, document it, and develop some design suggestions?

3) Too Open About Weaknesses

A hiring manager is not a career counselor. With the latter, it’s perfectly fine to be honest about vulnerabilities in your personality or “pet peeves” that drive you crazy in the work environment. But if you take the same approach with a hiring manager and confide things like you have trouble balancing family responsibilities with workplace demands, you’ll most likely get passed over. They’re not only looking to find the best candidate, but MANAGE RISK.

-Learn how to “spin” negatives into something that ultimately leads to success. For example, if you’re asked what your greatest weakness is, you can tell a story about how you once had chronic shyness and needed 30 minutes to “amp yourself” up for a simple phone call, and now, through courage and repeated exposure, can handle dozens of calls with high-level clients per day. Negative to a positive.

4) Not Following-Up

Following up matters! It shows that you’re truly invested in landing the position, and aren’t just treating it as one of many potential opportunities. I recommend sending a simple, printed note within 48 hours of an interview thanking them for the opportunity, followed by an email sent a few days later that essentially continues the conversation- adding greater detail to questions raised, sharing an industry article of interest, etc. You’re making it clear that the interview was the beginning of an ongoing relationship.

5) Lack of Enthusiasm

If a hiring manager has to choose between the most qualified candidate on paper, and a less qualified candidate who brings genuine passion to the table, they’ll go for the latter every time. You can teach someone almost anything EXCEPT enthusiasm. So if you have a personal connection with the company you’re interviewing for, and believe that this is a meaningful step in your life’s ambitions, or simply love the unique culture they’ve developed, take time in the interview to let them know! It also doesn’t hurt to explicitly state, “I’m very interested in this position, and would love to see a positive outcome” or similar. Excitement fuels job offers!

Hiring for Culture Fit: What You Need to Know

With over 40% of hiring managers choosing CULTURE FIT over SKILLS when determining who gets the job, knowing how to play to this side of things is key. Here are some tips!

Here are some frequently asked employer questions on culture fit (according to a recent HBR article):

•    What type of culture do you thrive in? (Does the response reflect your organizational culture?)
•    What values are you drawn to and what’s your ideal workplace?

•    Why do you want to work here?

•    How would you describe our culture based on what you’ve seen? Is this something that works for you?

•    What best practices would you bring with you from another organization? Do you see yourself being able to implement these best practices in our environment?

•    Tell me about a time when you worked with/for an organization where you felt you were not a strong culture fit. Why was it a bad fit?

 

 

Ask a Career Expert: How Do I Include Soft Skills On My Resume?

leaf

“Are soft skills worth highlighting on a resume? And if so, what’s a good way to do it?”

First things first: YES, soft skills do play an important role in hiring. Employers aren’t looking for robots that can only execute on a job description. They need people who can positively impact the culture and see what’s around the corner- people with depth (this goes triple for executives btw). Soft skills are a way to address this. However, doing so CREDIBLY is something that trips many jobseekers up.

Simply put: if you’ve got a keyword section on your resume that has things like “Goal-Oriented” and “Emotional Intelligence” in there, you’re doing it wrong!

1) IDENTIFY THE MOST IMPORTANT SOFT SKILLS TO HIGHLIGHT

Soft skills are like dessert- quality is more important than quantity! The first step is to thoroughly evaluate target job postings to identify major soft skills employers are on the lookout for (and that you possess).

Let’s say you do this and identify the following skills:

  • Interpersonal– ability to work in teams, relate to people, and manage conflict.
  • Project Management– organization, planning, and consistently taking initiatives from start-to-finish. Not just for dedicated Project Managers anymore- many employers want to see this as a skill set for employees of all stripes.
  • Problem Solving– ability to use creativity, logic, past work experience and available resources to solve issues.

2) DEVELOP POWERFUL ACCOMPLISHMENTS

If you’ve ever come across a resume which truly POPS, chances are it’s because soft skills have been tightly integrated with accomplishments. Hard numbers may reassure an employer that you’re a safe bet, but they inspire little passion (that’s why “dry” resumes which do nothing but list one metric after another tend to make your eyes glaze over). But when you add soft skills into the mix, ideally in a way that lends depth to you the PERSON (not just you the candidate) you’ve got something special.

a) Utilize the STAR Method to Reframe Career Accomplishments. Get away from day-to-day responsibilities. What wins did you pull off? What projects would have crashed and burned without your efforts? How did you BETTER things? Now break down what you’ve come up with in the following manner:

S = Situation. What was the problem? Be as specific as possible. Overly general accomplishments DO NOT WORK.

T = Task. What’s the goal?

A = Action. Which specific steps did you take to reach the goal? Focus on what YOU did, not the team. If describing team contributions, be sure to credit them or risk looking like an egomaniac!

R = Result. Final outcome. This is the time to talk yourself up. Take credit for what you accomplished, and if you can highlight multiple positives, even better!

b) Now that you have your STAR accomplishments, integrate them within your resume. Remember: resume accomplishments are most effective when you highlight the RESULT first, followed by how you got there. Here are examples of soft-skills based accomplishments which hew to this structure:

INTERPERSONAL- Established Risk Management as a key pillar of the organization, building and training 20-person in-house team responsible for ERM systems and processes development, as well as major cross-divisional initiatives.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT- Delivered over $5M in annual cost savings, along with improved business agility, through total project management of paper-to-digital record archiving initiative. Worked heavily with teams across Houston, Toronto, and London offices to attain aggressive 1-year implementation target.

PROBLEM SOLVING: Increased revenues by 12% through overhauling outdated and ineffective proposal process, consulting with SMEs within the industry, developing standardized language and offerings, and training 8 U.S. sales teams in adopting new approach.

One last tip: don’t confine soft skills to just your resume! Weave them into the stories you share during the interview, and show employers that you consider them to be crucial to your worth.