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!

What’s Your Why?

WHAT’S YOUR “WHY?” KEY CAREER QUESTIONS TO ASK:

CORE STRENGTH QUESTION:

Ask yourself: “AM I PRIMARILY…”

a) THE TALENT

b) MANAGER/LEADER

c) ENTREPRENEUR

Your answer is your CORE STRENGTH.

Now, what would be a path that would allow you to start dipping into one or both of the other areas? This should inform your career direction.

ROOT MOTIVATION QUESTIONS

  1. Think of a time when you were performing at your best. What were you doing? What were you saying, thinking and feeling? What was going on around you?
  2. List the top ten things in life that give you joy. What common themes do you notice?
  3. What are three accomplishments you are most proud of? What are your natural strengths that you love to use?
  4. Think about times that you have gotten angry/upset/irritated. What core personal value(s) were not being met?
  5. Who is the one person you admire the most? What would that person advise you to do?
  6. What do you dislike the most about your current or past work?
  7. What would happen in your career if we doubled your self-belief? What if we quadrupled it?

DAILY LIFE CHECK-IN QUESTIONS:

  1. What am I consuming? Reading, listening, watching. How much of it is actively helping me GROW?
  2. Who do I spend time with? Assess the 5 people you interact with most frequently professionally. Are they people to aspire to, or people who are holding you back?
  3. Who are my role models? Am I directly interacting with them, following them on social media, taking their courses? How am I “drifting” behind those who have already succeeded at what I wish to do?

CAREER DEVELOPMENT PLAN QUESTIONS:

  1. What do you want to achieve with your career?
  2. How much time are you prepared to spend on your career?
  3.  What skills do you need to develop?
  4. What resources will you need?
  5. Where can you get support or advice?
  6. What type of person do you need to be?
  7. What is your motivation?

3 Things You Need to Know About the Job Search

 

mountains

#1

The BEST way to answer the question, “Why are you job hunting?” is with a variation of the following strategy:

Great Experience at my Current Employer

BUT

I’ve Hit a Wall in Terms of Growth and Development

AND NOW

I want to take my Development and Career to the Next Level (and you guys are the best way to achieve this)

#2

A great way to set up interviews when you’re in a FT job is to simply be OPEN AND UPFRONT with recruiters and hiring managers instead of pretending you’re completely available and then scrambling frantically when one is set up for you!

Tell them that you’ll need a little flexibility to work around your current work schedule, and (if they’re reputable) they’ll be happy to adjust. People often interview after 5 pm.

#3

Many companies push new hires to sign a Non-Compete Agreement (NCA). It’s a major hassle in terms of your not being able to work in your field and earn income within your targeted industry in the event that things don’t work out.

So if signing a NCA costs you money and provides a major benefit to the company, it’s only fair that it cost the company something too, right? Negotiate for a GUARANTEED SEVERANCE PACKAGE for the term of the NCA to tide you over during a transition. Make them seriously consider the merits of having you sign one.