Real-life advice from a real-life recruiter

Archive for February, 2012

First Impressions…

… they occur BEFORE an in person meeting!

Crystal here – ‘reporting live’ – while Jana is off traveling the world.  Lucky gal!  Jana LOVES warm weather so hopefully she is able to enjoy the weather, and some time off, in Brazil for the week.  I’m a little ‘green’ when it comes to travel – so I’m hoping Jana takes a lot of pictures!

As a recruiter I spend a lot of time getting to know an applicant before I actually get to meet the individual face to face.  Sometimes, it seems as if a job applicant forgets that they are making their first impression on me, or any perspective employer, the moment they press the ‘submit’ button on an online application.  Here is some food for thought, to help you avoid falling prey into a first impression trap.    

Top 5 First Impression Pet Peeves

‘Ring Back’ Tones – I’m indifferent to ‘ring back’ tones – I could take them or leave them.  For those of you who are not familiar – a ring back tone (RBT), according to Wikipedia, is an audible indication that is heard on the telephone line by the caller while the phone they are calling is being rung. It is normally a repeated tone, designed to assure the calling party that the called party’s line is ringing. However, when I am calling a candidate who has a RBT installed on their phone – I do not like listening to ‘screaming’ or swearing while I wait patiently for a candidate to pick up the phone.  Instead of being excited to speak to a perspective employee – I lose a little bit of my focus while I listen to the ‘noise.’ 

We all have different tastes in music, but take a second to consider the audience of who’s calling, or may be potentially calling, you.        

Tone of Voice – Nothing is more disappointing to me when I call a candidate for the first time, and they sound unhappy, angry, put out, etc. when I ask to speak to ‘John Doe.’  On the phone, I don’t have visual clues or body language to gauge just how interested someone is in regards to the subject matter at hand.  All I have is their tone of voice.  Also, if you are busy, at work, walking to class… simply don’t answer the phone.  I will leave a message and you can call me back at a better time.    

Rudeness can also be very off putting and can sometimes be very difficult for the candidate to recover from.  It makes me wonder: if the candidate is going to be rude to me – how are they going to treat our guests and our team members? 

Be professional, confident and friendly… you can’t go wrong with that on the phone!           

Resume Appearance – Proofread.  Proofread.  Proofread.  Proofread.  Did I say proofread?  Check your resume for spelling errors, grammar, punctuation, formatting and relevance.  An error-free resume is essential.  Prioritize the information on the resume from the most important to the least important.  Most recent to least recent.  Write your resume so key facts that will tell the recruiter that you are the best candidate for the job jump out from the page.  While I am not always good at this myself – avoid wordiness.  Don’t get too fancy with graphics, fonts, colors – many of the applicant tracking systems that companies use aren’t compatible with fancy stuff, and you risk the reader of your resume getting a jumbled mess of unreadable characters.  Also, check to make sure your contact information is up to date and that your objective pertains to the job in which you are applying. 

If you don’t have a resume – take some time to create one because they aren’t going away anytime soon.  Career sites like Monster and CareerBuilder have great tips on creating resumes and Microsoft has templates that you can start with.  What you don’t want to do is write “I don’t have a resume” on the resume portion of an online job application.  If you aren’t taking this seriously… why should I?

Voicemail Message – Sometimes I get a good laugh at a candidate’s voicemail messages.  Sometimes I’m confused by whether or not I called the right number if the name stated on the message is different from what is on the resume.  Sometimes I’m just offended.  Sometimes the number provided isn’t even in service.

Again, be professional, confident and friendly in your message.  If the number you listed isn’t your own home or cell number – make a note of it somewhere so the caller isn’t second guessing his or herself.  Also, make sure the number you are listing is in service, and/or provide a secondary contact number so that the caller can reach you.      

EmailProofread.  Proofread. Proofread. Spell check.  Again, you want to check your electronic communication for spelling errors, grammar, punctuation and relevance.  Also, is your actual email address professional or something XXX rated?  You never know whose inbox your email may end up in and you don’t want to be embarrassed if ended up in the CEO’s inbox.  There are many free email sites where you can sign up to get something a little bit more professional.

Until next time…

You Want HOW Much?

What are your salary expectations?

 This is a very important question. This dollar amount will be reflected in all of your salary increases going forward. Given that salary raises are generally given by percent, the larger your base salary, the larger the dollar amount of raise in which you will receive. However, if you put a ridiculously high, or low, salary on your resume your chances of a recruiter calling you will steeply decline. When it comes to starting salaries do your homework.

Your experience and chosen work industry is what commands a salary. What experience do you have? What industry are you in? Get on the internet and research the going rate. Figure out the high and low end of the pay scales. Give yourself a general idea of the going rate.

Where is the job located? Research the cost of living. If a job pays $80,000 in Pittsburgh and $80,000 in Los Angeles the job doesn’t pay the same amount. The cost of living in Pittsburgh is far lower than the cost of living in LA. You need to make sure that you are able to live on the salary that you are asking for and what the company is offering.

Research the company in which you are applying and look at their benefits. Sometimes, companies offer lower salaries, but great health and retirement benefits. Some offer great work life balance or working from home. Some companies offer larger salaries, but minimal benefits. You need to know what is important to you.

Before you start negotiating your salary know the lowest salary you can accept and what salary you really would like.

Remember to ask about company salary ranges and evaluation processes during the interview process. This should give you a general idea of how the company handles compensation. You should have this idea before you accept a position with any company.

Just Who Is Smiley’s BFF?

Did you ever spend time with someone that was so full of personality that everything around them started dancing with effervescent bubbles? That everything around them started looking better and was more fun? That is what it’s like talking to Sarah Heisey, Manager of Team Smiley – or as she likes to say “Smiley’s BFF.”

Sarah started in 2009 with Eat’n Park Hospitality Group as an intern on Team Smiley. She did such an awesome job that she was quickly able to parlay an internship into a full time position as the Community Marketing Assistant. Since she was so darned good at that Sarah was quickly promoted to the Community Partnerships Coordinator

I just had to interview Sarah.  Not everyone is fortunate enough to call themselves Smiley’s best friend so it was fun and interesting to hear what Sarah had to say. Here is Sarah’s interview.

What do you love the most about Eat’n Park?   

From everyone in the restaurants, the guests and team members, across all our brands, and the Corporate Support Center, the people are bright, cheery, honest and everyone cares about what they are doing. Great culture, huh?

Why did you join Team Smiley?

Since I grew up in Pittsburgh, and my family and I ate Sunday brunch every Sunday at Eat’n Park, I understood their values. I wanted to be part of the their community out reach program. No business in Pittsburgh does this as well [as Eat’n Park does.]

Interested in Team Smiley – APPLY HERE!

What have you learned?

I get to meet people. They are all different and I learn so much from each one of them. I love to listen to all their memories about Eat’n Park. So many people have met their husbands and wives at an Eat’n Park. I am also a better listener. If you really want to hear what people have to say you need to listen. Everyone has a different reason to love Eat’n Park.

What advice do you have for folks starting their careers?

  1. Show your personality. It’s important to show you’re outgoing, warm and energetic.
  2. Realize the power of an internship. I’m a story about how it paid off. It’s real life work experience. You will get to  meet a lot of people. So if you do an impressive job you may not get a  full time position, but you will make      contacts with a lot of great people. If you do a great job they will help      you get where you want to be.
  3. Don’t be afraid to talk to people and get to know them. Go to lunch. Network with people. Be genuinely interested in other people.

What are your interviewing pet peeves?

  1. Proof read your resume! Spell everything correctly especially the company’s name that you are interviewing with.
  2. Attire for the interview. Go for a classic look. Don’t be afraid to over dress. It’s better then under dressing. It is not a fashion show.

Sarah said take chances. Don’t be afraid to apply for jobs that may be a long shot. Do the leg work you need to do. Get in the game and get in early. It never hurts to be first!

And it looks like everything is working great for Sarah!

Still Haven’t Gotten That Interview?

You still haven’t gotten an interview, huh?  Maybe it’s your resume. Yes, something as simple as a poorly written and targeted resume will keep you from receiving an interview. If you have been sending out the same resume, to every job you have been applying, I would make a bet that the issue is your resume.

Let’s talk about resumes.

The first, and most important, fact is… Your resume needs to be based on the job in which you are applying for. So, for example, if the job posting uses the word “manages” use the word “manages” in your resume.  “Managed a diverse team of 30 individuals on Project X.” If the job posting uses the word “leads” use the word “leads” in your resume.  “Lead a group of peers on Project X.” Get the picture?

Secondly, only include information that will support you qualifying for the job you are applying. For instance, if you have an objective of getting an accounting role and you are applying to be a restaurant manager, this will not help you get an interview.

Next, try to present everything as clearly and concisely as possible. Sure, if you are a genetic scientist and have a CV a mile long, you may not be able to do this. But, generally speaking, most folks can keep everything to one or two pages. You want the recruiter scanning your resume to be able to capture your experience in one glance. Notice I said the recruiter scanning your resume. Time is very important. Recruiters will not dig into your resume to figure it out.  Nor will they assume that you have the specific, unique, skill that you know that you possess. No one has that kind of time. Make it easy for them to see the shining light of your experience.

Lastly, it’s experience that counts. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the experience at another paying job or volunteering your time. Volunteering is a great way to gain needed experience.