Receiving that call saying you got the job offer is one of the most satisfying and relieving parts of the job seeking process. As a recruiter, it’s one of the most satisfying parts of the day, if not THE most satisfying part of your day. The joy in getting the privilege to make that call, balances out the other negative duties of recruiting, such as giving someone a rejection call. But this is not where the story comes to an end. The job still has to be accepted; and this is where, in the 11th hour, the entire train can derail.
Where most candidates and recruiters go wrong during this process is not continually getting a temperature check. Much can change throughout the long interview process, and interest can falter. Not keeping in close contact with each other lessens the certainty of an offer being accepted if/when it comes. Recruiters tend to have tunnel vision when working with a candidate and neglect to realize that really smart candidates are probably interviewing with multiple companies and, theoretically, will have multiple offers to consider. It falls upon the recruiter to constantly get honest feedback whether or not this particular role is the one that would win out in a competition between competing offers.
Meeting Face to Face
Equally as important is the candidate being honest with the recruiter as to the likelihood of their offer being accepted. Trust has to have been built at the very beginning of this relationship in order for both sides to have any sort of chance of coming to an honest conclusion. This is why I have always known and pontificated about meeting every single person that you are going to represent in front of your client. It’s the most important aspect of getting the end result that you both desire. Any experienced recruiter will tell you that the likelihood of someone backing out or ghosting you dramatically lessens if they’ve met you face-to-face. This way, they know you are an actual human and not a faceless corporation.
If the foundation has been laid from the very first interaction that we will be honest, transparent, and forthcoming, then there will be no surprises when/if the offer comes in. Despite the possibility of feelings getting hurt, I believe it is justifiable for a recruiter to tell a candidate, or vice versa, that they are not getting a good feeling that they are being honest with them. Oftentimes a recruiter will feel dishonesty creeping in it when seems like a candidate is using one job to leverage a counter-offer at their current company. This is an unfortunate landmine that everyone will step on at one point in their career.
The Job Offer
If an offer is accepted; it needs to be accepted– for real. I know that sounds a bit redundant, but you should not be accepting offers in hopes that it will buy time for another offer to come in. This creates a negative feedback loop that is detrimental to your reputation, and to society in general. The reality is that the world is a small place, people talk, and your reputation will precede you into your next role whether you believe it or not. Please do let me know what your thoughts are on this highly debated topic.
References are an essential part of locking down a job offer. The higher up the corporate ladder the reference is, the better the chance you will be taken seriously as a candidate. There are some pitfalls I’ve observed as a staffing recruiter that will help as you move through the hiring process. Anybody that is working with me will get this same advice.
In today’s litigious society, most companies will not give a thorough reference. Instead, they will simply confirm the dates of employment. The reason for this is that companies fear a lawsuit for defamation if there is an assumption that a “bad reference” led to someone not getting a job. It’s all to avoid a lawsuit. References are harder than ever to come by, and can be increasingly disingenuous.
The first pitfall is your reference not being a previous/current manager. I see a lot of candidates using their co-workers as a reference; this is not going to play well. Best practice is to get at least 2 superiors that you directly reported to. Listing a colleague can come off as lazy, but even worse, can come off as suspicious. Questions start to percolate that the reason you are looking for a new job/left your last job has to do with why you are not listing your manager. Managerial references will speak to your work ethic and your character, along with your culture fit. A colleague or “equal” will likely say whatever you coach them to say, thus giving your potential employer no solid information.
The second major pitfall is not giving your references a heads-up that they will be contacted. I can’t tell you how many goose chases I’ve been on attempting to track down a reference who was not aware they were a reference. Furthermore, best practice is always to inform your reference that somebody will be calling them soon. Management tend to screen their calls and are thus difficult to connect with. On the same train of thought here, is verifying that this person is an appropriate reference. It might sound shocking, but I have had references remove themselves as a reference due to hardly knowing the candidate (or worse, having a bad relationship with them).
The final thought on references is that some people prefer to write at the bottom of their resume. “References available upon request”. It’s certainly not a deal breaker, but it’s unnecessary filler. Everyone should have references no matter what, and the fact that its not explicit that you have them won’t stop a company from demanding them. From my experience, you are better off either listing them at the end, or not at all.
For the time being, references are still checked, albeit with more legal restrictions. Always let people know you are listing them as a reference, inform them when they will be called, and always list those who were truly your manager.
The 80/20 rule is also known as the Pareto principle, which states that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In certain fields, its easy to see how this plays out. In a sales organization, 20% of your team will account for 80% of your sales. In a class science project, 20% of your team will do 80% of the work. You can easily list many examples within your day to day that fit this principle. Similarly, though not quite as applicable, is the relationship between content and aesthetics contained in a resume.
80% of your resume should be content, while the other 20% should be aesthetics. While there is no consensus on the correct format or aesthetic, I want to share some tried and true methods that can help avoid potential pitfalls.
This resume is the format I use professionally. I have formatted and submitted 100’s of resumes to clients using this format and it has not done me wrong. The spacing is set to Single and the Before and After are also at 0. This helps save space as an added bonus to the tight formatting. The header replaces the typical objective statement and instead summarizes your job roles and skillset without needing a whole paragraph. This method is much appreciated by the hiring manager and the ATS. Font is size 12 with Bookman Old Style looking classically noble.
This resume looks creative–that can’t be denied. The issue is its distracting and overly intricate. The color scheme is pleasing, but the format is non-linear which should be the top goal of a resume. Readability and flow should always be top of mind when formatting your resume.
It’s clear what the goal of the profile picture is trying to do (convey motherly wholesomeness), but its violating a huge no-no in resume writing which is putting a picture on your resume. There are managers who will simply throw resumes away or delete from their email if they see one with a picture. Lawsuits and claims of discrimination result from considering candidates with pictures are a main driver for this. Don’t do it. Furthermore, the picture isn’t you, so there is no added value to the content.
The header with the arching background graphic is more style without substance. The only time this is going to be to your advantage is when you are applying to a graphic design type role where resume creativity is a deciding factor. Other than that, it comes across as attempting to distract from the content. What is notable is that this resume does have great content in the job duties, so that already speaks for itself without the fancy design.
I guess that is the essential crux of all resume writing– content is king and should be 80% of your resume. The spacing, readability, and concise-ness should be the other 20%.
I cannot know for certain where the myth of the 1 page resume comes from, but if I had to guess, I’d say our high school teachers or career counselors. The premise is that a one-page resume is going to be concise enough that people aren’t going to assume you’re exaggerating your experience, and more importantly, short enough that someone will actually read it. It makes sense in that very precise context, but it’s certainly the vast minority when it comes to job seekers. When you don’t have any job experience, one page might even be a stretch. Most of what you can list is volunteer or internship positions, but generally its not physically possible to go longer than one page with extra curricular activities, hobbies, or other fillers.
Let’s take the extreme opposite of this and assume that you’re a 25 year senior executive that’s held many titles throughout your various companies. You better have a resume longer than one-page! (In later articles, I’m going to be digging a lot deeper into how to write a resume catering to your personality type).
The key to writing a resume is based on understanding 3 things: 1) what a hiring manager is looking for 2) what an applicant tracking system (ATS) is looking for and 3) what a recruiter who’s looking to place you at a client is looking for. You can and should elaborate where needed and for jobs like a Project Manager, expand where needed with bullet points and specific projects. Like I’ve mentioned before, the 3 C’s are Clarity, Concise-ness, and Cnot lying.
Consider also those who are contractors. They have worked 2 to 3 times as many roles as full-timers and will need space to add all their contracting roles. We can’t be asking them to chop that down to 1 page. Typically those are the resumes that go 4-6 pages without breaking a sweat.
My advice for someone just entering the job market from college or high school is to not try to make yourself look like someone you aren’t. If you need a little over a page, do it. If not, keep it right at 1 page.
What’s going to happen if you try to condense your resume down too far is that the interview will likely be a trainwreck.
“So it looks like you haven’t used Quickbooks before.”
“Oh no I have… I just didn’t know how to fit it in there…I have it on another resume…but I’ve definitely used it before, yes.”
Now you are backtracking and the manager can’t quite tell if you are dishonest or were lazy when you wrote your resume. Neither are going to lead to a job offer. However long you need to write out the specifics of each job and the duties contained within them, please take advantage and leave nothing out. The absolute tragedy of the 1 page resume is candidates missing out on a dream job because they had to choose between words, phrases, key terms, etc to keep the resume within this arbitrary limit.
I want to showcase what I’m about other than recruiting, resumes, and Myers-Briggs, so I am going to include a short plug for the latest book I’m reading/have read and include a link at the end of my articles. I will elaborate within my videos, but not here on the articles.
If you think somebody has some issues with their resume or needs some general counseling as the approach the job market, send them my way for a consultation.
A resume is designed to capture the attention of 2 different people; the Skimmer and the Scrutinizer. The perfect resume will cater to both their review styles and satisfy their internal check-boxes.
The Skimmer is somebody who is looking for keywords to judge whether or not you deserve an interview. This type is the person you want if you are a word salad writer and want to pass this filter. Specifically when a role has a must-have qualification, this is the resume reviewer that you want. The Skimmer’s downside can be quite embarrassing to you as the candidate. Say you get to the interview based on having the right keywords jammed in your resume. You are asked during the interview to explain your experience with, let’s say, Adobe Illustrator. Yes, you’ve used it, but it was one time, and it was really just Adobe Photoshop, but really it was MS Paint. And now you are backtracking and looking like a clown. This is an instant fail; much like driving on the sidewalk during your Driving Exam.
The Scrutinizer is the guy who nitpicks your resume line-by-line just looking for a reason to reject you. The benefit of this type is that if you do manager to pass their filter, you are likely already a top candidate for the position. The downside is that this type will often reject those who are very qualified, but missed 1 or 2 crucial bullet points that would have sealed the deal.
You can make a resume that satisfies both types without exaggerating, stretching, or adding fancy graphics. Here is what is needed:
Include the specifics of the tool, project, application, or the final result ($$$ saved, quota achieved etc) to each bullet point. Don’t say something like, “Administered database to ensure data continuity.” Tell us it was SQL or Mongo or whatever, but make it clear what the tool was. Too many candidates get rejected by The Scrutinizer when they leave these small details out.
Make it obvious that your job title is in line with the standard duties of that role. If you are a Project Manager, you need direct reports, budgets specifics, and clients if applicable. The most common mistake I see is people label themselves a manager without actually having direct reports. This is where you can pass the filter of the Skimmer, and lose bigly in the interview.
Keep in mind that words mean things. But some words don’t have value because they are too vague or, even worse, misrepresent you. Instead of words that can be left up to interpretation like, “helped, assisted, and managed”, words like “architected, designed, and implemented” are more concrete.
At the heart of the resume is the 3 C’s: Clear, Concise, and Cnot Lying. If you stick to these, you will get more interviews and offers than you know what to do with.