As 2019 draws to a close, we thought it best to share some perspective with those who may be contemplating a potential job change next year. Each of these areas is where we often see candidates not move forward in a hiring process, so if you are considering embarking on your own job search we hope that you find the information helpful. In the meantime, best wishes for a prosperous New Year!
1. Your resume may need a tune-up
The issue: Allocating too much attention to the wrong areas of a resume.
What to know: Please, please no objectives or summaries! While once viewed as the new style, these sections now simply take up room, detracting from the “meat” of your career experience. Let your background tell the story, no need to summarize it. When creating your resume use bullets points, and make sure that each role lists more than one bullet. While it sounds intuitive, you’d be amazed how often job candidates believe that only one bullet is sufficient. Consider highlighting your responsibilities by separating your duties into groups or buckets based on how you spent your time in the position. Also, always end each position with a bullet on your key achievements which demonstrate your success. This enables you to highlight how you measure up against your peers and that you are a meaningful contributor. Lastly, list your skills (e.g. Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, or other analytical tools and systems) that you have experience with to further illustrate the breadth of your knowledge.
2. Know your story
The issue: Not knowing how to articulate your career experience.
What to know: It is incredibly important to be able to tell your story, walking through your career path in a logical way that helps an interviewer understand how you got to where you are now. It is something that requires lots of practice and needs to touch on the experiences learned in each role and how it led you to your next one. We were recently reminded of this while interviewing a highly experienced candidate whom we asked to discuss the components of her last role from several years back only to have her reply that she couldn’t remember specifics because it was “such a long time ago”. Big red flag unfortunately. It doesn’t need to be perfect from the start, but needs to be authentic and highlight all of the experience, both strategic and tactical, that you bring to the table. We can help you build the story but it helps to first take some time to re-familiarize yourself with aspects of your earlier roles. Also, when preparing to interview for specific roles, be sure to identify highlights from your career that align with the skills desired in the new role. It sounds simplistic but many times candidates neglect to help convince an interviewer that their experience aligns well enough to make the transition to the role they are interviewing for.
3. Don’t even think about “ghosting” prospective employers (or recruiters)
The issue: Learning of a new job opportunity, expressing interest in it, then deciding to exit the process without any further explanation for withdrawing your candidacy.
What to know: This is never a good idea! Life moves fast and things can change. Regardless of whatever twists and turns are experienced, it’s always best to close the circle and withdraw from an exploratory career opportunity process professionally. If the job doesn’t feel right, tell the hiring manager or recruiter why you have reservations about proceeding further. Sometimes candidates get nervous on how to handle a situation so they choose NOT to handle it at all. The problem is, this leaves everyone hanging and pushes back the hiring process. The result: you have just lost two valuable industry contacts including: a) a potential new employer that could be a great networking source regardless of whether you are hired by them or not, and b) the recruiter you were working with…any recruiter will have serious reservations about putting your name forward for any future roles going forward. It just isn’t worth it and consider the longer-term implications of such actions whether intended or not. Candidates need to communicate their impressions of a position, both good and bad, so that they can be aired and potentially addressed. If not, then best to move on to another role that might be a better fit. Either way, it’s always best to communicate and close the loop.
4. Don’t just decline an opportunity
The issue: Declining a potential job opportunity outright. Period.
What to know: When a hiring manager or recruiter reaches out to you directly or through Linkedin, don’t just simply decline the opportunity. Maybe the job that has been proposed isn’t appealing, that’s ok. Take time to share your thoughts or candor about why it isn’t a fit or what you desire in a position. That way, the recruiter can better isolate those facets and sharpen their sights for you. Things shift quickly in the market and although you may feel happy and content in your current position now, in a few weeks, months, or years you could reach a different conclusion, either by choice or necessity. The more connections you create with recruiters, the more people you have working on your behalf to help find your next seat! It’s in our DNA to partner with our clients and candidates over the long-term, contributing to their success over the years, not just for a lone opportunity that may or may not fit.
5. Don’t underestimate culture
The issue: Undervaluing the importance of organizational culture and its impact on one’s longevity in a role.
What to know: Way too often, people don’t stop to consider what type of organizational culture fits them best. This can a key component of not only increasing satisfaction in a role itself but also the likelihood of their long-term happiness at a particular company. When considering pursuing a role, take some time to think through your previous career experiences and the organizations you have worked for. Weight the pros and cons of each. Are you someone who desires autonomy or thrives more in a team setting? Prefers flat or more structured organizations? Is more innovative or results-focused? Wants a more professional or casual environment? These are all key pieces that will help us set our sights on the companies and roles that will likely suit you best.