careers

15 Ways Employers Check You Out Before Saying, "You're Hired!"

iStockphoto.com |  busracavus

iStockphoto.com | busracavus

You want the job. You're qualified for the job. Why can't the company just give you the job?

Did you really think it was going to be easy? Employers want to know who they're hiring, and they're going to be intrusive in checking you out before extending an offer. And companies have many ways to vet job candidates before bringing you on board.

  1. The Resume - Your resume is a spelling test. It's a grammar test. It's a Microsoft Word publishing test. It's an honesty test. Reviewers make several judgments about you just based upon that simple 1 or 2 page resume.

  2. Interviews - These grueling meetings often include the hiring manager, peers, human resources, internal customers, or anyone with a stake in the hiring decision.

  3. Criminal Background Checks - Employers want to know you can be trusted with the keys to the company car, or if you're going to take it straight to the chop shop the first time you drive off.

  4. Employment Verification - Did you really work at the company, in the role you indicated, for the pay you detailed?

  5. Credit Checks - Another measure of trustworthiness. How do you handle your finances? If you've declared bankruptcy or have overdue bills, what does that say about your ability to manage company resources – in other words will your expense report be padded to cover your personal expenses?

  6. Physicals - It's rare, but not unheard of to be sent to the doctor for an evaluation if either your job involves a great deal of physical activity, or if you're considered critical to the organization.

  7. Skills Testing - The job requires you to be good at Microsoft PowerPoint - would you be willing to take a timed exam to see just how skilled you really are?

  8. Psychological / Personality Testing - These come in many flavors, but the purpose is the same - to see how well you’ll fit within the culture of the organization, and your predicted behaviors and predilections.

  9. Polygraph - The lie detector. Legal in several states, another test of your trustworthiness. Don't be surprised to take one of these when applying for positions in security or law enforcement.

  10. References - The company speaks with former supervisors or coworkers to find out more about your work habits.

  11. Informal References - This is when somebody at the company says, "Hey, I know somebody who used to work with that guy at my old employer! Let me get the skinny!" Then they do this without the applicant's knowledge or consent. It’s a gray area, but it happens more often than you’d think.

  12. Deep Background / Character Investigations - Applying to a position requiring access to top secret data? You might get an investigator poking around, asking your neighbors about your most personal details.

  13. Asking Around After The Interview - The hiring manager may ask the folks in the office who interacted with you how you behaved. Better have treated that receptionist with dignity and respect...

  14. Your Social Media - Who says they won't find those pictures on Facebook from your drunken escapade in Tijuana? And do you know what comes up in Google when somebody enters your name? How's that picture on your LinkedIn profile?

  15. Drug & Substance Testing - About that trip to Tijuana...


There's a lot of information about you out there, and companies won't be shy about gathering as much as they can before deciding whether to offer you a job. Be prepared.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

8 Ways To Maximize The ROI On Your Internship

iStockphoto.com |  monkeybusinessimages

iStockphoto.com | monkeybusinessimages

 

Congratulations – you got the internship!

After a painful and highly competitive application and interview process, you were selected over dozens of other highly qualified students to spend the summer working at one of the coolest companies around.

As an intern, you'll gain valuable, real-world experience with an established company, new skills, a professional network, experience to add to your resume, and depending upon your college and the employer some combination of academic credit and a paycheck.

During the internship your employer will closely monitor and evaluate you, and the quality of your work is only one factor they'll consider as they decide whether to invite you back for a full-time role upon graduation. They'll also look at your work ethic, technical aptitude, interpersonal skills, behavior, learning agility, and growth potential to determine if you're a fit for their full-time workforce.

Regardless of whether your career interests lie with the company at which you're interning or at another company, you'll need to be smart in approaching your internship. The ultimate goal is to embark upon a rewarding career upon graduation. Here 8 ways you maximize the ROI – return on investment – on your internship.

  1. Set your own goals. Even before accepting an internship, you should very clearly understand what you plan to get out of your summer. What specific technical skills or professional experiences do you hope to gain? An internship that doesn't add to your professional toolbox may not get you any closer to your desired career path.
     
  2. Align expectations with your manager. Have a two-way discussion to agree upon what he/she expects out of you. Set goals. Work together to define what success in the internship would look like so that you can prioritize accordingly. If you see gaps in the experiences they plan to offer you versus what you were told during the interview, or if you would like to work on specific projects or technologies, respectfully make your manager aware of this and ask if it's possible to redefine the scope of the internship (it may or may not be).
     
  3. Be flexible. There's a lot of boring work out there which needs to get done, and interns usually get stuck doing it. Managers usually know how lame it is. Smile, and take it on willingly. Ask for more. You may learn valuable skills, and demonstrating a positive attitude toward tedious tasks reflects well upon your work ethic. Perhaps you'll identify a process to streamline this grunt work and can share your findings so that you'll make your manager's life easier after you leave.
     
  4. Ask for stretch assignments. Managers often give employees what they think they can handle. If you believe you have the capability to take on more complex tasks – and the bandwidth to do so without allowing your core duties to suffer – tell your manager. You might end up with elevated responsibility or a challenging assignment. There's a risk of failure here, but if you succeed in your new assignment you have the potential to truly shine.
     
  5. Track your progress. Document your progress against your goals in a quantifiable and measurable way. If you find you're falling behind, it may be time to look at how you're approaching your work and perhaps discuss the situation with your manager. Save your data for the performance appraisal at the end of the internship..
     
  6. Network aggressively. One of the most counterproductive things you can do is bury yourself in your cubicle without getting to know people in the organization. Introduce yourself to department employees and other interns. Build your brand by actively participating in corporate activities. After the internship is over, the company will usually rank all of the interns in order to prioritize to whom they'd like to make full-time, post-graduation employment offers. If nobody knows you, they can't advocate for you, regardless of the quality of your work. Also, take a long-term perspective to networking – few people stay with a single employer for the duration of their career, and the connections you make now may be useful in finding employment after graduation and beyond.
     
  7. Invest in your performance appraisal. At the end of the internship you'll sit down with your manager to go over your work – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Share your accomplishments, highlight your teamwork, and provide documentation. Ask for performance feedback – in addition to what they perceive as your successes, your manager will share information he or she believes  will help you address developmental areas. Demonstrate maturity – listen actively, don't be defensive, and ask for suggestions. The information they share will usually be the aggregate of multiple individuals across the department who provided input and it will reflect the general perception of your performance. Thank your manager for the feedback, synthesize what's been shared with you, and use the data to improve your performance in the future.
     
  8. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile with your new experiences. An internship is real experience, and your work will help sell you. Highlight your accomplishments!

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

10 Little Things You Can Do To Move The Needle In Your Job Search

iStockphoto.com |  z_wei

iStockphoto.com | z_wei

 

Hunting for a job is no fun. It's a lot of hoops to jump through, and it can be demoralizing at times. Hit a roadblock? Here are ten little things you can do to move the needle in your job search.

  1. Be nice to people. I'm not referring to just interviewers and recruiters, by the way. Be friendly. Say "Hello." Say "Thank you." Facilitate professional and personal introductions. People tend to help out nice people, and if you're on the market, and you made a positive impression, you may be front of mind when they hear about a job opportunity or are looking to fill one of their own. Jerks get referred less often than nice people.
     
  2. Let recruiters know you're available on LinkedIn. There's a little box on LinkedIn on your profile page where you can tell recruiters combing the system that you're open to hearing about jobs, and how they can reach you. Why not make it clear you're looking? Here's the link.
     
  3. Take quick and easy training. Applying to jobs that require Salesforce CRM experience, and you don't have it? Or maybe you need to buff up on your project management skills. Go to LinkedIn Learning, Lynda, or any of the other online training portals and take a seminar. Then add the class to your resume – it'll show up as a keyword (and a skill in your toolbox).
     
  4. Circulating your resume? Send or upload a version made in Microsoft Word. Most Applicant Tracking Systems (employer databases) are optimized for Word since it's the most common word processing platform in the business world. A resume saved in Google Docs or Apple Pages formats and uploaded into an ATS might not keep its formatting. And an unattractively formatted – or just plain jumbled – resume may get ignored by a recruiter, regardless of the cause.
     
  5. Contact your college's career placement center. So what if you graduated 20 years ago? Most colleges allow their alumni to utilize the campus career services office. In addition to providing access to job postings and career fairs, advisors can provide career coaching and facilitate connections to employers with whom they've built relationships. Remember, your college wants you gainfully employed – it's good for the school's reputation, well-placed alumni can provide students with internship and career opportunities, and a happy, income-earning alumni often become willing donors.
     
  6. Be generous with "thank you" notes. It's a no-brainer to send "thank you" notes after a job interview – or at least it should be. This simple act of post-interview gratitude can propel your candidacy forward. And remember to show gratitude to anyone who does you any sort of favor in your job search.
     
  7. Ask your former employer if they could use some help. Assuming you left a prior job on good terms and would be interested in going back, call your old manager. The combination of a low unemployment rate and an innate familiarity with your ex-employer's culture and workflows could position you as a desirable candidate.
     
  8. Call a headhunter who has placed you with an employer in the past. You may not be on their radar. But if they were successful in placing you before, they may be willing and able to consider you for a new job.
     
  9. Use a professional-sounding email address on your resume. It really doesn't matter whether your address ends with gmail.com, yahoo.com, outlook.com, or aol.com (I get that question a lot, by the way – people are worried about age discrimination based upon having an old ISP. Don't sweat it, unless we're talking about having CompuServe as your carrier. It's more dangerous to put your college graduation date on your resume if it's more than ten years ago). What does matter is not coming across as not being serious about the job search – avoid tags like partygirl23@gmail.com, sexydude71@aol.com, or ihatedogs@bellsouth.net.
     
  10. Use your cell phone number on your resume. Be reachable, quickly. A missed call, or delaying a return call, could cost you the job. Side note: Have your voicemail set up with a greeting that says your name somewhere in the message, so that recruiters know they've reached the right number.
     

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.