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.

Why Do Recruiters Have So Little Knowledge About The Jobs They're Recruiting For?

iStockphoto.com |  timnewman

iStockphoto.com | timnewman


Candidates can get frustrated by a lack of in-depth knowledge on a recruiter's part regarding the job they've called about. You may want to cut the recruiter a little bit of slack. Start by looking at the typical recruiter role.

Recruiters typically work in one of two settings – either within internal human resources departments (filling internal jobs), or at staffing firms (filling jobs on behalf of their clients’ human resources departments). In either situation, it’s important to note the following factors:

  1. Recruiters are (typically) not technical experts on the subject matter the individual they’re looking to hire is expected to have. Their job is to fill jobs. All. Day. Long. Their focus is on sourcing and identifying talent to fill the open job. They need to know the right search terms, how to identify a potential candidate, the right things to look for in the resume, and a few key questions to ask the candidate to determine if it’s worth scheduling a conversation with the hiring manager. It’s not their job to know every nitty gritty technical detail of the position they’re filling. That’s usually the hiring manager’s job.
  2. It is the recruiters’ job to determine whether it’s worth introducing the candidate to the hiring manager. Recruiters should know enough to conduct an initial screen of the candidate’s credentials, general subject knowledge, and skills. They also check to qualify that the candidate’s salary requirements, commute, and personality fit the role and the company. Then it’s time to hand them off to the hiring manager.
  3. Recruiters are busy as hell. It’s not unusual for a recruiter to be expected to manage a load of 40 (yes, 40) open positions. Each one has a hiring manager screaming for candidates to fill their open jobs. Assuming the recruiter touches every open position once a week, that gives them one hour per open position, per week to source resumes, screen candidates, communicate with hiring managers, and address whatever other matters come down the pipeline. That’s not even close to enough time to do a truly deep dive on the specifics of the job. And sometimes the person recruiting is also working as a human resources generalist managing employee relations issues and other matters, and recruitment is just a component of their job.
  4. Hiring managers are busy as hell. “So what?” you may ask. Well, when a recruiter receives a new open position, they typically reach out to the hiring manager to gather information and develop a search strategy. I recruited for 19 years. I experienced countless situations in which I reached out to the hiring manager for more information and they couldn’t be bothered to return my call in a reasonable time (if at all). I was in the no-win position of being forced to decide between waiting for the manager to get back to me before recruiting, or plowing ahead on the search with insufficient data and hoping I was approaching it correctly.

That said, there are always exceptions.

Some staffing agencies or internal recruiting departments focus on recruiting specific disciplines, such as accountants. The intention is to mold these individuals into recruiters focused on that particular discipline, with the understanding that they can build a practice around their specific base of knowledge. It’s a lot easier for a CPA to establish credibility and build rapport with both accounting hiring managers and candidates, and well as to intuit the specifics about the positions they work on.

Also, some companies believe in giving their recruiters smaller workloads, supported by the idea that the recruiters can devote more time to finding the right person for each open position. It’s rare.

Make no mistake, there’s no excuse for a recruiter to be sloppy in their job. It is their duty to effectively source and evaluate talent, and to know enough about their open positions in order to add value to the hiring manager and ensure that the candidate has a positive experience with the employer. With time, practice, exposure to the subject, and after experiencing a few notable mistakes along the way, recruiters do get better at this.

This article originally appeared on Quora.

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.

We're All Replaceable - Are You Prepared?

I recently read an opinion piece in the New York Times by Dan Lyons, who worked at a software company where it was a matter of routine to . In the article, he details how involuntary turnover (i.e., getting fired or laid off) was the norm. The fact that you could be fired on any day for any reason was routine.

Rough and tumble corporate cultures are nothing new. There was an article last summer, also published in the New York Times, about the bruising culture at Amazon, where they detailed the employees' tears that seemed to be the norm, at least at the time of publication. I myself have worked in an environment where the management model was capricious, to say the least.

While not every company is a meat grinder, the truth of the matter is that deliberately tough work environments exists, and employers aren't necessarily selling themselves as best-in-class places to work. They demand results, and the agreement is simple: We give you a paycheck, you work in the environment we choose to foster.

Websites like Glassdoor will show you reviews of companies' work environments by former and current employees. My guess (and it's just a guess) is that this increased level of transparency has led some companies to embrace the fact that working there isn't going to be a Shangri-La. It's kind of freeing for executive leadership, in a way -  if people know you're not too worried about employee engagement, you can focus that energy on producing results.

Going back to the opinion piece mentioned at the beginning of this post, the detail that really caught my attention was that Lyons' employer evaluated employees in their appraisals with a metric called VORP - value over a replacement player.

This is a baseball statistic that general managers use to decide when to trade or cut their players. In other words, if there's a second baseman on the market who can do the same jobless, or deliver better stats for the same pay, it tells the GM that they may want to make a change at second.

This, according to the article, is transparent to employees, they can tell immediately how much the organization values them. What's scary about this, in my opinion, is that Major League Baseball is a truly elite work environment - at any given point, there's only 750 positions available at the highest level. And these players are paid elite money to deal with the uncertainty - and the level of performance they are expected to deliver.

The average MLB player knows the odds - there are hundreds of thousands of people competing for his job. And his career averages 5.6 years in length. Longevity isn't necessarily part of the equation.

But the fact that this practice has entered the mainstream should serve as a wake-up call to employees in general. We are all replaceable. There is always somebody ready to come along and do our job.

The best thing to do, is to be prepared.

  • Be self-aware. Are your skills up to date? How about your soft skills, do you get along well with others? Your employer and coworkers are aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and you should be, too. If you realize you're lacking in a certain area, work on developing your skill set. Make the time, it's worth it.
  • Know where you stand. Have regular touch-bases with your manager. Engage in open dialogue about your performance and expectations. Make sure you're both aligned.
  • Keep your resume current. And your LinkedIn profile, too. Change may come faster than you anticipate, and not necessarily on your terms. You need to be ready in case opportunity knocks.
  • Always. Be. Networking. The worst time to start building up your connections is when you need a job. You should have that network in place and give it some TLC. Pay it forward - help people in your network when you're in a position to do so, so that others have a reason to give you a solid. Be nice to people, it pays dividends.

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. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

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.