By Derek Thompson – Senior Editor of The Atlantic
The Atlantic recently asked readers of their Business section to share what they considered to be the one thing most people don’t understand or appreciate about looking for work. They got a surprising number of responses from employers with advice for the unemployed. Here are some of the most enlightening and entertaining of the bunch.
“I’m on the lookout for anything at all that shows you don’t take this seriously.”
Look, it’s a lot easier to not hire someone than to fire them. Someone who doesn’t take their job seriously can really be a pain in the workplace, draining energy away from other tasks. But firing that person can also be a pain — it can take weeks of HR meetings, establishing a paper trail, etc.
So if I’m trying to hire someone, I’m on the lookout for anything at all that shows you don’t take this seriously. That includes how you dress and how you carry yourself. Yes, it’s unfair, and in an ideal world you wouldn’t have to worry about it. But it’s the way it is.
“It turns out most resumes aren’t very good and people aren’t very good at answering interview questions.”
I’m a hiring manager and have spent a few years seeing good and bad resumes, listening to great interview responses and terrible ones (I’ll always remember the candidate applying for a sales job who told me that he wasn’t social and didn’t have any friends…What?!).
The things people don’t understand, in no particular order:
— You HAVE to be positive, enthusiastic and high-energy in ANY interaction with a potential employer
— Always list achievement over responsibility. “I did X and it led to awesome result Y.”
— Looking for a job IS a full time job
— Apply for any job for which you meet at least 70% of the qualifications
— You need to tailor your resume to EACH job posting
The things employers don’t understand, in no particular order:
— Be clear about your process with the candidate
— Anyone with whom you’ve had a conversation deserves a call to let them know if you aren’t going to hire them
— Be excited to talk to people. You may just be talking to your next employee. Be excited to speak with them
— Adding to your team is the MOST important thing you do
“Sanitize your online presence.'”
Folks need to realize they have to sanitize their net presence. Those drunken spring break pictures have got to go, and they have got to go a few years before you plan on getting that job so that they’ve made their way out of caches and/or can be explained credibly as “well that was then….”
“Dress conservatively and act conservatively.”
When going for an interview, always dress up. This means changing not just your physical appearance but also your personal appearance. Dress conservatively and act conservatively. Many companies comply with anti-discrimination policies (and must comply with anti-discrimination laws), but these don’t protect people from being judged by their employers or coworkers simply for who they are.