It’s an applicant’s market. There’s no doubt about it. Plus, businesses have become fun places to grow, unlike the places our parents worked “back in the day” where health insurance and two weeks paid vacation were luxuries. Unlimited vacation, health plans, ping pong tables, and even t-shirts have become common in the workplace. However, the casual nature of office life has opened the doors for some candidates to make critically bad decisions during the application process.
Read the job description thoroughly, then read it again.
Most job descriptions are clear and lay out the expectations for the candidate to understand what the company wants. The “requirements” aren’t negotiable. If a candidate has no relevant experience related to the stated requirements, they will be eliminated immediately. Recruiters won’t see a creative roundabout explaining how a candidate believes they can do the work if they do not already have experience doing the work. This is unfortunately a catch 22. If candidates have no experience, how will they ever get hired? That’s where internships are critical to getting one’s foot in the door.
Research & Prepare
Once the recruiter has emailed the candidate with a casual, “We’d love to chat on the phone,” it’s time to get to work. Doing research about the company, the founders, board of directors, clients/customers, markets, etc. is all critical to showing that a candidate cares. Recruiters love when candidates tell them they’ve watched a YouTube video, or they can recite some of the company’s values and how they embody those.
Curiosity isn’t an official value of most companies, but it is one of the most important indicators recruiters evaluate when deciding whether or not a candidate is authentically interested in an opportunity.
Know when to stop
A colleague recently told me that his father said, “Know when to take ‘Yes’ for an answer.” The team marveled at this because it was such a poignant statement. If a recruiter tells a candidate, “Let’s move you to the next round,” the candidate should thank them and prepare to end the conversation. Their qualifications have already been demonstrated to the recruiter, so wrap it up.
Some recruiters take an informal tone in emails because they want to start building a relationship with a candidate. However, the informal tone doesn’t mean candidates should throw all etiquette out the window. Anytime a recruiter chooses to open up and meet a candidate, always follow up with a “Thank You.” It may seem old school, but recruiters interview dozens of candidates every day. Stand out. Be that great candidate.
Rinse and Repeat
These tips are not limited to the phone screen. Candidates should rinse and repeat for every step of the interview process until they’ve received a job offer. Hiring managers and future teammates will remember the candidate that sent that nice note showing how much they cared, listened, and were interested in the position. Following these initial steps will help candidates stand out amongst hundreds of others vying for open positions.