The Job Hunt- Some Handy Dandy tips to avoid a Zombie Apocalypse (of your Career)

Posted: August 1, 2013 in Job Hunting, Recruiting
Tags: , , , ,

So a number of a good friends including my right hand EllieSully and myself got laid off yesterday.

It stinks. Each of us have major life events going on (family medical or legal issues, securing a new place to live etc) just now to add “Job Hunting” to list of things to worry about.

However, Ellie Sully in her wonderful quirky fashion posted this: “For the Love of Unemployment, or the lack there of” (Which you can read over here )

Well guess what? As recruiters (myself and Ellie Sully) you would think that this should be a easy thing for us to do- job hunt and secure a better job. I mean we know what recruiters are looking for right?

But to all my other co-workers, past and present, and to anyone who is in a funk looking for a job in this weird economy here are some handy dandy survival tips.

1. Go read the link above. Seriously. Hilarious as the post is- Ellie Sully was dead on point about a few things.

When you sit down and start job hunting here are some rules to remember:

1. Keep track of what you are applying for. Write this down in a journal, post it notes on your kid’s head or keep a workbook in Excel. Keep it updated. If you have filed for unemployment more than likely they are going to ask for some sort of records of what you have been doing. Save yourself some time. Any correspondence (Email or regular mail) keep in a folder for safe keeping.

That and as a recruiter, you have NO CLUE how annoying it is to get someone on the phone and they are clueless as to who you are  or what company you are calling from. Keep track. Save the sanity (and time)  of the HR person, recruiter, babysitter or whoever it is that can say “Yes you can move past GO and collect $200”

2. Make your resume/cover letter short,sweet and to the point. No matter where you are applying, someone is going through a number of applicants and judging people on paper.  Resumes should be- AT THE MAX- 2 pages.

Now there are some exceptions to this – scholarly professionals, directors of clinical studies etc. If you have been published somewhere- AWESOME. As a recruiter I do not need a 35 page resume chronicling your entire life as a fry cook at McDonald’s when you were 16 through another 20 years of work history (The sad thing… That wasn’t a joke. I actually got that once)

No. Most companies want to know what you have been doing for the last 7-10 years of your life. Not since birth.

3. Recruiters/HR Business Partners (et. al) are gatekeepers, do NOT tick them off. Ever see the movie “Waiting”? If not- watch it.  Much like why you don’t want to upset people who handle your food, you don’t want to upset one that could potentially give you a job.  This is a lot easier said then done, for all you know, the Recruiter you are talking too could have had bad sushi and is hallucinating pink unicorns running through their office.  Follow the KISS principle (much like your resume)- Keep it Simple …. Silly.  Do not hound recruiters every thirty seconds for an update. If they tell you they will get back to you on X day or time, and they don’t then you can check in.

Recruiters and Producers have one great similar trait. They talk to each other. If you are an awesome person, but for whatever reason that company/department can’t use you- and you are professional and nice- don’t be surprised if a co-worker or other company calls out of the blue.  But if you are bad… watch out.

There are some candidates that I have spoken with 2-3 years ago that are SO BAD that we use their names as a Litmus test….to this day. “Oh how was that candidate?” “They were worse then John Doe”**

**Apologies to any John Doe out there. That was not in reference to YOU specifically.

4. Don’t trash former employers. NO MATTER WHAT.  Your boss could have been Hitler reborn, the company could have totally ripped you off on your paycheck, they could have asked you to do things that were illegal. Don’t talk about it. If there was a legal reason why you left a company (i.e. you filed workman’s comp and they tried laying you off for it. You were asked to do things like cooking the books and you felt that was wrong), you need to tread carefully when talking to a new employer.

If there is a legal reason, tell a recruiter that you left for reasons that could potentially lead to legal problems for the company and it made you feel uncomfortable. If there was a life change (i.e. you got married, relocated, had a kid etc) use that as an excuse all together. Recruiters much rather hear “I left my last job because we relocated to X for my spouse’s job” then “I decided to leave my last company because my boss was an evil dark lord that asked me to sacrifice virgin puppies after business hours”.

Not only that, but as much as you want to display your ethics/integrity you can put a recruiter in to a rock and hard place trying to explain this to the hiring manager. If you trash a former employer- guess what- your rating on professionalism just tanked.  That and it just makes people wonder what you will say about them.

5. It doesn’t matter the job- wear a suit to an interview. This piece of advice came from an former boss. Suit dress, shirt/tie no open toed shoes. It doesn’t matter if you are applying for a fry cook or a Vice President position. If you are wondering about this- double check with your contact before you go to the face to face interview. AND LISTEN TO THEM.

Great example. I use to work for a clinical company. We constantly told candidates when they were going to go onsite for an interview that they should dress business professional- dark suit (grey, blue or black) and a dress shirt. We got feedback from one of the hiring managers that someone showed up for a C-level position interview in khakis, open toed heals, a neon cobalt blue blouse and a leather bomber jacket.

Guess who didn’t get hired?

6. Don’t have other people call for you about a job. One of my old gigs I worked in an RPO (3rd party recruiting…sigh) and constantly would have wives and mothers applying for positions online for their kids/spouses and calling in pretending to be John Doe***. I mean really folks, Recruiters spend all day on the phone- do you really think we can’t figure this out? Not only does it make YOU look lazy, but depending on the position/company (esp. if there is any sort of licensing/security issues tied to the position/company) you just automatically got disqualified.

*** Again- any John Doe’s reading this, I am not referring to you.

7.Don’t ask recruiters a billion questions. You don’t know if you are talking to a in-house recruiter (someone that actually works at the company you are applying to) or if they are 3rd party pretending to be the company you are applying too. In either case, recruiters don’t know every tiny detail of the position that you are applying for- in most cases they are probably juggling multiple (10+) positions at once. They have to remember A LOT of things for each position.

They are not going to know if your potential boss is a Blackhawks fan. (A candidate asked me this once, and when I told them I wasn’t sure, he told me that he didn’t want to work with anyone that isn’t a Blackhawks fan- guess what I did with this candidate?) General questions about the company (not what the current Fiscal Forecast is for the next 2 years), benefits and culture are alright. Even asking them what they like about the company is cool!

I probably have more tips forth coming and I know alot of my recruiting friends will read this and chime in… so stayed tune!


  1. […] that drove me up the wall with this job. Some of these I have already addressed (which you can see here and here ). Considering now that I am handling candidates and clients and learning a whole new […]


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