Tag Archives: job interviews

Recruiting the Recruiter – 5 Questions You Should Ask Before You Start

Now that we have covered the five things that every recruiter will want to know about you, it’s time to talk about what you should be asking them!

Ben Horwitz, JobGiraffe, World Giraffe Day
Ben Horwitz, JobGiraffe

As a job seeker, you’ve probably already encountered a dozen articles on what questions you should be asking prospective employers, but do you know the questions you should be asking recruiters? The obvious difference between a hiring manager and a recruiter is that, between the two of them, only the hiring manager is looking to hire you directly. But that difference entirely changes the game.

Here are the five questions you should be asking every recruiter you meet or speak with:

Question One: Do you ever charge a fee to job seekers?

First off, if the recruiter says there is any type of fee – or any cost to you at allRUN! The best way to know if a recruiting and staffing agency is really on your side is to look at how they are paid. If a recruiting and staffing firm’s goal is to match the right person with the right job, then they should only receive a fee (from the client!) and only once that match has been made. And, some type of free trial period should be included for the benefit of both the hiring company and the new employee. Our incentive as recruiters should always be to match candidates to jobs in a way that produces a good outcome for both our client and the job seeker.

Question Two: Will I be considered for positions other than the one I applied for?

Most recruiting and staffing agencies have a large number of open positions that they are looking to fill at any given time – many of which may never be publicly advertised. Recruiting consultants can use their knowledge of clients, open positions, the local job market and the job search process to guide you towards a position that fits your skills and experience. Your recruiter should always fully investigate the position you originally applied to, but you should also be prepared to be introduced to other clients and new opportunities.

Keep your options open and consider all positions that are available. No matter how much you thought the original position you applied for is the right match for you, there may be even better opportunities available to you through the recruiter’s network of local or regional clients.

Question Three: What will this process look like moving forward?

Since interviewing with a Recruiting and Staffing agency is different from interviewing with a company looking to hire, you should always know what the next steps will be. You should ask your recruiter how and when they plan to contact you; how will they share information pertaining to employers with you; what research will you need to perform; what to prepare and/or bring  with on interviews; and how you should organize the process if your recruiter secures multiple job interviews for you.

It is also fair to ask your recruiting consultant how long they think the process might take. It is not unusual for members of the JobGiraffe staff to work with a single candidate for several weeks and even months. The more you and your recruiting consultant can work as a team, the better your chances are of finding the right job.

Question Four: Should I continue to look for positions on my own?

Sometimes a job search takes longer than we’d like. In fact, if you have decided to work with a recruiting and staffing agency, your recruiting consultant may already have discussed this with you. Recruiting Consultants should be your advocate first and foremost; therefore, they should never stand in your way of finding the right job. If you wish, you should continue to search for positions on your own and work in tandem with your recruiter. If you secure an offer on your own, let them know immediately.

Question Five: How will I know when I’ve found the right position?

Hopefully, you will have had a chance to meet with various types of firms and investigate multiple positions. You may even have received an offer to accept a position – or two. If you have received one or more offers, choosing the right position may require some thought. Your recruiting consultant will assist you in organizing the pros and cons of each offer, noting such factors as type of position, industry, potential for learning and growth, travel times and ease of commute, and a full breakdown of the benefits and compensation package. Salary alone should not be the deciding factor as to which position you accept. In some cases, perhaps none of the offers should be accepted, and you should simply continue your search!

No matter the outcome, or whether or not the offer was secured on your own or with a recruiter’s client, a good recruiter will help you to sort it all out and make the best choice. Should you accept and start a position that was not presented by your recruiter, always keep the lines of communication open, because you never know when you may need their help again. A good relationship between a candidate and recruiter can work in your favor throughout your career!

Good luck. And remember to Reach Higher!

Ben Horwitz
Communications Director
JobGiraffe

Cover Letters Are Still Alive – and Thriving!

JobGiraffe, Karen Rae Horwitz, employment, job seeking, hiring, recruitment, staffing
Karen Rae Horwitz

by Karen Rae Horwitz, President, JobGiraffe

It may seem to job seekers that cover letters are not as important as they once were, as we’ve all heard about how little time most hiring managers spend reading a resume or that a computer may actually scan your resume before human eyes ever do.

True or not, this does not mean you shouldn’t include a cover letter when applying for a job!  Although your resume may be the only item reviewed during a company’s first round of selecting candidates for interviews, for the second round or beyond, you can be certain every piece of your submission will be carefully examined, and your excellent cover letter may give you a ‘leg up’ against the competition!

But what makes a good cover letter in today’s world? I’d like to give you seven simple steps to create the best personal/professional introduction (a.k.a. cover letter) you can submit.

1. Writing in the ‘first person’ and ‘present tense’ is the way to go:  Within resumes, most candidates correctly refer to themselves in the third person and avoid using ‘I’ to create a more professional representation of their work history, but you should not do the same in your cover letter.  You can speak to the reader in a more “normal” manner and tone, referring to yourself as “I” and discussing your past and your present in a manner that’s easy to read and understand, and will allow the reader an opportunity to sense your personality.

2. Keep your formatting simple and consistent: The header on your resume (that part at the top which contains your contact information) and your cover letter should be identical. You should use the same font and approximate size for the text in both, and in general make the two documents look as though they belong together.  This simple organizational tactic reflects well upon you and will help you be remembered by the reader. Plus, should your resume and cover letter be accidentally separated, it will be very simple for them to be brought back together.

3. Don’t make your cover letter too lengthy or word-dense: Not only should your cover letter never be longer than one page, it should not look like a law school text. Asking a hiring manager to read a lengthy document about why you’re the right candidate for the job may be asking too much. Make sure there is a balance between the white background of the document and the black text.  This will encourage the reader to engage in what you’ve written as opposed to just scanning it. Taking the reader’s time into consideration will go a long way.

4. Directly address the job you’re applying for and why you’re a fit for that job: Your resume submission should always keep the job you are applying for in mind and you should adjust certain information within the resume appropriately, but it should still read as an objective overview of your professional history. Yet, within your cover letter, it is totally appropriate to specifically address the job you are applying to – and stress why you’re a good fit for it!  Share important highlights of your education, background and/or skills that are the most relevant to the position. If you know who the hiring manager is, or which department they’re within, you should be addressing them personally or by department.  If not, “Hiring Manager” is acceptable.

If you are not willing to take the time to create a personalized and customized cover letter for each resume submission you make, then it is probably best NOT to use a cover letter.

5. Don’t make your cover letter a “mini resume”: The information or professional highlights that are within your resume should not be repeated verbatim in your cover letter. Your cover letter should be seen as a tool to either intrigue the reader into wanting to carefully examine your resume or, if it is being read after your first interview, to reinforce why you are a good fit for the position. Also, keep in mind that your cover letter is a great way to reference positive information about yourself that wouldn’t seem appropriate – or that wouldn’t fit – within your resume.

6. Highlight your main selling points: While your cover letter should read more like prose than a resume, it’s also always best to add a couple of bulleted or highlighted remarks within the cover letter. This will help to visually break up the letter and make it not only easier to read but will also make sure you get across a couple of your best selling attributes should the reader be in a rush.

This could be done by simple bullet points in the middle of the cover letter…

  • With five years of successful outside sales experience, I’ve developed strong interpersonal skills and the ability to connect with people in all levels of an organization.
  • With advanced proficiency in MS Office and experience with Oracle ERP systems and Salesforce CRM software, I have the computer skills necessary for this position

Or, it could even be done by addressing some of the specific needs listed by the company in their job description.

Your ad specifies: Strong interpersonal skills

I offer: Five years of successful outside sales experience that required working with people in all levels of an organization.

Your ad specifies: The need for strong computer skills

I offer: Advanced proficiency in MS Office, experience with Oracle ERP systems and in-depth knowledge of Salesforce CRM software.

7. A strong ending: Emphasize your interest in the position and, although it may seem obvious, always be sure to thank the reader for their consideration in a positive and professional tone. And be sure to sign the cover letter if it’s being delivered by mail or in person, and if sent via email, consider adding an image of your signature. This adds a personal touch and is sure to make you ‘stand out above the crowd’.

Now ‘Reach Higher” and get that job!

Karen Rae Horwitz
President
JobGiraffe

Karen Rae is President of JobGiraffe, formerly Paige Personnel Services, where she has guided her company through up and down economies for more than 20 years, advising both employers and job seekers on employment trends and challenges, and the strategies to meet them. She can be reached at KRH@JobGiraffe.com. 

Death By Interview

by Karen Rae Horwitz, President, JobGiraffe

She had superior experience…death by interview, karen horwitz
He had terrific skills…
And now… they’re lost forever.

Such a shame.

Do we know what killed them? (Or at least what killed our client’s chances for hiring either of these great candidates?)

Death by INTERVIEW (gasp)!

Death by Interview is a malady that was first noted in 2009. Yes, companies were laying off and firing far more people than they were hiring, but in those few instances where an opening existed, the first signs of this serious condition were being seen.

Offers that were once made following a second interview were suddenly absent. Then, at the third interview, a small sensation of repetition was observed, followed by an increase in unnecessary pain on the fourth interview. Uncertainty set in during the fifth interview and by the sixth meeting it was too late – the patient or, excuse me, candidate, couldn’t be saved. Any sense of excitement or enthusiasm for the position, or desire to join the team or admiration for the firm itself, was crushed. The candidate’s only hope was to take another job!

As President of JobGiraffe for over 20 years, much of my time is spent studying the numbers – statistics that have held true, for the most part, year after year even through wild economic gyrations. Yet in 2009 something was different. Suddenly the amount of interviews required to produce an offer took a startling jump and even more shocking, all of these interviews were not resulting in an accepted offer!

My staff watched many great candidates walk away from great positions because the process our clients were putting them through had just become too long. What was accomplished by asking a candidate to return 7 different times to meet 7 different people? Were HR managers and/or department heads simply too afraid to make a hiring mistake?  Did more visits mean a better hire?

The epidemic continued unidentified until I read an article last year by Dr. John Sullivan that put a name to the crisis.  Dr. Sullivan’s article accurately pointed out all the symptoms we had been observing – plus, it also noted more visits did not make a better hire, and frequently resulted in no hire at all.

Dr. Sullivan cites Google as a firm that has justifiably earned a reputation of demanding a double-digit number of interviews. Its justification was that because hiring impacts everyone that the new hire interacts with, “everyone at the firm should be able to interview a candidate.”

Fortunately, its well-earned Death By Interview reputation forced Google to eventually conduct internal research that demonstrated that “after four interviews, you get diminishing returns.” And since Google is interviewing for positions that require advanced skills and innovation, it’s time to realize that for most jobs, any number beyond three interviews is probably unnecessary.

The JobGiraffe staff had been alerting our clients to the dangers of this disease all along, but sadly, not all took action quickly enough, and some candidates were still needlessly lost.  But, as we prepare to close 2014 and the job market continues to heat up, great candidates are getting harder and harder to find, and the most talented individuals will not tolerate this unnecessary practice.

It’s obvious that employers are simply going to have to face the hard truth of the hiring environment and come to decisions earlier in the process or face losing the best candidates. Therefore, I confidently predict that this outbreak of ‘Death By Interview’ will be cured very soon.

Karen Rae Horwitz is President of JobGiraffe and is a noted expert on recruiting, staffing, and employment issues. Formerly Paige Personnel Services, JobGiraffe has offices in Chicago, Downers Grove, Schaumburg, and Vernon Hills, Illinois. 

Karen Rae can be reached at KRH@JobGiraffe.com.