5 Ways To Ensure You Don’t Get Hired

If there’s one area that I have had a tremendous amount of experience around, is in the hiring process. When I was at Microsoft, there was a period of time, where that was practically all I was doing as Microsoft Advertising was in a hiring frenzy back in 2006 or so. Literally 30-40 phone, and in person interviews not to mention all the reviewing of resumes.

While I certainly don’t interview at that pace anymore, since joining Strategies 360/ShowPony, I’ve continued to have to interview as we grow our team. To this day I am amazed at some of the choices (or lack thereof) that folks make when it comes to presenting themselves as a worthy candidate. We recently hired a new design director for our team, and I felt compelled to post something about what I experienced this go around. So without further ado, here are my top 5 things you can do to ensure you don’t get hired.

  1. Fit in with the crowd. The last position we posted, we literally got over 100 resumes within the first few days. That’s a lot, and the reality is, when I get that many, I’m skimming. Don’t want to make the Yes pile? Send in a a resume that screams template and doesn’t stand out.
  2. Overlook the cover letter. One of the most important facets that I look for in people is their ability to write well. All things being equal, this is a tremendous measure of a person’s ability to think critically and communicate effectively. Send me a copy/paste cover letter and you’ll find yourself in the maybe or no pile easily.
  3. Don’t get to the point. We received a ton of resumes that read more like short stories, sometimes in excess of 2 pages. Avoid being concise, using bullet points, detailing specific result oriented taks, and you’re sure to get skimmed over.
  4. Don’t ask thoughtful questions. What many folks don’t realize is that when an interviewer asks if you have any questions, the interview isn’t actually over. We’re looking for insightful questions from you to see if you have put some thought and preparation into the interview. Most folks I’ve interviewed actually don’t ask very many questions, or ones that are trivial at best. If you only ask what the dress code is or what time you have to be in, that’s a one way ticket to NEXT!
  5. Don’t send a thank you email. How can something as trivial as a quick thank you email turn you into a no hire? Because regardless of how insignificant it may be in the grand scheme of things, it sends the message that you’re not that excited about the opportunity and that’s enough for me to look elsewhere. Hiring managers want to hire people that are ape shit excited about working for you and not sending a thank you email doesn’t really convey your excitement for the opportunity.

It’s a competitive landscape and if you don’t combine doing the necessaries with going above and beyond, you’re never going to stand out enough to be considered. And that comes first hand from someone who’s seen a fair share of folks that were shown the door vs. being hired. What have your experiences taught you?

Comments

  1. Kvelling over the new template and look, JY. I haven’t actually been to the site in a while since I am a subscriber and when I share on FB/Twitter, the usual, it doesn’t typically bring me back to your site…so I was impressed. Clean. Sharp lines. No nonsense. The way it should be. #BOOM!

    You see, here’s something I’ve got an issue with…guy like you, right, going through reams and stacks of resumés, then lands on one which is slightly more interesting than the mainstream…maybe I add a bit of a narrative to it, some panache, some pizzaz, and maybe even a bit of a story or tasteful chutzpah, and it turns off a majority out of ten of the recruiters/interviewers I talk to…almost like I broke through the clutter, but didn’t just break the mold, I shattered the thing. In other words, imagine yourself reading bland CV after bland CV, day-in-day-out, and suddenly you get a cover letter which has a bit of a plot to it. Some gravitas. Some swoons. Some back and forth. Something which makes you want to follow the line…

    I’d be curious to know your thoughts about when one should call uncle, or when something is perhaps too hip to be cool, smart by half sort of thing…? I don’t believe my stuff to be either roo snarky, schmaltzy, or with too much octane, but then again, that’s *my* opinion, and a recruiter looking for a more straight-laced approach mightn’t appreciate it. I mean, I’m giggling half the time I compose these things, but I see how other people might not grasp the entertainment value.

    Naturally, there are likely a whole host of considerations that may have compelled a would-be employer from inviting me in for the chat (as in, they nabbed their ideal candidate from the get-go without too extenisve of a search), but I’d not like to think that my cover was *too* original or *too* beyond the pale for them to even consider me. Do you know what I mean?

    I’d be curious for your $0.02…

    1. Hey Adam,

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and leaving a thoughtful comment. I wanted to simplify my blog and focus on the writing and not the other fluff. I’m not in the day to day social media world as much, so I thought this transition made sense.

      In regards to your questions, I think much of it depends on the industry you are in, and the company you are applying to. Even though it’s more work, I believe tailoring your approach to fit the opportunity is the way to go. For creative folks, it’s absolutely a necessity to spice it up and stand out from the crowd. If you’re an accountant or a lawyer, then clearly you should focus on your education and career highlights (but still in a clean, polished, easy to digest format).

      In my world I’m usually dealing with creative and marketing folks. The creative folks I want to see clean, impressive design. For our marketing hires, I want clean, well written cover letters and resumes that get to the point. Ones that highlight very specific tasks they owned, and the results they netted.

      Hope that helps and thanks again for stopping by!