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What hiring managers wish you knew

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  • Writer's pictureThe CareerBeacon Team

If you’ve ever wonder what potential employers are thinking, we hope this article on what hiring managers wish you knew will shed some light for you.

The job search can be a big mystery. What do employers want? What are they looking for? Why did that guy get hired and I didn’t?

We decided to ask some hiring managers, “What is the one thing you wish job candidates would do that they don’t do, or knew that they don’t know?” And we compiled their responses for you. Some of them should be pretty obvious. Others, maybe not so much.

Here are seven things hiring managers told us they wish job candidates would do or think job candidates should know.

What hiring managers wish you knew…

Adjust your application for the position to which you’re applying

Adjust your summary and and prioritize relevant experience. But also, apply for the job you’re applying for. Not sure what that means? One hiring manager said, “You’d be shocked at the number of applications I get for part time sales or fundraising positions with an objective statement like ‘looking for full time work in my field of engineering,’ or something. In those cases, having nothing would be better than something that tells me immediately that this job isn’t one they actually want.”

Another said, “I wish people would read the job description and only apply if it matches their interests, life requirements, and abilities. I go through so many resumes where people have completely different skill sets and no relevant experience but apply anyways. I get that people have to start somewhere especially if it’s a change of career, but if that’s the case, explain in your cover letter. If I just get a mechanic resume for a front line personal support worker role, I wonder what the heck is going on.”

Write professionally in your application materials

Apparently, there are those out there who are getting a little purple with their cover letter prose. “I should not wonder if it’s a cover letter, or the start of your romance novelist career when hiring for an accounting firm,” said a manager. “The phrase ‘unyielding embrace’ makes me a tad uncomfortable in reference to my firm’s treatment of co-ops. Yes, ‘unyielding embrace’ is a direct quote from a resume that came across my desk.”

Don’t be sloppy

Your resume is your one shot and your first impression. Don’t blow it. A manager said, “Your resume is the only piece of work product you will ever give me that you have unlimited rewrites and opportunity to get feedback from people on. If you send it to me with mistakes, it goes in the shred bin. If the best work I can ever hope to receive isn’t perfect, I can only assume the rest of your work is terrible.”

Have a working voicemail

Candidates should always have a working voice mail. “Not having one makes it very hard to reach people to discuss the position,” said a manager. If they can’t reach you they will just move on. 

Don’t ghost potential employers

If you have scheduled an interview, show up. If you can’t show up, cancel beforehand. If you decide you are no longer interested in the job and have already entered into a discussion with the employer, let them know. A hiring manager said, “If you’re not interested in the job just send a short email, thank them, and tell them you’re not interested. You wouldn’t believe how many candidates I’ve had that dropped out in mid process without any explanation.”

This one is contentious and tends to get job seekers upset because Canadian employers are notorious for ghosting them, and for never replying to applications and being generally discourteous. This is true. We have all been ignored by dozens, if not hundreds of employers. However, two (or ten thousand) wrongs don’t make a right and emulating bad behaviour rarely does much to change anything. You’re not doing yourself any favours by not showing up, which is rude. Be the change.

Share your achievements and accomplishments in your resume

“You should highlight HOW your work made your employer’s life easier/improved efficiency/drove revenue,” says someone who works as a resume writer and editor. This is the difference between saying you’re skilled at problem solving, which anyone can say, or demonstrating how your problem solving skills actually solved a problem. The latter is much harder to do.

Research the company and be interested and engaged during the interview

Research the role and the company before you apply. Find out what they do and who they are, look into what is important to them and what challenges they might be facing. If you show up not knowing anything about the company you are not going to get the job. And look alive! A hiring manager said, “A lot of candidates show up without having interest or curiosity about the company and role, and just wait for questions to be fired at them. Interviews can be awkward, but they don’t have to be. One thing that really sets apart candidates in the interview is their ability to engage in a two sided conversation about career goals, culture, and what they are looking for from the company.”

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