8 Ways Job Candidates E-Sabotage Themselves

The Internet has become such an important part of the job search process. It is the most powerful tool any job seeker has for identifying career opportunities—even at the executive level for which I recruit. Job search platforms have made it easy to seek out and apply for opportunities. However, like any powerful tool, it needs to be used wisely. Otherwise you could end up hurting your chances for roles or even damaging your reputation in the workplace.

Here are eight ways candidates sabotage themselves with their online presence:

Having negative comments or unflattering images on social media. Your social media presence is your image to the public. Manage it wisely. It should be common sense, but people often fail to realize how much damage they can do to their professional life with the information they share online. The golden rule to follow here: Do not share anything online that you would not share at work. You never know who will forward your information to someone else or where the information you post might end up.

Clicking the “Apply” button without reading the details about a job. When LinkedIn or a job board sends you an e-mail with a list of jobs you may be interested in, they generate those lists based on key words in your profile or resume. That doesn’t necessarily mean these jobs match your qualifications. Hitting “Apply” without reading more than the title could create a negative impression on the other end. Look at each role and determine if you are really qualified or close to being qualified. Make sure it is something you really want to pursue. Multiple applications to the wrong role could hurt you when a role opens that you really want.

Reading e-mails quickly and not following the instructions. Employers and recruiters put details in our job postings or e-mails that are important. Often, a candidate will skim the e-mail and send us a question about something that was in the information presented. Or candidates will not follow instructions carefully for an interview and end up in the wrong place or delayed, or worse. Lack of attention to detail makes you look careless. Many hiring managers will reject you outright for that.

Applying too often to one entity. This makes you look desperate or unfocused on your true ambitions. It says, “I will take any job.” That is not the message you want to convey to potential employers. If an organization has multiple jobs open, apply for the one that best suits your background and career goals. If someone on the other end thinks you are qualified for another role, they will reach out to you or share your information with others in their organization.

Sending a resume to any recruiter you can find on the Internet. Lately, my colleagues and I are seeing an uptick in this activity. We get e-mails with a resume attached and a request from the candidate for help in identifying a new role. My specialty (and my firm’s focus) is health care and higher education. It is rare that I have a client willing to look for candidates outside its industry, and often the candidate will have skill sets that are not even close to the types of roles I fill. Submitting to multiple recruiters is a waste of your time and mine, and it also makes you look careless. Look for recruiters who specialize in the types of roles you are seeking in your field.

Arguing via e-mail with a recruiter or employer. At my firm, we try to send a note back to candidates we are not moving forward with in a search. Sometimes a candidate will e-mail me back with a request for more information about why he or she is not being considered. This is a reasonable question, and I usually take the time to give some of the specific reasons he or she did not meet an employer’s requirements. On occasion, I get an angry e-mail back stating that the requirements are invalid or not necessary. Ultimately, the requirements are set by organizations in good faith and for good reasons. Arguing about them will not help, and argumentative behavior does not help your image. It also could prevent you from consideration for other roles.

Not submitting a resume and asking the employer or recruiter to look at your LinkedIn profile. As comprehensive as some LinkedIn profiles are today, they are still not a substitute for a resume. Asking someone to refer to your LinkedIn profile says you are not serious about applying for the job.

Being careless about a Skype/Facetime/video interview. Interviewing is an important step in the process. It is important that you present yourself in a professional way. Just because you are interviewing from your home doesn’t mean you should be casual about your appearance or the setting. Dress appropriately. Make sure there are no glaring lights in the eyes of your interviewer. There should not be other people or pets in the room. Go somewhere where you won’t be disturbed. Look at what will be in the background behind you. Sit at a desk or table in a regular chair—not in a recliner. Look into the camera when you speak to the interviewer. If you have never or infrequently used Skype or Facetime before, make sure you test the technology before your interview and make sure you are properly set up to receive a call. Keep the camera stationary and don’t move it around. You want the interviewer to see a polished professional without any distractions.

The Internet gives us great tools to explore career opportunities. Use it to your best advantage.


AUTHOR: Diane Nicholas is a consultant with WK Advisors, a division of executive search firm Witt/Kieffer. WK Advisors specializes in filling innovative mid-level and other critical executive positions in health care, education, and the not-for-profit sector. 



5 Steps to Effective ‘Stay’ Interviews

In a “stay” interview, an employee meets one-on-one with a supervisor to discuss his or her satisfaction with the company. The idea is to learn about what is and isn’t working, so managers can adjust their efforts to retain staff. The goal is to catch problems before employees decide to take off.

In a recent survey by administrative staffing firm OfficeTeam, 27 percent of human resource professionals said they’d never even heard of the concept of a stay interview. What’s more, another 41 percent said they weren’t sure how useful they are — mostly because they hadn’t conducted them very often.

Nevertheless, a stay interview can prove effective as long as these five steps are followed:

Start off on the right foot: Since many employees may be unfamiliar with the concept of a stay interview, a clear explanation of the process — including a review of the goals and types of information that will be sought — is needed before managers begin.

This could prevent skeptical workers from wondering, “Why are you asking these questions? Is there a reason I shouldn’t stay with the organization?”

Ask the right questions: Avoid closed-ended questions that yield “yes” or “no” responses. They won’t provide useful feedback. To gain specific information, it’s better to ask questions such as: Which aspects of your job make you eager to get into the office each day? Which aspects cause a feeling of dread? Why have you chosen to stay at our company? What do you find most rewarding about your work?

If you could change one thing about our department or about the entire organization, what would it be? What skills or talents do you possess that aren’t being used in your job?

Most important, stay interviews should be conducted separately from performance reviews. Stay interviews are designed to gain insights into what motivates employees and keeps them invested in the firm. Performance reviews, on the other hand, are intended to give staff a candid assessment of their work.

Although the two meetings should be separate, they complement each other and give employees a chance to discuss their feedback more than once during a year.

Make it a positive experience: Managers can make the experience a positive one if they listen more than they talk. When it is time to talk, it is not the venue for a supervisor to get defensive if he or she disagrees with an employee’s concerns or comments.

If staff feel like they’re engaging in a debate, they’re not likely to be candid with further responses. The best questions will attempt to elicit opinions on the work environment, company culture and advancement opportunities rather than on specific people.

Consider the

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participant list: Some firms prefer to conduct stay interviews with top employees only, since the goal is to retain their best and brightest, not their poor performers. However, careful thought should be given before limiting these meetings. If select individuals are singled out for stay interviews, other employees may wonder why managers don’t value their opinions or want to improve their job experiences.

Stay interviews should boost — not deflate — general morale.

Follow through: One of the most important steps in a stay interview is taking action afterward. There’s no point in meeting with employees to address their concerns if there’s no genuine intention to make changes as a result of those discussions. Leaders should let staff know what they hope to do to make improvements, including the anticipated timelines and plans.

One final consideration is timing. Managers shouldn’t wait until there’s a noticeable morale problem to launch stay interviews. Making them a routine part of company life will show that the organization is sincerely interested in boosting job satisfaction.

Robert Hosking is executive director of OfficeTeam, a staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of administrative and office support professionals. Reprinted from Talent Management Magazine

The Exit Interview: An Engagement Tool?

Organizations employ a variety of methods to measure and track employee engagement, but probably none as surprising as this: In a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Globoforce, an employee-recognition-services firm, 65 percent of firms reported using exit interviews as one of the ways they measure engagement.

“It’s like closing the barn after the horse is already out,” said Kevin Kruse, author of We: How to Increase Performance and Profits Through Full Engagement, in reaction to the finding.

“It’s after the fact, and engagement is something that happens when they’re employed,” added Jim Harter, chief scientist of workplace management and well-being at performance management firm Gallup.

Even Derek Irvine, vice president of client strategy and consulting with Globoforce, was taken aback by exit interviews’ prominence as part of the engagement measurement process.

The bottom line, all three said, is that the exit interview is not the best place to have a comprehensive engagement conversation with an employee. Some even questioned the validity of an exit interview altogether.

Yet the three did agree, after some thought, that if an exit interview is going to be used to track engagement, there are some instances where the data could be used to help firms add value.

Harter said the exit interview might become a principal engagement measurement tool if a firm is experiencing a rash of employee defections. “If you’re bleeding, you’ve got to get the stitches out and fix it if you’ve got a deep cut,” he said.

In this case, the exit interview becomes especially important, since HR managers need to figure out what to change in the short term to boost retention and get a gauge on engagement.

“Maybe they’ve lost some of their best performers,” Harter said. “[The exit interview] is more of a short-term fix from my perspective: ‘Let’s understand what we need to do differently right now.’”

Exit interviews can also bring forth surprising candor on engagement-related subjects from departing employees, Kruse said.

“Even if you get seven out of 10 leaving that are just going to give you the party line, maybe three are going to give you good data,” Kruse said.

It’s best to conduct anonymous surveys following an employee’s departure from a company maybe three or six months after they’ve left.

“Broadly speaking, you could learn something in an exit interview that could inform you about how to improve benefits, culture or improve a bad boss … and then those things could lead to improved engagement,” Kruse said.

Globoforce’s Irvine agreed: “You do catch an employee at a very particular time in their relationship with the company where there is a very candid and frank discussion.”

That said, employers shouldn’t count on employee candor too often during exit interviews — because many are afraid of being brutally honest.

“It helps the company,” Kruse said, referring to employees’ candor during the exit interview. “It doesn’t help them.”

About the Author:

Frank Kalman is an associate editor of Talent Management magazine. Reprinted from Talent Management Magazine

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