Résumé? Check. References? Check. Snazzy duds? Check. Ready for your interview? Not hardly.
Employers can learn a lot about the real you before you even cross their threshold. Several ‘duh’ moments can easily trip up solid job candidates, and the first is their digital presence. This includes social media, and making sure your Facebook and Twitter feeds are not jam-packed with drunken bar pics. A person’s digital presence reflects the brand he or she wants to have as a candidate. If someone says they are a fancy marketing executive, but their website looks terrible, those things don’t work together.
One of the first search items that pops up tends to be a candidate’s LinkedIn page. Your digital presence is very important. It needs to be managed in the same way as wearing a suit to an interview: It is the new interview suit.
Some organizations have long-tenured employees and tend to be spoiled. They’re born-again virgins every time they recruit, and it’s a massively awkward event. At the other end of the spectrum are organizations that have so much turnover, recruiting is a well-oiled machine, and others still outsource to executive search firms that are masters of finding your dirty laundry online.
Your résumé might have a ticking time bomb right at the top, like a personal e-mail address with some variation of ‘John is sexy,’ and I just think, ‘You have got to be kidding me with this!’ I used to think this kind of dopey behavior was the stuff of urban legends, but it does happen. When it comes to professionalism, up your game.
A person’s digital presence reflects the brand he or she wants to have as a candidate.
Best practices for professionalism include a résumé with proper grammar, clear and concise writing, and an outline of your strong presentation skills. Many times, when a CEO is being recruited, a writing project is required. Bad writing skills can torpedo the candidate at this early step. Having good charisma means you probably can get a job if you could get an interview, but you won’t be able to get the interview if you are not able to nail your digital presence, writing and professionalism.
Another neglected part of the job-search process is demonstrating eagerness. If you really want a job, the interviewer will know. I really like the book, “He’s Just Not That Into You,” by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, on this subject. If somebody really wants to be around you, you’ll know. So often, we see candidates who are wishy-washy. We can’t get ahold of them, we don’t know if they are going to accept an offer for a long time. The wishy-washy candidate either ends up taking a different position, or they don’t last very long at the job. If you really want a job, you’ll be willing to do whatever it takes to make things happen. Being eager, accessible, ready and flexible are essential parts of a job search.
Your digital presence is very important. It needs to be managed in the same way as wearing a suit to an interview: It is the new interview suit.
Jet Mitchell has been an executive recruiter for 17 years, and has conducted thousands of job interviews, ranging from entry-level to CEO spots. “Just about anything in human nature could come out in an interview – fear, love, aggression or anxiety,” she told me, but the worst things people can do in an interview fall into three general categories: Not being prepared for the interview; not being ready to present your brand, meaning who you are as a candidate and your unique selling points; and not being practiced or polished.
“You could, in your mind, have the most amazing ideas about how to affect change in the organization. You could be the ideal candidate. But, if you are not able to practice that and polish that, it won’t fly in an interview,” Jet said. If you think you don’t need to practice, you’re absolutely the person who needs it. Overconfidence can wreck you.
Jet shared that she recently had a candidate who sat down with the hiring manager and say, ‘I have no idea what job I’m interviewing for.’ The interview promptly ended.
Not only should you know what job you’re interviewing for, but learn what you can about the interviewer by looking them up on LinkedIn beforehand. Jet pointed out that you can excel at your job, but if you’re not great at the interview, you won’t get the chance to be awesome. And practice isn’t just for entry-level candidates. Senior executives may not get positions they’re going for simply because they’re scowling, so practicing with someone else is important.
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On the flip side, copious psychology literature exists on the just-like-me effect. “People want to hire those who look like them, talk like them, act like them,” Jet said. “As an interviewer, if you can avoid that bias, your company will have a better mix of candidates. When people talk about diversity, it isn’t just about championing some sort of cause. A department does not function well when it has one person and six clones.”
Women are grossly underrepresented in the technology field, Jet said, to the point hiring managers request female candidates. In some cases, women should abuse the ‘token’ concept. One common mistake women make in interviews is discounting themselves. If a position has six requirements, some women will bomb the interview by offering they don’t meet every single requirement and apologize for it. “Instead, go in there and show you are powerful, personable and competent,” Jet recommended.
Mitchell said candidates of all genders need to broaden the scope of what they think of as an interview. It’s a good idea to go to lunch once per month with someone who could hire you. Jet advised, “Broaden your scope. Don’t think, ‘I’m not in the market.’ Who isn’t in the market for an amazing opportunity?”