Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Sunday, January 20, 2008

10 Big Things

Howard Adamsky's recent blog entry for recruiters, "10 Things Recruiters Should Know About Every Candidate They Interview", implies good parallel advice for job seekers—in spite of the fact that he seems to be writing mainly about recruiting for higher echelons.

Here are his ten points, annotated by me for job seekers:
  1. Complete compensation details.
    Although Adamsky puts this first on his list we are usually well advised to avoid this topic until it becomes clear that the employer is making an offer. Even then, one tries to have them make the first move.
    This does not mean that you should wait for an offer before gathering your complete compensation information and considering it carefully. If you are in a job what is the complete compensation package that your employer provides? Can you explain any times when you might have taken a job that paid less than the preceding job?
  2. Type of commute.
    It's not just whether you will be able to afford large commuting expenses. It's also about whether you will be able to perform well if your commutes will be long and arduous.
  3. The "what they want vs. what they have" differential.
    The interviewer wants to know that the job being offered is considerably more valuable to you than what you have, perhaps especially if you are unemployed or significantly underemployed. In particular, if you plan to take the job just to become employed then there is the strong possibility that the job itself will not give you sufficient satisfaction.
  4. How they work best.
    Regrettably, many employers view this as "team workers" vs "loners." In my case, I find it best to have plenty of exposure to a variety of people and their problems, some "teamwork" and then some individual time in which to research questions and look for patterns. (Now you know one reason that I write this blog.)
  5. Overall strengths and weaknesses.
    A lot of interviewers are quite straightforward about these things: "What are your main weaknesses?" I don't know why they bother because job seekers who have done their homework usually follow the usual advice and what the interviewer is likely to learn most about are the applicants powers of quick recall. If you can, try to find ways of answering these questions so that the responses do not sound too stilted and rehearsed.
    More interestingly, some interviewers will ask, "What results or projects in the past year are you most proud of?" This seems better; however, learning about an applicants best results is not the same as learning about their usual results. If you're a job seeker then, like me, you might be hard pressed to think of anything all that astounding to mention. In such a case, offer your best as requested and then be sure to offer information that indicates your everyday results.
  6. What they want in a new position.
    Egad, when we ask some job seekers what they want they say, "I'll do anything at all." Promise me you'll never say that to an interviewer, won't you? The very first thing that many recruiters ask applicants is, "What do you want to do?" Be ready. A knowledge of what you really want to do with your life implies self-knowledge and breadth of knowledge of the world, and this knowledge is the bedrock upon which you erect your career planning. If you can't say what you want then it is immediately apparent to an interviewer that you are not ready for much of anything.
  7. Is the candidate interviewing elsewhere?
    You need to make it clear that other jobs for which you have applied imply a set of objectives that is consistent with those that led you to apply for the job for which you are being interviewed.
  8. What it will take to close the deal.
    Since you can be totally open and forthright with yourself (you are not negotiating with yourself) you can clarify what it is that the job offers against what you want. A recruiter might want to know all of this but remember that negotiating is not about revealing your own least acceptable offer to the 'other side.' Keep your cards close to your chest but know what they all are.
  9. Can the candidate do the job?
    Most of the commonest advice offered to job seekers concerns this point. You need to have identified all of your many skills and, if at all possible, to have learned enough about the job to verify that your skills are a fit. Since most recruiters and interviewers seem to find it easiest to deal with superlatives, be ready to discuss instances in which you have excelled.
  10. Will the candidate fit into the culture?
    It shocks me that interviewers believe that they can gauge this at all. But they do.
    When you are still trying to decide whether you actually want the job that is on offer do the best you can to resemble the people who are already employed in the organisation. Dress slightly better than they do, show (only) the qualifications that resemble those that they have (for instance, do not mention your B.A. in sociology if you want a job so that you can research dock worker politics), and try to affect the language and gestures of the interviewers.
    And be sure to consider carefully how long you will be able to continue your career in acting.
Remember: most of the people who conduct job interviews are not good and experienced interviewers. (Their fort├ęs are in managing organisations and businesses.) In fact, in my own experience, your biggest problem as a job seeker is often in dealing with interviewers with meagre skills or who fail to cover all of these points adequately. It's up to the job seeker to build their own case. More about that, perhaps, in another of my blog items.