Look For to Get the "Right" Candidates
It is very important for hiring managers to make the
because turnover and retention studies report that it costs an employer
anywhere from 100 to 200 percent of an employee's base salary to replace
them. This means a $50,000 a year employee can cost $100,000 or more to
replace. Receiving an expensive wake-up call in today's economy, few
employers can sustain such high replacement costs by repeating a pattern
of bad hiring decisions. As a result, many of them are determined to
correct their errors and literally "hire with their heads" by changing
the way they initially screen resumes, test candidates, conduct
interviews, and extend offers.
They increasingly look for more predictable behavioral clues in
candidates by doing the following:
resumes more closely for clear patterns of accomplishments - look
for behavior-based resumes. More and more employers scan resumes, use
resume databases, and screen resumes by keywords that indicate
accomplishments and patterns of behavior.
more and more candidates to achievement and psychological tests,
behavioral profiling, and drug testing. These screening tests are
often administered immediately before a candidate interviews for a
position. The results may eliminate a candidate from the interview or
they may be used during the job interview for asking probing questions
about an individual's behavior or psychological predispositions. You
need to be looking for positions that best fit your particular
psychological and behavioral profile.
more and more interviews with a single candidate. Rather than go to two
or three interviews with a single employer, expect to encounter
situations where you may go to five, six, or seven interviews, each
being a new type of interview (one-on-one, sequential, serial, panel,
group) and involving a different number and level of participants. If
done right, each of these interviews may tell an employer something new
about your behavior and provide important insights into your potential
"fit" with the organization.
references more carefully by asking probing behavioral questions. Expect employers to ask your previous employer
such things as these:
were her three most important achievements during the past two years?
you give me an example of how he took initiative in solving a major
were some of her major weaknesses that she managed to correct?
you give me an example of how he worked with other team members in
meeting project deadlines?
five words would you use to predict her future performance?
you hired him again, what two changes would you like to see him make?
In other words, more and more employers are taking reference checks
seriously. They know they can gain valuable insights into a candidate's
behavior - but only if they go beyond the superficial and ask the right
lengthier probationary periods in order to see if the new hire indeed
works out according to expectations. The true test of whether or not
a candidate is a good fit is on-the-job performance. Expect employers to
build in three- and six- month probationary periods in order to
thoroughly review your performance prior to accepting you as a permanent
employee. It's during that period when employers get to see the "real
you" at work and identify what should be your long-term motivated
patterns of work behavior.
Characteristics Needed in that New Grad:
• content knowledge and experience in the employee's functional area
(e.g., marketing or accounting),
• an employee's ability to analyze and critically examine complex
• the ability to succinctly characterize the
essential elements of an issue
• an employee's ability to communicate orally and in writing
• working with minimal direction and supervision
• initiative and responsibility for taking
on new issues through their successful completion
• meeting assigned deadlines
• strong interpersonal and team skills.
What Students Can
do to Impress Employers in Today's Market
Consider the following tips:
Evaluate your professional standing and key trends within your industry,
company, and profession. What do you need to change? How can you do
it? How does your profession look five years from now? Two years
from now? What threats do you foresee? What opportunities exist?
Based on your analysis, develop a comprehensive action plan that will
help you leverage your strengths and overcome your weaknesses.
Networking is not a post-layoff or when-you-feel-like-doing-it activity.
All successful professionals incorporate networking as an integral and
active component of their career management plan. Tradeshows,
conferences, industry and social events, online networking
tools—networking opportunities have never been so easily accessible.
What is your value proposition? What is so unique about you that
employers will want to retain you irrespective of what happens to the
company financially? We all have something unique to offer and if you
can develop a powerful value proposition demonstrating how indispensable
you are, you will be in a much better position that most
Invest in professional development:
This is the Information Age, an environment in which information becomes
obsolete faster than fashion. Through continuing education programs and
other professional development efforts, it is very important to stay
abreast with the cutting-edge of your profession.
Demonstrate leadership and the ability to take
The economy inevitably imposes financial strains on any company and
under such conditions every employee is expected to do more—take more
work, manage multiple tasks, lead projects, and epitomize
"cross-functional" in every sense of the term.
Try to volunteer on projects and take on
The key is to demonstrate how you can contribute toward the
organization’s success and deliver an optimal ROI for the company.
Update your resume:
Update your resume every month, if not every week. Highlight your recent
accomplishments and create a powerful document that will position you as
the perfect solution for any employer’s needs.
Keep your options open:
With all the above strategies, keep your eyes open to new opportunities.
Through a portfolio of job search strategies, including networking, you
should generate a steady stream of job leads.
First Year on the
Get to work early. You could come
in ten minutes late and work one hour late, but you’ll still leave a
negative impression. Coming in early makes a much better impression; ask
Come to work every day. Don’t call
in sick, stranded, needed elsewhere or waiting for a fire truck. Do not
miss any work on account of illness ever, if possible, but especially
not during first year. Make dental, doctor, lawyer and wedding dress
fitting appointments after work or during lunch hour. Be assured that
should you ever need a reference or recommendation, the first two
questions asked will be about promptness and attendance.
Be courteous, friendly and helpful.
Smile and say hello to everyone every time you seen them, whether you
know them or not. Remember the names of those to whom you are
introduced; jot down names until you remember them. Open doors; help
finish reports; assist on projects; thank those who help you; and look
for opportunities to offer sincere praise to the boss, the secretary,
the custodian and everyone in between.
Be friendly, but not friends. Go to
lunch with colleagues or boss (remember that you should never invite
your boss out to lunch before he/she invites you), but don’t make it a
regular habit, and be especially careful not to become identified with
any cliques. Do not ever go drinking with them. Don’t reveal your
weaknesses. Once they realize what your weaknesses are, your co-workers
will begin to exploit them, whether consciously or unconsciously. This
is not cynicism, but a most painful truth. It should go without saying,
but never become romantically entangled with anyone at your office,
especially your boss. This can be suicide for your career.
Keep your personal life private. You
will be tempted to share personal information with friendly, warm and
well-meaning colleagues. Unless you want your private life discussed by
all your co-workers, don’t open up life to them.
Be loyal to the absent. (Don’t gossip!)
Never talk about anyone in his/her absence, and when you hear others
gossiping or criticizing others behind their backs, defend the victim.
This will offend no one, and you will gain a reputation as a person of
Dress as well as or better than your
co-workers. Remember that you dressed up for the interview to
create a favorable impression. Consider a professional wardrobe as an
investment rather than an expense. Some people rebel against dressing
for success. They feel that “substance” should count for more than
“image.” In the perfect world, this may be true, but the workplace is
far from a perfect world. If you want to advance in your career, you
must invest the time, energy and money it takes to dress the part.
Speak and laugh softly, seldom and when
appropriate. Never tell off-color, sexist or racist jokes; if
exposed to them, politely excuse yourself. Compulsive and/or loud
talking or laughing annoys others, wastes time and reveals insecurity.
Pay attention to your own talking and laughing habits, and take
Don’t move too fast. For the first
month or two, say very little, ask a lot of questions, but don’t offer
suggestions or opinions unless asked. This is often the most difficult
thing for a recent graduate to do, because in the academic environment
you are taught to debate, offer suggestions and find a quick solution to
problems. The very thing that you have spent years perfecting becomes
the least valuable attribute to the new employee! Listen and watch for
clues as to which behaviors are valued and which will get you into
Ask for feedback.
As often as you
feel it is appropriate, ask how you are doing. Ask your co-workers and
your supervisor for constructive criticism, and then accept it and use
it. Don’t get defensive, offer explanations, get angry or embarrassed.
Being able to take criticism and suggestions for improvement is the mark
of a mature person and will go far to cementing your place in the
Be honest with yourself and others.
Telling lies, deliberately misrepresenting or hiding facts may be the
quickest way to the unemployment office. That goes without saying. But
there is another kind of lie that can get you into just as much trouble,
and that is the lie you tell when you make a promise that you don’t
keep. If you aren’t positive that you can deliver the goods as promised,
don’t make the promise.
Identify potential conflict early.
If you start feeling stressed, angry, confused or resentful; if you
begin to drink heavily or rely on drugs; if you experience health
problems, especially headaches, stomach problems or back problems, seek
help from a therapist, a member of the clergy, or a trusted friend. Most
companies have either insurance coverage or an employee assistance
program, but even if they don’t, get help before you fall into a
pattern. Many lives are turned around by simple techniques for
communicating more effectively. On the other hand, chronic stress may be
a signal that your job is not the right match for you.