[02.13.13]
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Diary of an Employer: The Perfect Job Candidate

perfect candidate, job search, resume, employer diary, suggestions, thank you notes, resume, interviewsThis is a guest post from Eric Olavson.

Dear Diary,

A lot of candidates lately are turning in horrible resumes, and when I’m interviewing with them, I don’t really like them. I’ve spent a lot time thinking about “the perfect job candidate,” and this is what I would like to see:

1. Cover Letter

I think an ideal job candidate would write me a cover letter that really shows excitement in the company that I created from scratch. We’ve got some great information on our website about the company. (I spent a lot of time and money putting that stupid website together, so please use it.)

At least I would like to see that the candidate read through the website and understand what we do. Unfortunately, most candidates just turn in a generic cover letter or don’t bother to write one at all. If they won’t go to the trouble of writing one, then I won’t go to the trouble of hiring them.

2. Qualified

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen candidates apply to a position when they lack basic qualifications that I specifically listed in the job posting. I guess that means a lot of people don’t understand the word “required.”

Maybe candidates think I’ll take the time to train them. Maybe in the 90s I would have when qualified candidates were sparser, but now with the recession, I have more than enough qualified people applying. My dream candidate would only include relevant information that I’ve requested in their resume.

3. Irrelevant Information

This leads me to my third point: if something isn’t really relevant to what I’m seeking, do me a favor and cut it in your resume. Since I have to read hundreds of these stupid resumes, do me a favor and keep your resume to one page. If you really think it’s important include it in your cover letter.

People that can keep their resume to one page show me that they understand the principle of brevity in business writing. I don’t want to read a 15 page memo. I want to read a 1 or 2 page memo that answers the same question. The resume shows me that they can do this. If you don’t know how, go here to learn how to write a brief but relevant resume.

4. Duties Make Me Yawn

I can’t express how many times I see the same stupid duties over and over again. I’m a great team player! I learn quickly, I promise! I’m work really good and have perfect grammar! (The candidate of course has grammar mistakes in the very sentence that they say they have perfect grammar.)

How about you tell me something exciting? (Like maybe about a project or two that you worked on and what the outcome was? *Hint, hint*)

5. Show Interview Preparation

I’m going to throw obvious questions at you. For example, I’ll probably ask you to walk me through your resume. I’ll ask you to tell me about yourself. I’ll want to get to know you as a person in addition to learning about your qualifications.

If you didn’t take the time to prepare for these basic questions, I don’t really want you working for me. Visit this link to learn how to interview.

6. You’re Qualified If I Interview You, Impress Me As a Person

I can’t express how many times people just need to relax more in an interview. People get so nervous. But the truth is, if I ask a hardball question, it’s mostly just to see how you’ll react. If I’m interviewing you, I really think you are qualified, I promise. Maybe two candidates are equally qualified, and so I’ll dig a little bit deeper regarding the qualifications, but for the most part I know that if you’re qualified that you’ll be able to teach yourself how to learn anything else I might require pretty quickly. I’m more interested in knowing if you’re someone that I could see myself working with every day.

I can’t tell you how rude and unpleasant some people are to work with. That’s pretty much what an interview is for. I want to know if you’re a jerk. Of course, I can’t ask that outright, because unfortunately people lie; otherwise I could just ask that on the application itself. So I have to create this elaborate scheme called the “interview” and ask roundabout questions to figure this out.

7. Please Smile

Please take the time to smile when I’m interviewing you. If at all possible, I’d really even like to share a laugh with you, preferably with us laughing at a joke that I share. (You, however, should avoid telling jokes, please. If I don’t get the joke, it will be really awkward for both of us.)

If you’re really not a happy person, at least pretend to be. I have enough worries on my mind; the last thing I want is to work with someone who is sarcastic and full of negative energy. Even though I own the company, work isn’t always fun—I know that—but I’d like to work with someone who knows that it’s the people you work with that make the work day pleasant.

8. Don’t Ask Me About Benefits Until I Make You An Offer

You are not in a position to be concerned about salary or benefits or anything else until I make you an offer. If you are applying to my company and you are not interested, I scold you for wasting my time and your time. Assume that I will make you a competitive offer (which I assume you will negotiate), but I think it’s really inappropriate to ask me about that stuff until I make you an offer. Once I do, then the ball is in your court, and it’s your turn to evaluate me.

9. Ask Questions

When I ask you in an interview if you have any questions, ask me some bloody questions. Convey interest in my company, ask questions that elicit what you’ll be doing. Don’t worry about the benefits—yet.

10. Send Me a Thank You Note Reinforcing Value

Don’t feel the need to heap praises on me for taking the time to see you. This is a two-way street. Instead, say thank you, but re-emphasize the value you offer me. One candidate told me it was an honor to meet me when they were saying goodbye. Pass.

Obviously There’s More

I suppose there are more things that I could include on this list, but these are probably some of the most important things that annoy me about unprepared candidates. Hopefully they will read this post so I don’t have to deal with these things any longer.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.


Written by: Eric Olavson
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Categories: Finding New Job

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