I have been thinking about interviewing lately. I was telling a group I spoke to earlier in the week about the importance of finding people that are “sold out” on the culture and the organization. It never ceases to amaze me that some people still fail to prepare adequately for their interviews. No, I’m not talking about knowing how to answer the canned”What’s your greatest weakness?” type questions. I’m talking about being excited, upbeat, and ready to talk about how you are the perfect fit for the job.

Here’s a good example. I can still vividly remember an interviewing process for a subcontracts administrator position. We interviewed more than half a dozen people in the first round. Three of those were lukewarm and honestly left me wondering if they really wanted a job at all. Two of those were both enthusiastic and qualified. One of those was both very enthusiastic and very overqualified. Those three people were the ones brought back for a second interview, and in fact I was able to pick the person that was ultimately chosen days before the “final” selection (though that is always the hiring manager’s call in the end). How did I know?

  1. She made a great case for why the company would be better off with her specific experience.
  2. She shared with us her interest in why she would specifically like to work at our company (not just a company like ours, but ours specifically!).
  3. She was a great culture fit for us. Her previous actions and behavioral questions were closely aligned with our core values.

Honestly, I don’t care if you’re applying for jobs through Jobtonic, a job with my company, or something else. If you’re qualified for the position, and you can figure out how to do all three of those things, then you have a much greater chance of being selected than those who don’t. It’s not a magic bullet, but it’s a formula that I’ve seen play out on many occasions.

What is your take on passion and enthusiasm in the interview process? Is it a discriminator or just noise interfering with the process?

Have you ever wondered how to read a resume to get the best understanding of the candidate’s fit for the job? What’s the most important part to focus on?

Is it the objective? Is it where you went to school? Maybe it’s your last employer?

Google’s staffing director discusses how to read a resume

It’s not any of those things. Well, not according to Todd Carlisle, Director of Staffing at Google. He believes the most important part of the resume is the bottom portion, where people normally list things like hobbies, activities, volunteer experience, etc.

Candidates\’ early work experience, hobbies, extracurricular activities or nonprofit involvement—such as painting houses to pay for college or touring with a punk rock band through Europe—often provide insight into how well an applicant would fit into the company culture.” source

I think that’s a great idea, and I’d have to agree that it could be valuable for ascertaining a person’s culture fit. Many professionals drop those kinds of information from their resume in order to fit in the valuable experience gleaned at other positions, so you could be missing plenty of them with a great history of volunteering and social activities if you’re only scanning resumes.

That’s where the next point comes in…

Stop reading resumes altogether

In the video below Jerome Ternynck, CEO of SmartRecruiters, brings an even more radical approach to the one above: get rid of resumes and use “profiles” instead. I like the idea, but I don’t know how feasible it is. Frankly, it’s easier for any company to sort through ten resumes than it is to sort through ten profiles for candidates.

And despite there being hundreds of great career resources on the web, some job seekers still have ugly resumes, poor interviewing skills, and no real career plan. Then again, that does weed the technically ignorant folks from the hiring pool (at least until they catch on). Check out the video below for more ideas on how we can get rid of resumes once and for all.

stack of job applicationsWhen you’re trying to learn about an organization’s corporate culture, values, and  beliefs, you need to pay attention to the available information to get a good feel for it. One of my friends is looking at applying to a local private Christian school, and I went to their website to print the application for him to complete.

While the application starts off like any other (job history, availability, work preferences, etc.), it gets into some very meaty questions near the end. If I was looking for a job with this organization, I would be reading those questions very closely Continue reading

So, if you haven’t heard, I just started a new HR job yesterday (woohoo!). I was reading this great post on MonsterThinking today during lunch and realized how true it was. In the video below I talk about some of the drivers of employee engagement and the stark contrast between my last job and my current one. Yes, I’m still in the “ooh la la!” stage with my new job, but I can’t see my attitude towards work dropping like a rock as I did previously. Continue reading

The two previous parts in this series dealt with HR careers and how to get a job in HR and human resource career opportunities. Today I will talk about my own move into a new human resources management job (yippee!). :-)

My time in my first HR job taught me a lot about what I do and don’t want to do in my career. I can still remember talking with Jennifer McClure back at SHRM10 this summer about moving into a job that was a good fit for me. Then, a few weeks ago, I was talking with Dawn Hrdlica about the exact same thing. Both of them gave me the same advice, and I was finally able to do what I really wanted. They said:

You have to know where you want to go with regard to your career. Otherwise the opportunity might pass you by before you realize you wanted it.

So I thought really, really hard about what I wanted to do next. Yeah, I could just leap at any open position that came up, but it wouldn’t really be what I wanted. I made a short list of things that were highly desired in my next job.

  1. Small company
  2. Generalist role
  3. Opportunities for growth/experimentation
  4. Great culture

A few weeks ago I found out about an HR position with a small local startup company (there’s #1!). I applied, but it was over my head in that the person would wear many hats and assume multiple roles (#2). I didn’t expect too much, but it was a job I’d love to have. I contacted the hiring manager and learned more about the position.  A big benefit of the job would be the opportunities (#3) it presented for growth and development. All I needed was the culture…

So, fast forward a few weeks, and I’m sitting there being interviewed by the president, vice president, and operations manager. We get down to the end of the interview, and I’m feeling really confident about the whole meeting. As a parting comment, I asked the president if there was one “must have” for the person who would take the position. He responded that the person had to fit into their culture well, because it was one of his highest priorities that they hire for culture fit (#4!). One of the coolest things about the interview was seeing the president scrolling through my blog while I spoke with the operations manager. :-)

A few short days later, I had an offer letter in hand and my resignation turned in at work. This thing was going to happen. On Monday, November 22nd, I start a new chapter in my career. I’ll be going to Pinnacle Solutions here in Huntsville, AL, and I am so thrilled about the possibilities ahead. I’m thankful to those who have helped me along the way and I can’t wait to see how much I learn and grow in this new position!

Other posts in the HR Careers series:

In a recent post I talked about HR careers and how to get a job in HR. Today I’ll cover career opportunities for those in human resource jobs, specifically how to create career growth opportunities from within your job.

How I grew my career opportunities

I’ll go ahead and admit it: my first HR job wasn’t super strenuous. Surprised? Probably not. Most people in their first HR roles usually end up filing papers (me), handling the dull/routine tasks that nobody else wants (me), and generally wasting their time and energy on things that an admin or temp could do (me again). I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the opportunity to move into the HR profession, but if you have someone with a degree in HR and some enthusiasm, but you’ve kept them in a filing/admin type job for over six months, you’re wasting their brains and hamstringing yourself. They won’t do it forever.

That lack of stress and responsibility left me feeling like my free time could be used in a better way. At that time I had already started blogging to share about my new job and what I was doing/learning, but I really threw myself into it. I started using Twitter and LinkedIn to build connections with other human resources professionals around the world.

I was able to grow a little in my day job, but it seemed like there weren’t many opportunities for growth/challenge. Without Allen (my mentor and best friend) guiding me, I’d have sunk into a slump months ago.

Even with a full time work schedule, I had time for a few activities in my spare time…

  • Interacted daily with VP/director level pros and thought leaders in my field
  • Cofounded an HR conference that drew attendees from around the world
  • Wrote an eBook targeted toward my industry’s certification exam
  • Created and solidified dozens of partnerships with other blogs and businesses
  • And most importantly, I established myself as an expert in my niche both locally and nationally

Yes, I have this whole world of stuff that I do outside my day job, but the full time gig is still what pays my bills and keeps my babies fed. And unless you’ve been briefed on my online (empire) activities, it just doesn’t sound very impressive to say, “I’m an HR blogger.” Eventually I came to the realization that the day job needed to keep up with the pace of the rest of my activities, and I started looking for another job.

Most of us have made some job changes in the past few years. You’ve heard my story. What prompted that change for you?

Other posts in the HR Careers series:

If you’re trying to find out how to get a job in HR, you’ve come to the right place. It might surprise you, but I’ve only been in HR for about a year and a half at this point. I kicked off my HR career back in April 2009, and I’m amazed to see how much things have changed since then. I now have a great network of people and a little better understanding of this whole “HR thing,” but I didn’t have that when I started. I also didn’t have great tools like the Entry Level HR Jobs Guide.

How to get a job in HR

I graduated from college in May of 2008 with a brand-spanking new degree in human resources management. But I was stuck. See, my employer paid for my last semester of college, so I had to stick with them for a year of (indentured servitude) work to fulfill my obligation to the company. My supervisor knew that I was itching to move into HR, so she reached out to our own HR person in-house to see if I could do anything at all to start preparing myself. The HR person’s response? Nope.

how to get a job in hr

Take the time to learn how to get a job in HR before you make the leap

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So I had to grind out 12 months of work as I waited for the career to end all HR careers to start. :-) In November 2008, I started to get nervous. See, I could start looking for jobs in January, but I was afraid I had lost much of what I’d learned thus far in college. So, like any normal human being, I signed up for the PHR exam. I was slated to take the exam in late January, so I started studying right away.

My exam day came, and I passed with flying colors. I was so excited and just knew that a job would be right around the corner. And then I sat and waited for the next two months, applying for jobs but getting no serious interviews. It was disheartening.

Then in March I applied for this HR assistant job with a local nonprofit organization. To really help me get an edge over the competition, I looked up the HR staff that were in my local SHRM chapter’s email directory and sent them my resume directly. Then, nothing…

A few weeks passed, and I was feeling rough. I’d put a lot into the application process with the only job I was really qualified for, and it was a bust. Then I received a phone call from the VP of HR to come in for an interview. Score!

I was back in the game.

I bet I spent three hours preparing for that interview, and I think I really did well. I was able to turn her every need into an opportunity I could fulfill, and my enthusiasm was a big factor in the process as well. A few days went by and I had to come in for a second interview with another HR staff member, but it was mostly the same questions, so I knocked it out of the park as well.

Finally, a month after my first phone call with the VP of HR, I got the news. After all the prep, I really did learn how to get a job in human resources! It was an amazing feeling to know that I was finally jumping into the field that I had always wanted to be in.

What about you? What have you learned about how to get a job in human resources? What was your job search like when you looked for your first “professional” career? 

How to get a job in HR video

Other posts in the HR Careers series: