My Side of the Fence

The danger isn't going too far. It's that we don't go far enough.

Resumes and Interviewing

I know.  This ain't local news but it's top of mind.  Plus I just want to crab about it a bit.  My company is looking for an Office Manager.  We're running ads in a couple of different places in an attempt to get a good group of candidates.  I'm writing this mainly for entertainment but maybe it'll help someone else out there not do something dumb in the resume / interview process….so let's cover a couple of different parts of the process, shall we?

Initial email response: Do not bang out the initial email on your phone.  Spend some time and actually write the thing.  Do NOT simply flip your resume in without some sort of intro note.  It's a chance to create a positive first impression.  If you want to be able to respond quickly, craft the email and send it to yourself so you can simply forward it from your phone.  Get rid of FW: in the subject line.  Read the ad.  If there are requirements, meet them.  I always ask for salary requirements, a resume in pdf format and availability.  If you do not provide that, I delete your resume.

Formatting: It matters.  If your resume or email makes my eyes hurt or information is difficult to find, I'm deleting it.  Use full justification with clean blocks of text.  Use 12 point font for body text and 14 for captions.  Write your resume in Word and then PDF it.  Do NOT cut and paste it into an email.  If you can't figure it out then pay someone to do it.

Work history: This is the big tamale!  Be thorough and clear in your job duties and employment dates.  If you aren't, your resume is going in the trash.  I am not going to spend time figuring out what you were doing if you cannot be bothered to make it plain.  If you have a job or two that are sketchy, explain them in your cover letter (I received a resume from a gal who was probably a stripper.  She "aggressively merchandised libations and entertained customers".  She stated plainly in her cover letter that "she needed money".  I didn't interview her but she did make the first cut).  Do not leave jobs out unless you murdered someone.  If you have a year long gap that is otherwise unexplained, I'm going to think you are hiding something or just don't need the money.  Neither is good.  If you have worked many contract jobs, indicate that.  No employer likes a job hopper.

Be Honest: there are so many ways to check stuff out that you're going to get found out.  It takes two minutes to see if your Facebook, LinkedIn and resume jive.  If they don't, you're gone.  Everyone worth working for is going to do a background check and maybe a credit history.  Be forthcoming and honest.  This should go without saying but I'm no longer surprised by anything.

Facebook:  For the love of al that's good please, clean up or hide your Facebook profile before you start applying.  I would guess that 30% of applicants are elimiinated based solely on their social media profile.  Here's what happens when I get a resume that looks interesting: I go look up the persons Facebook page.  If I can't find them on Facebook, I go to LinkedIn.  If I can't find them on either then I put the resume in a pile for later review.  It's a good idea to have a clean Facebook page.  People want to know what other people look like.  It's not bad, it's human.  However, if I go to your Facebook page and there's a picture of you doing bong hits (been there, seen that) or your "bae" licking your boob (also true), I delete your resume.  If you make the first cut and we phone screen you, we also look at your friends on your Facebook page.  Only brain-dead employers don't do this. 

Interviewing: Research the company so you sound educated about the prospective employer.  It gets you noticed.  One of the first questions I ask candidates is "what do you know about what we do?"  If they don't know, it gives me some idea of their level of interest.  Look at the people you're talking to.  Shake hands.  It's an opportunity for you to learn about the person across the table.  Bring a pad, make some notes.  Always have a couple of prepared questions.  Always make sure that one or two of your questions will not have been answered in the normal course of an interview.  If you have a question that gets the interviewer talking about them self or their company it helps create a connection.

Dress appropriately:  If you're going to interview in an office, wear a damn coat and tie.  Shave.  If you're a gal, do something similar and with sensible shoes.  Both sexes should dress modestly without any crazy colors.  You want to look accomplished, not like a stripper or a hit man.  Back when I was interviewing I would always put my suit on in my car so I wouldn't tip off my employer!  Find a bathroom if at all possible so you look squared away.

On time is late:  Arrive at your interview 10 minutes early so you can clear any paperwork necessary.  If you're on time or late it looks bad.  So does being 30 minutes early.  Looks like you have nothing to do.  Also, never cancel and attempt to reschedule an interview unless you've been in a car wreck.  If you email your contact to cancel, send a picture of your wrecked car along with the email.  If you email me and cancel our interview, I ain't rescheduling.  That sounds hard but I've never had one of those work.  Ever.

I could go on forever but I won't.  I know that this sounds like it was written in the 50's.  Some of you that read this will think it old-fashioned.  It isn't.  It is the real world.  Remember that you, the applicant, are the one that needs the job.  Sure, the employer needs staff but odds are they have a hundred resumes.  You need to work hard to stand out.  If you can't be bothered to sell yourself to me during the interview why would I hire you?  You only get one shot at the interview, make it worthwhile.


  1. Debbie Edenhart

    February 7, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Excellent!!!   Applicants need to check spelling, also.  

  2.  "Write your resume in Word and then PDF it.  Do NOT cut and paste it into an email.  If you can't figure it out then pay someone to do it."

    Actually, my Friend, if they can't prepare it in Word and do a "save as" or "convert" – especially in this day and age – don't think they would be much of an Office Manager to start with 🙂

    And doesn't sound like it was "written in the 50's" to me.  You did a great job of listing out the major issues with resumes.  Which, also in this day of age of software that walks you through it, templates, guides, etc etc etc,, is something one would think there would be a void of these errors.  I do give applause to the young lady with her creative writing skills with "entertainment and libations"…she would have been in the stack of possibles who have imagination and ways to express wording in a unique way. 🙂

  3. andy

    February 8, 2016 at 7:35 am

    I could probably write a column on each section.  It amazes me how people dress for an interview.  Jeans.  T-shirts.  Skirts that belong in a club…..

Comments are closed.