By: Evan Phail
I got the chance to talk to ten recruiters from very different parts of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Whether from different locations (Columbus, London, Monterey, NYC, Westlake Village), different divisions (Information & Media, McGraw-Hill Education, Standard & Poor’s) or recruiting different positions (entry level, interns, editors, managers, directors, specialists, Tech) recruiters share some similarities when dealing with job seekers. However they also have unique experiences and preferences to share. In this post, recruiters share some advice for job seekers on what to do and not do when applying and interviewing for a position.
Do not apply to too many positions in the same company. Some people think they will be accepted for a position when they apply to more. However, those people look unfocused. Better to apply to a few positions that really fit the person’s interests. Be strategic! If need be, network with people to know which few positions to apply for.
Don’t “Spray and Pray”
Take the time to actually look for qualified positions. Recruiters see too many times that applicants do not fit the qualifications. For example:
- Local people needed but not local people applied.
- Applicant who was a director/president/high position applied for low positions. Overqualified in this case.
- New college graduates apply for really high jobs. Such as applying for director or vice president position needing 10 years experience. (two recruiters gave this exact example)
It was not like this 5-6 years ago but now overqualified people may be desperate and want low positions. Meanwhile college graduates want to throw their name everywhere and see where it can land them. It is a challenge for recruiters with so many unqualified applicants. Going through them just to get to the qualified ones does not help the under-qualified job seekers at all and slows the other job seeker’s progress. Job seekers may be desperate and frustrated, especially feeling like they are the second place candidate all the time, but better to apply to positions the right way and not apply for every position.
As stated above, job seekers are applying for jobs that they are not qualified for. Sometimes it is as simple as them not reading the description of the job and only applying to it based on its title.
One recruiter said the best tip is to follow instructions, which mostly means apply online.Such acts that are considered not following instructions can be contacting managers directly. Some recruiters contradict this, stating that it is impressive for those job seekers who really make an effort by trying to reach out to recruiters or hiring managers. Although it may be impressive sometimes, there is also a risk that these applicants are bypassed. Make sure you know what you are doing. Thinking outside of the box can hurt when recruiters just want you to follow instructions!
Following instructions also entails completing all tasks given, such as attaching a resume and giving other necessary information.
Be honest on the pre-screening questions. Dishonest/ exaggerated answers do not help you and can be a common issue when unqualified people apply for huge jobs.
In the interview (whether phone or personal):
- It is very impressive when an applicant is really engaged and interested in what they are pursuing.
- It is just as impressive when people know where they want to go and recognize if they want a long term path with the companies rather than a short term.
- Communicate effectively about yourself and your resume and build your credibility from your experiences.
Pay Attention and Prepare Your Knowledge of the Organization
Job seekers will benefit when they have researched ahead of time about the organization, its subdivisions, especially the one in which they are applying for or will be involved with. It appears lazy when not knowing the organization, or mixing up acronyms, or mistaking The McGraw-Hill Companies as being involved with other people like Tim McGraw and Faith Hill! Have to have your game on, it’s too competitive otherwise.
Recruiters say that besides not having the qualifications, people especially show up to interviews not knowing the background of the job they are applying for. Sometimes a recruiter will call a candidate and they will not even recall what position they applied to or forget what even attracted them to apply to the job. Job seekers should keep careful track of the positions they apply to and keep a list by the phone so they are not caught off guard. It may be because job seekers are applying to so many positions but this proves again that you should apply to a few at a time.
Coming unprepared to these interviews will eventually bring about the ‘blank stare.’ For example when a recruiter asks a candidate ‘what is your perspective on the role you are applying for?’…No response… candidate does not have much of an opinion…cue blank stare!
One recruiter said that “applicants having no idea of the organization they are applying to, and seeing it as a job and nothing else” are frustrating. On the other hand, applicants who show interests and have researched the companies have a leg up on others.
Everything above can be considered in many ways to show professionalism, but it also takes one’s presentation to prove it.
- Dress accordingly. If you need, ask a recruiter “what is normal business attire on the job?” Based on the answer, dress a step above what is normal. It is better to be too formal than informal.
- Be punctual. There are instances of candidates being late or not showing up. It almost always ends badly. Do not expect recruiters to continue working with you in the same reasonable fashion if you are not on time.
If All this Advice Seems Obvious
Then great! At least you are being considered correctly. A lot of people are committing the errors above. It may seem elementary, but for those who do make these mistakes, it’s fairly common. It could be the reason why you are not seeing the results that you want.
Evan Phail is a Marketing/Branding Intern for Talent Acquisition at The McGraw-Hill Companies.