22 Secrets HR Won’t Tell You About Getting a Job
What You Should Know About Résumés
1. “Once you’re unemployed more than six months, you’re considered pretty much unemployable. We assume that other people have already passed you over, so we don’t want anything to do with you.” –Cynthia Shapiro, former human resources executive and author of Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know
2. “When it comes to getting a job, who you know really does matter. No matter how nice your résumé is or how great your experience may be, it’s all about onnections.” –HR director at a health-care facility
3. “If you’re trying to get a job at a specific company, often the best thing to do is to avoid HR entirely. Find someone at the company you know, or go straight to the hiring manager.” –Shauna Moerke, an HR administrator in Alabama who blogs at hrminion.com
4. “People assume someone’s reading their cover letter. I haven’t read one in 11 years.” –HR director at a financial services firm
5. “We will judge you based on your e-mail address. Especially if it’s something inappropriate like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.” –Rich DeMatteo, a recruiting consultant in Philadelphia
6. “If you’re in your 50s or 60s, don’t put the year you graduated on your résumé.” –HR professional at a midsize firm in North Carolina
7. “There’s a myth out there that a résumé has to be one page. So people send their résumé in a two-point font. Nobody is going to read that.” –HR director at a financial services firm
8. “I always read résumés from the bottom up. And I have no problem with a two-page résumé, but three pages is pushing it.” –Sharlyn Lauby, HR consultant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
9. “Most of us use applicant-tracking systems that scan résumés for key words. The secret to getting your résumé through the system is to pull key words directly from the job description and put them on. The more matches you have, the more likely your résumé will get picked and actually seen by a real person.” –Chris Ferdinandi, HR professional in the Boston area
10. “Résumés don’t need color to stand out. When I see a little color, I smirk. And when I see a ton of color, I cringe. And walking in and dropping off your resume is no longer seen as a good thing. It’s actually a little creepy.” –Rich DeMatteo
Secrets About the Interview
11. “It’s amazing when people come in for an interview and say, ‘Can you tell me about your business?’ Seriously, people. There’s an Internet. Look it up.” –HR professional in NYC.
12. “A lot of managers don’t want to hire people with young kids, and they use all sorts of tricks to find that out, illegally. One woman kept a picture of two really cute children on her desk even though she didn’t have children [hoping job candidates would ask about them]. Another guy used to walk people out to their car to see whether they had car seats.” (Cynthia Shapiro, former human resources executive and author of Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know).
13. “Is it harder to get the job if you’re fat? Absolutely. Like George Clooney’s character said in Up in the Air, ‘I stereotype. It’s faster.’” –Suzanne Lucas, a former HR executive and the Evil HR Lady on bnet.com
14. “I once had a hiring manager who refused to hire someone because the job required her to be on call one weekend a month and she had talked in the interview about how much she goes to church. Another candidate didn’t get hired because the manager was worried that the car he drove wasn’t nice enough.” –HR professional at a midsize firm in North Carolina
15. “Don’t just silence your phone for the interview. Turn it all the way off.” –Sharlyn Lauby, HR consultant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
16. “If you’ve got a weak handshake, I make a note of it.” –HR manager at a medical-equipment sales firm.
17. “If you’re a candidate and the hiring manager spends 45 minutes talking about himself, the company or his Harley, let him. He’s going to come out of the interview saying you’re a great candidate.” –Kris Dunn, chief human resources officer at Atlanta-based Kinetix, who blogs at hrcapitalist.com
Plus: 10 More Secrets About the Interview
Things to Know About Salary Negotiation
18. “There’s one website that drives all HR people crazy: salary.com. It supposedly lists average salaries for different industries, but if you look up any job, the salary it gives you always seems to be $10,000 to $20,000 higher than it actually is. That just makes people mad.” –HR director at a public relations agency
19. “On salary, some companies try to lock you in early. At the first interview, they’ll tell me to say, ‘The budget for this position is 40K to 45K. Is that acceptable to you?’ If the candidate accepts, they’ll know they’ve got him or her stuck in that little area.” –Ben Eubanks, HR professional in Alabama
20. “You think you’re all wonderful and deserve a higher salary, but here in HR, we know the truth. And the truth is, a lot of you aren’t very good at your jobs, and you’re definitely not as good as you think you are.” –HR professional at a midsize firm in North Carolina
21. “Be careful if a headhunter is negotiating for you. You may want extra time off and be willing to sacrifice salary, but he is negotiating hardest for what hits his commission.” –HR professional in NYC
22. “I once hired someone, and her mother didn’t think the salary we were offering was high enough, so she called me to negotiate. There are two problems with that: 1) I can’t negotiate with someone who’s not you. 2) It’s your mother. Seriously, I was like, ‘Did that woman’s mother just call me, or was that my imagination?’ I immediately withdrew the offer.” –HR professional in NYC.