Seven things employers really want
What do employers really want?
After interviewing 25 hiring managers I am still slightly confused.
We asked all the questions anyone applying for a job should ask a prospective employer, hoping we’d find some simple – even sexily digestible– answers.
Not so I’m afraid. Instead we discovered bosses to be tough, fair, kind, strict, empathetic, funny, unreasonable, quirky, judgemental and contradictory - in short, very human.
What we can definitively say, however, is that the diversity of employer’s opinions explodes some common job seeking myths. Hiring people always comes down to a very personal, very individual, decision.
Tip # 1: Employers can make up their minds about you within the first 30 seconds of meeting you
First impressions count. However, employers also look at many little things when making a final decision. A CEO of a large Australian credit union watches the way people treat waiters when he takes them out for coffee. The MD of a mid size firm of electricians says he checks out applicant’s fingernails. If the Managing Partner of one CBD law firm can’t remember a face an hour and a half after an interview, then that person misses out on the job.
Tip # 2: You can talk about your weaknesses in interview
Forget the answers you’ll read in interview guide 101 – “I work too hard, but that can be a good thing, right?” One Director at a global communications giant speaks for many employers, when she says she loathes candidates constantly in sell mode. “I’m not really getting to know them. So why would I want to employ them?” she says. “I would rather someone say, look I have no experience in that area, but I think my skills work really well here.”
All employers lament the lack of self awareness among their teams. The same CEO who watches the way his workers order coffee, is adamant this is a major problem. “Rarely do I sit down with someone and point out an area of improvement and they say, oh yes you are right I’ve been waiting for you to tell that to me” he says.
Tip # 3: It’s not what you know but who you know that will get you places
Relationships are always important. In a small place there’s nowhere to hide. In a huge company, political nous to navigate the networks can be critical. A GM at one of Australia’s telecommunication icons says “In a large organisation you are reliant on so many different areas of the business to pull things together. If you don’t have a good relationship with others, you can find your projects stalled at every turn.”
Tip # 4: A major screw up may not be career suicide
Bosses are not always complete b*st*rds. In fact, what they’ll forgive can be quite surprising.
The MD of an Australian food packaging success story disliked the premise of our question that you could kill your career with any one action. “If you aren’t making mistakes, then you are not doing anything” he says. You wouldn’t want to be sacking anyone every time they made a mistake, because I would be the first one to go.”
Tip # 5: Employers will check you out on Facebook
While not all employers will pull up your party pictures as part of their recruitment policy, some will look and some will judge. Others may take action, if your pictures or statements compromise your public facing position. So if it’s in the public domain, it’s public property. End of story.
Tip # 6: Please contact employers directly about a job
Many employers welcome a cold contact from a prospective employee, whether that be phone, email, letter or even dropping in. “Why would you knock back the opportunity to meet someone who could be the next best worker you’ve ever had” says one employer. That yes has a caveat, though. It seems any approach with a “Dear Sir/ Madam” will receive a return response with about the same amount of thought.
Tip # 7: Is it never safe to bag the boss on the bus
This may not be the best career move anywhere in fact, particularly if you want to move jobs.
Five employers started recruitment conversations on Sydney’s slow public transport system. One hired someone from a trivia night and another first found one of their most successful staff members at a local petrol station.
You can follow Karalyn on Twitter @ WDERW or at her website
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