Over the weekend, I received a desperate email from a friend who was about to go into a 2nd interview with a firm, and she asked me this question:
“I have been asked to explain my short tenures over a series of jobs for the past three years. Help! What should I tell them?”
Oh my, I get this one A LOT. Here’s my reply:
As a recruiter, I would ask you the same question. Short tenures are often red flags. It is quite expensive to hire and train someone if they’re only planning on a short stay.
Answer honestly; were you not learning enough? Were the jobs temp in nature? You need to reassure the company that you’re a candidate that is looking for a “home” and plan on staying for a long time. They need to know that you are not going to leave after 6 months, so be prepared to discuss this issue.
Here’s the Real Deal
Job hoppers (I’m lookin’ at you Millennials) in general, are not “ideal” candidates in the eyes of the company, especially the HR Department. Do realize that one of HR functions is to save the company money, and act as a gate keeper. One of their missions is to reduce turnover and increase retention. So, they want to make GOOD HIRES. That means hiring candidates that are going to flourish and be assets for the company.
The Burden of Labor
Candidates with a track record of jumping from job-to-job or with long gaps in between gigs look like a risk. And HR is risk averse. The cost of hiring someone is their salary, PLUS the “Burden of Labor” which sounds pretty bad, eh? The “burden” part is the cost of recruiting, hiring, training, taxes and fees associated with employees (Federal, State, City and County taxes), and benefits. You can add 9-19% of your salary and that’s the cost to the company of hiring you.
Plan Your Answer
If you were spending that kind of money, per employee, you would want to hire dependable workers too! So, why take the risk of hiring a candidate with a jumpy work history, when the well is so deep at the moment (and maybe forever at this point)? If you make it to a FIRST interview, I am shocked! So, to get to the 2nd interview, you have done something right. Your job in the second round is to ease their concerns about your flight risk. You need a cogent explanation of your past job tenures, and a well thought out answer of why you plan on staying should you be offered the position.
Here’s what you do: WRITE out what you’re going to say. Read it out loud. More than once. Does it sound reasonable to you? If not, make some adjustments. Here are three reasons recruiters/Hiring Managers might understand:
3 Reasonable Explanations of “Why?”
“The job (or jobs) was (or were) a temp position in the first place and I worked for an agency that placed me in several temp positions for the past 3 years.”
“I had the unfortunate timing at these firms as they quickly downsized once I had been there for a brief period; last hired, first fired. I have endeavored to conduct deeper research on companies I interview with since then; hence, this interview.”
“Once I was in these jobs for a short period, I quickly realized I was not a good fit for them. In my journey since I graduated, I have had to pay my student loans, so work of any nature had to fit the bill. I have searched for a “home” where I can contribute and become a valued team member. I truly want my next position, hopefully this one, to be a long-lasting engagement.”
Job Hopping may have happened out of necessity or through no fault of your own, but you will have to answer for it at some point. Unless you start your own business!!
Do you have a career question? Send it to me Kristi.Enigl@gmail.com.
ps. Millennials – I love you no matter what! You may not stay at job for very long, so emphasize what you bring: innovation, sincerity and great attitudes!
The Internet is Endless and Full of Errors
//”Career Advice” Advice
Okay, I admit: I’m missing Game of Thrones and October is still a ways off. I am HUGE fan of the HBO show based on the books of George R.R. Martin, and I need a marathon soon. The title of this post is a riff on “The night is long and full of terrors” spoken by Melisandre of Asshai (Carice van Houten), close adviser to Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane). And, boy, is she right. Bad things are on the way for so many characters, and if you watched it last season (spoiler alert), you’ll know that some major characters were, um, relieved of their lives. At least Melisande’s advice is accurate!
Beware of career advice on the Internet, as it’s not as reliable. I spend A LOT of time reviewing career blogs and hanging out on G+ Career Communities, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and many more sites, scouring columns, articles and websites for the latest info on all things career and job searching. Rest assured, there are some career advisors out there that are truly subject matter experts. But, there are way too many sites that are dispensing absolute crap advice. Here’s few sites to avoid:
Resume Advice from Non-Native English Speakers
If you’re seeking advice on crafting a new, professional English language resume, please avoid advice sites where it’s obvious that the writer/advice giver is not an English speaker. Since you want your resume to be flawless and grammatically correct, do not take advice from career experts who can’t conjugate or construct correct sentences. I speak a little German, but there is no way I would ever write a resume advice blog IN German, for a German speaking audience. (Some of you may be picking apart my English language blogging abilities right now!)
Advice from Non-Experts
Copy writers, technical writers, coders, and logistics experts are not typically career experts. Yet, I find blogs from them offering career advice all the time! Seek out advice from: Recruiters, HR Managers, and career experts with backgrounds in interviewing and hiring people.
Stay away from any career website that wants something from you before they give you any advice. Don’t subscribe, or input a credit card number or your Social Security Number. If it’s a site that offers you 1,000’s of job postings, but you have to endlessly click through a bunch of pages, it’s a Pay Per Click site, devoid of actual job postings. I find these all the time in LinkedIn’s Groups, unfortunately. Also avoid the “squeeze” page career advice site, which is a website with a really, really long intro/sales letter with little to no info whatsoever, usually ending with a “purchase this first and you’ll get the advice later” offer.
I remember following a “career marketing” expert on Twitter, and her offer of a free ebook took me to a site that was a tedious, never ending sales page that wanted you to “upgrade” to the pro package level for a couple of hundred dollars, without offering one tiny piece of free advice. Another site offered a bunch of freebies, and as soon as I signed up, I received an email with the subject line: FINAL NOTICE. Geeze, really? They were offering me a final chance to purchase their guide for, you guessed it, a couple of hundred dollars. Unsubscribed 2 seconds later.
Let me just write what I think: there’s an endless supply of bullshi$ sites out there that give truly awful career advice. I read a blog post on interviewing the other day that said “recruiters don’t like over ambitious persons.” What?
Like I said, the Internet is Endless and Full of Errors!” Proceed with caution. Hopefully, you’ll find the light. At least you’re not going to lose your head!
A few sites I recommend wholeheartedly are: Career Rocketeer, The Career Sherpa, and The Undercover Recruiter, and The Savvy Intern.
If you want helpful, practical and easy to implement career advice from someone that’s hired over 400 people in her career, you can drop me an email at Kristi.Enigl@gmail.com or send me your career question below:
I have prepared clients for the past two weeks for interviews! It feels good to see interviewing pick up, even a little. Interviewing is not job searching and it requires a different set of skills and mindset. You need to be sensational during the interview! I Tweet and post on my Facebook page a lot of tips for interviewing, but I don’t have them collected in one spot. Uh, well, now I have a blog post! Here are a my top 10 interview tips from the inside (the Hiring Manager’s thoughts):
1. Do your research
When I interview a candidate, if they don’t really know much about the company or firm I am representing, they are OUT. It irritates me so much that they would take up my time. So, go beyond the company website, do some Google searching, and really get to know the company. Surprise me!!
2. Tell me about yourself
When I ask you to tell me about yourself, what I am really asking is to briefly summarize your professional career thus far, and include one or two reasons why you would be a good fit here. DO NOT go into your life story and please, keep it short..like no more than 3 minutes. Otherwise, my thoughts drift…to like what’s for lunch!
3. What can you do for us?
This is purpose of the interview! Please have three strong “bullet points” prepared on what specifically you bring to the table. Leverage your assets, and show me how you are a better choice than the other 3 candidates I interviewed earlier today.
4. Dress to impress
Often overlooked is the fact that many hiring decisions are made within the first few minutes of the interview. Your appearance is important and dressing professionally gives an impression of success. I want to hire successful people, so I do judge you on your outfit. Even if you never wear a suit again in this role, be sure to respect the company enough to WOW them at the first interview.
5. Be honest
If I ask you about something on your résumé, like “How many people did you manage on this project?” give me a straight answer. If was one intern, so be it. I appreciate honesty and it is not necessarily a deal breaker if you haven’t managed 100’s. Management can always be learned; honesty cannot.
Please, do not show up without preparing. Get some role-playing in; have a friend, or hire a coach (shameless plug!) to ask you typical interview questions. I don’t have time for awkward pauses and rambling answers.
Know your career goals and how working for my company fits in, and how you can contribute to my company by working toward your goals. Just don’t tell me your goal is to become my competitor in five years!
A few reminders: Be on time which means not too early as well. And do not bring your cell phone into the interview. I can hear it even on buzz. I find it annoying that you couldn’t do without it for an hour or so. And, don’t wear too much cologne, or smell like cigarettes. Breath mints are good. Please.
9. Strengths and weaknesses
When I ask this, and you know I will, please have something other than “well, I am very detail oriented”…it’s not a weakness!! A weakness is “I am not very proficient at Excel”. And give me a real strength such as “My team leadership has been recognized with over five achievement awards in the past three years” by my peers.
I don’t bring up salary in the first interview, but that’s me. Other interviewers will. Salary is super important in recessionary times, and many companies want to sort it out first. You need to know how much you’re worth, and be prepared to discuss it during the first interview. If you would like to defer it, say something like “I would prefer to discuss salary upon expressed mutual interest, but here’s my required salary range without considering the overall package”.
I hope this helps! I have noticed that interviewing has really picked up since June, and that is a very good sign. Unemployment is still WAY too high, and the competition is fierce for the few positions available. Be sure you are ready for interviewing. You can always contact me if you need help.