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!
I receive many questions about the do’s and don’ts of working with a recruiter, so here’s a blog post with my top 3 tips. Let me first disclose that I was a recruiter, and I still recruit now and then. I worked for a large global staffing firm for 2 years, and before that, I worked for a design firm where I recruited and hired staff at every level. I have recruited candidates at every level, from interns to Principals. So, rest assured, my advice is based on first-hand experience, but keep in mind, every recruiter is different. These tips are general guidelines.
1. Be a Perfect Match
One way to quickly get the attention of a recruiter is that your resume is a “perfect match” for one of the positions they are recruiting. That means you must customize your resume specifically for the job at hand, and make sure that the information is focused and easy to read. That means a resume that is accomplishment based and quantified.
2. Get Introduced
The single best way to get a recruiter interested in you is to get introduced by a former or current candidate of theirs. Recruiters are open to referrals, and often follow-up with those candidates first. If you have a colleague or friend that was recruited, ask them for an intro. Be sure to follow-up. Also, follow recruiters on Twitter, FB, and Linked In – they check out their followers.
3. Recruiters Work for their Clients
Recruiters are busy and have limited time. If you need a new resume, or interviewing tips, they are not going to select you for presentation to their clients. They want to work with total pros, which means that your must be on top of your game and industry. If you’re a job hopper, or have had numerous career twists and turns, or you won’t pass a credit or background check, you might not attract the interest of a recruiter. A lay-off is okay, as long as you’ve kept on top of things while unemployed.
Recruiters make money when they place candidates. So, if you’re a good fit for their open positions, they will be happy to work with you. But you need your A game!
The questions keep coming, so I think I will have a Q and A once a week. This week I’ll tackle age discrimination and college graduation dates.
Q. Should I put college graduation dates on my résumé if I know that I’ll be discriminated against because of my age?
A. I get this question A LOT. I think it depends. It is easy for potential employers, recruiters, and hiring managers to find that type of information on you, so there is no use in lying. Leaving it off your résumé is different however. If you graduated in the 1960’s, I would leave it off. The fact is that age discrimination does exist, and there is really no way around it.
Instead of worrying about that, spend some time searching for companies and firms that hire employees over 40, and have a culture open to bringing in employees with experience. There is a very helpful blog called Internsover40, and also recruiters that specialize in older candidates. Run a Google search to find companies in your area.
Q. I have some major gaps in my résumé due to the recession. What should I put on my résumé?
A. Hiring Managers and recruiters are much more forgiving of employment gaps because of the recession. In a recent study, they report that it is no longer the red flag is used to be. So, don’t freak out if you have some gaps. Millions of people do!
If you have taken any college classes, or volunteered, be sure to list those. It shows that you are staying sharp and using your time wisely. The important thing is to show potential employers that you are not sitting around rusting.
Need resume help? Email me at Kristi.Enigl@gmail.com. My resume reviews are gratis for one more month!
After 20 years of reading resumes, I have concluded that most job seekers cannot compose a compelling resume. Whoa…that’s harsh, you say? Well, yes, but it’s true. I am recruiting now, and the resumes I am receiving are for the most part, not very good. In fact, some are so bad that I could not submit them “as is” to my clients. And I don’t have time to re-do every résumé presented to me. When I re-write a résumé for a client, I charge them a fee. And my clients get interviews, and jobs!
What I am saying is that in general, job hunters really have very little idea of how to put together a résumé that gets responses or interviews. I almost wish that there was a “universal resume template” that everyone used. That way, talented candidates that cannot write a résumé will have a chance for consideration. You may be an expert in sales, or auditing, or organizational development, but that doesn’t mean that you’re an expert resume writer.
There’s a ton of free career advice available online and I read as much of it as possible. A lot of it is good, some of it is marginal, and much if it is out-of-date. One of the results of the Great Depression is that there are suddenly a million “career experts” available to dispense advice and part you from your money. Just be sure to ask your résumé writer or career coach if they have ever HIRED anyone, or reviewed resumes.
It’s not hard to get a Certified Resume Writers credential, or career coaching certificate; it costs money, and there are classes, tests etc., but getting certified is not that difficult. But, here’s the difference, if your résumé writer or coach hasn’t been involved in hiring someone, it’s like having someone cut your hair who has only watched it be done, and not actually cut anyone’s hair.
So, here a are few tips to help you create a better resume:
1. Ask the Recruiter
If you are working with a recruiter, ask them what style of résumé their client prefers. Ask them early in the process, and customize your résumé based on their recommendations. DO NOT ask your friends or your Mom, or your professor, (unless they hire people!). Always go to an expert in your career field, such as an ex-boss or HR Manager, and get their opinion if you really need some feedback.
2. Skip the Design
Please. They suck big time. Don’t over design, use a photo, colored boxes, or a crazy font. Make your résumé powerful by not overcrowding it, or using a 9 sized font, two pages are fine if you have the experience. Make sure it looks good on an iPhone screen. If you’re submitting your résumé online through an Applicant Tracking System, use plain text with no formatting. Also, be sure you integrate keywords in a natural and relevant way.
3. Focus on your achievements
Responsibilities are a given, and in most cases, the résumé reviewer knows the positions’ responsibilities. Accomplishments are personal, and unique to you. Highlight what you have achieved, and what you bring to the table. Resume reviewers are looking for your “story” or career brand, and how it differentiates you from all the other candidates available.
Implementing these simple tactics will elevate your résumé, and help hiring managers and HR put you in the “call” stack. I could write endlessly on resumes, but my last word is to think like a hiring manager. Read your résumé as if you were looking for candidates. Does it make the cut?
Need a résumé review? I offer them gratis.