Job candidates may need 'tough love' to succeed

Over the last few weeks, I’ve met or spoken over the phone with a couple dozen or so people in transition to do some resume/job search coaching. Often, I find that a good deal of what is discussed and recommended during such conversations is difficult to hear for the person being coached. After one such session with a former human resources executive, whose resume needed quite a bit of work, the individual looked at me and remarked, “Wow, that was really tough love, wasn’t it?”

Yes, and the frustrating part for today’s hiring managers and recruiters is that this type of discussion needs to occur with way too many candidates.

During this same time period, I met with an executive coach, a global recruiter for a large, multi-national company and spoke at length with a career coach/recruiter at a large corporate outplacement firm. Below are some of the main points they shared with me when asked about strengths of the resumes they read and candidates with whom they speak:

Mindset – Candidates with the “that job is mine”/"I can and will make a significant difference at your company when you hire me” approach, and come fully prepared to back up that confidence with examples of their exceptional successes and accomplishments.
Preparation – Proving that they really are interested in the position by demonstrating much research has been completed regarding the target company and respective industry and reflecting such in their cover letter, resume and interview discussions.
 Resume That “Wows” – Having to dig through what is normally hundreds of resumes per position posting, hiring managers and recruiters consider only those documents that tell a great story about exceptional accomplishments at previous employers when selecting a pool of candidates for interviews.
Powerful Interviews – All of these folks told me that they will develop a strong “sense” about a candidate during the first few minutes of speaking with them – whether that discussion is over the phone or in person. The candidates who are moved along in the process are those who do the best job of engaging the interviewer during the interview conversations and can create a sense of excitement about the possibility of having them become part of the team.
Global Thinkers – Candidates who demonstrate that they “get it”; that they have a great feel and understanding of the company’s challenges and the direction of the respective industry. This is the difference between someone with a holistic view of the work environment/organization/industry vs. a person with “tunnel vision.”
Culture Fit – Candidates who demonstrate that they can and have flourished in a work environment similar to that which exists at the prospective employer. Candidates that are perceived to have the ability to perpetuate and strengthen the company’s brand/image.

So where do you stack up? Would you be considered a strong candidate or one that should not be moved along in the selection process?

First, you need to listen with an open mind to those providing you, the candidate, with feedback/advice/coaching…the “tough love” regarding your job search strategy and tactics.

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Volume 3, Issue 22, Posted 4:09 PM, 11.16.2011