I've held a handful of positions relating to recruiting applicants, talent acquisition, or interacting with HR personnel and senior HR executives. I thought I'd share some insights from my various experiences about working from the inside.
1) We love applicants who only follow up once via email.
Sadly, the most difficult aspect of being in recruiting is how little we are allowed to say because we don't have specific time lines or information. The hiring process can be very lengthy, iffy, and constantly changes. There are weeks where we are waiting to see how the work flow will end up that affects the number of people we hire. Most often, when we don't get back to people it's because we don't have any new information to give you to elevate you to the next process or you are not our highest candidate. I know it's frustrating to try to figure out which category you are in. And the truth is, you will most likely never know. The only definite rule is the more you bug HR with incessant follow up, the more we think you're annoying, don't respect the hiring process, and how you don't realize that sometimes hiring people can take a really long time. Do know that good HR recruiters will tell you when you are no longer in the running. If HR really likes you, they will place you in their talent pipeline and strongly encourage you to keep in touch with them should something else open up. Send us your newest resume, reel, or check in once every couple of months to be on our radar. One thing I know for sure from being in recruiting and being a job hunter - if we really want you we'll go to extreme lengths to find your newest contact information or we will try to recruit you away from your current job.
2) The little details really do matter.
If you're late, we raise our eyebrow. If your resume and cover letter are riddled we typos we question your attention to detail. If you're uncomfortable making small talk, we wonder if you can interact with clients well or will be fun to work with every day. However, HR can also be very humane and forgiving. We've hired people who were 20 minutes late to an interview that was only 30 min. And all we gave them were 10 min so they had to make the best of it. We know LA traffic is horrendous and sometimes it really can't be avoided. We've hired people even though they answered all the questions correctly and were skilled, but didn't seem energized or excited. We chalked it up to a bad day and an isolated incident. Do your very best and present yourself well, but be hopeful that a slip up isn't an automatic end-of-the-world scenario.
3) When we contact you, get back to us as soon as you can.
When we schedule interviews, numerous people are involved. Sometimes we ask you to meet with as many as 6 people at once, whether in a group or individually. We might offer to fly you in so we have to get approval from our executives and work with our travel agent. Or the sheer number of people we need to interview means we need to reach out to 7 people for one job. Chances are, we reach out to our top candidates first and treat them as a priority. So the sooner you call us back, the better choices you will have in interview times and the further along we can move you in the interview process at a faster rate. It works best if you respond to us in the manner we asked. If we asked you to email us, please email us. It helps because we now have a paper trail so it's easier to keep tabs on the 7 candidates we are interviewing for this one job. Often we are filling multiple jobs. If we call you and ask you to call us back, do that. It often means it's time sensitive so we need to touch base, explain details, and properly screen you that makes emailing a less productive form of communication. Good signs are if HR calls your house, cell, and emails you. We are trying to reach you quickly! We don't mean to be annoying! Responding to us as soon as your schedule allows lets us know you are responsive and good with follow through.
4) Show up early, not on time.
We love applicants who show up 15 minutes early. If you're not there by then, we now start worrying if you will be late or not show up at all. So then we have to look for your cell number and wonder if we should call you to find out if you're lost and your ETA. We have think about pushing the meetings after you and how much our schedule will be thrown off. When you show up 15 minutes early, you also give us the mental reminder to prepare for your interview to make the best of it. If you show up too early, the hostess in us worries you'll be bored or we wonder if you didn't have anywhere else important to be prior to seeing us. Showing up early will also give you time to use the restroom, find parking, do a last minute prep or take in our corporate culture by observing people coming in and out of our lobby or reading whatever magazines and books we have available.
5) Sometimes you are very qualified, but you're not the right fit.
This means various different things - you have too much experience, will your personality gel with our team, or do your short term and long term goals fit with our company's needs. This is a very difficult thing to learn or overcome because most often HR doesn't have the time to explain this to you or believe it is something you should be asked to "fix." If HR doesn't choose you, know it's for the best as you want a company that will look out for your needs as well as theirs.
Keep in mind the upside of a job hunt is searching for the best relationships with a company. It starts with HR who is your mediator between the company and your boss/team. It includes the relationships you have with your peers, co-workers, and your supervisors. What you should be looking for are the mutually-beneficial positions so everyone wins!