with Rick Silva, Leanne Fuller, and Kelly Shumaker
RICK: 0:10. Hi, I’m retired United States Army Master Sergeant Rick Silva, now currently working in the human resources field. Today we’re going to talk about job search techniques. I’ve got Kelly and Leanne here with me today. Two HR professionals who know a lot about this subject, and they’re gonna really help you Crack the Code. I’m gonna let them introduce themselves, and then we’re gonna jump right into this. Kelly? Leanne?
LEANNE: 0:33. I’m Leanne Fuller and my current position is HR business partner with ABB motors and mechanical Inc. and I’m also president of the GSHRM, local GSHRM chapter for 2020 and 2021.
KELLY: 0:50. And I’m Kelly Shumaker, currently Vice President of Human Resources for Pharmaceutical Associates, Inc., and I’ve been in human resources for about 30 years.
RICK: 1:00. Great, thank you for being here with us. So, the topic right now is job search techniques. This session is going to be about digging into your job search strategy, because that’s what it is, it’s a strategy. So the first question that I have is about company… company research. So what kind of things do recruiters and hiring managers expect me to know as a job seeker, about the company? And where can I find this information?
KELLY 1:28. Well, so at the very minimum, I would think that the hiring manager would want to know, to see your research about what products we make, how they are made. Maybe our major competitors or potential customers. The board of directors. Most companies don’t publish their financials, but if you’re in the financial area, that would be something you’d want to dig into. And most of this can be found these days on Google, so I would certainly want to go there and then look for any archives, any news articles, press releases, anything like that.
LEANNE: Right then, you know another helpful thing would be obviously go to the company’s website… most companies are going to have a website at the same time, and to drill this point, you know, you want to know the product, a little bit about what it is they make for what it is they do, what service they provide. There’s nothing worse than going into an interview like I did once, and because the product was Dodge, I thought it was about cars and it was not about cars, it was about bearings and gearboxes so, you know, make sure that you know exactly what a product is and, you know, how many employees are there, what kind of environment it is and you can get it from not only from the website but just, you know, ask around and find out who you know that knows somebody that works there and that’s another great way to do some research.
KELLY: Well, certainly you can go on to LinkedIn. LinkedIn, and try to find employees who work there because you know you may have a connection either who works there or knows someone who does work there, and so that is a great resource.
RICK: So that’s a perfect segue into my next question. Is it okay to reach out to that hiring manager or recruiter or an HR representative in the company, that, that I’m applying for and I haven’t met yet?
KELLY: 3:21. I would think that yes, you can connect with someone on LinkedIn, whether it be the HR person, the hiring manager, or someone at the company, but always included a note. Don’t just try and connect without any kind of note. You want to make sure that you put a message with that and let them know that, hey you’re interested in the company, you’re interested in this position, and that you would like to connect and try to get some further information on the job or the company itself.
LEANNE: Right, and include your resume, obviously, with just a quick note about your selling points, what it is that you have that you think they’re looking for. A lot of companies now are going to make sure that you go apply online, and circumvent HR. I mean that’s just the way things work these days because of technology, but if you do have an “in” and you have a name of the hiring manager or the HR manager, it’s perfectly fine to shoot them an email or reach out to them, just don’t become a pest, because then you become an annoyance and that’s not what you want.
RICK: Perfect. So how do I find that information if I don’t have an email or a LinkedIn profile or a name even how do I find that information for that, in, in a company that I’m interested in applying for,
LEANNE: You know, if you’re, if you’re in a channel like Greenville, networking, talking to people that you know and who they know. One of the things that I’ve always recommended to people who are in the job search is to try to get what I call informational interviews. So, you know, ask Rick, who do you know that works in XYZ that might be able to share some information with me. So ask around and try to network your way into learning some names, and also ask permission to say, “Well Rick suggested I reach out to you,” and that kind of breaks the ice a little bit. You’re not just a stranger to them, especially if they know Rick and they trust Rick.
KELLY 5:10. And likewise you can search the company on LinkedIn and see who you know or some of your connections may know somebody who works there. So, I cannot. I cannot stress enough how important those connections are on LinkedIn, because you don’t know who you may connect with that has that “in”, and a lot of times, if you have that connection, that is the person who’s going to get your foot in the door. Now obviously you have to take it from there but they can get you that first interview or at least get you to that person that you need to talk to.
RICK: 5:44. Awesome. So LinkedIn is obviously great. I’m hearing a lot about LinkedIn, is it great all the time or is it industry specific – does it work better for some industries than others?
KELLY: 5:57. I think it probably works better for more professional level positions, but it’s not just for professional levels. So definitely if you’re a professional, you need to make sure that you have a LinkedIn profile, but it’s not the end all be all, and Leanne has already mentioned that networking, which is absolutely mandatory when you’re looking for a job, whether you’re in the military or not, it is who you know that’s going to help you to that next level.
LEANNE: 6:31. I agree, yep. And the other thing you know, I’ve learned something here, I learn something every day so, you know, if you’re looking for a job, let’s just say in a manufacturing environment, and maybe you’re going to try to go in as a production supervisor or something like that. I don’t know – would LinkedIn be a good way to network into that or do you think that’s more for pure office or pure white-color professions?
KELLY: It’s definitely for team leads and up, it is a definite must, and I have a lot of connections, who may be maintenance technicians, they may be bank tellers, they may be customer service representatives, so there is always somebody out there, and students coming right out of school, there’s all kinds of people out on LinkedIn and it is a must that you leverage that resource.
RICK: Great. And so, the last question I’m gonna ask regarding company research is, how do I find those, those Veteran-friendly companies? We always hear term Veteran friendly…how do I find those companies?
LEANNE: 7:39. That’s a great question.
KELLY: I know that some companies advertise that they are veteran friendly, and some of the bigger companies like a UPS or something like that. There are also designations that companies can get… I don’t know how many actually out there do get those designations and then advertise them, but you can certainly look for those. But it doesn’t mean that if a company doesn’t have it that they’re not Veteran friendly, maybe they just haven’t pursued that designation. But again, I think it comes down to networking and just seeing who is out there that might be friendly towards Veterans or whoever.
LEANNE: Right. And another thing that you do want to think about is if an organization or business has government contracts then they are bound to be an affirmative action employer, and if they’re an affirmative action employer that means that they have to focus on certain protected groups and that would be, Veterans, and disabled people, different groups of employees, or individuals, but if you can find out if they have government contracts and they’re an affirmative action employer, that’s a really good way to, to identify those organizations that are Veteran friendly.
RICK: So, thank you guys for that. We just talked a lot about company research. And, you know a lot of times we find the job that we want, we do the research and now we go ahead and take the step to apply to a job. We’ve heard a lot about applicant tracking systems or ATS, and we want to talk a little bit about that. So, from the Veterans perspective, can you tell them, so companies use these tech-based ATS to recruit and manage your applications. So can you just talk a little bit about that, what that means, what these systems are, what it means to me as a job seeker?
KELLY: 9:29. Yes. So, most companies do use some type of technology to track applicants, and it’s designed to where you had to, it does make you complete applications and for that I’m sorry, it’s just the way it is. But there are algorithms built in to these applicant tracking systems that are based on the job description, and the job posting. So what those algorithms do is pick out keywords from that job posting that they’re looking for on your resume. If that resume does not have those key words it’s automatically discarded. So, I know a lot of people apply. I know a lot of people get these things, “we received your application” general responses, a lot of applications go into a black hole… you may never hear anything…thus the reason to network and reach out to other people. But you do have to be careful with these applicant tracking systems to make sure that you complete everything correctly, that you attach your resume in a PDF format, or some format that is universal, because if you have all these fancy fonts, which is covered in another module, but you want to have it in a PDF so that, that resume can be opened by anybody. You do not need a lot of fancy stuff with it. I do not recommend putting the keywords from the job posting into white font, into the header or the footer, just to try to get your foot in the door because it leads to so many other issues, because you don’t have the experience or the skills that they’re looking for. So you want to make sure that you’re being honest with what your qualifications are. You know, we know as HR that about 50% plus of the resumes that we reviewed are not accurate, they’re not full truths, so you don’t want to hide something in white font just to get it past the applicant tracking system.
LEANNE: 11:44. Yeah. And just to add to that, because of those keywords you know that the algorithms search for. Do make sure however that the experience that you do have, those words that are on the job posting are reflected in your resume because I can tell you that on multiple occasions, we’ll be expecting a resume to come through so that we know who’s applying and their resume gets kicked out because they haven’t put that experience, that particular, you know, word on their resume and it doesn’t come through when we know they’re qualified for the job. So, yes, be honest and don’t just put all the keywords out there that are on the job posting but do make sure that qualifications do you have that are requested on the job postings are reflected on your resume.
RICK: 12:30. So Kelly you touched on attaching your resume to a job application even electronically. We talked about what that means, versus just applying through like a regular job board.
KELLY: If you are on a job board… Okay, this is a loaded question because there’s a lot to that. Number one, our regular job board, if you see a job that you’re interested in, and so on Indeed or something like that, then you want to, Glass Door or anything, you want to go to the company’s website to see if the job actually exists because there are a lot of jobs out there where recruiters are fishing for people. So, I would recommend that you go to the actual company career page and apply via that site. If you do apply via Indeed or Monster or any of these other places and they offer the quick “Apply Button” I would steer away from that because it doesn’t really give the recruiter everything that you need to know. Again, it could be with those quick replies that is going to just a recruiter who’s fishing, as opposed to a real job. So I would definitely apply using the long form… it does take time, sometimes it takes up to 45 minutes to actually fill out one of these online job applications, but it may be well worth it in the end, and then you want to attach your resume, and I’m not a huge fan of tailored resumes to every single job, but you want to make sure that the resume resonates with the job posting or the job description that you have, because it needs to be specific enough to get your foot in the door, which is actually what you’re after, you know, that that is going to be to get you in for an interview, so you need to make sure that what that resume, that job application says is actually reflective of the job is being posted.
RICK: So we’re gonna talk a little bit about pre-employment assessments. Can you explain to me how employers are using online assessments to hire people? And we’re going to talk both company mandated assessments, and assessments that employees can take the initiative and do on their own.
KELLY: Okay, for those assessments that you can initiate on your own, those can serve multiple purposes. One would be to get an idea of what your skill set, your interests are, maybe where you’re better suited, give you the terminology that you may need. Some assessments are nationwide, such as WorkKeys or WIN that you can pick up and take anywhere and most employers would understand what those mean. You can take others to determine where your skill set fits better. You don’t have to necessarily share those with the employer, you’re welcome to put those on your resume, especially if it’s a nationwide recognized program, but it’s more for your own information, than it is for the employer but you can take that information that will then help you in the interview process.
RICK: So, what about the assessments that the employer might give to a candidate looking for a job?
LEANNE: Right, so, there are a lot of different types of assessments that employers may administer to candidates for employment and, you know, one of the more common assessment would be just a basic skills assessment to gauge your ability for basic math skills, reading, and communication or searching for information. If you’re looking for a sales job there are sales assessments or if you’re going into management role there may be some work styles or communication styles types of assessments, but the advice that I would give you: If you encounter one of those when you’re in your job search activities, is to make sure that you’ve set aside plenty of time to complete the assessment, to relax, try to go with what comes to your mind first, you know, don’t try to fake it because those tests are very well designed by psychologists who know what they’re doing so, you know, just relax and answer honestly and go with what comes to mind first.
RICK: I’m actually really glad you said that. My question was actually going to be, is there a way to kind of beat the test?
LEANNE: Typically, not. You’d have to be pretty smart to beat the test and it’s not worth your time, you know, focus more on just being who you are and going after the job that you’re qualified for. Instead of trying to fake it and get a job and you’re not going to be successful in.
RICK: So, keeping the information organized is really a big, a big deal. Can you tell me or do you have any advice on how we should keep our job application information organized? And the reason I ask is because, you know, if you’re like a lot of people out there, you’re applying to a lot of jobs, and sometimes you forget where you apply to, so help me understand, how we should keep our information organized?
KELLY: 17:30. The easiest way is a simple Excel spreadsheet. And if you don’t know Excel you keep it in a binder or whatever. You want to know the date that you applied, the company to which you apply, the job title to which you apply, if you’ve gotten a response, because there’s nothing worse than calling a candidate, and they have no idea what job they applied for, for your company. And I’ve had that happen numerous times, so that you can at least look back and say, “I’m calling from Pharmaceutical Associates” they can peruse it real quick and see what they apply for, because it’s very important to be able to remember. I also would suggest that you print out the job posting, because a lot of times those are taken down, and then you can’t go back and refer to it so if you want to be able to talk intelligently about the job for which you applied, you want to know the company name, when you applied to the job title, and really the job description or the job posting for which you applied.
LEANNE: 18:35. Yeah that’s really great. I like the idea of printing up the job posting, it’s a really good tip. The other thing I would add to that is, and this may be covered in another module but I’m gonna go ahead and throw it in here. On that spreadsheet or whatever form, format that you use for organization there. I would also list the things that you have to have in the job. The commute has to be less than 30 minutes, I have to have this much money, you know, list of things that are very important to you because it seems to always happen that job offers come in all at once. And it’s very, it’s as stressful trying to decide which job to accept as it is to search for the job. And so when you start getting these offers if you’ve already identified the things that are really important to you in the job, whether it’s the culture or the money or the commute. You can then add that into your spreadsheet and do a quick comparison of the offers that you’re getting and decide the one that’s, you know, best suited for the things that are important to you, instead of just making an emotional gut decision when those offers come in. So that, that’s to me as important as, you know, trying to organize all the other information that you’re dealing with.
RICK: I’m going to add a little side note, when you’re looking for a job, answer your phone. We all have cell phones now and we all get in the habit of, I don’t know the number, I’ll let it go to voicemail. But if you’re looking for a job you’re gonna have to answer phone numbers that you don’t know who they are, you’re gonna have to check your email, you’re gonna have to make sure that your voicemail is not full, because that’s an important time in the job seekers’ career of finding a job, and if you miss that call, I can guarantee you that recruiter’s got another phone number that they’re going to call…so answer your phone and check your voicemail.
KELLY: So speaking of cell phones. Okay so another little pet peeve, make sure you have a professional of voicemail response. There’s nothing worse than, you know, picking up, or getting a voicemail and it is some crazy music or some crazy voicemail. Make sure it’s professional with your name, and then make sure like Rick said that your voicemail is not full. You do have to answer those calls. Likewise, on your email you want to make sure it’s a professional email address. The worst one I saw was hot mama at gmail.com Okay, that is just not appropriate. Emails are free, make sure that you have a professional email address.
RICK: Thank you for that. There’s a lot of great information. We talked about a lot of good things here today. I appreciate the time. It was, it was a lot of good stuff. Hopefully it’s one more, one more key that’ll help you Crack that Code when you’re in your job search, and I hope you take it, and congratulations on taking this course. I wish you luck in the rest of it. And thank you for being here.