Reference Checks: One of the Most Important Pieces to the Pre-hire Puzzle

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We have all heard the phrase, “past performance predicts future performance” and I feel the easiest way to gauge future performance is from relying heavily on reference feedback. Whether you are a recruiter, HR professional, hiring manager or simply conducting interviews for your organization, checking references on potential employees is a must. Below are some tips, pulled greatly from past experience, on how to get the most out of checking references:

 

  • If a candidate cannot provide a readily available list of references, this may be a red flag. Most understandably, candidates that are currently working are not going to list their current employer and shouldn’t be expected to. However, if someone is actively job seeking and interviewing, they should have a prepared list of contacts to provide you to ensure someone can vouch for their work ethic throughout the pre-hire process.
  • A thorough reference list will include a great amount of diversity in the contacts listed. For example, being able to provide more than one contact from past jobs, contacts from all past jobs, and different levels of employees they worked with in those jobs, including both former co-workers and supervisors, is hugely helpful. It is also important that the candidate has made these contacts aware they are listed as a reference on their behalf. Nothing is worse than catching someone completely unaware of the reason for your call!
  • Keep it professional–nothing personal and stick with facts.
  • Remember to start by verifying the information provided by the candidate and then move into questions related to their specific performance in the role and with the company (some examples below). Additionally, when interviewing a candidate for a specific role, be sure to dig a little deeper into how their past performance will relate to what they may eventually do within your organization.

o   Are the company names, dates of employment, and titles correct?

o   How was their overall performance in the specific role? (Does title listed and job duties provided mirror feedback coming from the reference?)

o   How did they treat both fellow employees and external customers?

o   Were they prompt and reliable with work product and in regards to meeting deadlines?

o   Did they adhere to office culture and standards: attendance, dress code, etc.?

o   Are there any concerns? (Concerns are not always negative and may be helpful in determining how to train and ensure immediate success in the new role.)

o   Are they eligible for rehire? (Or sometimes can be phrased as, “would you hire or work with them again?” depending on the relationship of the candidate to the contact).

  • If you do uncover negative feedback in a reference, it may not be a “deal breaker,” but not worth ignoring. In this case, ask the candidate for more reference contacts as it is worth researching further to see if the feedback has validity and is consistently received.

 

Candidates that have done the necessary due diligence in providing prompt, thorough, and detailed reference information will undoubtedly be heavily considered for any job!

Written by: Rebecca Faulk

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How to Market Yourself for a Job When You are Overqualified

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Here’s the scenario: You see an interesting job posting online. You think to yourself, “I have this experience, and I could be great in this role.” You’re considering applying for the position, but then you pause and reflect, “Wait, what will they think? I did this two steps back in my career. I’m overqualified!”

Believe it or not, this is a common dilemma for many job seekers. Talented individuals go through many stages in their careers, and at times, they find value in taking one or multiple steps back. People consider this scenario for a variety of reasons. This post is not designed to answer the question why, but instead to provide direction on the question: how does someone who’s overqualified garner strong consideration from hiring managers?

 

First, it’s important to understand why a company would shy away from overqualified candidates. There are many potential reasons, but I’ve listed a few commons thoughts below.

  • The person is too far removed from doing the hands on work required for the role.
  • This is a temporary step back for the person applying and as soon as an opportunity at their level emerges, they will leave.
  • There’s no way this person would be willing to take direction to do a job they used to supervise. They’ll feel the role is beneath them.
  • They won’t be willing to learn how to do the job “our way” because they’ll insist that their process is superior.

These are just examples of thoughts going through a hiring manager’s head. None of these assumptions may apply to you, but they exist nonetheless. Your goal should be to justify your motivation and interest in the role and, to the best of your ability, persuade them that you are the best person for the job.

 

A few things that may help you in your mission:

  • Instead of a traditional resume format, consider one that bullets your skills. You’ll want to list your places of previous employment as well as titles, of course, but lead with your skills. Focus primarily on the skills that the job posting requires and how you succeeded in those areas.
  • In your bullet points, be sure to highlight your unique accomplishments and provide some quantifiable details related to those accomplishments. Example: As an accounts receivable clerk with ABC Company, I successfully reduced our 90 day accounts by 80% within a 6-month period bringing over 75 customers into current status.
  • Use your objective to communicate a viable message to the company as to why you are looking to make this change in your career and why it would benefit them to consider you. Be brief but honest. Do your best to dispel their concerns about your motivation.
  • Utilize your network. There is nothing more powerful than a referral. Think about how many times you’ve asked friends, family, and co-workers to recommend a store, service, product, etc. People like helping other people. If you know someone associated with the company you’re applying to, ask them to put in a good word for you. You can deliver a message in a resume all day long, but having a neutral party speak on your behalf can speak volumes.

In summary, being overqualified does not mean you are not the perfect fit for the role. What it may mean is that you need to take additional steps to help that hiring manager understand why they would be doing themselves a disservice to not call you.

Written by: John Riddle

John joined the Godshall team, having previously spent 9 years in sales and management as well as 4 years in recruiting. After earning his Bachelor of Business Administration from James Madison University, John spent the last 13 years working and living in Washington, D.C. He most recently managed a recruiting team in the D.C. office for SPARKS primarily supporting HR and administrative roles. John is a member of the professional team at Godshall and recruits for administrative, accounting, legal, Banking, and HR.  A recent transplant to Greenville, John moved here with his wife and two sons. His wife, Laura, is a native of Greenville and Wofford College graduate.

 

How to Land a Great Position in The Technical and Engineering Field

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As you may already know, this is an engineering and technology driven society, more so than any time before. With that said, it is still a highly competitive market for engineers and technical professionals. As a job seeker in this economy, how do you differentiate yourself from other possible candidates when searching for a job?

  1. You must put in the effort and time to research and know the hottest markets and trends (in your geographical area(s) of preference) with regards to your area of expertise. Know which companies are hiring candidates with your similar education, technical skill set and credentials.
  2. Make sure to add the keywords to your resume and cover letter that will accentuate, detail and add the appropriate experience that you have relative the targeted ‘hot markets’. Needless to say, do not embellish these details and make sure to document what, when and where you had this experience/training. Also, be certain to detail your specific professional accomplishments.
  3. Maximize your networking efforts, utilizing personal and professional contacts, professional societies/groups and social media such as LinkedIn. Never stop seeking out new contacts and connections. Often, you are one click away from discovering the perfect career option or meeting the right person to introduce you to your ideal career position and employer.
  4. Once you have zeroed in on your targeted potential employers, make certain you have researched everything that you can about the company including their products, culture, history and trends. This will help you target your cover letter, introduction and resume. It will also help prepare and increase your comfort level for the next important step, the interview process.

Written by: Richard Heard Richard_Heard

Richard Heard has been a technical recruiter with Godshall since 1991. He specializes in manufacturing management, engineering and technical placements. Richard is ASA certified as a Technical Services Professional and a Certified Staffing Professional. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Management and Marketing from the University of South Carolina. In his free time, Richard loves spending his time with his wonderful children, new granddaughter and family. He is an avid fisherman with an emphasis on freshwater trout and redfish.

Tips To Help Your Resume Stand Out

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A good resume is critical in obtaining a new position. In today’s age of technology where so many resumes infiltrate the inbox of a hiring manager, a resume must be strong to be noticed in the competitive candidate pool. Hiring managers have limited time to focus on each resume, so use your resume as a selling tool to display your talents! Here are some tips on writing an effective resume:

  • Most hiring managers prefer resumes to be written in reverse chronological order with your most recent job first.  Beginning and ending dates should be included.  Duties of the job should be reflected underneath the job title and company. This will allow the hiring manager to see a time period for each task of the job.
  • Bullet point job duties and keep things succinct. If hiring managers have to muddle through a long narrative description of job responsibilities, they may lose interest.
  • Refrain from writing resumes in first person (for example, “I placed customer orders” or “I was promoted”).
  • Keep the verb tense the same throughout the resume. For instance, if one bullet point describes your action in the past tense, don’t change tenses in the next line. (For example, “placed customer orders” in line one does not need to be followed with “answering phones” in the next line.)
  • Make sure any awards or accomplishments are easily seen in the body of the resume.
  • Grammatical errors are the fastest way to damage the credibility of a resume. Proof your resume, run spell check and have several professionals review your resume before sending.
  • If there are valid reasons for numerous job changes, feel free to add reasons for job elimination on the resume. This is a way to convey to the hiring manager that you are not a “job hopper”.
  • It is perfectly acceptable to make your resume more than one page, especially if it takes that additional page to showcase your skills and talents.
  • Make sure the fonts and spacing are all consistent.
  • Include correct phone numbers and a professional email address on the resume to ensure easy communication.
  • Make education and/or degrees easily visible.
  • Ensure that all technical skills, including software proficiencies, are included.
  • Make sure your objective on the resume reflects the job description you are applying for. Often times, hiring managers will find an objective completely inconsistent with the job description posted.

 

Happy hunting!

Written by: Catherine Culler
Catherine Culler has been a recruiter with Godshall Professional Recruiting and Staffing since 2000. She specializes in recruiting and staffing for accounting, human resources, legal, administrative, financial, sales and customer service positions. Her prior background includes work in medical sales and sales training. She has three children, a son who is in seventh grade and twin daughters in sixth grade.