3 Ways you are Turning Recruiters OFF

The recruitment process is a fragile one where one wrong move can cost you a gamechanging opportunity. Having relevant experience and a well-formatted resume is not enough to land a competitive job. I have personally witnessed strong candidates being sacked because they sent a rude email to HR or because they weren’t able to schedule an interview.

The job market is a battlefield and only the strong survive! In order to stand out you need to go above and beyond the average candidate.

To help you do that, I’ve listed 3 common pitfalls candidates often fall into when going through the recruitment process. Notably, these pitfalls don’t only apply when seeking a job, they apply when going through the process for any opportunity.

1. You’re messing up the details 

I had heard of the importance of paying attention to detail long before I started giving career advice but I didn’t really get it the way I get it now. I used to think that while it’s not ideal for someone to have a typo in their resume, it shouldn’t be a big deal. Right? 

Wrong. Oh so very wrong. Here’s how I came to really get it: 

Last year, I offered to mentor a few graduates who were having a hard time securing a job. I was excited at the prospect of working with someone to achieve a goal that was of such high importance to them. I was excited to give them hope and learn from them as I helped them. 

I keenly opened an email from one of my new mentees. I wanted to enjoy the email and be further invigorated. As I read the email, however, I couldn’t help but be put off by the bad grammar and typos.

That’s when it all made sense to me. 

When a recruiter sees your resume or receives an email from you, this is essentially them meeting you for the first time. Similarly to in-person interactions, virtual interactions also evoke first impressions. Now, if a recruiter is slapped in the face with bad grammar and typos, this will likely taint their first impression of you. It may make them perceive you as careless or worse, incompetent. It may even make them question whether you respect the opportunity. 

Not a great first impression. And as I learned from my experience, not so easy to look passed. 

While they may still move forward with your application, that tainted first impression may cause them to judge you more harshly when you make other mistakes throughout the process. It increases the likelihood of confirmation bias. If a recruiter has a suspicion that a candidate is careless then they later forget to include a requested document in an email, they will be more inclined to think “Hm! This person really is careless” as opposed to “Oh, probably a innocent mistake”. 

2. Your motives are questionable

Recruiters want to hire candidates who are particularly interested in and passionate about the specific job. A candidate who seems like they simply want any job and perhaps a big brand name is major turn off. That is to say that if your recruiter is unsure of whether your reasons for wanting the job are rooted in passion and an alignment of values, skills and vision then you’re in trouble. 

This turn off can be evident in your resume, cover letter and interviews. 

Resumes 

I’ve mentioned before that it is of utmost importance to customise your resume for each role you apply for and the reason is simple: relevance. Not all your experiences and skills are relevant to all jobs. If your resume gives the recruiter the impression that your passions, interests and skill don’t align with the job you are applying for, that could be a red flag. 

For example, when I was applying for a marketing & sales role, though I had limited direct experience, I reworked some of my job description bullet points to highlight my ability to communicate, craft stories and understand consumers needs. When I later was applying for an entrepreneurship program, I altered my resume such that it highlighted my self-starter nature and drive. Read more about how I create killer resumes here.

Cover Letters

Cover letters serve as a unique opportunity for candidates to share their stories. From what inspired you to apply to the company to what past experience you have and how it uniquely positions you for the role.

If your cover letter includes generic statements which could apply to a variety of companies and roles, its likely to leave the recruiter uninspired. Cover letters which lack displays of passion, proof of understanding of the job description, identification of transferable skills and show no understanding of the company are bound to turn recruiters off.

Interviews 

A common question that is asked when a company is interviewing an international candidate for a role is why they are interested in relocating to that country. For firms who originate from said country, a candidate’s answer is of even more importance. 

When I was interviewing for a role in Tokyo, I was asked why I was interested in Japan and my answer which detailed what intrigued me about the country and what I hoped to learn left the hiring manager smiling. I ended up getting an offer.

In contrast, one of my friends was rejected by an international company because they said his reasons for wanting to relocate to that specific country were questionable. 

Notably, different recruiters value different motives differently. However, in general, it’s important to have an authentic, purpose-driven reason for applying for an opportunity and then ensure that that comes across in your resume, cover letter and interviews. 

3. You’re not being proactive 

What some candidates fail to realise is that the interview begins from the first interaction between the recruiter and the candidate. Everything a candidate does thereafter can and usually is used to determine how they would perform on the job. Some of the key skills you can portray during the recruitment process are attention to detail (as explained in point 1), passion, personality, communication and lastly, proactivity. Proactivity is essentially the ability to take control of a situation rather than just respond to it. 

For example, you have an interview scheduled for 10am. It’s now 10:10am and you haven’t heard from the interviewer. A proactive approach would be to message the interviewer, let them know that you are ready to have the call or happy to reschedule if this is no longer an ideal time. 

What I usually do is let the interviewer know on the hour that I am ready for the call when they are. This shows my commitment to punctuality but also let’s them know that I am happy to wait until they are ready. 

Another simple example is if the recruiter said she would reach out on Monday and it is now Friday. Instead of silently wondering what is going on and making scenarios up in your head, simply send a polite email that gently follows up while recognising that the recruiter may be busy.

The key to effective proactivity is being polite and considerate of what the other party may be dealing with. 

These might seem like small things but the risk of not being proactive is coming across as uninterested or indifferent. Furthermore, given the fast-paced, busy nature of the workplace, proactivity is a highly valued skill and one that’s personally helped me stand out. 

There you have it- 3 simple pitfalls which could cause you to unknowingly turn a recruiter off. To maximise your chances of landing that dream job, make it a habit to avoid them.

Thanks for reading! 😀 Let me know if you have any further questions and use #moredetails if you’d like me to elaborate on something. 


I Hate My Job. Now what?

Have you ever been hit by the gut-wrenching realization that you hate your job?

I have. In my case, it was an internship. At the beginning it was exciting, I was learning new skills, meeting new people and being mildly challenged. But about half way in, I started noticing myself looking at the clock more than usual and counting down the minutes until it was an acceptable time to leave the office. On one particular day, I was dreading doing a task that was so central to my role and that’s when I said to myself, “I think I hate my job”.

This was a big moment for me.

I had met countless people who hated their jobs but I just never imagined that it would be me. While I conceived it possible to dislike certain aspects of my job or have bad days at work, I did not think I’d have that feeling right in my gut telling me that I’m in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing.

So if you too have had the realisation that you hate your job, what do you do next? What now?

I managed to work around the situation and ended up loving my overall experience at the company. I want to share how I did that with you 🙂

As usual, I’ll break my approach down into three steps.

Step 1: Acknowledge how you feel and realise you can do something about it

It can be quite disappointing to realise that after going through a tedious job searching process and smiling your way through interviews, you now dislike the very job you worked so hard to get. Also, no one really wants to be that person. The one that’s dissatisfied at work and always complaining about their job.

But the truth of the matter is, it happens. Sometimes your job (or your boss/colleagues or even both!) suck. A surefire way to prolong that dreaded situation is to deny that it exists. Hence step one: acknowledge how you feel.

While having a dissatisfying job is quite universal, the underlying feelings differ for each person. In my case, I was partially disappointed that the job interviews had positioned this job to be growth-driven and wildly challenging but that’s not what I was experiencing. In my professional journey thus far, I had enjoyed my work thoroughly and could easily not look at the time for hours so I despised the fact that I was struggling to be that person at this job.

The essence of this first step is looking beyond the surface feelings to really understand why you feel the way you feel and understand which aspects of your job are triggering these emotions.

Once you’ve understood your emotions, you can move beyond them. Welcome step 2.

Step 2: Figure out what you want

The beauty and the complexity of “I hate my job” situations is that the best way forward is dependent on you and what your ideals are. Some people want to work part-time and travel the world and others want to strive for mastery and climb to CEO level.

The most important question is: what do you want? What is your ideal lifestyle? What’s your dream job? What are your non-negotiables and what are your priorities?

For example, currently my professional priority is growth. It is both my priority and my non-negotiable. I will not accept a job offer which I do not believe will challenge me intellectually and strengthen or broaden my skill set. What I want is to be able to learn at an accelerated pace and be in an environment which demands excellence.

This clarity of desire made it easy for me to realise that the main driver of my dissatisfaction with my job at the time was that I found it unchallenging. In turn, a key feature of my ideal job is being challenged.

Once you’ve reflected on what you want, we can now move on to step 3.

Step 3: Draw up a plan to get from A to B

At this stage of the “I hate my job” reflection, you should have a clear understanding of the core aspects of your job which are driving the ‘hate’ as well as a clear understanding of what the key features of your ideal job are.

The next step is to figure out how you can get from where you currently are, point A, to where you would like to be, point B. This is also a hugely personal process but I’ll highlight a few alternatives to get you thinking.

A. Find a way to make your job work for you

While I’m sure members of the “I hate my job” community have several valid reasons for disliking their jobs, the positive aspects of a job should not be ignored. As with all decisions, it’s important to weigh both sides before reaching a conclusion.

This is the approach that I opted for as I realised that the company’s culture allowed for me to supplement my role such that I could make it more challenging. I took on extra tasks and even decided to learn a new skill with help from someone in an entirely different department. This re-ignited my excitement for my job and the variety and amount of work I had on my plate created the growth-inducing environment I craved!

Depending on what frustrates you about your job, it may be possible that with a few alterations here and there, you can find it tolerable enjoyable. The trick is to deal with the root of the frustration and be unapologetic (within reason) when going about finding a solution.

B.  Find a new job

I could write an entire article on this but luckily, my friend Rama, who recently secured a job at Google while working at Tesla, already did! You can read it here.

C. Take a leap

Perhaps, you don’t even want a job. Maybe this reflective process made you realise that you want to be an entrepreneur or a full-time blogger. Or perhaps, your ideal is so far from your current that you cannot conceive how you’ll get there from where you are.

I want to encourage you to consider taking a leap.

Take the necessary precautions, of course, but take a large step in the direction of your point B. Whether that’s quitting your job or enrolling in chef school… (I could insert a whole bunch of cliches here about how you never really know until you try and we regret the things we didn’t do etc but I think you get it and you’ll know if it applies to you.)

There you have it! How to overcome the “I hate my job” situation in 3 steps.

I’ve intentionally left each step relatively vague because this is an extremely personal process and the purpose of this article is to help you think about the way forward which would work best for you.

I know how frustrating it can be to feel stuck in a job that you ‘hate’ but you can always do something about it. Take the time to understand and acknowledge how you feel, then figure out what exactly you want and how best you can get there.

Lastly, always remember, it’s just a job and you’re not really stuck 🙂

How To Smash Any Interview

So you’ve submitted a killer resume, crafted a powerful cover letter, made it past the screening round and now you’ve been invited to an interview! At this point, you may be experiencing mixed emotions. You’re excited that you’ve gotten to this stage but you’re also a bit nervous about what lies ahead. I mean you’ve shared your work experience in your resume and expanded on why you’re interested in the role & company in your cover letter so can’t help but wonder what more do they want to know? More so, what more do you need to do?

The interview stage is typically the make-or-break part of any recruiting process. At this stage, the recruiter has likely shortlisted candidates they believe are suitable for the role and are now on a mission to identify the most suitable candidate. It’s no longer about being good enough to do the job, it’s about being the best for the role out of the candidate pool.

Daunting, I know. The good news, though, is that the fact that you’ve secured an interview means that the recruiting team sees potential in you and with the right preparation, you can secure the job!

I think of interviews in 3 stages, namely: before, during and after. I’ve broken down what I do in each stage to maximise my chances of success.

BEFORE

For me, this is usually the most time consuming stage because I go above and beyond to find all relevant information. As I said in my Google story, I studied for my Google interview more than I studied for my exam in that same month (needless to say, it paid off!).

There are 3 key areas that you need to prepare for (and one bonus area for those of you who want to be extra!). The good news is that you should have touched on all of them when preparing your cover letter and resume. Interview preparation, however, differs in that you need to understand each area such that you are able to discuss it comfortably from varying angles.

Since I elaborated on each of the below areas in my article on cover letters, I won’t repeat what I already said. Instead, I’ll focus on how these areas are nuanced when it comes to interviews.

1. Company

Most companies have characteristics which they consider unique to them, whether it be their culture, their problem-solving approach, the calibre of their people or their work schedule flexibility. Take the time to understand and practice articulating what attracts you to this company in particular.

2. Job Description

The interview is a great opportunity for the interviewer to test whether you really understand what the job entails. I won’t elaborate on this too much because it differs from role to role but ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of what the role requires. Also, be ready to answer technical, case or pitch questions (whichever is most relevant).

3. YOU

This is likely the part the interviewer will hone in on so it’s best to have thought it through thoroughly beforehand. A good way of doing this is by going through lists of ‘commonly asked interview questions’ and ensuring you have an answer for each one.

Naturally, we are diverse humans with a variety of experiences so it’s important to take the time to identify what the most relevant experiences are to share. Ask yourself which experiences best highlight your ability to succeed in this specific job.

I once had an interview where the interviewer just stared at my resume and asked me about each and every single point so be ready to do that too! What usually catches people off guard are the questions around strengths and weaknesses, “tell me about a time when…” and the plain old “tell me about yourself”. I usually have my answers to these questions pre-planned.

If there’s a particular interview question you are unsure how to answer, comment it below with the #moredetails hashtag!

*Bonus: The Interviewers

This may sound a bit strange but a trick I have found quite handy is to stalk research my interviewers beforehand. This includes reading up on their work history, checking out their LinkedIn and even going through their YouTube & Twitter pages! (I usually skip out of stalking their Instagram though). The idea is to get a good understanding of who will be interviewing you and to identify and possible commonalities.

Prior to one of my interviews, I had looked up the interviewer and found a video where they discussed a marketing framework they frequently use. I took note of the framework and during the interview, mentioned it when asked a marketing question. The interviewer was so impressed that I knew about it and that undoubtedly earned me some brownie points!

I also highly recommend you do a couple of mock interviews (even if just with your friends) beforehand and ask for honest feedback. Sometimes you sound one way in your head and a completely different way out loud!

DURING

Okay, so the moment is finally here! What do you say? How do you start?

A lot of interviewers like to begin with a conversational style. This means general greetings and small talk. Don’t let this fool you though, as soon as the interview says “tell me about yourself” (or a question along those lines), it’s officially game on!

If you’re someone who gets uncontrollable nerves, try to pay attention to your speaking pace and breathing. We often speak strangely fast and forget to breathe when we’re nervous. If you need some time to think about your answer, don’t be afraid to ask for it. What I often do is take three deep breaths right before the interview and even practice power poses!

Lastly, make sure you are dressed appropriately (I suggest risking being overdressed rather than risking being underdressed). Make sure you are punctual and friendly (remember to smile). If the interview is in person, make sure you smell alright and pay extra attention to the details of your appearance. If the interview is via video call, make sure the lighting isn’t too shabby and the background noise is minimal.

AFTER

I cannot emphasise how important it is to be polite to all the people you engage with from the company throughout the recruiting process. While your formal interviews may only be an hour or so, all your interactions with the company serve as opportunities for them to assess your character.

At one company I worked with, a candidate was the preferred person until he sent a rude email to someone from HR. He was then disqualified completely! Moral of the story is to be polite and stay humble (even if the company has not responded for over a week or you lowkey believe you’re overqualified for the job and ‘deserve’ it).

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that interviewers are people too and the more you’re able to connect with them on a human level, the higher your chances of getting the job. At the heart of connection is authenticity and commonalities. The latter can include what attracts you to the company, how you deal with challenging situations or your career aspirations.

So as you prepare and study the company and interviewers and whatever else, remember to be yourself and simply focus on highlighting the aspects of you and your experiences that make you an ideal candidate for the position.

As usual, let me know if you have any further questions and use #moredetails if you’d like me to elaborate on something. 

Thanks for reading! 🙂