Starting from the Bottom

The hiring process often consists of a series of tedious and time-consuming steps that aim to filter out questionable candidates and narrow down potential new hires by skill set, performance, and personality.  Below is a beginners’ guide to navigating your way through the process of landing that illusive first job.

First and foremost in the hiring process is the submission phase. This is by far the dullest and longest man-with-briefcasephase, filled with repeatedly submitting your resume to all sorts of job postings. The quote from Wayne Gretzky “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” comes to mind. In order to give yourself the BEST chance at this, please don’t use your XBOX live email on your resume. No matter how many people respect you online for your wicked Call of Duty kill-death ratio,  “skullcrusher99@website.com” is NOT a professional email to put on your resume. Go to Gmail, take ten seconds, and make a “realname@gmail.com” email. This will make Human Resources think you’re a real adult.

Next, ensure to pepper your resume with the same keywords as the job posting mentioned are required…like seriously – absolutely assault your resume with whatever they have in their criteria! They ask for someone with familiarity with Microsoft Office? Slam your resume full of all sorts of Microsoft office terminology. Microsoft excel? You love it. Almost all vetting is done through searching your resume for a few keywords. If your resume is missing those keywords, it won’t even get a glance from the hirer. During your resume review, focus largely on your first few lines. The hirer will often pass judgment almost
immediately on a resume, so those first few lines need to be on point.

Usually, the second phase is a knowledge test. I can’t really help you there so we’re going to skip over it. I can offer the following words of encouragement, however; whatever you’ve learned during your years at school will prepare you for this test. If there’s any written portion, try to answer the questions in a unique, individual way. This will separate you from the other applicants. (Also applies to the real interview!)

suit-portrait-preparation-weddingThe third phase is the exciting one; the real person to person, face to face interview. As you’re walking towards the interview nervous, palms sweaty knees heavy… Remember the interviewer has selected you on purpose for this opportunity. If you’ve made it this far, you deserve to be there. Ensure you are equipped with copies of your resume, including a pen and paper. Focus on acting physically and verbally like a professional. Physically you should
be tailoring your appearance based on what you’re applying for. Wear similar clothes as an employee in that position would wear on a daily basis. If you’re applying to be a plumber, a tuxedo is not appropriate….actually, a tux is never appropriate, unless you’re applying for a job as a butler.

Reaching the Finish Line

When you walk into the room, before you sit down, shake hands with everyone in the room – look them in the eye and introduce yourself. This is what my grandfather taught me, and he was a smart man so let’s go with it. During the questioning, the interviewer will be looking for two things in your responses; a complete answer AND your reasoning behind it. Answer the posed question and elaborate if requested. Listen attentively to the question and make sure you answer it all! There is a very thin line between rambling and providing an answer. Do NOT ramble, the interviewers will lose focus and discredit what you have to say. During your answers, look back and forth between the interviewers, meeting their gaze. This ensures they stay focused.

The best way to sell yourself during the questioning is to use examples that you are genuinely passionate about. Try relating your answers with the job, while demonstrating applicable skills and how they are relevant. A good interviewee can take anything and manipulate it to be relevant. Lastly, remember; it’s OKAY to not be perfect – if you’re making yourself sound too perfect, it makes the interviewer think that you’re lying.

The last important piece of the third phase is to ask questions – even if it’s basic information about the company, ASK questions. This shows that you’re interested, as well as gives them the impression you’re genuinely excited to work. I always recommend researching one or two company related questions. These questions will demonstrate to the interviewer that you’re ready to drink the corporate Kool-Aid. The last question you should ask is “when you can expect to hear back from them?” – Always important as it helps to set your own expectations on their timeline.

Once the interview is over, shake hands again and thank them for having you – use your best smile and wish them a good day. Go home after the interview, and prepare to wait for a week or two. Usually, this wait is because the hirer has other interviews to perform and they need to take their time in making a decision. In larger companies, it’s common for the whole hiring process to take up to a month. Take this downtime to work on your Call of Duty skills because soon you’ll be too busy to play!

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Best of luck out there – CM

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Christian Manning

Christian is currently an Information Technology Team Lead at Alberta Health Services. He attended University of Alberta for Computer Science, which evolved into a career in technology. Outside of work he enjoys unplugging by frequenting the Rockies to ski, and travelling the world for music festivals.

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