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Is Your Cover Letter Ready for a Job Search in 2016?

April 27th, 2016

June 3

Your resume and cover letter are equally important but completely opposite kinds of documents. Your resume is basically an outline of your skills and experiences. It gives hiring managers an easy way to scan your credentials. Your cover letter is where you make the case for why you’re fit for the job and better than any other candidate. It frames your credentials in the most relevant and enticing way possible. That’s why it’s so important to craft and revise the document carefully. Watch out for these common mistakes:

  • Bad Writing. Your cover letter must be impeccable. Typos, grammar mistakes, and awkward phrasing all make you look unprofessional. If you don’t consider yourself a strong writer, have a friend or family member help you edit.
  • Too Long. The goal is to make the biggest impression in the least amount of time. You cover letter should not be longer than one page, and should ideally be only three paragraphs. Make sure every sentence communicates something important.
  • Too General. It’s never a good idea to rely on a stock cover letter. Start each one from scratch, and be sure that the language and details you include relate directly to the company and available job. Show them your the best fit for this
  • Being Humble. Your cover letter is not a place to qualify your credentials, downplay your accomplishments, or be brutally honest about your strengths and weaknessses. In the short window of time you have, make yourself look as good as possible, just make sure you don’t lie.
  • Being Arrogant. The opposite is just as big a problem. If you were a totally perfect, one-of-a-kind professional, you would either have a job or have recruiters beating down your door. Don’t make it sound like you deserve a job without being fully vetted.
  • Over Explaining. You may be tempted to describe why you quit or were laid off from your past job. In most cases, this information is irrelevant and will only hurt your case. Focus on the positives and focus on the future.
  • Bad Formatting. Something that looks great on a printed piece of paper may not look great in an email, inside a form, or posted on a social network. Make sure that you format your cover letter so that it makes an equal impact across platforms.
  • Stopping Short. Most cover letters end with a pledge to follow up with the employer. End yours the right way, and then actually follow up. This helps demonstrate your interest in the position and keeps your name fresh in the hiring manager’s mind.

A great cover letter is important, but remember that it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You also need to have a polished resume, and turn in a great interview performance. Find resources to help you through every step in the process by working with The Concorde Group, a top staffing agency in Westchester.

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Are the Job Candidate’s Answers to Behavioral Interviews Questions Real?

April 13th, 2016

Stock Traders Conducting Interview

As a job interviewer, your main priority is to determine whether the candidate in front of you is qualified for the job you have available. Unfortunately, that’s impossible to judge if you’re not getting accurate, honest information from the candidate. And separating truth from fiction can be extremely tricky.

A simple solution is to rely on a different kind of interview question, namely behavioral questions. Essentially, these questions ask candidates to relay anecdotes describing their credentials, character, and past performance. Since a good response requires so many specific details, many of which you can verify, it’s a lot harder for candidates to lie, exaggerate, or obscure information. Follow these tips for getting the most out of this line of questioning.

Be Open Ended

The narrower your questions are, the easier it will be for candidates to fabricate information. Make sure that your questions are very general and tie into the kinds of experiences and situations that all professionals face. Examples include “Tell me about a time when you took on a leadership role” or “Describe a situation when you had to overcome adversity.” With broad prompts like these, it becomes a lot easier to tell when information is being created off the cuff.

Explore the Nature of the Problem

You’re trying to determine if the candidate has faced the kinds of pressures and problems they’re likely to encounter in their new role at your company. When posing behavioral interview questions, ask candidates to describe these problems in depth. If they are able to provide specifics, it indicates that this was a real professional obstacle, and one they’ll feel confident tackling in the future.

Focus on Resolutions and Results

It’s far too easy for candidates to be vague and “wishy washy” when describing solutions to the problems mentioned above. Don’t let candidates get by with simply asserting that they were successful. Ask them to provide actual metrics and detailed examples. Later, you can follow up on these facts when you check the candidate’s references.

Pay Attention to the Long Term

The true efficacy of a solution is often not apparent until months or years have passed. After learning about the solutions put in place, find out how they affected the candidate, team, or company over the long-term. There is a lot of important information contained in the response, and a lot of potential red flags to look out for.

If you don’t feel like you’ve gotten the complete story, keep asking questions. And if you doubt some of the candidate’s claims, be sure to check references, run a background check, and hunt for inconsistencies on their application documents. A little careful sleuthing can help you avoid the consequences of making a bad hire. Learn about other ways to connect with the best talent on the market by contacting The Concorde Group, a leading staffing agency in Westchester.

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Filtering Good and Bad Candidates – Tips for Effective Candidate Screening

April 9th, 2016

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Wouldn’t it be convenient if you could develop an automatic filter for identifying the best candidates? Finding the right candidate to fill the job is often a matter of figuring out the positives and negatives about each of the candidates for the job. Outside of candidate assessments and other screening solutions, sometimes, you just need a few examples to help you know the qualities you want to see. This can help you weed out the candidate traits you don’t want to bring into your organization.

Let’s look at the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly when it comes to candidate screening.

The Good

You want to make sure you take the effort to find employees who are willing to take the initiative and go the extra mile to get the job in the first place. Then later, you want them to have the initiative to get the job done. A recent news story out of Indianapolis, IN that’s taken the Internet by storm, was one about a teenager who walked ten miles on icy roads and in the snow for a job interview and how he impressed a different business owner so much that he offered the teen a job. This is the perfect example of a good sign.

Another positive sign is that the candidate presents him or herself in a professional manner when it comes to speech, presentation, and language skills. Candidates who cannot read and write at appropriate levels, while they may be qualified, don’t present the business in a favorable light. It’s something you should consider carefully before overlooking bad grammar and/or spelling.

The Bad

There are a few traits and characteristics that do not bode well for candidates. The two that stick out first and foremost are candidates who show up later for interviews and those who show up unprepared for the interview. As a business owner you expect the candidate to know a little bit about your business, the products you create, and/or the services you provide. He or she should also be on time and have a resume in hand as well as a list of questions ready to go too. These can be signs of poor work ethics in a candidate, and are best to avoid.

The Ugly

There are a few things that simply make a job candidate seem like a poor choice in every imaginable way. The first is to come into the interview with a list of demands or a long list of things he or she isn’t willing to do. The other things some candidates do that should give you pause is to come in talking bad about a former employer. Chances are good that you’ll be a former employer at some point in time, what is this person going to say about your business when and if that time comes?

When you look at the interview process in the proper light, it’s fairly simple to weed out the characteristics you do and do not want to bring into the heart and soul operations of your business. That, after all, is what effective candidate screening is all about – finding the right people to make part of your business.

Approaching the candidate hiring process can be difficult for many business owners. If you are looking for more resources and assistance with hiring top talent, contact the staffing experts at Concorde Personnel today

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