Five things employers won’t tell you about the hiring process

Finding a job can be hard work. You have to search for available opportunities that fit with your skills and interests, painstakingly prepare your resume and cover letter, and practice your answers to job interview questions. Once you’ve done all that, you still only land an interview for a small fraction of the jobs you apply for – and an offer from a fraction of the interviews you conduct. So, what’s really going on?

Here are five behind the scenes pieces of information that employers would probably prefer you didn’t know.

That resume that you spent hours writing and polishing usually receives very little attention.

More and more companies – especially the larger ones – are using software that filters through applications before a recruiter or hiring manager even sees them. If your resume doesn’t contain exactly the relevant keywords that are being screened for, you won’t make the cut. Many, if not most, resumes get rejected before anyone even takes the time to read them. See: How to optimize your resume for the ATS.

There’s more. Even once your resume does reach a real person, they spend mere seconds reading it before deciding whether or not to interview you.

As fast as they judge resumes, most employers also judge candidates within mere seconds of meeting them.

It’s true. Important decisions about hiring you are often formed in the first few crucial seconds of a job interview. Studies have shown that assumptions are quickly formed that can set the mood of the rest of your interview – and these first impressions can be difficult to change.

In the first four seconds of meeting someone we automatically decide four things about them: Do I like you? Do I trust you? Are you safe? Who do you remind me of?

Unfortunately, your chances of getting hired can be hurt if you happen to look similar to the bully who picked on the hiring manager in high school. One way to ace that first impression is to have a conversational, ice-breaking anecdote to kick off a friendly dialogue right from the start.

They will stalk you behind your back.

Employers don’t limit their background checks to those three carefully chosen references that you’ve coached to sing your praises. (And as we say last week, one-third of candidates are rejected because of what their references say about them.)

However, above and beyond your chosen references, employers will ask around to see if anyone in their network has worked with you before – or knows anyone at one of your previous employers. A person you had a conflict with several jobs ago could still be negatively impacting your success years later. Your references aren’t who you think they are.

Employers will also Google you, look you up on social media platforms, and they will be judging you by what the find. Fifty-four per cent of hiring professionals surveyed say that they have changed their minds about whether or not to hire a candidate based on what they have found online. (And if they can’t find any online presence for you at all, you can be judged poorly for that too.)

They prefer currently employed candidates.

It may not be fair, but that bias does exist. Some employers feel that currently employed candidates are more valuable than those who are unemployed. The thinking could be that perhaps unemployed candidates are out of work through some failing in their skills, work ethic, or personality.

While you are currently employed, someone out there is already willing to pay you for what you do. It’s an unspoken recommendation from one employer to another that you are worth the money. Here are some strategies for overcoming this bias.

They also have a bias towards local candidates.

Another unfair bias that employers won’t tell candidates is that they prefer candidates who live closer to the workplace. Hiring managers often worry that there could be reliability or attendance issues with employees who have longer commutes, or those workers may be flight risks if they can find opportunities closer to home. Shift work and scheduling changes can also be more complicated for these individuals.

The closer your address is in proximity to the workplace, the better it looks to employers.

Remember, you didn’t hear this from me.

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