We asked a hiring manager to give us tips on how you can impress HR—and how you can avoid making horrible mistakes when hunting for a job.
To ensure their honesty, we’ve granted anonymity to this design manager at a major ad agency. Check out his/her job networking tips and thoughts on getting a hiring manager’s attention, as told to Aaron Weber.
I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR COVER LETTER
Your carefully maintained social media presence tells me more than a stilted cover letter possibly could. In fact, I don’t even remember the last time I’ve seen one come across my desk, and I have never written one myself in 12 years of professional life.
Typically, I get passed a résumé from a personal contact I have in common with the applicant, and that person will tee up the candidate, like, “Hey, I worked with Ashton at Wigitas, and he was the shizzle on the XYZ multi-screen social crowdsourced AR project.”
Yes, that means networking is absolutely essential.
WORK TO GET MY ATTENTION—ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVEN’T “WORKED” A LOT
If you don’t have a huge body of work behind you, make sure that what you do have is perfect.
Make your portfolio site flawless. If you don’t feel like you have enough samples, invent a product or app or website you wish existed and design that—or rework something that exists and explain why you think your version is better. Showing your thought process helps me understand you.
Also, network your butt off, but don’t be sleazy about it. Don’t just spam people you barely know on LinkedIn—that’s not networking. Go to events in your target industry, strike up conversations, and ask for advice. Seriously, people love to give advice.
Be polite: Send a thank you email after an interview, just keep it cool and brief.
YOU’RE IN THE DOOR… BE SMART ABOUT WHAT YOU SAY
Gaps in work history or current unemployment are no big deal if you at least address them at a high level.
But I don’t want to hear about your hobbies. I do not want to know from your résumé that you run a very popular blog recapping The Bachelor. Really, I don’t. Keep your social media locked down and tuned up.
Also, I don’t want to discuss your personal life during an interview. In fact, I legally can’t ask about certain things, and if you volunteer them, it puts me in the awkward position of making sure I don’t factor those things in somehow.