Part of the reason I have been so busy the past few weeks is that one of my managers recently left the company and I have been actively working on finding a replacement. Since everyone looks for a job at some point in their career, I thought I’d share my thoughts and tips on surviving the first stage: the resume triage.
In most companies, going through the applications and selecting a short list of candidates for the initial phone interview is usually done by HR. Since none of the roles in my department are “standard”, I personally triaged all the resumes as the hiring manager. Even from a manager’s point of view it was enlightening. In no particular order, here is what I learned:
- Apply for a job as soon as you see it. Don’t wait. We paid to post the job on LinkedIn for a month. Still, I need to fill the position quickly because I’m doing yet one more person’s job while it’s empty. So, I started to create the short list as soon as the applications started arriving. After two weeks, I had 7 on the short list out of 33 applicants. The 7th snuck in under the wire. I already had my target of 6 people when I received his resume. Since we hadn’t started calling anyone and one person really was a courtesy call, I added him to the list.
- Cover letter does help, but remember to attach the CV. One applicant wrote a really great cover letter, but forgot to attach the CV. Too bad. I was interested in seeing it after reading such a great cover letter. I wish other applicants had included a cover letter, even though we did not ask for it. Based on what was written in the resumes, some applicants had creative interpretations on the job description. Their qualifications only matched a few of the criteria, but yet they must have thought they would be a good fit for the job. A cover letter explaining why they thought they were a good fit for the job or why they were interested would have helped.
- Please take the time to understand the job description. If a job description clearly has some thought and detail put in it, please take the time to understand it and make sure you fit the critical criteria. Applying for the job because you match one key word or phrase does not make you qualified for the job. It’s not even great at getting your foot in the door because you are not making the right first impression.
- Relocation is a long shot. Immigration is an even a longer shot. In the current job market, there are a lot of qualified local applicants. I would only consider relocation if I exhausted all the local possibilities. Immigration is even worse, since I have to wait months for a visa to come through. On that note, if you move to a city to look for a job, make sure you get a local phone number. If you still have a long distance or international phone number, it becomes questionable whether you are actually in the area. Oh, yeah, and I know Mumbai is not in Indiana.
- For very experienced candidates, sometimes an application can lead to something different. I redirected two resumes for consideration for positions we don’t even have open yet. If you have a lot of experience and an interesting combination of skills, apply for that slam dunk job. We may view it as an opportunistic hire and it just may lead somewhere even more interesting. Once I even got a job that way.
- Referrals do help. All reasonably qualified candidates referred from someone inside the company at least got a phone call. The only ones who did not get a phone interview were missing critical experience and/or did not understand the job description.
- Sometimes it really is not you, it’s us. I read some resumes with a combination of joy and heartbreak. These were the candidates with outstanding qualifications and experience. I would love to talk with these applicants, just to exchange professional knowledge. I would very likely interview and hire them in a different context. However, the video game industry is not always a professional environment. Some people take over a year to adjust to the culture shock. Right now, I don’t have the bandwidth to help someone through that. So, I had to pass on many wonderful candidates who worked for long periods in the same environment or had a long work history of working in more structured circumstances.
Once I actually hire someone and the file is closed, I’ll write about the phone and in-person interview process. If any of my readers have other experiences from or questions about the first part of the hiring process, please share them in the comments.
Update:To read more tips on succeeding in the hiring process, please read my other posts on the subject:
- Hiring From A Manager’s Perspective – Part 2: Phone Interview Tips
- Hiring From A Manager’s Perspective – Part 3: Nailing The Interview
- Hiring From A Manager’s Perspective – More Tips To Get An Interview