By Jennifer Kolarik, Career Coordinator, CIP Brevard
On Monday, March 18th, four Brevard Center Students and I attended an employer panel presented by the Employment Network of Central Florida and hosted by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. It was a rare opportunity for attendants to ask local Human Resource (HR) experts “behind-the-scene” questions about the hiring process (applications, interviews, etc.).
Presenters included managers from Big Lots, Devereaux, Health First, Inc., and Lowes.
The group of presenters emphasized that they look for individuals who are energetic and positive and possess flexible schedules (willing to work weekends, evenings, and varying shifts). They especially value good part-time workers. Some said that as much as 60-80% of their personnel work part-time. Healthcare agencies such as Health First, Inc., and Devereaux also said that they are looking for individuals with caring hearts who want to make a difference.
To get noticed, they recommended that job seekers set themselves apart from others by dressing well when picking up applications or attending interviews (for example, for a man, wearing a button-down shirt and tie even if the work environment is more casual). They also recommended that job seekers tailor their resumes to the jobs desired and stop by in person to speak to an HR or hiring manager after they apply online.
They stressed always being honest on applications as they would rather be told about an issue upfront than find out during a background check. When explaining any job terminations, they said it is very important to “take any emotion out of it” and not speak badly about prior supervisors or experiences. If an individual takes responsibility and states how they have worked to correct an issue, they see the applicant in a much more positive light.
Panelists were impressed by a question asked by Alex W., a first year student at the Brevard Center. Alex inquired “what percentage of applicants are typically offered an interview?” They indicated that they often receive 30-40 applications and typically offer interviews to three individuals (but sometimes up to five or six individuals).
Moultrie W. asked about any pet peeves that the presenters had with regards to applicants. They seemed to enjoy the humor in this question. Top pet peeves included letting a cell phone ring during interviews (forgetting to turn off), dressing too casually (flip flops, shorts, jeans, and t-shirts), being late, chewing gum, and not having researched the company prior to the interview. All of these send the message that an applicant may not care.
The group also mentioned getting frustrated when job seekers call repeatedly to ask about progress on their own individual applications. They would much prefer that job seekers ask more general questions when calling the HR department such as “when do you expect to begin interviewing?” or “when do you plan to make a decision?” When asked about how many individuals follow-up with thank you notes, the group said rarely… however, they highly recommend. They said that taking extra steps such as writing a thank-you note, dressing nicely, and preparing for an interview often can make a world of difference in receiving a job offer.
Many thanks to all of the panelists for taking time to share some valuable tips!