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4 Hiring Secrets From an HR Pro

In my ongoing series of interviews with career experts, I tracked down Bob Bowden, a New Jersey-based former HR director, with over 20 years of recruiting experience in the finance industry.

During his career, Bob hired more than 2,370 employees, after reading and analyzing more than 22,000 resumes.

I quizzed Bob for answers on four of the most frequently asked questions I’m hearing from job seekers these days …

Question: What’s the best way to follow up with hiring managers after an interview, to see if the job is still open?

Answer: A simple thank-you letter is a tremendous way to reaffirm your interest in a position. But they’re rarely sent, surprisingly.

I interviewed nearly 1,200 candidates over 12 years at a major Japanese bank, and I saw fewer than 10 thank-you letters. So you can imagine how they help a candidate stand out!

I have absolutely seen close hiring decisions positively affected by thank-you letters!

They’re much more appreciated than phone calls. I’ve been asked many times by hiring managers to return calls to candidates to get them off their backs — you won’t get hired by being a nuisance.

Question: What are your thoughts on functional resumes? Can they be an effective way to make a career switch?

Answer: To a recruiter or hiring manager, functional resumes raise a red flag. I immediately look to see why a person is using this format. I look for gaps in employment, too many short-term jobs or employment unrelated to the job for which the person is applying.

So, ironically, the deficiencies that candidate is trying to cover up are highlighted by a functional resume!

If you do have gaps in employment, they can be de-emphasized by leaving the months out of the dates. And some short-term jobs can be left off the resume entirely, if they won’t create gaps.

If changing careers, use a Profile or Highlights section in your resume to emphasize transferable skills, while still following a chronological format. A recruiter wants to see your career progression, even if you have been employed in different fields.

Question: How do companies really hire? Do they look internally first, then go outside to place want ads and hire recruiting firms?

Answer: From the company’s perspective, it’s always best to remove as many unknowns as possible. That’s why, if you can be referred by someone in the company you want to work for, you’ll have an advantage in getting an interview.

Most hiring managers network with their peers at other companies when looking for employees. A tremendous number of candidates are sourced this way. It’s always a plus when a candidate comes with good recommendations from friends in the industry.

That’s why you should never stop networking. It’s the very best way to find a job, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

Question: Any other tips on how people can find the right job faster?

Answer: It’s important to use all the tools at your disposal. You should network, respond to print ads, search the Internet and consult employment agencies.

When responding to ads, especially Internet ads, you must realize that recruiters get hundreds, if not thousands, of responses. So you better have a very appealing resume and cover letter to stand a chance.

One job ad I posted on an obscure Web site last year brought 150 responses in about 48 hours. But before I could read through them, our company chairman asked me to find one resume in that pile, from a woman who went to the same church as he did. She was hired — another testament to the power of networking!

One Comment

  1. Wonderful! It’s was very effective for me. I have used a long time to looking for the best job interview answers and now I think I have got something here.

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