On January 26th, we hosted a virtual AMA with top recruiter Jamie Koblinski. She answered questions from the community about writing a good resume, prepping for remote interviews, asking the right questions about a company's culture, and more. Check out a recap of some of her advice, or watch the recording of the full conversation.
How to stand out as a candidate
Be proactive with your skills.
Work on side projects, take online courses, get certified, and build up your skills. This will help you stand out in your field, or help you break into a new one. It also shows you're interested in the industry and excited about learning new skills.
If you're a quick learner, give an example of a time you learned something new. Show your thought process. If your company uses legacy programs, share specific ways you would change and improve things at your company.
Don't be afraid to reach out to recruiters and people at the company. Ask for an informational call. Be creative, specific, and propose a time to hop on a call.
Don't be afraid to reach out to the recruiter and ask for feedback.
Recruiters are your allies. They want to help you find a job. So don't be afraid to reach out, ask for feedback, or explore other roles at the company.
Resume tips & tricks
Don't worry about keywords.
99% of the time, your resume will be seen by a human. The ATS isn't automatically rejecting your application based on keywords. Especially at small companies.
Keep it short and simple.
For formatting, the simpler the better. But the content should be interesting and creative. Include quotes, or taglines. Don't be afraid to show your personality as a real human being.
If you're nervous or have kids around, it's okay. Just be honest and be yourself.
Get together with a friend or a mentor and practice in a virtual setting beforehand.
Jot down interesting anecdotes, stories, and examples that help show off who you are as a candidate. Prepare questions for the interviewer. Have a mix of questions about the job/company, but also about the interviewer. Don't be afraid to get to know the interviewer as a person. Chances are, they might be nervous to do a virtual interview too, so it's okay to ask fun questions or make a joke.
Discovering Company Culture
Ask hard questions
"How do you describe the culture in one word?"
"What are your views on social justice?"
"What do you do to support mental health? Do you encourage time off? Mental health days?"
"How do you keep remote employees engaged?"
"What's one thing you'd change about your job or your company?"
Don't be afraid to ask about challenges in the role or gaps they see in the current team. If everyone is saying that everything is great and amazing, they're not being honest because every company has its challenges. And don't forget to ask for concrete examples.
Experience can come from so many different things. Always apply for the job because job descriptions are like a wish list, and they can be flexible. Pick 3 of the requirements and focus on those because nobody has everything. Apply anyway!
Soft skills are important
Don't be afraid to highlight your soft skills. Especially since there will be so many jobs in the future that have not been created yet. Technology changes quickly, so the ability to learn, manage, communicate—those are the kinds of skills that prepare you for existing roles and ones that have yet to be created.
Be honest about gaps in your employment.
It's 100% okay to be honest about getting laid off or having to leave work to focus on caregiving duties. Recruiters are shifting to a more empathetic candidate experience, and especially after last year, recruiters understand that everyone goes through hard times. The best way to go about gaps in your employment is just to be honest about it.