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 Understanding Basic Hiring Manager Expectations

By Joe Stein

I was fascinated by a report I read about a recent panel discussion regarding the future of the Upstate New York workforce held in conjunction with the Accelerate Upstate conference. The news article focused on the perception differences that exist between Job Seekers and Employers. As someone approaching 20 years in Human Resources, I have first hand witnessed the common differences between the two parties and have (unfortunately) met many Job Seekers who didn’t understand how to bridge the gap. What is frustrating is that the gap can really be quite simple at times, but still completely escapes even the sharpest Job Seeker.
While thinking about this issue, I thought about how important it is for Job Seekers, in this current economy, to quickly determine what it is that the prospective employer is looking for and how they can deliver it. The gist of the story really is a reality - jobs do exist for those who meet the expectations. One look at the weekly WNYJOBS.com paper will clearly signal that to a Job Seeker.
So, let’s examine some of the core/basic expectations of a prospective employer and provide some tips and strategy for you to successfully address these items.
·        You Have the Skills Required for the Job – It wastes everyone’s time if you apply for positions you clearly are not qualified for. On the flip side, it is quite reasonable for a Hiring Manager to expect you to have the skills that you profess on your application or resume. If you start fumbling around with key terminology or lack the ability to provide examples of when you have done certain things (such as operate a particular piece of machinery), it will cause the Hiring Manager to doubt all that you are professing. One of the key concerns for many employers of “skilled” personnel is the shrinking pool of people with these skills, even with more and more people unemployed. Try to determine what are some of those key skills that employers are seeking and attempt to obtain them. Sometimes it may be out of your reach to do this, but you may just find out it is only learning one particular software program or how to operate one piece of machinery. The days of employers bringing in unskilled or semi-skilled employees in and spending months or even years to formally train them is virtually gone in this tough economy.
·        You Want the Job – This one really does seem quite basic, but is something that a Job Seeker sometimes misses. Unless you are someone who has a unique in-demand skill that the Hiring Manager can’t live without, you probably need to convince him or her that you are the person to hire. This is not the time to be late, be casual, or be unprepared. You need to be engaged and excited about the opportunity. If not, why should the Hiring Manager give you the chance? It is important, however, to note that the Interviewer is not seeking desperation out of you, so stay professional!
·        You Will Be Productive – It is pretty obvious to expect that the Hiring Manager will want you to be accurate and productive with excellent attendance. Does your work history project this? Will you be able to convince them that you will be this way in the potential job? I spoke to a woman just this week who was upset because she was not rehired by a past employee. She communicated to me that she was an excellent employee, except for the accuracy problem.
·        You Will Stay Awhile– There are not too many Hiring Managers who love turnover and the need to hire new people. While “awhile” will differ by the level of position and industry, it is safe to state that Hiring Managers want you to stay. It is a lot of work to recruit, hire, and train a new person. Now look at your resume...does it read like someone who is planning on staying for a sufficient period of time, or have you jumped around quite a bit in the last several years. If you have, then be prepared to try to convince the Hiring Manager that this job will be different than others. Even if you left for “good reasons”, such as more pay, a Hiring Manager may easily conclude you will do the same to them at the first opportunity.
·        You Will Work Well With Others – No Hiring Manager wishes to bring someone onto the team that will cause friction. If you are a referral of someone who is highly regarded, this can be quite beneficial. Display how you have worked well with others, whether at work or even at school on a project or sports team.
As you can see, for most positions, a Hiring Manager’s expectations are really quite simple. A key is understanding what the needs of the Hiring Manager are and how you can meet them. You probably recognized (from the items above) that most of the decisions you make, while in school or with previous employers, play an important role in any future Job Search. Don’t forget to make sure you clearly review the potential future consequences of every career related decision you make.
As always, best of luck in your job search!