I mentioned last week that I’d resigned from my job for something new. I have around two weeks left of working in Parliament, and it feels like there’s so much to do until then. Firstly, I’ve got to write my dreaded handover notes. I’m currently twelve pages deep in trying to explain those mundane tasks that I do without even thinking about. Secondly, I’m trying to eat as much jerk pork as I can, while I still can. The jerk at work is so popular there’s even a Twitter account dedicated to it, and “jerk alerts” will ring out on the intranet page letting you know which of the cafeterias you can find it. And thirdly, and probably most importantly, I’m trying to find someone to replace me.
I’ll point out at this moment that I always slightly cringe reading “what I learned” as a post title. I’ve always thought them to be a little woolly. But this was my first time hiring for a real job, not just for me to get a new intern, and so I have learned a few things. And try as I might, there really was no better way to say it.
Hiring is not a task which comes naturally to me. The very act of letting someone know that they haven’t got the job they applied for doesn’t suit me. I just remember all of those horrible days when I was desperately searching for my first job after Uni, absolutely bawling with my Mum when another rejection came through.
The whole process is mean. One cheekily written sentence stops me from putting a CV in the yes pile. I can’t help but remember all the times I would have written something similar; before years of editing removed it.
And then I find myself more nervous when interviewing someone than they are at being interviewed. If I’ve ever interviewed for an intern before, my colleague would take the bad cop role and I took the good cop role. It worked out well because I hate seeing someone struggle with an answer and would often end up trying to coax them along. But this time I was flying solo on the hiring front.
Without further ado, here are 7 things I learned about hiring people.
Women don’t apply for jobs like men do.
I’d heard before that men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100%. This was true when it came to the applications I received. I imagine there are many complex reasons why this is the case. My novice explanation is that women don’t have enough faith in their abilities. We crap all over ourselves in the job world before we’ve begun. I’m pretty guilty of doing this myself. I’ve resolved that if I find myself looking for a job ever again, I should be open to giving a job application a try and won’t just immediately decide I’m not qualified. You lose nothing by giving it a go. As women, we need to remember that when it comes to applying for jobs, men aren’t playing the game in the same way as we are.
Don’t apply for something you’re not gonna get.
Even though I’ve just said to give things a go, you shouldn’t apply for something that you know you have no chance at getting. Be confident, try something even if you’re not 100% qualified, but at least try and be 10% qualified.
You have to check again and again for mistakes and typos.
I know that this isn’t groundbreaking, but I was gobsmacked by how many CVs and cover letters had mistakes. The worst one was a cover letter written to an entirely different MP. Obviously, you would use the same basic template and it’s a mistake that no one is incapable of making. But it meant there was no way for the applicant to recover. Get someone with a fresh pair of eyes to take a look at any application. Take a little bit more time to go through it. It’s worth it.
Ask questions at the end.
I know they say you should always ask a question – I’ve always found it hard to come up with one – but it gave me so much more opportunity to find out more about the candidate.
You really should be tailoring your CV and cover letter.
Of course, when you’re after the same kinda job in the same kinda field, the CV and covering letter you use will be similar. But have sympathy for the person who is going through your applications. I received around 50 applications, which ends up being around 150 pages to read through. If you’re not tailoring it to the actual job you’re applying for, it gets boring really quickly.
Narrowing down which candidates you’re going to interview is so bloody hard.
There’s a cigarette paper of difference between candidates. It’s hard when you’re hiring to choose between them all. At least I know that if I’m rejected from a job in future, there really may not have been much in it at all. Every cloud…
Confidence really is king when it comes to interviews.
This goes for both the interviewee and the interviewer. I’ve always been terrible at not being confident when it came to being interviewed until someone told me to just fake it until you make it. I’m still pretty nervous but this little bit of advice really helped. I’ve realised that when I interview someone, you can almost smell their fear. You’ll always immediately warm to someone who comes across as confident and the rapport is instantly better. Interviewing people has also made me realise that it’s possible to be nervous while being interviewed too, and that’s something I’m going to try and remember when I next have a job interview.