Friday, May 27

HR ADVICE - Getting the Job


The minute people find out what I do for a living, they want advice.

I am in Human Resources. I recruit, I hire, I fire, and everything in-between.

I know a lot of people are looking for work, and today, I am going to help you get that job. So pay attention!


Don’t use a stupid email address. I have seen some really dumb email accounts cross my desk. If you apply with or, your resume is immediately sent to the “NO WAY” pile. Email addresses are free. Go make one out of your name. And for the love of all things Holy, DO NOT PUT THE YEAR YOU WERE BORN IN IT.

I look at your resume for about 10 seconds. When I post a job online, I get about 400 resumes within a two week period. The job market is so bad right now, that I have fry cooks applying for finance jobs. I get so many resumes that do not apply to what I am looking for, that I scan each one for key words. Make sure your resume pops. But not with colors. Popping with colors is so Elle Woods. I don’t want to hire a ditz. Put words in bold or larger font. ONE PAGE. Maybe TWO if you are a higher level person. Spell Checker is your friend. Weird fonts that I think are hard to read are not your friend.

Get on LinkedIn! I want to look at you. I will Google your name. Make sure you have an online presence. Speaking of an online presence, make sure you are not drunk in your Facebook picture.

I don’t really read your cover letter. I mainly check to make sure you did not call me “Sir”. My name is Meredith. I can see how that would confuse you (not really). But if you have to, call my company and ask the Receptionist if I am a man or woman. The “Dear Sir” letters get thrown out. Really wordy cover letters are silly. Write 3 paragraphs. First paragraph – why you want to work at my company (do some online research about it). Second paragraph – tell me why you would be a good fit and make it personal (I am a hard working single mother who needs to support her child… it gets me every time). Third paragraph – thank me for my time and tell me you want to meet (I look forward to setting up a face-to-face meeting).

Pay your phone bill. It’s hard for me to call you when your phone is disconnected. Also, it’s 2011. Everyone should have a cell phone and an email address by now. I want to be able to reach you on my terms. I may be traveling and setting things up on the road, so it’s important to me that you are easily accessible. On that note, don’t ask me to interview on a Saturday, late at night, or at 6am. If you want the job bad enough, you find time to come during regular business hours.

If you were fired from your last job, write “I will explain in the interview.” on your application. Don’t write things like, “I cussed out a customer.” “My boss was mean.” “My co-worker set me up.” BUT DON’T LIE! Lies on applications can bite you in the butt and be grounds for dismissal later.

I wasn’t kidding about the salary requirements. Tell me what you need to make, or you get thrown to the side. If you are afraid of shooting yourself in the foot, say something like, “Now I am making $67K per year, and I would like to stay in that range or beyond.”


Yes, we drug test. Why do you ask? Never ever, ever, ever ask anyone interviewing you if you have to take a drug test. Ever. It looks shady. And, never call to find out the results of your test. If you fail the drug test, the place where you took it must legally notify you first. Don’t call me about it. And if you really want a job, stop doing drugs. It’s also just a wise life decision.

Dress nicely. I have seen cleavage, pajama pants, butt cracks, flip flops, and cat hair. Please dress for success when you show up to meet me. If you are here to clean the toilets, I want to see a shirt and tie. I am shallow and judgmental, and I like to see that you put forth some effort. I am not saying you need to go out and buy something expensive. I am just saying that you need to shower, shave, and look professional. If it’s down to you and another person, the best dressed wins every time.

Have a firm hand shake. Don’t be a dead fish, but don’t break my hand. Don’t have wet hands, but make sure you have clean hands. Your best bet is to practice shaking hands with someone before you come. It’s a skill that needs to be perfected.

When I ask for references, your mother and pastor do not count. No family members! Give me names of people you have worked with. If you are a recent college graduate, find a professor who will give you a good reference. And, don’t put someone down who you are not 100% sure will give you a good reference. I once had a guy tell me he was shocked that the applicant would list him, and then he went on to call the guy a “douche bag.”

I am going to ask you some weird/tough/silly questions. I am looking for the right answers.

  • Where do you want to be in five years? … growing with this company (duh!)
  • What do you do for fun? Do not say binge drink, maybe today you like to spend time with your family or go hiking.
  • How would you handle this difficult customer/co-worker/boss situation? Freaking out is never the answer. Be calm and take the problem one step at a time. So say, “I would do this and this and if I still couldn’t calm the customer down, I would find my manager.”
  • Why did you get fired from your last job? (be honest, but not too honest… I can easily find this out by calling the girl who answers the phone at your last job, so give me the toned down version)
  • Tell me about a weakness that you need to work on. “I am always late” is a bad answer. A good answer is “I tend to work all the time. My husband complains that I am glued to my Blackberry.” Or “I am a neat freak. It’s almost obsessive.”
  • What professional publications are you reading? Read a professional publication. I want to know that you are able to keep up on the latest trends.
  • The other applicant has more experience than you. Why should I hire you? I am young, eager, and I have fresh ideas. The old way of doing business is not always the best way. I know all of the new tricks.
  • If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? Anyone that asks you that should be punched in the junk. For real. Just stare at them, and then punch them in the junk.
  • What did you think of your last job/boss? Never bad mouth anyone. It just makes me think that you will say the same about us when you go.


You can call me twice. That is it. Do not call to ask me if I received your resume. Remember, I had 400 resumes come in for this one job. The first call you’re allowed to make is about 3 days after your interview. Remind me that you are still interested and why you are better than everyone else. The second call is two weeks after the interview to remind me that you are better than everyone else. Do not call me more than twice or you will look like a stalker and then I will think you’re creepy. If you interview, send me an email and thank me for my time. Also send one to any manager that spoke to you.

Don’t just pop in and wait to see me. Ever. HR people have many hats to wear. We really hate it when we’re in the middle of explaining how our mail order drug program works to be interrupted by someone who thought they would stop in to get an interview. Ask my secretary for an application, fill it out, and leave. Do not say that you will sit and wait until I am available. You are now messing up my schedule. I don’t think your persistence is awesome. I think it is annoying.

I send rejection emails because I think it’s nice to let you know to keep looking. So don’t respond back to me that I should burn in Hell. If anything, thank me for my time and ask me to consider you in the future. If you’re just dying to know the exact reason why we passed, you can ask. But ask nicely, and just know that I will probably tell you we promoted from within. This may or may not be true. But it makes you feel better, and it makes me not have to tell you that it was the combination of your dead-fish hand shake and your whore’s bath stench.

Do you have a specific question? Ask me in the comments. I am happy to help!

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