Making First Impressions


Recently I was invited to present to a class at one of our campuses. The College Director asked me to discuss what a Recruiter or Hiring Manager would look for and what my perspective was as a Human Resources professional.

I have never been a professional recruiter but working in HR and operations management always meant I had to either shortlist applications or be part of the interview process.

While preparing this presentation, I recalled many situations where certain things stood out to me.

We all talk about the first impression one can make on a potential employer. That first impression starts with the resume and cover letter.

The saying “less is more” applies here. The resume is the snapshot of one’s professional career. The cover letter is one’s introduction to the potential employer and the information it contains serves as the “hook” to have the recruiter look at the resume.

Given that a recruiter may only look at the documents for 20 to 30 seconds means the candidate needs to stand out in order to get selected for an interview.

Cover letters should be short and quickly lists the key elements the employer is seeking. Both the letter and resume should contain a good balance of typeface and white space. In other words, do not overcrowd it with too much text. Recruiters will not be able to see what they are looking for.

A few memorable moments in my career includes some major “do not’s” when one is looking for employment.

Have a professional email address; do not have one which reads sexykitten69@….com.

Do not show up for an interview in your Halloween costume.

When asked for an example of conflict resolution and how you handled it, do not respond “I knocked the daylights out of him” and laugh maniacally.

When asked why the person left their previous job, do not say “I had an affair with my manager”.

Do not come to an internal interview dressed in workout gear thinking you already snagged the position.

My word of advice is to have a well-balanced cover letter and resume, dress professionally, answer all questions concisely and appropriately, and smile and be nice to the receptionist when you arrive 5 minutes early.

Oh, and leave the wench costume in your bag; even when your interview is right before the start of the Halloween Party. Those fishnet stockings didn’t quite capture me.

Shirley Guglielmini
Director of Human Resources
Sprott Shaw College

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