Hiring Experts Tell All

Job Search Tips From a Hiring Manager

Ever want to know what is going on inside the mind of a hiring manager? Well, you are in for a treat. I recently had a fascinating conversation with Darrell Lim of Oak Management Consulting. Darrell is a strategic business leader, corporate trainer, and coach. He has many years of hiring experience in a variety of industries including retail, software, non-profit, and manufacturing and he has hired for a range of positions from front-line employees (customer service and production) up to highly specialized technical and creative experts and organizational leaders.

I asked Darrell to share about the recruitment process that he generally follows and I am glad that he did. There are some fantastic nuggets of wisdom here for job seekers! 

1. Create a Recruitment Culture: Instead of hiring when there is an urgent need or vacancy, Darrell advocates for businesses to take a more strategic approach. He encourages organizations to always be open to having conversations with potential candidates and he sees great value in conducting informational interviews with interested candidates even when not actively hiring. This ensures that companies already have a qualified pool of candidates ready to go when they DO need to hire, and mitigates the risk of hiring weak candidates because they need to fill a position.

Tip: One of the greatest falsehoods in job search is that employers do not want to talk to potential job seekers. This is not true. Make informational interviews and networking an active part of your job search strategy. 

2. Discuss Needs with the Hiring Manager: Once a vacancy comes up, Darrell will work with the hiring manager to understand their needs and vision for the new position. Just because there is a position does not mean that it needs to be filled exactly as is. Darrell asks the hard questions: Does this position actually need to be filled? If it does need to be filled, does the position need to be changed in any way?  

Tip: When a position becomes vacant, it may not be filled in exactly the same way as it was in the past. This is an opportunity for you as a job seeker. By reaching out through networking, you may be able to position yourself as a potential answer to the company’s needs even if you do not have the same qualifications, education, or experience that the previous employee had. 

3. Create the Job Posting and Circulate: After determining the best position to fill the needs of the organization, Darrell focuses on creating a detailed job description. He posts it to various job search sites depending on the position type. Indeed and craigslist are favorites for entry-level positions while LinkedIn is a good option for more technical or leadership positions. Darrell generally waits 2-3 weeks before reviewing applications as he wants to maximize his time by having a critical mass of applications. 

Tip: Applied for a job and have not heard back yet?  Be patient. The hiring manager or recruiter may not have reviewed your application yet. 

4 .Review Job Postings: When it comes to reviewing applications, Darrell wants to see a resume and cover letter that are targeted to the job that was posted.  For each time that the resume contains vague or fluffy information unrelated to the job posting, Darrell mentally gives the job seeker a demerit point. After an applicant has accumulated 5-6 demerits, depending on the role, he moves onto another applicant. He does look carefully for technical competence and educational levels. And lastly, he always reads the “Volunteer Work” section as a way of trying to gauge company culture fit.

Tip: One of the critical mistakes that job seekers make is not targeting their resume to the job posting. Creating a targeted resume for each job you apply for is critical! 

Tip: Consider having a “Volunteer Work” section on your resume. 

5. Conduct a Phone Screening Call: After reviewing applications, Darrell then conducts 10 -1 5 minute phone screenings. He wants to weed out people who do not fit in company culture. Often, he quickly gets a feel for people even within the first few minutes, particularly if the conversation is awkward or if the applicant only gives one-word answers. Unfortunately about 50% of people have not carefully read through the job description and are often unable to answer any questions related to the position or company. 

Tip: Keep track of the companies that you apply for.  Each time you apply for a job, create a folder (electronic or paper) with a copy of your cover letter, resume and the job posting along with any company research you may have conducted. You may be looking for any job, but companies want to know that you want to work for THEM! 

Tip: Practice your phone manner. If you find the phone awkward, find someone to practice with even if they are just in another room in your home.  

6. Perform Second and Third Rounds of Interviews: Throughout the interview process, Darrell talks about looking for three things: competence, character, and chemistry. He wants to know that the person to be hired is able to do the job! One of the ways that he screens for this is through using behavior-based questions. He includes questions regarding ethics to assess character.  And then finally, he is looking for someone that he finds a connection with.

Darrell shared that he has recently been using web technology in his interviews, specifically Google hangouts.  He has been conducting group interviews with 4-6 people through Google hangouts. For technical or creative positions, he may give the individual a small task to complete as part of the interview. 

For the final interview, Darrell will often meet candidates at a coffee shop or at the company site.  Here, he will ask more detailed questions about the applicant’s background and career.

Tip: Be prepared for anything in terms of interview format! 

Tip: Practice your behavior-based questions which ask you to share what you have done in the past. Often these interviews questions will start with “Tell me about a time…” 

As you can see, the employer and recruiter put a huge amount of effort into the hiring process. The next time you submit an application, try putting yourself into the employer’s shoes and implement some of the tips shared here! 

If this information has been helpful, but you feel that you could use more help with your job search, consider connecting with Career Story for support. We offer resume writing and interview preparationservices at affordable prices. Please contact us at 604-614-3155 or at info@careerstory.ca

Hiring Experts Tell All: Feenstra Electric

Joel Feenstra was the founder and operator of Feenstra Electric Ltd, a company specializing in agricultural electrical work and automation. At the peak of his busier seasons, Joel employed seven people. After 2 years of successful business, Joel sold his company and now teaches electrical and automation at the University of the Fraser Valley. 

What are the 3 things that you want to see on a resume?

1.       Experience related to the job. I liked seeing the types of projects that candidates had worked on as I wanted to get a sense of the type of electrical wiring they had done the past.

2.       Recent references. I wanted to see that the person had references related to their last job and I liked getting the references with the resume.

3.       Hobbies. I always looked at the hobby section to see if the individual was involved in any high-risk hobbies as it made me think that this person may request at a lot of time off or might be more likely to be injured.

What are the top things that cause red flags for you when you review resumes?

1.       Short employment. If someone had a series of employment that is only 1 or 2 months, then I would be concerned about hiring them. I am less concerned about employment gaps as long as they are explainable (for example, a large project ended.)

2.       No references.

3.       High-risk hobbies. My concern was that this person may have been injured previously and this could impact their job performance. 

What is your resume pet peeve?

Seeing a list of all previous education that is not relevant to the job. There is no need to mention high school and I really don’t care about any activities that you did during high school.

What advice do you have for job seekers who are working on their resumes? 

Keep your resume neat and uncluttered.  Check your grammar and do not use weird fonts.

Funniest thing you have seen on a resume.

One applicant wrote that he was “determinated” instead of determined.


What impresses you when you interview a potential job candidate?

For starters, when they show up!  I like someone who is confident but does not tell long stories.  I want the candidate to get to the point and respect my time!

What causes red flags in an interview?

I get concerned when someone is a hardcore sports fan. In my experience, these employees won’t want to stay later on game days even if there is important work to get done.

Also, people who check their phones during the interview! I can’t have employees who are constantly checking their phones during work time so if they are doing it during an interview, I get worried. 

What was the worst interview you conducted?

I interviewed a guy who was completely spacey. He didn’t seem to understand the questions and things didn’t make sense on his resume.

What 3 pieces of advice do you have for people going into interviews?

1.       Show up, be on time.

2.       Turn off your phone

3.       Respect the employer’s time!

Thanks, Joel!   

Kristin Vandegriend is a Career Coach and Resume Writer at Career Story. With over 10+ years of experience in HR and career development, she has successfully worked with hundreds of clients to find meaningful and sustainable work. Her passion is helping clients identify career paths and creative job search strategies that leverage and market their personal strengths and resilience.  Connect with her on TwitterLinkedIn or Facebook.