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“Nobody’s perfect/But you’re perfect for me.” Thank you, J.Cole & Missy Elliott, for stating the unspoken truth about job interviews. Job hunting is competitive and when you the one competing, it’s easy to forget that superhumans exist only in comic books, movies and one D&D Black Pencil winning ad. It’s a pretty safe bet that there will be something in your career past that makes you uncomfortable about your future.
Ikon national head of people & culture, Sonia Potter, has seen the awkward bits in a lot of applications. Here’s what she knows about getting over them.
Got a gap or a mis-step in your CV?
People are sometimes afraid of listing an absence from a job role; the truth is, don’t be.
Some of the best CVs I have seen are when people have taken a work break or a stint off for personal development; be that travel, role reappraisal or career change. Experiences that change or enrich your outlook can provide an appealing skillset to a potential employer and can show motivation that puts you ahead of the pack.
The biggest no-no is when your employment history doesn’t align – so never lie! In an industry that is as small as media in Australia, lying can be catastrophic and can easily move you to the bottom of the pile. Remember you trade on your name; it’s your brand.
It’s always refreshing to see an application or CV that has a personal element to it. Maybe you’ve sighted and incorporated something off our website, or just have a unique take on your CV - make your CV jump off the page and stand out. When you have a whole inbox full of the same type of applications, this is a must from a HR point of view. But don’t cross the fine line into quirky or too left-of-field. At Ikon, our mantra is to ‘challenge the norm’ and it is usually the applications that stand out that really get our attention. Applications that can’t get the simple things right like the hiring manager’s or organisation’s name, or the position they are applying for, start the alarm bells ringing. They make me wonder, 'How’s their attention to detail on the job going to be?'
You were fired.
To be honest, there is really no good way to be fired and no good way to fire someone, whether it’s related to a performance issue or role redundancy. It’s just an unfortunate role that comes with the HR territory. Don’t be afraid of your employment past, and if being fired has happened to you, there is no shame in stating the facts as they are. Be honest. Don’t try to hide from it. And don’t play the blame game; it’s never looked on favourably. We need to see what you’ve learned from the mistakes that got you fired and what you would do differently. Whether you are to blame or not, every experience can lead to wisdom gained. Don’t try to sweep that job under the rug, as the truth has a funny way of always coming out. Gracefulness and humility will always be remembered, and in an industry that churns as much as ours does in media, these will be the stepping stones that will be recollected from one job to the next.
“But what did I do wrong in the interview?” - Should you ask?
Of course, feedback is an important loop in the recruitment process and one of the most common questions I get asked is, “What could I have done better?”
As a HR professional, there has to be tremendous rigour around recruitment. If there isn’t, you are setting yourself up for failure as an organisation.
At Ikon, I ensure all candidates - regardless of level and regardless of how they were referred – that if we met with you, you will get a phone call explaining the situation behind the decision. Generally this will involve talking about the interview process, your skills, the need or requirement for the role, the team fit, the cultural fit and if you can perform the role technically. Not all people you interview will be right and not all people you hire will be right, but ensuring there is recruitment consistency and rigour will help you eliminate any potential HR issues. It’s a fine line of being fair to both the candidate and the business. The best feeling is being able to make that successful call to the candidate – the feeling still gets me every time.
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