9 Job-Finding Secrets From Headhunters

iStock
iStock

You’re on the prowl for a new job? Good luck with that. You can furiously send out resumes and cover letters all you want, but research suggests most new hires don’t actually apply for their new jobs at all. Instead, they are either recruited or referred. As for the latter approach, you can reach out to your friends and hope they’ll put in a good word for you at their company. Or you could take matters into your own hands and make yourself attractive to the millions of headhunters searching for qualified applicants. Here, a few tips on how to catch recruiters' eyes and land a job, from those who know best. 

1. BEEF UP YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE... 

For many recruiters hoping to fill a role, LinkedIn is the first place they look. “I always start with LinkedIn,” says Heidi Nicoll, a recruiter with Shutterstock. “There are some basic principles to LinkedIn: If you really want people to reach out to you, make a list of what you have done. Too many LinkedIn profiles aren’t filled out with enough information. Have us wanting to ask you for your resume. Make your LinkedIn a teaser—a list of your ‘Best of.’” 

Emily Levine, a Vice President and recruiter at Career Group, adds that an incomplete or out-of-date LinkedIn profile is a red flag, as are gaps in employment. 

Many headhunters also pay LinkedIn for a special Recruiter Package, which not only gives them access to your profile, but all the jobs you’ve applied for through LinkedIn. “I can see when somebody’s recently applied to a job, who is on the market, who might not be putting their resume out on public job boards,” says Levine. “If they’ve applied to 20 jobs and continue to apply, there might be something hindering them.”

Many recruiters also do reference checks without your knowledge. “They will look on LinkedIn to see who they know that is connected with you from one of your past roles,” writes Shanna Landolt, a 15-year veteran executive recruiter. “They will ask ‘off the record’ for feedback on what you are really like. This feedback can often be more meaningful than the references you personally provide. … This technique is often used when you say that you were laid off, but they have a concern that you were fired.”

2. ... BUT DON’T GET TOO EXCITED ABOUT THOSE ENDORSEMENTS. 

Sorry to break it to you, but nobody cares about your endorsements. “It’s not something I look at because I get endorsed all the time for things I’m not even qualified for,” says Levine. “Amongst the world of recruiters, we don’t look at endorsements and take them seriously. If they weren’t earned, they’re just sort of suggestions you can pass on to people.”

3. GIVE YOUR RESUME THE ONCE-OVER—AND BE CAREFUL ABOUT THAT FONT. 

If you’re contacted by a headhunter and asked to send over your full resume, give it a long, hard look before firing it off. “Within five seconds [of looking at a resume], I know if it’s a no or a maybe,” says Susan Underwood, Glassdoor's director of talent acquisition. You probably know the basics: keep it to one page, explain any career gaps, etc. But there are a few simple mistakes that are still all-too common.

First of all, font matters. “An easy-to-read font is best,” says Underwood. “We don’t need lots of different sizes or things underlined and italicised.” According to Bloomberg, typography experts recommend Helvetica as the safest resume font. “Helvetica is so no-fuss, it doesn’t really lean in one direction or another. It feels professional, lighthearted, honest,” Brian Hoff, creative director of Brian Hoff Design, told Bloomberg.

After you’ve updated your resume and selected an appropriate font, check your verb tenses. “People need to make sure everything is in the correct tense,” says Levine. “For example, people don’t switch their old positions to past tense, and it needs to be done.”

4. YOUR RESUME ISN'T THE RIGHT PLACE FOR A SELFIE.

Don’t even think about putting a picture of yourself at the top of your resume. “This is more common in Europe, so if you’re European, you can get away with it,” says Nicoll. “But if you’re American, it’s better not to do it because it might not always be your best look.” 

5. ALWAYS BE HONEST.

In case you needed a reminder: DO NOT LIE. “Offers are regularly detracted and revoked from people because they’re not honest,” says Levine. “That means even disclosing a DUI. Most hiring authorities are comfortable with it so long as you’re up-front. But the second you get into lying on an application, what else are you gonna lie about?”

The same goes for inflating your current salary in hopes of boosting future offers. “Companies are now asking for W-2s for verification of what you earned,” says Levine. “Everything needs to line up.” 

6. A LITTLE SNOOPING BEFORE YOUR INTERVIEW IS OK.

Hiring managers expect you to come dressed to impress, but how fancy is too fancy? One good way to know what’s appropriate is to stalk the current employees. OK, not actual stalking: Bonnie Zaben, COO at recruitment firm AC Lion, recommends checking out the company website for any photos you can find that might hint at how buttoned-up the environment is. “See what they’re actually doing and dress one level above that,” she says.

7. NEVER BADMOUTH PAST EMPLOYERS.

One big turnoff is a bad attitude. “When I interview someone and every other past employer was bad, that’s a red flag,” Zaben says. Come with something nice to say about your previous roles, and if you’re asked why you left, try to put a positive spin on it by listing what you learned.

8. NEVER BRING YOUR OWN BEVERAGES TO AN INTERVIEW.

More taboos: bringing coffee or water to the interview (“It’s far too casual,” Levine says. “A lot of people come in with a Starbucks and it’s just a little cozy”), forgetting to put your phone on silent, and talking salary.

“I think people should focus more on the company culture and how they can make a difference,” rather than focusing on the money right away, Levine says. 

9. SEND A THANK-YOU NOTE IMMEDIATELY, AND THEN GIVE THE HIRING MANAGER SOME SPACE. 

Yes, you should follow up. No, you should not email the hiring manager every day for a full two weeks after your interview asking if they’ve made a decision. 

“Send your thank-you email the same day as your interview,” writes Landolt. “If your interview is in the evening or at the end of the day, send the thank-you note first thing in the morning.”

As with your resume, “make sure you don’t have typos in your thank-you note,” says Levine. “That’s a number one disqualifier.” And if you know you’ve got some time before the final decision is made, consider sending a hand-written note. “It’s really classy and something a lot of people don’t do, so it’s a differentiator,” Levine says. But if you have bad handwriting, just stick to email. 

All images via iStock.

5 Fast Facts About Billy the Kid

On September 23, 1875, Billy the Kid was arrested for the first time. Whether you think he was a misunderstood old West hero or nothing but a cold-blooded killer, it's impossible to argue that he was an interesting man. Here are five facts to prove it.

1. HIS "REAL" NAME IS A TOPIC OF DEBATE.

Billy the Kid's real name? Henry McCarty. Or maybe William Bonney. Or Henry Antrim. Take your pick. He was born Henry McCarty, but there's some speculation that his dad may have been a man named William Bonney. Billy the Kid started using his name at some point in 1877. Antrim was his step-father's last name; he went by that for some time as well.

2. HE WORKED AT A CHEESE FACTORY.

Billy the Kid wasn't always engaging in illegal activities and shooting people; he once worked at a cheese factory—at least he did according to Charlie Bowdre, a man who would later be in Billy's posse, and was part owner of the cheese factory. Bowdre's descendants have said this is where the two of them met, although his employ was short.

3. HIS LEGEND MAY BE A BIT OF AN EXAGGERATION.

You may have heard the legend that Billy killed 21 people—one for each year of his rather short life. It's just that: legend. We only have evidence that Billy killed four people, two of them prison guards. He may have "participated" in the deaths of up to five more people.

4. CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, HE PROBABLY WASN'T LEFT-HANDED.

The reason this notion became widespread is because of the famous ferrotype of him that shows him wearing a gun belt with the holster on the left side. It was later discovered that the image has been reproduced incorrectly and flipped to show the mirror image of what really was. The picture actually shows Billy with his gun on his right hip.

5. SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE HE FAKED HIS OWN DEATH.

Many people—including some claiming to be Billy himself—have said Billy didn't actually die on July 14, 1881 in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, which is the official story. Many claim that Sheriff Pat Garrett didn't kill Billy, but actually helped him fake his death and happily ride off into the sunset. No evidence has ever been found to support this, though.

Men claiming to be Billy include Ollie "Brushy Bill" Roberts and a man named John Miller. Brushy Bill started claiming to be Billy the Kid in 1949, and knew quite a few intimate details about Billy's life and the Lincoln Country War. But there were several gunfights he was pretty clueless about, and photo comparisons using sophisticated computer programs show the men to have completely different bone structure and other features.

As for John Miller, his claims were basically put to rest in 2005 when his bones were disinterred and DNA samples were taken. They were compared to a blood sample thought to be Billy the Kid's and there was no match.

10 Intriguing Friends Fan Theories

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Getty Images

Friends is a show about twentysomethings navigating life, love, and work in New York City. Ot at least that’s one theory about the beloved sitcom, which debuted on this day in 1994. Here’s another: Friends is a glimpse inside a mental ward, where six disturbed patients are working through their personality disorders. In the 14 years since it went off the air, Friends has inspired a ton of wild fan theories on Reddit and Twitter. Here are a few of the strangest (and be careful: Mr. Heckles’s murderer is still at large).

1. RACHEL DREAMED THE WHOLE THING.

In the summer of 2017, this photo of the Friends season four DVD box ignited a fan frenzy. The image on the box shows the titular pals snoozing side by side. Ross, Phoebe, Monica, Chandler, and Joey all have their eyes shut, but Rachel—resting right in the middle—is wide awake and looking directly at the camera. Why is she the only one with her eyes open? Some fans suggested Rachel was plotting something sinister, or secretly very “woke.” But plenty more insisted it was proof the whole show was Rachel’s dream. According to one Twitter fan, Rachel fell into an anxiety-fueled dream the night before her wedding to Barry and imagined her own group of hip New York friends to cope with her frustration and dread. Except she woke up to reality the next morning, as shown on the DVD cover, where she’s surrounded by her dream friends.

2. PHOEBE HALLUCINATED THE SHOW.

Another popular theory suggests the show was all in Phoebe’s head—only this take is much darker. The basic premise is that Phoebe never got off the streets. She was a lonely, homeless woman with a meth addiction who peered into the window of Central Perk one day. She noticed five friends laughing over coffee, and imagined herself as part of the gang. In this fantasy, her pals didn’t always get her weird sense of humor, but they loved her anyway. In reality, the twentysomethings in the window were wondering why that “crazy lady” was staring at them. This theory gained so much traction that a journalist asked Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman about it at a television festival. She quickly threw water on the whole thing. “That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard,” Kauffman replied. “That’s a terrible theory. That’s insane. Someone needs a life, that’s all I’m saying."

3. IT WAS ONE LONG PROMO FOR STARBUCKS.

The cast of 'Friends'
Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images

According to one manic Facebook rant, Friends was not a sitcom at all. It was actually a 10-year marketing ploy, designed to make Starbucks the new go-to destination for young people. Why else do the characters spend so much time in a coffee shop? True, the shop is not called Starbucks, but the subliminal evidence lies in Rachel’s last name (Green, like the Starbucks company color) and hair (styled like the mermaid in the Starbucks logo). Then there’s Ross and Monica’s last name, Geller, which is close to the German word gellen. It means “to yell,” just like the Starbucks baristas calling out customer names. The case only gets flimsier from there, but if you really want to read about how Chandler and Moby Dick are connected, you can dive down the rabbit hole here.

4. ROSS LOST CUSTODY OF BEN BECAUSE HE WAS A BAD DAD.

Ross’s son Ben arrives in the very first season of Friends, in the aptly titled episode “The One with the Birth.” He’s a constant character for several seasons, but as the show goes on, Ross seems to spend less and less time with his kid. Ben disappears after the eighth season, and never meets his half-sister Emma onscreen. There’s one explanation for this dropoff: Ross lost custody of his son due to increasingly disturbing behavior.

The blog What Would Bale Do lays out a bunch of examples: Ross sleeps with his students, tries to hook up with his cousin, and asks a self-defense instructor for help scaring his female friends. He’s also generally pretty jealous and possessive. According to this theory, Ross’s ex-wife Carol hit a breaking point and took full custody of their son, which is why Ben stops coming around his dad’s apartment in the later seasons.

5. MR. HECKLES WAS MURDERED.

Rachel and Monica’s mean old neighbor dies of natural causes in season two—or at least that’s what they want you to think. By one Redditor’s account, Mr. Heckles was killed in cold blood. Moments before he dies, Mr. Heckles shows up at Monica and Rachel’s door, complaining that their noise is disturbing his birds. (He does not have birds.) Monica says they’ll try to keep it down and as Mr. Heckles leaves, he says he’s going to rejoin his “dinner party.” Minutes later, he’s dead. Ergo, his dinner party guest killed him. Of course, the likelier explanation is that Mr. Heckles was a crazy old man who wasn’t even having a dinner party. But where’s the fun in that?

6. THERE’S A REASON THEY ALWAYS GOT THAT TABLE AT CENTRAL PERK.

The cast of 'Friends' chats with talk show host Conan O'Brien
Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images

How did the gang manage to snag the coveted center couch at Central Perk every single time? Simple: Gunther reserved it for them. It was all part of his ongoing campaign to win Rachel’s affections, and it explains why the group never had to fight for seating space. Well, except that one time.

7. THERE’S A PARKS & RECREATION CROSSOVER.

In “The One With All the Candy,” Rachel insists she doesn’t sleep with guys on the first date, only for her friends to immediately call her out. Monica rattles off three names: Matt Wire, Mark Lynn, and Ben Wyatt. Could she be talking about the same Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation? According to Reddit, their ages check out. Ben would’ve been 26 at the time of the episode, making him a perfectly acceptable one-night stand for 29-year-old Rachel. But how does Leslie Knope feel about this?

8. JUDY GELLER HAD AN AFFAIR THAT PRODUCED MONICA.

Ross and Monica’s mom doesn’t even try to hide her favoritism. Judy Geller thinks Ross is a genius and Monica is, well, trying. (But could be trying harder.) One bonkers and since-deleted fan theory suggests Judy’s preference stems from a family secret: At some point in her marriage to Jack Geller, she had an affair, one she could never forget because it spawned Monica. Judy’s shame over this tryst is what causes her to lash out at Monica and praise Ross, her one 'legitimate' child.

9. THEY’RE ALL IN A PSYCH WARD.

Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, and Matthew Perry in a scene from 'Friends.'
Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images

What if Central Perk wasn’t a coffee shop at all, but rather the cafeteria at a mental institution? As one theory goes, all six main characters are suffering from personality disorders. They’re confined to a facility for treatment, and can only shuffle between their rooms (i.e. their “apartments”) and the cafeteria (i.e. “Central Perk”). This situation also explains why the group is so hostile toward new people. They’re not actually teasing Monica’s new boyfriend; they’re attacking anyone who tries to take one of the friends out of the mental hospital.

10. JOEY REALLY WANTED SOME PANCAKES.

This very silly—but very solid—fan theory is centered on Joey’s love of food. In “The One With Ross’s Library Book,” Joey has a one-night stand with a woman named Erin. He doesn’t want to see her again, and asks Rachel to break the news to her over pancakes. Apparently Chandler used to do this when he lived in the apartment. He’d even save extra pancakes for Joey. Rachel refuses to be a part of this, but once she’s left alone with Erin, she feels bad and offers to cook. Things escalate over the episode and pretty soon, Joey is the one who’s too clingy for Erin. Rachel has to tell him and, feeling bad yet again, she offers pancakes. Reddit claims this was all just a plot for pancakes. It kind of adds up: Joey can’t cook but likes to eat, and he has enough soap opera money to pay an actor (Erin) to play a part in this conspiracy. So he cons his roommate into making pancakes, twice, in a ruse that’s both delicious and diabolical.

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