With the current unemployment rate at 5.5% in the United States, one might argue that finding a job in today’s work force is only an uphill battle.1 However, Bryan Kooi, a job recruiter (“headhunter”) for Great Plains Consulting, would disagree.2 He believes there are plenty of jobs available— the job hunter just might not be looking in the right place.
Great Plains Consulting specializes in the Ag industry, matching candidates and their clients throughout the Midwest to the best job fit for both the company and the individual. “Jobs might not be advertised outside of the company,” Kooi says, “so the future employee might not even know the job is available.” Half of the jobs Kooi matches aren’t even advertised, he says. This is where Great Plains Consulting steps in — working with the company and the future employee to make sure the job is filled and the employee is well prepared for the position.
Although a degree and education are important, Kooi feels most companies are really looking for experience and likeability. “Companies want employees who have a passion for what they do, work hard, and love their job.” Any experience or internships college students can get while studying is vital. Employers want their future employees to have a taste and feel for the job and solid references — without it, they can’t predict too well how the job candidate will really do in the job.
Employers seek out candidates who can show stability in their past work experiences and have a geographic connection to the area. If you live in Florida and apply for a job in North Dakota but have no connection to North Dakota, it can be a difficult move and a hard match for the company. Bryan suggests that showing on your resume that you have a connection to the new location gives assurance to the company that you are here to stay — even going as far as saying you have family or friends in the area might help your cause.
Kooi also suggests explaining any gaps you have had in your employment status. If there was a time when you were unemployed, share that on your resume and explain what you did during that time. It is okay to share you chose to stay at home with your children. This shows dedication to family and passion for others — which in most cases is a good asset to have in the business world. Companies want employees who haven’t job-hopped with a new job every two years, but rather show stability and commitment to their work and in their lives.
I asked Bryan what surprises him most when working with job candidates. Lack of transparency and the desire for immediate gratification were Kooi’s answer almost immediately. He said he is surprised by how much people try to conceal in their work history or background on their resumes. Future employers can easily perform Google searches on job candidates, and the internet doesn’t hide too much anymore. He suggests job candidates close their Facebook account or at the very least make the account completely private. If you wouldn’t want your grandma to see your Facebook pictures, then you probably don’t want your future employer to see them, either. But, on the other hand, if you have had any criminal history or were terminated from your previous job, Kooi says to be open and honest about it. Background searches can easily show this and if you aren’t upfront from the start, employers might wonder what other things you might hide while on the job.
New employees shouldn’t expect immediate gratification or immediate perks, but rather, should expect to find their place and wait for the opportunity for advancement. Kooi explains, “If a $150,000 salary is your only goal in your new job, you aren’t going to get there. But, if you show clear passion, hard work, and love for your job, you will receive much further and deeper gratification down the road.” Be patient and be open to learning more on the job rather than expecting the high salary and additional job benefits immediately.
But first, of course, the future employee must be selected by the company. Here are some tips from Kooi on ways job candidates can prepare for their interview and follow up well:
- After you send in your resume, don’t assume it has been read or even considered. Follow up with a phone call or email after you send it in.
- For the interview, arrive on time (no more than 10 minutes early).
Dress well with nicely pressed clothing. Leave your cologne or perfume off for the day.
Bring several copies of your resume and a pad and pen (it’s okay to take some notes during the interview).
First impressions are important, so be sure to have a good handshake, good eye contact, and a nice smile.
During the interview maintain good balance between speaking and listening. It is okay to ask questions, but don’t talk negatively about current or past employers and don’t ask about compensation or benefits. Let the interviewers take the lead.
Be prepared for some questions: “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” “Tell me about yourself.” Don’t be afraid to talk about your family.
Answer questions with examples of specific situations.
Do your research on the company and be able to say why you are interested in working for the company.
After the interview, follow up with a thank-you note either by email or as a written note. Companies want to hire good people so don’t be afraid to distinguish yourself from the rest of the candidates.
Readers of iAt, what advice do you give to those who are on the job search? What tips would you give? Leave your advice in the comments below.
Since graduating from Dordt College in 1987, Bryan has been involved in the recruiting world his entire career, serving in roles such as College Recruiter, Human Resources Management, and Leadership Development Consultant. For the past 3 years Bryan has been a full-time recruiter specializing in the Ag industry. ↩