From time to time the IowaWORKS-Southern Iowa blog talks to employers in the region to get advice straight from the ones doing the hiring. This month we were lucky enough to talk to Sheri Heisdorffer, a Human Resources Coordinator from Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa. She has some great tips on subjects like filling out a resume with a short work history and how to dress for the interview.
What do you like about your job?
I am fortunate to work for a company with a great culture and working environment. In addition, I like to help our employees and establish good working relationships through the process. My work includes variety – from interviewing to reporting. We have a centralized hiring process which allows me to meet people from all walks of life and gives me the opportunity to see the college as a whole entity.
What are you looking for when you read a job application, cover letter, or resume?
Cover letters should be concise and speak directly to how your skills fit our needs. The job application and resume should both be complete and free of typos. Nothing worse than getting a resume for an administrative assistant position from a “detailed-oriented” applicant with typos. Spell check, but also have others review your materials before submission.
You only have a few seconds to impress an employer with your application materials and you are not there to provide explanations. Whatever you submit is what they see.
What is the common mistake you’ve seen made in job interviews?
The most common mistake I have seen in job interviews is the manner of dress. Applicants should dress for where they want to be, not where they are. Not everyone is granted an interview for positions they apply for and when they are they should make the most of the opportunity.
Will you hire people with a criminal background? If so, do you have advice for someone with a criminal background to be hired?
We look at hiring those with a criminal background on an individual basis. We would review the facts surrounding the criminal conviction of any applicant and look at the nature of the crime and the job-relatedness of the conviction.
My advice for someone with a criminal background looking to be hired is to be honest about the conviction. Criminal background checks today are pretty thorough and most employers look at more than once source of information.
Do you have any recommendations for someone with a short work history or a work history with large gaps?
Applicants with a short work history should include any education or extra training they have received, any volunteer efforts they have been involved with, and any affiliations with clubs and/or organizations, particularly if they held an office in those organizations. Employers are looking for someone who can handle responsibility and will do more than is necessary to advance in their careers.
The same principle applies for those with large gaps in their employment history. Include volunteer efforts and club affiliations in resumes and address those gaps in your cover letter.
Is there anything about the hiring process you’d like to mention that hasn’t been asked?
Treat everyone you meet as a potential employer.