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Hiring Managers Tell Us What They Look For In Applicants

Do school rankings still matter?
PHOTO: Pixabay

Anybody who’s ever applied for a job can attest to how nerve-racking the whole process can be. Unless someone in your network personally recommends you, you usually have to apply online first—and it can feel like you’re just sending your application into a massive void. Depending on the company and how early the position needs to be filled, the waiting period can take weeks, even months.

We wanted to know what happens on the other end, so we spoke to two professionals—one from a well-known multinational company (Manager A) and another from a reputable local company (Manager B)—who’ve had decades of experience with hiring new applicants.

Let’s talk about the resume. What do you look for?

Manager A: We actually have our own system or online application. Applicants fill it up and answer questions, and the system sort of creates the applicant’s resume for us; this way, it’s easier to read, and it’s definitely more organized. For the most part, we value leadership experience above all else.

Manager B: It’s all about organization. How the information is presented is critical to me. Some applicants mistakenly think they need to embellish or make it seem like their resumes are packed, but what I really appreciate is clarity. Creative people use color and interesting fonts, and that's okay as long as it’s comprehensive and complete. Also, I’m not sure why, but some applicants aren’t clear about their employment dates and work descriptions; it sends a bad message.

Do school rankings still matter?

Manager A: Yes. When it comes to potential management hires, we still actively recruit from the top three schools as a strategy: Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), and University of the Philippines (UP). But when we need plant engineers, we also consider sourcing through engineering schools in MAPUA and University of Santo Tomas (UST).

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Manager B: Yes, it’s a factor when we prescreen applicants. Applicants from UP, ADMU, DLSU, and UST are still preferred. UST produces good candidates for Architecture, Fine Arts, and Psychology; Ateneo has good business graduates and are usually suitable for Marketing and Business Development jobs; La Salle has good Finance and Communication graduates. Other schools that can be a good source of applicants are FEU, UE, CSB, PLM, and PUP—specifically if they graduate with high honors.

Do you check the social media accounts of prospective hires?

Manager A: No, we don’t. We just look at the application. Usually, that tells us what we need to know.

Manager B: Most young recruiters rely on social media profiling these days, but I’m a bit old school. My colleagues tell me that they don’t hire applicants who rant about their previous or current employers, and I’d have to agree. Issues should be addressed and resolved within the organization, not in public. When I do check someone’s social media, I just peruse his or her LinkedIn account. But we regularly conduct background checks.

How do you perceive and handle salary negotiations?

Manager A: We have a standard salary so we don’t negotiate at all. For experienced hires, there’s a standard process for checking appropriate salaries based on the potential employee’s skills. That said, if the applicant is not amenable, he or she is free to decline the offer.

Manager B: Salary negotiations are acceptable, and they do happen because companies have different ways of designing compensation and benefit packages. We try to stick to our compensation ranges, but if the position is hard to find, we usually give in if the request is reasonable. A reasonable adjustment can be as high as 25 percent of the initial offer.

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What are some deal breakers?

Manager A: For me, deal breakers are still the really obvious ones, like not responding on time and being late to the interview. Stop blaming the traffic; if you grew up here, you should know better by now.

Manager B: I also don’t appreciate it when applicants drop this line: “I actually have a lot of job offers right now.” I know it’s a strategy to have some control, but I see right through it.

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