Be a “shoe”-in

Deborah AndrewsDirector of People OperationsPosted July 29, 2020

"Ryan, there's a package at the front desk for you," our Office Administrator said. Usually, our mail consists of bills, HR magazines, or standard junk mail. When Ryan, our Managing Director, returned to our desks with a box he wasn't expecting; it got all of our attention. It was a small shoebox, and inside was one yellow Converse sneaker with a note. 

"I just wanted to get a foot in the door." 

It was a bold move and one that played a huge part in offering Olivia Skaates the job as our first-ever Agility Connect Associate. She had no previous staffing experience, was fresh out of college, and had no technical background. It probably would not have gone far if she had only sent a resume. Had she just relied on her connection to one of our colleagues, she may have gotten an interview, but we wouldn't have a lot to gauge her abilities on. We were at the very beginning of looking for a new hire for a new role and hadn't figured out the criteria yet, but when we saw this singular yellow shoe, we suddenly knew exactly what we wanted. After one in-person interview, the offer was made. 

The market has changed. Before "Shelter in Place" began earlier this year, unemployment rates in Columbus were nearly at an all-time low. Then, seemingly overnight, everything changed. Now, candidates that once fielded several job offers at a time find themselves actively searching without a response. How can you stand out in the application process during such a competitive market? Here are a few tips out of Olivia's playbook: 

  • Put yourself out there: Sending the shoe wasn't the first way we met Olivia. She attended an event for Agility Partners where our founders told their story. She came early, introduced herself to some team members, and was engaged with the Q&A. She made a memorable first impression and made it clear she was interested in our business. 

  • Trust your Network: You know how they say, "it's not what you know, it's who you know." It's true. Referrals are frequently cited as the most reliable candidate source for hiring managers. That doesn't mean that you will get a job solely based on a shared connection, but it can give you greater access to a company. So, when Olivia began looking for a job, she reached out to a college friend for advice, and Ariel Smith invited her to our networking event. 

  • Know your Strengths: As I mentioned, Olivia had almost no staffing experience before this job, but she did have other competencies that were more important than experience. She was driven, outgoing, had excellent communication and was thoughtful. We were looking for someone to handle some of our most trusted candidates at the beginning of their relationship with Agility Partners. She showcased how she would benefit our organization using her strengths, which made the decision easy for us. 

  • Don't just say it, do it: When people write on their resume that they work with cutting edge technology, I expect them to list cutting edge technology. If someone boasts about being a top performer, I expect to see numbers and metrics to back it up. So when Olivia told us she was outgoing, she proved it up by sending a shoe. (On a side note, I once had a hiring manager reject a candidate before conducting the phone screen. Why? The candidate still used an AOL email address, and his voicemail outgoing message was for a Magic Jack number. "You can't say that you're a technologist and still use AOL.")

Look, it's a tough time out there. Most unemployed people feel that looking for a job is a full-time job. But before you get frustrated with One-Click applying to jobs online that never offer feedback, ask yourself what more you can do to differentiate yourself. Going above and beyond might make you a shoe-in. 

Agility Partners is here to help! If you're in between jobs or looking for a change, send me a message, and I’ll connect you with a talent executive. 

Deborah Andrews Deborah is our Director of People Operations at Agility Partners. Every day, she empowers our employees with the tools they need to "Find a Way to Win!"