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Emily Levine, a Vice President and recruiter at Career Group, adds that an incomplete or out-of-date LinkedIn profile is a red flag, as are gaps in employment.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

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

SIGN UP TODAY: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping Newsletter!

Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

10 Facts About David Fincher's The Social Network for Its 10th Anniversary

Jesse Eisenberg stars in David Fincher's The Social Network (2010).
Jesse Eisenberg stars in David Fincher's The Social Network (2010).
Merrick Morton/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The Social Network—a movie made when Facebook was less than seven years old and the social media era was relatively new—seemed destined to age poorly. But in the decade since its premiere in October 2010, the film’s depiction of the website and its young founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is more relevant than ever.

Even if you haven’t logged onto Facebook in years, the film offers plenty to love, from David Fincher’s detailed direction to Aaron Sorkin’s Oscar-winning script. In honor of its 10-year anniversary, here are 10 facts about The Social Network.

1. Aaron Sorkin started writing the script for The Social Network before the book it's based on was published.

Aaron Sorkin makes a cameo in The Social Network (2010).Merrick Morton, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The Social Network is officially an adaptation of The Accidental Billionaires, Ben Mezrich's 2009 book detailing the founding of Facebook. But according to screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, he had already completed 80 percent of the script by the time he read the book. The project came to him in the form of a 14-page book proposal the publisher was shopping around to filmmakers ahead of the title's release. “I said yes on page three," Sorkin told Deadline in 2011. "That’s the fastest I’ve ever said yes to anything."

Instead of waiting for The Accidental Billionaires to be completed and published, Sorkin started working on the script immediately, doing his own first-hand research for much of the process instead of referring to the book.

2. Shia LaBeouf turned down the role of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network.

When Transformers star Shia LaBeouf turned down the role of The Social Network’s lead character, Jesse Eisenberg was hired to play Mark Zuckerberg instead. Superbad's Jonah Hill was another star who came close to being cast in the movie, in his case as Napster founder Sean Parker; ultimately, Fincher decided Hill wasn’t right for the role and cast Justin Timberlake instead.

3. The Social Network wasn’t filmed at Harvard.

Harvard University is integral to the legend of Facebook, and setting the first half of The Social Network there was non-negotiable. Filmmakers ran into trouble, however, when attempting to get the school's blessing. The 1970 adaptation of Love Story been shot there, and damaged the campus; the school has reportedly banned all commercial filming on the premises since then. To get around this, The Social Network crew shot the Harvard scenes at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and two prep schools, Phillips Academy Andover and Milton Academy, in Massachusetts.

4. David Fincher did sneak one shot of Harvard into The Social Network.

To convince the audience that they were indeed seeing Harvard, Fincher couldn’t resist sneaking in a shot of the campus’s iconic architecture. When Jesse Eisenberg runs across Harvard Square (which is not on Harvard property) in the beginning film, some nearby arches (which are on Harvard property) appear in the background. Fincher got the lighting he needed for this scene by hiring a street mime to roll a cart with lights on it onto the campus.

“If security were to stop him, the mime wouldn’t talk," The Social Network’s director of photography Jeff Cronenweth told Variety. "By the time they got him out of there, we would have accomplished our shot.”

5. Natalie Portman gave Aaron Sorkin the inside scoop on Harvard.

Natalie Portman attended Harvard from 1999 to 2003, briefly overlapping with fellow star alum Mark Zuckerberg. While enrolled, she dated a member of one of the university’s elite final clubs, which are an important part of The Social Network’s plot. When she learned that Sorkin was writing the screenplay for the movie, she invited the writer over to hear her insider knowledge. Sorkin gave the actress a shout-out in the final script. During one of the deposition scenes, Eisenberg's Harvard-era Zuckerberg is described as “the biggest thing on a campus that included 19 Nobel Laureates, 15 Pulitzer Prize winners, two future Olympians, and a movie star.”

6. Armie Hammer and his body double went to twin boot camp for The Social Network.

Armie Hammer and Josh Pence (as Armie Hammer) in The Social Network (2010).Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Armie Hammer is credited as playing both Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, but he wasn’t acting alone in his scenes. Josh Pence was cast as a body double and Hammer’s face was digitally pasted over his in post-production. For every scene where both twins appear on screen, Hammer and Pence played separate Winklevi, and then they would swap roles and shoot the scene again. This method allowed the characters to physically interact in ways that wouldn’t have been possible with split screens. Pence’s face may be missing from the movie, but his physical performance was still essential to selling the brothers' dynamic. He and Hammer worked with an acting coach for 10 months to nail down the characters’ complementary body language.

7. The Social Network's tagline was changed at the last minute.

For The Social Network’s main poster, designer Neil Kellerhouse made Jesse Eisenberg’s face the focal point. Over it, he superimposed the memorable tagline: “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” Originally, the text read “300 million friends,” but it was changed under the assumption that Facebook would hit half a billion users in time for the movie’s October 2010 release.

“We were really hedging our bets," Kellerhouse told IndieWire. "But we scooped them on their own story because right as the film was coming out they got 500 million [members] so we got their publicity as well. It worked out super serendipitously.”

8. Fight Club’s Tyler Durden (kind of) makes a cameo in The Social Network.

Sharp-eyed viewers may have noticed the Easter egg David Fincher snuck into The Social Network. In the scene where Mark Zuckerberg is checking someone’s Facebook to cheat on a test, the name “Tyler Durden” can be seen in the top-left corner of the profile. Tyler Durden is the name of the narrator’s alter ego (played by Brad Pitt) in 1999’s Fight Club. Fincher directed both films.

9. The real Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t a fan of The Social Network.

Andrew Garfield and Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network (2010).Merrick Morton, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The Social Network doesn’t paint Mark Zuckerberg in the most flattering light, and unsurprisingly, the real-life Facebook founder wasn’t happy about it. Following the movie’s release, he called out its “hurtful” inaccuracies, specifically citing the fictional Mara Rooney character that’s used as his motivation for founding the website. But even he admits that some details were spot-on. “It’s interesting what stuff they focused on getting right," Zuckerberg said at a Stanford event. "Like every single fleece and shirt I had in that movie is actually a shirt or fleece that I own.”

10. A sequel to The Social Network is not out of the question.

The Social Network premiered when Facebook was less than a decade old, and the story of the internet giant has only gotten more dramatic since then. Since settling lawsuits with Eduardo Saverin and the Winkelvoss twins, Facebook has been battling scandals related to privacy issues and its influence on the 2016 election. The last 10 years have provided more than enough material for a sequel to The Social Network, and both Aaron Sorkin and Jesse Eisenberg have expressed interest in such a project. As of now, there are no confirmed plans for a follow-up.