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Emily Levine, a Vice President and recruiter at Career Group, adds that an incomplete or out-of-date LinkedIn profile is a red flag, as are gaps in employment.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

10 Fascinating Facts About the Thesaurus for National Thesaurus Day

iStock.com/LeitnerR
iStock.com/LeitnerR

Writers often turn to a thesaurus to diversify their vocabulary and add nuance to their prose. But looking up synonyms and antonyms in a thesaurus can help anyone—writer or not—find the most vivid, incisive words to communicate thoughts and ideas. Since January 18 is Thesaurus Day, we’re celebrating with these 10 fascinating facts about your thesaurus.

1. Thesaurus comes from the Greek word for treasure.

Greek lettering.
iStock

Most logophiles consider the thesaurus to be a treasure trove of diction, but the word thesaurus really does mean "treasure." It derives from the Greek word thésauros, which means a storehouse of precious items, or a treasure.

2. The plural of thesaurus is thesauruses or thesauri.

Row of old books lined up.
iStock

How do you refer to more than one octopus? People say everything from octopuses to octopi to octopodes. Similarly, many people have trouble figuring out the correct plural form of the word thesaurus. Though thesauri is technically correct—it attaches a Latin suffix to the Latin word thēsaurus—both thesauri and thesauruses are commonly used and accepted today.

3. Early thesauruses were really dictionaries.

Close-up of the term 'ideal' in a thesaurus.
iStock

Ask a French scholar in the 16th century to see his thesaurus, and he'd gladly give you a copy of his dictionary. In the early 1530s, a French printer named Robert Estienne published Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, a comprehensive Latin dictionary listing words that appeared in Latin texts throughout an enormous span of history. And in 1572, Estienne's son Henri published Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, a dictionary of Greek words. Although the Estiennes's books were called thesauruses, they were really dictionaries comprised of alphabetical listings of words with their definitions.

4. A Greek historian wrote the first book of synonyms.

Stacks of books surrounding an open book and a pair of glasses.
iStock

Philo of Byblos, a Greek historian and grammarian, wrote On Synonyms, a dictionary of synonyms that scholars consider to be the first ancient thesaurus. Dating to the late 1st century or early 2nd century CE, the book lists Greek words that are similar in meaning to each another. Sadly, we don’t know much more about On Synonyms because copies of the work haven’t survived over the centuries.

5. An early Sanskrit thesaurus was written in the form of a poem.

Sanskrit lettering.
iStock

In the 4th century CE, an Indian poet and grammarian named Amara Sinha wrote The Amarakosha, a thesaurus of Sanskrit words. Rather than compile a boring list of similar words, Amara Sinha turned his thesaurus into a long poem. Divided into three sections—words relating to the divine, the earth, and everyday life—The Amarakosha contains verses so readers could memorize words easily. This thesaurus is the oldest book of its kind that still exists.

6. A British doctor wrote the first modern thesaurus.

Portrait of Peter Mark Roget.
Thomas Pettigrew, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Peter Mark Roget is the British doctor credited with authoring the first modern thesaurus. In 1805, he began compiling a list of words, arranged by their meaning and grouped according to theme. After retiring from his work as a physician in 1852, Roget published his Thesaurus of English words and phrases; so classified and arranged as to facilitate the expression of ideas and assist in literary composition. Today, Roget’s Thesaurus is still commercially successful and widely used. In fact, we celebrate Thesaurus Day on January 18 because Roget was born on this day in 1779.

7. The thesaurus has a surprising link to a mathematical tool.

Image of a vintage log log slide rule.
Joe Haupt, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

The division between "words people" and "numbers people" is deep-seated. Many mathematicians may try to steer clear of thesauruses, and bibliophiles may avoid calculators, but the thesaurus is actually linked to a mathematical tool. Around 1815, Roget invented the log-log slide rule, a ruler-like device that allows users to easily calculate the roots and exponents of numbers. So while the inventor of the thesaurus was compiling words for his tome, he was also hard at work on the log-log slide rule. A true jack-of-all-trades.

8. The Oxford English Dictionary has its own historical thesaurus.

Synonyms for
iStock

In 1965, a professor of English Language at Glasgow University suggested that scholars should create a historical thesaurus based on entries in the Oxford English Dictionary. The project was a massive undertaking, as people from multiple countries worked for 44 years to compile and classify words. Published in 2009, the Historical Thesaurus to the Oxford English Dictionary contains 800,000 words organized by theme and date. The thesaurus covers words and synonyms from Old English to the present day and lets readers discover when certain words were coined and how long they were commonly used.

9. One artist turned his love of words into a series of thesaurus paintings.

Mel Bochner,
Mel Bochner, "Crazy," 2004. Francesca Castelli, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In 2014, the Jewish Museum in New York showed a survey of conceptual artist Mel Bochner’s art. Bochner had incorporated words and synonyms in his paintings for years—which were collectively referred to as the thesaurus paintings—featuring word paintings and lists of synonyms on canvas. The brightly colored paintings feature different groups of English and Yiddish synonyms. According to Bochner, Vietnam and Iraq war veterans cried after seeing his thesaurus painting Die, which features words and phrases such as expire, perish, succumb, drop dead, croak, go belly up, pull the plug, and kick the bucket.

10. There's an urban thesaurus for all your slang synonym needs.

Copy of an Urban Dictionary book.
Effie Yang, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Urban Dictionary helps people decipher the latest slang terms, but where should you go when you need a thesaurus of slang? Urban Thesaurus, of course. The site, which is not affiliated with Urban Dictionary, indexes millions of slang terms culled from slang dictionaries, then calculates usage correlations between the terms. Typing in the word money, for example, gives you an eclectic list of synonyms including scrilla, cheddar, mulah, coin, and bling.

7 Weird Super Bowl Halftime Acts

Al Bello, Getty Images
Al Bello, Getty Images

Shakira and Jennifer Lopez seem like natural choices to perform the halftime show at this year’s Super Bowl, but the event didn’t always feature musical acts from major pop stars. Michael Jackson kicked off the trend at Super Bowl XXVII in 1993, but prior to that, halftime shows weren’t a platform for the hottest celebrities of the time. They centered around themes instead, and may have featured appearances from Peanuts characters, Jazzercisers, or a magician dressed like Elvis. In honor of Super Bowl LIV on February 2, we’ve rounded up some of the weirdest acts in halftime show history.

1. Return of the Mickey Mouse Club

The era of Super Bowl halftimes before wardrobe malfunctions, illuminati conspiracy theories, and Left Shark was a more innocent time. For 1977’s event, the Walt Disney Company produced a show that doubled as a squeaky-clean promotion of its brand. Themed “Peace, Joy, and Love,” the Super Bowl XI halftime show opened with a 250-piece band rendition of “It’s a Small World (After All).” Disney also used the platform to showcase its recently revamped Mickey Mouse Club.

2. 88 Grand Pianos and 300 Jazzercisers

The theme of the halftime show at Super Bowl XXII in 1988 was “Something Grand.” Naturally, it featured 88 tuxedoed pianists playing 88 grand pianos. Rounding out the program were 400 swing band performers, 300 Jazzercisers, 44 Rockettes, two marching bands, and Chubby Checker telling everyone to “Twist Again."

3. Elvis Impersonator Performs the World’s Largest Card Trick

Many of the music industry's most successful pop stars—like Prince, Madonna, and, uh, Milli Vanilli—were at the height of their fame in 1989, but none of them appeared at Super Bowl XXIII. Instead, the NFL hired an Elvis Presley-impersonating magician to perform. The show, titled “BeBop Bamboozled,” was a tribute to the 1950s, and it featured Elvis Presto performing “the world’s largest card trick.” It also may have included the world's largest eye exam: The show boasted 3D effects, and viewers were urged to pick up special glasses before the game. If the visuals didn't pop like they were supposed to, people were told to see an eye doctor.

4. The Peanuts Salute New Orleans

Super Bowl XXIV featured one of the last halftime acts that was completely devoid of any musical megastars. The biggest celebrity at the 1990 halftime show was Snoopy. Part of the show’s theme was the “40th Anniversary of 'Peanuts,'” and to celebrate the milestone, performers dressed as Peanuts characters and danced on stage. The other half of the theme was “Salute to New Orleans”—not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the comic strip.

5. A Tribute to the Winter Olympics

Super Bowl XXVI preceded the 1992 Winter Olympics—a fact that was made very clear by the event’s halftime. The show was titled “Winter Magic” and it paid tribute to the winter games with ice skaters, snowmobiles, and a cameo from the 1980 U.S. hockey team. Other acts, like a group of parachute-pants-wearing children performing the “Frosty the Snowman Rap,” were more generally winter-themed than specific to the Olympics. About 22 million viewers changed the channel during halftime to watch In Living Color’s Super Bowl special, which may have convinced the NFL to hire Michael Jackson the following year.

6. Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye

“Peace, Joy, and Love” wasn’t the only Disney-helmed Super Bowl halftime. In 1995, Disney produced a halftime show called “Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye” to tease the new Disneyland ride of the same name. It centered around a skit in which actors playing Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood stole the Vince Lombardi Trophy from an exotic temple, and it included choreographed stunts, fiery special effects, and a snake. Patti LaBelle and Tony Bennett were also there.

7. The Blues Brothers, Minus John Belushi

The 1990s marked an odd period for halftime shows as they moved from schlocky themed variety shows to major music events. Super Bowl XXXI in 1997 perfectly encapsulates this transition period. James Brown and ZZ Top performed, but the headliners were the Blues Brothers. John Belushi had been dead for more than a decade by that point, so Jim Belushi took his place beside Dan Aykroyd. John Goodman was also there to promote the upcoming movie Blues Brother 2000. The flashy advertisement didn’t have the impact they had hoped for and the film was a massive flop when it premiered.

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