Perspectives From A First-Time Hiring Manager

hiring manager perspectiveBy Jenny Weigle, social media manager for CareerBuilder

In late spring of 2011, I was informed that our department (marketing and communications) would be hiring a summer intern, and I was offered the chance to be the intern's supervisor. I was hired as a social media manager in November 2010. Then, just a few months later, I had my first-ever opportunity to become a hiring manager. That's not an experience most job seekers and new employees get.

As a result, I didn't want this to be just a résumé-filler. Almost immediately, I was approving a job description and collecting résumés. I quickly realized that I might have underestimated what it would take to be a good manager.

Reviewing applications

What a unique experience it was to be "on the other side" - it definitely gave me valuable insight into the do's and don'ts of a successful job search. I was sorting through numerous résumés each day, trying to find the person with the right mix of skills to benefit our entire department.

Hint: Job seekers, when you read the advice telling you to do something to make yourself stand out in a cover letter and résumé, do it.

During the initial review process, the candidates who stood out:

  • Included their social media profile URLs in their résumé header.
  • Linked to an online digital portfolio or professional website showcasing them as a job seeker.

I realized that my least-favorite part of the hiring process was the same part I disliked as a job seeker: sourcing candidates (on the job seeker side, this was the part where I tried to stand out from all other candidates through my cover letter and résumé). I understood how much work people put into their cover letter and résumé, so there were times when I felt bad for not choosing a candidate to pursue, but that person just didn't have the qualities I was looking for.

The interview

When it came time to interview, I was nervous - something no one ever told me could happen to a hiring manager. I wanted to make a good impression on behalf of the organization, but I knew that I also had to use this time wisely to make some serious decisions. During the phone interviews, I was not only nervous but also excited, curious and, sad to say, disappointed at times.

When I narrowed it down to the final candidates and made my selection, they all shared a few standout qualities. Here are some ways they rose above the rest in their interviews:

  • Shared printed examples of past projects.

  • Displayed an understanding of relevant skills. In this case, social media marketing for business purposes. (This website offers a free certification to learn in this area)

  • Demonstrated relevant experience and initiative. In the case of our marketing internship, job seekers who used a social media account for something other than personal use. (Writing and promoting a blog based on his/her passions, running a Twitter account for a collegiate organization, running a Facebook account for an organization or business, etc.)

  • Exhibited knowledge of current trends, which translated to technology tools and tricks. (An easy way for this intern to brush up on these trends would have been to read the newsletters for Mashable or TechCrunch.)

On the job

If my least favorite part of the process was not selecting applicants, my favorite part was getting to know our intern within the first few weeks of the internship. This was a time when I was proud to teach her about our company and our social media marketing efforts. I enjoyed seeing her adapt to the role and bring her unique skills to the job.

Also, I started to see myself differently as a professional. During the course of the internship, I was more aware of my time in the office, what I was saying and how I was presenting myself. I struggled, much like any other supervisors, when it came to critiquing her work and walking that fine line of being her manager but not wanting to hurt her feelings.

Part of being a successful hiring manager is having people you can look up to in order to model yourself after them. Through this process, I thought about the first two bosses I had in my "real-world" jobs, and I thought about what I admire in my current supervisor. This created an image in my head of the kind of boss I wanted to be, and I frequently went back to that image to get a sense of what I wanted to accomplish.

If you are about to take on your first role as a manager, the best advice I can give you is to:

  • Listen. Listen to your employee, as well as your mentors and your manager when they share their advice.

  • Evaluate yourself. Don't be afraid to put yourself in your employee's shoes. Are you managing by influence? Are you setting the example you had hoped for?

  • Look to resources for professional development. For me, two of these resources were books: "The New Manager's Took Kit" by Don and Sheryl Grimme, and "Managing by Influence" by Kenneth and Linda Schatz. Also, I was frequently searching the archives of The Hiring Site for pointers and tips.

Best of luck to all of the new managers and soon-to-be new managers out there.

Non-managers, what tips would you give to managers to make working for them a better experience? Managers, what have you learned over the course of your career?

Jenny Weigle is the social media manager for CareerBuilder's social media accounts and has contributed to The Hiring Site.

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