Meico Whitlock – What employers want you to know about hiring

Michael Akbar:
Well, welcome to another one in our series of interviews with career experts and hiring managers. Our guest today is Mr. Meico Whitlock. He's the founder and CEO of Mindful Techie, the author of Intention Planner, and a certified mindfulness teacher. Meico helps changemakers create work-life and tech-life balance so they can do their best work better while living their best lives. Through speaking, training, and coaching, he facilitates transformative experiences that foster well-being in a hyper-connected and distracted world. He has worked with organizations such as Cigna, Greenpeace, and the Word Wildlife Fund and has been a featured speaker on ABC News, Fox 5, and Radio One. He's a former triathlete, loves salsa dancing, and makes the world's best vegan chili. He holds an M.S. in information science from the University of Michigan and a BA in political science and Spanish from Morehouse College.

Michael Akbar:
Today, Meico will share with us his firsthand experience as a hiring manager on what employers want you to know about getting hired. With that introduction, Meico, if you don't mind sharing with us a little bit about your background regarding hiring and employment, let's get started from there.

Meico Whitlock:
Awesome. Well, Michael, thank you for having me. It's always a pleasure to chat with you, and I'm excited that I get to share this part of my journey with your audience. It's not often that I get an opportunity to share this particular aspect of it, because the core of my work is really helping people on the professional development front. But as you alluded to, even prior to the work that I'm doing now, I've worked across sectors primarily in government and nonprofit, but I've also worked in the private sector. And primarily in my work in the non-profit and government sector, I've had an opportunity to be on both ends of the process in terms of being a contractor, as well as being a hiring manager and being someone that's selecting and hiring contractors or hiring employees, interns, et cetera. And so my experience really runs the gamut.

Meico Whitlock:
I have designed entire hiring processes. I have worked in a consulting capacity with organizations to actually hire teams, particularly in the communications and technical work that I have done in the past. So I've done everything from identifying what the gaps are, writing the job description, doing the recruitment, doing the review of the application, doing the interviewing, doing the negotiation with salary and negotiating the budget to actually be able to hire the person, to the not-so-wonderful things, which is when you have to tell someone that they didn't get the job, or perhaps one of the more challenging aspects of ... one of the things I have to deal with is when you actually—you learn that an opportunity is not working out and you actually have to let someone go.

Meico Whitlock:
So I've been on all ends of it from a hiring manager perspective. And I also want to share with the audience that I've been on all ends of this also as a candidate. So I have gone through the candidate process, through the traditional process where you apply for a job through maybe a relationship that you have, or you apply on the website. I've also worked with recruiters—again, on both sides. I've been a candidate for a recruiter. I've also hired recruiters to help me find candidates. So I have that experience as well.

Michael Akbar:
That's wonderful. I'm really glad to have you here with us today. If you don't mind, because for some of us, this is really a little bit of a mystery, when we apply for a job, what happens on the employer side? I know is different from company to company, but what goes on behind the curtain?

Meico Whitlock:
So it does vary from company to company, but generally what I have seen in my career is two things: So depending on the size of the organization, smaller to medium-size organizations might be in a situation where the person who's actually going to be supervising you is actually directly involved in the hiring process. They're actually the hiring manager. So there's a filtering process whereby their application perhaps comes directly through the hiring manager, perhaps as it goes through another layer of sort of review. That's generally on the small- to medium-size that I've seen. So in my case, working for a small/medium-sized organization, when I first started out in one of my first roles where I was actually charged with actually building my team, because I was the first full-time hire for that particular role, I was actually the one when you applied, and when the instructor said to email your resume and cover to this address, it was forwarded to me and I actually got your application directly.

Meico Whitlock:
And in medium-sized to larger organizations, things may typically be more sophisticated than that. And so generally at a minimum, you're probably going to have an equivalent of an HR person or HR department that is going to be reviewing your application at a minimum to simply—to not qualify you for the position necessarily, but to determine if what the hiring manager or the department needs actually matches what you have on your resume. So they're not necessarily reviewing it to see if we're going to hire you. They're reviewing to say, "Okay, well, if the job description says this person needs to have this type of degree and this many years of experience, does the resume and cover letter application indicate that? If so, if yes, then send this over to the next stage of the process." Which is generally the hiring manager or the panel, depending on the level of the position and how sophisticated the hiring process is for that organization.

Meico Whitlock:
So those are, in my experience, the two ... Actually, that's not true. I gave you two scenarios. A third scenario is when you have a recruiter involved. So with a recruiter involved, sometimes you may not actually know (as a candidate)—you might not actually know who the company is. They might say, "We have a role at this type of company, and this is the type of team that you'll be working with." And they might send your resume in blind. And actually the first stop there is actually the recruiter. The recruiter and the agency is the one that is actually reviewing the application, and they might give you feedback. And in my experience, it's to your advantage to really be forthcoming with the recruiter, because they're there to help you, because by helping you they help themselves. And in many cases, they get a percentage of your first-year salary, for example, on top of whatever the company is going to be paying you, as part of their fee.

Meico Whitlock:
So they want you to get hired, and they want you to stay in the role. They want it to be a good fit. And so there's going to be some back and forth with them first. I remember one of my first experiences working with a recruiter; they helped me with resume prep. We actually did mock interviews. That could be the first part of the process. And then you sort of—once you are actually connected to the client or the organization that you're actually going to be interviewing with, then that's another step in the process. But that's just sort of a broad overview of the different types of experiences I've had.

Michael Akbar:
That's wonderful. Thank you. And the other question that I ... now that you've shared with us these different variations, if there's a universal guideline for candidates, what is really the most important thing out of all the advice and guidelines that you have that candidates should keep in mind in terms of what the employer is looking for and what they should do about it?

Meico Whitlock:
I think one of the very first things is—really before you even start the process—is being intentional. And what I mean by that is really just taking the time to get clear about what your intention is. Another way to think about intention is what your aim is and what your intended outcome is for the process. And once you're clear about your intention or your aim or what the intended outcome is, that is going to influence everything else that comes forward in the process. It is going to determine the type of organizations that you apply for. It's going to determine things like what benefits and salary make sense for you. Are you willing to relocate? Do you want to work from home versus working in an office? Do you want a hybrid situation? Do you have a disability, and you need special accommodations?

Meico Whitlock:
All of those things are going to be determined for you upfront when you get clear about your intention. One of the last things you want to do is to actually just go out and just start applying willy nilly out of a space of desperation or out of a sense of obligation that you need to have a job or that you feel like, This field is new and booming, and I'm going to make a lot of money. It sounds interesting. Let me go ahead and throw my hat in the ring. No. Start with getting clear about your intention. And one of the simple questions you can ask yourself is Why do I want to do this? And continue to ask yourself why until it becomes concrete enough that you have a clarity about, Okay, I'm doing this because it's in alignment with how I've been called to serve at this season in my life. My skillsets align with this particular sector. I have experience. So on and so forth. And then that can help you determine some of the other things.

Michael Akbar:
Correct. That's wonderful. I'm going to switch gears here a little bit and ask this completely different kind of question. As you know, we are living in a time that there are so many things are happening in our society—political, social. And the job search by itself is a very stressful process. You want to have focus, and you want to just go about it, as you said, be intentional and know what you're looking for, and then kind of work towards that, but with everything else that is happening in our society and, you know, that some of them truly impact people on that very individual level. It makes it sometimes hard for people to keep away from all of those distractions. Do you have any thoughts or recommendations about how, once we become intentional, to kind of stay the course and keep our eyes on the prize, so to speak?

Meico Whitlock:
Yeah. So I think one of the first things we can do whenever any type of change or crisis or disruptions we're experiencing in our life is to simply acknowledge it. I think that's the first place to start, to simply acknowledge it. Because if you don't acknowledge it, and you pretend like it doesn't exist, and you try to power through, you actually give more energy to it, and it becomes a bigger distraction toward sort of taking you away from it, as you pointed out, getting to that prize, getting to the ultimate goal of the aim of the intention that we talked about earlier. So the first thing is really just acknowledging that what's happening, acknowledging that for example, that maybe you are exhausted or you're concerned, you're overwhelmed by what's happening in the political process—you're overwhelmed or exhausted by what's happening, the latest in the news, for example. And if there's something that you need to do in order to take care of yourself, perhaps watching less of the news, making a concerted effort to say, "You know what? I need to be informed. And so I'm going to find a way to stay informed, but I'm going to limit my intake so that it's not impacting me negatively in terms of my emotion and my mental state." So I think that's the first part of the process. The second part of the process is once you've acknowledged what the challenge is, the second part of this process is to really focus on what you have control over. So much of the worry that we have comes from what you just talked about—comes from worrying about things that we really have no control over. And in that sense, worry is really useless. It's just wasted energy. Worry only serves us if it brings our attention to something that we can actually take action on in that moment. So if you have no control over, and you have no impact over it, you can't do anything about what's happening in the news or what's happening in the political system, other than doing your small part, which might be voting, for example, maybe making a donation to a charity that's working on a particular cause or whatever it might be, or maybe it might be writing a social media post, make people aware, whatever it is. Once you have done that, whatever your part is, it's time to shift your focus to what you actually have control over. And what you have control over goes back to what we talked about at the top of the conversation, which is setting your intention and then setting your activities to align with that intention so that you actually get to your ultimate outcome.

Michael Akbar:
Great. That's wonderful. Thank you so much. That's one advice all of us, in whatever capacity, can benefit from.

Meico Whitlock:
Absolutely.

Michael Akbar:
That's really great. Kind of going back to what we were talking about earlier about, the intention for the candidates to be clear about their intention, when they are not, and we have clients who sometimes tell me that they have applied for 300 jobs this week, and there's no way that there are 300 jobs that are great match for them, so they're just going after quantity, as opposed to quality. As a hiring manager, when you receive the applications, when you look at the cover letter and resume, how can you tell if this person is really focused on what they are after as opposed to just shooting in the dark, so to speak?

Meico Whitlock:
I love this question, because as a hiring manager at my last role, I worked for a medium-sized organization, so we had about 50 staff folks and maybe more dozens of contractors around the world, but for the most part 50 core staff at our headquarters. And for an organization of that size, we would receive hundreds of applications for a position. So imagine if you're applying for a large, well-known corporate entity—imagine how many more applications they might be receiving. So as a manager, at least when I first started, I was receiving those without any filters. So if you've sent your email to the hiring@whatever.org, I would receive it. And at first you might think, Well, if you're receiving hundreds of applications for the same position, this might be hard for you to do, but actually it really wasn't, because you have the set of instructions. The set of instructions in my case say to submit a cover letter that includes these three things, include a resume that reflects your experience, et cetera .And so you're able to easily weed out folks very quickly just by doing a cursory glance, because I have a sort of a multi-part process, a three-part process for review. The first part process is I'm just doing a cursory review to essentially do a quality check to see if people follow the directions. 90-plus percent of people don't follow directions. And so see that they didn't include a cover letter. They didn't include a resume; it wasn't tailored. So I can tell that they just sort of pressed Send. It wasn't customized to the actual role or the position. There are typos. In this particular instance, who I am as the hiring manager is on the website, so if you want to do the extra effort to show that you are actually paying attention, you can actually look my name up and actually address the cover letter directly to me. There are instances people misspell my name. I would be misgendered even though I'm easily Googleable, and my pronouns are readily available and assessable. So those types of mistakes would weed out about 90-plus percent of folks on that first round. And then on the subsequent rounds, I could actually spend more time going in depth on the other ones that seem like they might be a fit initially, because they actually followed directions, at least for the first round.

Michael Akbar:
Great. Thank you. If you don't mind, I want to build on that question just a little bit. When you get a cover letter that is not really—that they have not followed the instruction as you have provided those instructions—what goes on in there in the employer's mind? What's the interpretation there when you get the resume looks really great, but again, they have not really followed the instruction—that lack of following instruction. What's the interpretation? What does that do to the candidates, so to speak?

Meico Whitlock:
So I think here I have to qualify this a bit, because I think some hiring managers think differently, and I think it's probably different depending on if you're hiring for a technical role versus a role for me, which is sort of a technical role, but as a hiring manager, I take a holistic approach to the work that we do. So I hire for communications, for example. So if I'm hiring you to do communications, outbound communications on behalf of the organization, how you present yourself is critically important. Really in that instance, your cover and your resume is your first assignment, so to speak. And so if you aren't able to put an effort in that, it tells me that you're probably not going to put in effort as an employee. You're probably going to be a pain to work with. If you're not able to follow directions with the job posting, then you're probably not going to be able to take direction very well under supervision. You're probably not going to be able to do very well working independently, going off on your own. And so those are the types of things that happen. So as a hiring manager, I don't really spend a lot of time on that, because for me, I'm getting hundreds of resumes. And so really what I want to do—you're doing me a favor, because I want to whittle down and spend less time working on the hiring process, because the more time I'm spending on the hiring process, the less time I'm actually spending on my core duties. So remember that, or perhaps take into account if folks aren't aware of this, having a position open is expensive for an organization in terms of time, and also in terms of actual financial investment. So I want to spend as less time and financial resources on this process, and I actually want to get it right. I want to hire the right person, because hiring the wrong person is a costly mistake. Having the process run too long is a costly mistake too, because as a hiring manager, if I'm directly involved in the process, I'm spending extra time on top of my full-time duties in order to actually work through this process. And so in many ways, to your original question, part of what is going on in my mind on a certain level is, This person hasn't honored my time. So if this person hasn't honored my time, they haven't honored the process, then why should they move to the next step?

Michael Akbar:
Thank you. And the question I had is that we hear people advising candidates that, "Do your homework before you apply, or do your homework before you interview." But, again, from an employer's standpoint, how far, where should they take that homework? What does that homework ... what should it entail so that it contributes to the quality of the resume, cover letter, and the application that they're submitting?

Meico Whitlock:
I think at a baseline, there are two things in terms of the homework. Number one, read very closely a job posting, and in many cases a well-written job posting, even if you don't do any additional research, (which I'm not saying you shouldn't do, but even if you don't), even if you only focus on the job posting, we take a lot of pains to actually make the job posting clear as best that we can, because it cuts down on the back and forth for us. And it actually helps us to get to a better candidate quicker. And so a well-written job description is going to have things about the role, what's to be expected, what are the requirements. A well-written job prescription, in my opinion, will also have things about the values. Maybe it's a real quick snippet about the values of the organization, of the team, a little bit about the mission, and how this role sort of fits in. And so all of those things in a well-written job description are going to already be included. Now, if those things aren't included, the next step, which is I think—part two of sort of the baseline research is to take a look at the website. Take a look at the website, and there are, I would say three things you want to be looking at when you're looking at the website. You want to find the About page. You want to learn a bit about the history, the mission, the vision, and so on, and so forth, and learn a little bit about what's happening there. Take a look at that Home page. Generally the Home page, or if there's a News section or a Blog section, that's going to tell you what are the most current issues that the organization is focused on. And this is an opportunity for you to shine in your cover letter, because then you can make your experience relevant, not to just the organization as a whole, but then you can speak to what's top of mind for the organization in this particular moment. The third area that you want to look at is if there's a directory. You want to get a sense of ... because in many cases, the job description is going to indicate who the department is, and who you're reporting to, or give you some general information about that. That can be valuable information just to get a sense, Okay, well who else is on this team? And going back to getting clear about intention, doing this type of research can also help you to figure out if a job is actually going to be a good fit for you. Because the job description and the mission and those things might be aligned, but you might actually discover during your research on the website, Oh, this organization actually doesn't align with... What they're saying doesn't actually line up with what I'm seeing on the website, for example. So if I read, for example, that they value diversity of thought or that they value racial diversity, but then you look at the picture of the staff on the website, and it doesn't reflect that. Or you don't see that there is a diversity of viewpoints, but they're saying that they value diversity of thought in terms of the types of issues that are discussed and how they're discussed, then is that really an organization that you want to work for if that is something that's a really core part of what you're looking for in terms of your career opportunity?

Michael Akbar:
Great. That's wonderful. Thank you. The other thing I wanted to ask you, again, just staying on the theme of the resume, cover letter, and something that will also carry through to the interview. The question about the accuracy and how honest people should be, why is it important? Is it not important? What are your thoughts on that?

Meico Whitlock:
So in terms of the broader question, yes, you want to be accurate, and you want to be honest. And you can treat it sort of like the start of any relationship. So you're not going to go on a first date and give your entire life story. You're going to give a sketch. And maybe there are going to be some quirks that you have, and maybe those are things that you don't discuss on the first date. So you're sort of getting to know each other, and in terms of the cover letter and the resume, definitely at a minimum you want to be responding to what is asked for. But at a minimum, you want to be responding to what is asked for.

Meico Whitlock:
So if the cover letter asked you for a salary range, I know people have different types of opinions about this, but if the hiring manager is asking you for salary range, whether you think it's fair or not, if you want to honor that process, and you have made a decision that you want to apply, knowing that that's the process, then provide the salary range. If it's asking you if you have a bachelor's of engineering and that's a requirement, you need to be able to address that. If you don't have the bachelor’s of engineering, then you need to be able to explain why you're applying even though you don't have the bachelor’s of engineering—what equivalent experience you have that would perhaps help a hiring manager to understand why they should give you a second look, even though you're missing one of those things. Does that get to your question?

Michael Akbar:
Yes, I believe so. And on that note (or kind of parallel to that), occasionally I hear from candidates who … they say they have an interview coming up, so they are going to go on that interview, but they already know that this is not necessarily the ideal organization for them, so the intention is already not matching, and they say that, "Okay, I'm going to go and have an interview as a practice." Now, as a hiring manager, if you are sitting there, and you got the sense that this person is not really here for pursuing the job, but it's a practice, how does that make you feel? And is that a good thing to do just to get some practice?

Meico Whitlock:
I'll go back to the relationship example, with the dating. The further along you get into the process, I guess the more of a time commitment that is actually being made on both ends. So by the time we get to the interview process, I've already invested a lot of time in the process. And it's sort of like—we just had the recent presidential election—we know somebody is going to win. I know one of these candidates is going to win. I've whittled it down to two or three folks that I'm actually interviewing seriously. I know that one of you is going to win. And so if you're not serious about the process, then that's a waste of time for both of us—same thing in the dating process. If you know on the first date that this is not a good fit, the more dates you go on, the more time you're wasting, and also the harder it becomes when you eventually say, "Oh, you know what? Actually, this is not working out."

Michael Akbar:
Great. Exactly. That makes sense. Staying with the interview, you mentioned about it's going to come down to a few people. Ultimately it's going to come down to a few candidates to consider. When it comes to candidates that you know on paper they're very similar, even in the interview they've done fairly well, maybe two or three of them, what are other parameters that come into consideration for a hiring manager to decide, Yeah, they can both do X; they can both do Y. They both answered the question well. What other things would you start thinking about in terms of deciding which direction to go?

Meico Whitlock:
I think this probably varies based on organization and the hiring manager too, and also depending on whether it's a highly technical role or if it's a non-technical role. I would say for me, in this particular instance, one of the things that I'm looking for, sort of this nebulous word people talk about in terms of fit, is this person—because the types of interviews that I do, you would have an opportunity to meet other people on the team, other people across the organization. So I'm not just looking at how you're responding to questions or your cover letter and resume. I'm looking at how you're jelling with colleagues, and I'm looking for feedback from them too. So I have my thoughts, but immediately after the interview process, after making a decision, I'm bringing everyone else who had an interaction with you into the room, and I'm talking to the HR manager.“ How was the process? Was it a smooth process to schedule the interview? Were they flexible? Were they unreasonable? Did you have to reschedule?” If you're having them interview on your team, getting a sense from the team, "What's your sense of ... with person A versus person B? What's your sense of what it might be like to work with them? Is this person a know-it-all, or did they actually listen? Did they have fresh new ideas? They indicate that they actually had done research? And ultimately, is this person actually going to be a really good fit for where we are?”And in some cases, too, particularly if it comes down to a decision being made by senior management or HR, it might also come down too in terms of competitive advantage, in terms of just salary negotiation. So if we only have a certain budget for the position, and one candidate might be great, but they're more expensive than what the budget allows for, and they're not able to negotiate for whatever reason, then that can also help guide the decision as well.

Michael Akbar:
Excellent.

Meico Whitlock:
So there are a number of factors that could contribute to how you make a decision at that stage.

Michael Akbar:
Beautiful. Thank you. In scenarios just like the one you described, when in addition to a hiring manager, you have other folks within the organization also sit down and have interviews with the candidate, I know that the hiring manager probably has thought about certain questions that they want to ask the candidate. When it comes to the other members of the department or organization to sit down and talk to the candidate, to what degree are they typically instructed to look for certain things? Or is it more just to see how the rapport works, or what are your experiences in that?

Meico Whitlock:
Sure. So I think this is one of those areas that it really varies by organization and by hiring manager. For me, if I am setting up interviews with other members of my team or other members of the organization, I want to make sure people are as prepared as possible. One of those reasons is everyone else is busy, and so you want to be able to—and you don't want to bring a candidate in multiple times unnecessarily. And so I do my best at least to maximize the time that we do have. And so for me, I have a set of core questions that I'm asking—so just the questions or really topic areas too that I'm really assessing. I share that with the team members, and I share a copy of the cover letter and the resume. But I'm not necessarily sharing my assessment, because I want people to come to their own conclusion, and then we can come together to talk about what we observed.

Meico Whitlock:
And so those core areas are connected to the person's background. One of the areas is around fit in terms of technical ability, like, "What's your interest technically in this role? What are you actually good at, or what do you feel like you might be challenged by?” And “What's the area where you might have an opportunity to grow relative to what we're expecting in the role?" And then there's the questions around team dynamics and, "Are you an introvert, extrovert? How do you like to work in terms of the team structure? How do you feel about working being supervised versus not being supervised or working in a mixed matrix versus top-down structure or flat structure?" Those kinds of questions. And then the last bucket really is—which is really probably between the HR manager and the hiring manager—which is things like, "So if you were offered the job today, how soon could you start?" That kind of stuff.

Michael Akbar:
Great. That makes sense. As you said, sometimes it depends on the nature of the job what kind of parameters make sense. If somebody's sitting in a back room doing analytical work, maybe being extroverted is not as important a parameter or otherwise. A question I wanted to ask you earlier—and it's not so much a hiring manager question, but more as a candidate, since you have been in all these roles—regarding networking, what are some of your thoughts about (especially nowadays with the situation with COVID and all that), how important is networking, and what are some of your guidelines or suggestions about how to go about that? I would appreciate your thoughts on that.

Meico Whitlock:
Sure. So I would say that networking is critical. When I think back over my career, I would say that the vast majority of my career opportunities have come through relationships that I've had or that I've developed, but that's not to say that I haven't. I mentioned the one instance where I worked as a candidate with a recruiter, and that wasn't network-based necessarily, that was just based on—it was a technical position and it was just really based on I had the technical skills, I was available, and it was a match in that sense. So it's not to say that you can't have success if it's not networking-based, but you want to be able to build those relationships. And my approach to this is really organic. I don't have a system for this. Some basic things to start with is start with what you're actually naturally and organically interested in. So if you are, in my case, a communications person, you're interested in nonprofit or government work, then it should be a natural fit for you to be a part of whatever non-governmental or non-profit communications groups there are in your particular area, either online now, given where we are in the world, or in-person, or hybrid or whatever it is. In my view, it shouldn't feel like you're faking it or that you're stretching yourself for like, "Oh, I have to go to this thing." No, it should be a natural thing because this is something that you're genuinely interested in and so you want to participate in it. So you try out a few things, and you show up and show up without expectation. Show up without expectation that you're going to get a job or that you're going to meet someone really important. Show up with the intention of actually developing genuine connections, and show up with the intention of being able to actually support someone else and help someone else make a connection, even if there isn't a direct impact or benefit from you. So getting into that mindset of being plugged into conversations where there's an opportunity to share—sort of is very similar to how we're connected. So we're both part of an association. I mean, at least for my part, there's no real upside for me in doing this interview with you other than to just share my wisdom. I'm not expecting to get anything out of it. If this would be helpful for folks that you're working with, that's great. I hope people get something from it. And if there's something else that comes from this connection, then that's great. If not, just I'm reveling in the fact that we get to have this conversation, and I get to share this wealth analysis that I don't often have an opportunity to share with folks.

Michael Akbar:
I think that was the most wonderful advice I heard about networking, Meico. Absolutely. Because it really helps when you put yourself in that mindset. It takes away the stress, even for people who feel they are introverted, and they don't want to do networking, but when you put it from that standpoint, that that just has got be a natural thing when you're networking with people within your own trade. So I hope that all our viewers will really take that advice to heart, and that would be great advice to all of us. So thank you for that one.

Meico Whitlock:
Absolutely. You're welcome.

Michael Akbar:
I want to go back now to where we left it with interviews. So people are done with the interviews, they are going on, they're done, and now we talk—people talk about some kind of a follow-up, a thank you letter, emailed, et cetera. What are your thoughts on that? What are the things that would make a difference from the employer's perspective as you look at the different follow-ups, so to speak? Absolutely. So definitely doing a follow-up thank-you note or email is a nice touch. It's not a guarantee of anything, but it's just sort of icing on a cake or cherry on top, right? It's just you had a good interview and on top of that, this person was responsive, and they sent a thank you note essentially appreciating the time and effort and the process, so on, and so forth. And they did it within 24 to 48 hours. Those would be sort of the parameters. I think this is also the one time in the process where you can be in direct contact with the hiring manager or the HR manager, and then not be seen potentially as going around the process. Because in many cases, I mentioned we get hundreds of applications for positions, and so many organizations have policies in place around, "We will contact you if we are interested. Please don't contact us. Please don't stalk us on LinkedIn or Facebook. Please don't call our home. Don't Google us. Don't try to bump into us casually at Starbucks or the grocery store." But after you've had the interview, after you've actually made the contact, that's one of the few instances in the process where I think as a hiring manager it's perfectly okay for you to follow up and to simply say thank you. And so maybe if you haven't gotten clarity on this in the interview process, generally, if you have ... and when we ask you if you have any questions, if that part of the process hasn't been laid out to you towards the next steps, that's the time where you want to ask those questions. I would also caution people against using the thank-you follow-up as an opportunity to have a part two of the interview—so not asking additional questions that create more work, because there are questions that you should have probably asked and thought about during the interview process. Hopefully that encourages people to really put some forethought into the front end of the process, before you actually get to that stage.

Michael Akbar:
Great. I totally get it. From what you're suggesting is, as you said, don't use the follow-up email for kind of continuing that questioning process. However, if you had observations during the interview that you felt would be valuable for the employer to know, would the follow-up email be a good place to just kind of make a reference to your thoughts or suggestions or recommendations to the employer?

Meico Whitlock:
Yeah. I think that's an appropriate place, and keep it succinct. I think that's the thing—because again, we're talking about time into the process. So you don't, as a candidate at least, I wouldn't want you to do anything that's going to slow down the process or that's going to perturb the hiring manager, because now you're asking something that is probably unnecessary, that is going to require them to do research or go back to the HR manager. So you want to be mindful of, Is it necessary? Is it going to add value in terms of helping you to stand out as a candidate? Is it actually a legitimate follow-up to something that actually came up in the interview that perhaps was unresolved to a certain degree? You want to give some thought to that before you open up another line of inquiry.

Michael Akbar:
Got it. Well, thank you so much. I know that you have generously put more time in this conversation than we had originally planned. Before we kind of finalize, are there any other do's or don'ts that you would like to comment on?

Meico Whitlock:
Again, I just want to underscore this importance of getting clear about the intention before you start the process, focusing on that throughout the process, and focusing on the quality, as opposed to the quantity. You mentioned earlier about the person who's ... so they apply for 300 jobs this week, and I don't know what kinds of jobs these are, and I don't know what the application process is. But in the types of hiring that I did, that would be particularly challenging to do, because you would have to spend essentially every waking hour doing research and customizing your cover letter and your resume to match that.

Michael Akbar:
You can't do that, right?

Meico Whitlock:
Yeah. So you want to be just mindful of that and to actually take the time—and again, coupling this with the relationship-building piece as well.

Michael Akbar:
Great. That's wonderful. Meico, thank you again. Thank you very much for the time you allocated for this conversation. And my last question is really, for those who want to stay in touch with you, how would you suggest for them to go about doing that?

Meico Whitlock:
Absolutely. So folks can find me on LinkedIn. I'm Meico Marquette Whitlock, and then you can also go to my website, mindfultechie.com, and click on Subscribe to join the email list if you're interested in the work that I do with changemakers around work-life and tech-life balance. Those are the two ways that I recommend for folks to get in contact and stay connected.

Michael Akbar:
That's wonderful. Thank you again, and you have a wonderful day.

Meico Whitlock:
All right. You as well. Take care.

Michael Akbar:
Take care now. Bye-bye.


Did you like this interview?

We will notify you of future videos on this topic.