HR Workers Dished On "Secrets" They Think More Employees Should Know

Recently, I asked HR workers of the BuzzFeed Community to share tips or anonymous secrets they want employees to know from resumes to benefits. Here they are!



“We only care about your top three latest relevant employments to the position we’re hiring. No need to put your first job. Just make sure each employment lasts at least two years and your experience matches the one we’re looking for, then you’ll be shortlisted.”



“Even if you are a college graduate with no job experience, please do not include ‘hobbies and interests’ on your CV. Potential employers will instead look at your grades and extracurriculars, so highlight those.”



“If a cover letter isn’t required, don’t include one. It will rarely help you get a job, and is just more room to make grammar and editing mistakes. If I don’t want to interview someone based on their resume, a cover letter has never convinced me otherwise. But I’ve seen several candidates that are qualified on their resumes not get an interview because their cover letter was a mess.”



“When you apply for jobs, check your email and answer your phone. More than half of the people I call to schedule an interview with either don’t have their voicemail set up or the mailbox is full. When on the phone with me, be polite. You’re about the 15th person I’ve talked to today, I’m just doing my job, and I’m calling because YOU applied for this job. Don’t hang up on me. If you don’t want the job, simply say ‘I don’t think this will be a good fit for me, thank you for your time.’ I promise my feelings won’t be hurt and I’ll have more respect for you than if you just hang up on me.”



“Have professional emails when applying for positions. There is nothing worse than seeing as your contact information.”



“Make sure your dates are correct and years don’t overlap, choose one font, don’t add your picture, SPELL CHECK, and make sure acronyms are correct!”



“Some days I can have over 100 resumes to review and determine who to contact for an interview. I only skim a resume for maybe 30 seconds to determine who gets an interview and who doesn’t so I can move on to reaching out to the most qualified applicants. If your resume doesn’t pop out to me in that 30 seconds, I move on to the next one.”



“Companies don’t look for the same things when hiring so there are no secret rules. I work for the federal government and we want to know every job you’ve had and course you’ve taken. It’s common to have a 3+ page resume. In other places, that would get your resume thrown out immediately. Take hiring advice with a grain of salt.”



“If the job application has screening questions or an assessment attached to it and you don’t answer them, I won’t even open your application. If you can’t take the time to complete three questions, you aren’t the candidate for me.”

— Anonymous


“Recruiter here. I will decline a request to interview if you send me an email with improper grammar.”



“If you’re looking to make a career switch, you need to include some information about why in your job application. It doesn’t have to be a whole cover letter, but just a short blurb in the objective about why you’re applying for something you don’t (on the surface) have the experience or education for. Also, shine some light on your personal experience when applying! I worked for a youth shelter once, and I had a guy who applied who, on paper, had no experience working with at-risk youth. But we found out that he had been through the foster care system with him and his brother. He was a fantastic employee! You have to make these things known and prove that your personal experience can apply to a job.”

— turkeyinacan



“People who sit up straight, look you in the eye while talking, and have questions for you at the end of the interview are the ones really interested in the position. They almost always get a call back for a second interview or to start the new-hire process.”



“HR consultant here. Be honest about your weaknesses. Never say, ‘I am too much of a perfectionist,’ or ‘I am too organized.’ We can all develop professionally; now is your chance to show how you can grow within the company!”



“Keep a spreadsheet or a notebook of all the jobs you’re applying for if you’re mass applying. I hate, hate, hate when I call a candidate who I think would be great for the job but who has no idea what company I’m calling from or what position they applied for because they just applied to whatever they could or what appealed to them. It sets a bad precedent if we move forward with an interview or an offer. I’m not saying be fully invested in one company and memorize all their info, but just jot down the job you applied for and what company.”




“USE YOUR BENEFITS! A lot of people don’t utilize things like Employee Assistance Programs, and they are free resources that can help you with things that come up in life (child care, elder care, mental illness, financial guidance, etc.)”

“Almost every company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This is a free resource for every employee. Most offer 3–6 free sessions a year in areas like counseling, therapy, legal help, financial help, etc. These are virtual or in-person sessions with professionals all over the country. We normally direct people to an EAP if they are struggling with suicide, marriage issues, substance abuse, and so on. It’s not talked about enough as a 24/7 free resource.”

— Anonymous


“I cannot say this enough: If your employer has a 401K match, do what you can to contribute to get the full match. It is FREE MONEY that you are leaving on the table if you don’t contribute!”



“For the love of god, set an alarm/notification for when you need to have your enrollment for benefits done when you are first hired. It’s not your boss’s or HR’s responsibility to remind you to sign up. Once the deadline passes, there’s nothing we can do until open enrollment.”



“If you have an FSA account and plan to quit, use up your funds before you leave. If you don’t have anything specific that you need, use them at the online FSA store. The funds were front-loaded into your account, so the company has already paid for it, even though you haven’t, so use them before your last day! The company can’t recoup that money from you.”


Pay & Growth


“Look at your pay stubs! Almost anything is fixable, and it’s better to catch errors during the year instead of when you are trying to do your taxes. If there is something wrong, HR or payroll can help fix it.”



“There is no perfect employee. If you’re getting feedback, there’s a good chance (if your manager and/or HR person is any good) the feedback is valid and important. Be honest with yourself and actually listen. Nothing worse than an entitled employee (or manager)!”



“Do something great, make it a bullet point, and keep it in a document. You can use those to ask for raises, or create a quick and powerful resume when a recruiter reaches out to you. Most managers I work with could easily be making 20% more if they knew how to best present their professional accomplishments.”



“Stick to the duties and responsibilities of the job and your job performance when asking for a salary increase, shift change, promotion, or any other change to your current job. Too often, employees miss an opportunity because they focus on personal issues (family, schedule, etc.) or comparisons to other employees.”



“A lot of the time, we fully believe that everyone should be compensated better for their time. I find some salaries that I’ve offered fucking laughable. But HR generalists, managers, and sometimes even directors do not control what we offer employees. We’re not just pulling hourly wages out of a hat when we offer. We’ve been given a certain number or a salary range that we can offer.”


Employee Relations


“Sometimes when faced with a really tricky HR question or issue, I have to google it just like everyone else.”



“Unfortunately, if your manager is a jerk/rude/obnoxious but not breaking any laws….HR won’t be able to do much. By the way, we think they’re jerks/rude/obnoxious, too. If you like the company though, look for other opportunities that report to different managers.”



“Get everything in writing, no matter what. Whether it’s from a manager about a raise or schedule change, or your request for FMLA. Not always out of malice, but sometimes people forget to communicate things and if you have even an email confirming it, that can save a lot of trouble.”



“Everyone thinks that HR is only out to protect the company. While there are some companies’ HR departments who act that way, most of us really do try to do what’s right for the employees. We have to act in accordance to company policy and the law, but we do want what’s best for everyone.”



“Always be nice to the secretaries or assistants. They usually know what’s going on or how to get/do something, so having them on your side always helps when you really need it. And if you are on their bad side, they can make the process drag out or more difficult for you.”



Finally, “Its not really a secret but I wish employees understood and believed that I am there for them. People tend to see HR as the position with all the rules and regulations. While we do have a responsibility to function within the legal parameters, we aren’t the fun police. We are real people and want to have fun too. But more importantly, we want to help the employee/employer relationship.”


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