Lately, I’ve seen quite a few Facebook posts that say things like “I’ve submitted literally hundreds of résumés! When will I find a job?” We all know that the job market is competitive here. Human Resources managers are slogging through piles of applications and résumés for every position, every day. So how do you make them take notice of yours?
We asked our own HR Manager, Teri, for advice on what makes her look twice at a résumé or a job applicant during an interview and gleaned the following helpful tips:
Be the person you claim to be.
We mentioned in our last post, that the interview process really starts before your in-person interview is even scheduled. When the employer begins to look at you as a candidate, they may check out your social networks or look at other resources to find out if you’re reliable, and if you demonstrate good judgment in your decision-making process. Of course we can all fake it when we know someone important is watching. But one fairly fool-proof way to appear unimpeachable is to be unimpeachable. Live a life that you don’t mind people peeking into, and the integrity of your character will speak for itself.
Little things are important
. Of course you’ve already heard that it’s a good idea to research the company and industry you’re attempting to work in. It may not be a deal breaker if you haven’t done so and you have all the qualifications for the job. But if it comes down to a decision between you and another, equally qualified candidate, it could be a tie-breaker. Expressing an interest in and knowledge of the company demonstrates that you are conscientious and prepared.
Be specific about the position.
Don’t submit a generic résumé that just lists your skills and job history. It only takes a few sentences to refine your résumé so that it fits the job you’re applying for. You can also include more information about why you’d be perfect for this job in your cover letter. Let your future boss know you are the person they’re looking for, not just that you are looking for gainful employment.
You’re interview is about more than your skills.
Be aware, when you decide how to answer the questions you’re asked, the employer is not only concerned with your talents. “We are interviewing for the culture,” Teri said. You may have all the technical knowledge necessary to be a database administrator, but not possess the traits necessary to be a meaningful part of our team. “Our interview questions are consistent when we’re interviewing and are categorized by our company values,” Teri explained. “We’re looking for attitude, effectiveness, and rapport.”
No, seriously. Did you know people bring their mom’s (and their cats) to their job interviews? For most of you serious job-searchers I don’t need to say this, but since it happens, it apparently needs to be said. Your mom may be your biggest fan, but if she has to help you job interview, the interviewer will assume she’ll also have to help you do your job.
Keep it concise.
Teri says the rule of a two-page-or-less résumé isn’t necessarily valid anymore, but if you write 8-10 pages, your employer knows you can’t communicate concisely and will assume you’ll be wasting her time with novelesque emails as well. We know you’ve got a lot of talent and history, and you’re proud of it, but do yourself a favor and summarize.
Ask questions about the company and the job.
Expressing an interest in the company culture and the position itself is important. Again, the employer knows your main priority is paying your bills. But they’d also like to know that you care about contributing something valuable to their team.
Express passion for what you do.
Enthusiasm goes a long way. Let your employer know that if you become the new accounting specialist, you can’t wait to learn new ways to measure revenue and maybe implement some of your own ideas. You love accounting, and that’s why you’re applying for this job, right? Demonstrating “This is what I really like to do. I’m passionate about (fill in the blank)” and giving some examples of that will make you “come off the paper,” Teri said.
Display some personality.
The résumé part of your application is about black and white skills and history, but in your cover letter you have an opportunity to let the employer know you’re a human with a personality. This is where you can show a bit of flare, or express humor. Keep it appropriate, but don’t be afraid to have a little fun. A staff member of ours once got a job interview at a newspaper because the editor appreciated her objective, which was to “eventually take over the world”. Be careful with this one though. Run it by a few trusted friends or colleagues to make sure it's still professional and appropriate.
Send a thank you note or email.
We’ve been told it shows initiative to call and follow up a few days after our interview or after we submit a résumé. But with the number of candidates per position increasing, HR departments are facing a hefty sorting process and don’t always appreciate fielding those follow-up calls. However, Teri tells us that sending a courteous note after an interview that simply says “thank you for your time and interest,” does make you stand out from the crowd.
We hope these tips were helpful! Did this remind you of any job interviews of your own?