One of the most challenging aspects of a job search is figuring out just what will draw the attention of the only person that really matters during the job application and hiring process; that gatekeeper to opportunity, that corporate deity for whom you weep, sweat, and brood over: the hiring manager. Fortunately, no matter what job you’re after, no matter what industry you’re preparing to storm, there are a handful of tricks to use that help spotlight and distinguish yourself from the competition and become the wheat in the chaff.
An attractive characteristic for any job applicant is a stable work history. Companies want consistency in their employees and the confidence that they want to work for their particular organization. An erratic job history can harm the prospects of a potential employee for getting hired. Even extended periods of unemployment can be a red flag to hiring managers. If it is necessary to include periods of unemployment on your résumé, it is important to demonstrate that you stayed busy during these times by doing volunteer work or developing your skill set by taking classes.
With the rise of social recruiting and the Internet as a candidate evaluation tool, it is more important than ever to develop an impactful online portfolio to bring an otherwise static, traditional résumé to life. Gone are the days when presenting a one or two page résumé was enough; modern employers want to see demonstrations of your work online before they spend their time and money on an interview. Furthermore, sharing professional blogs, profiles, and publications help make an impact and gives substance and animation to the simple words on the résumé paper.
Companies, like everyday consumers, tend to buy into the products that sell themselves the best. How does this behavior inform the résumé creation process? Show off! Don’t let accolades, awards, and other professional and relevant achievements go understated. Employers, in addition to seeking top talent, want the prestige and image boost that comes with hiring employees with public recognition. Use those industry presentations, published articles, and recognition awards to your advantage and toot your own horn!
The Internet has also expanded the possibilities for learning about a company, its history, and initiatives. Scanning a corporate website right before walking into an interview just isn’t enough. Showing interest in a potential employer shows dedication and real desire to work with a specific firm. Websites like LinkedIn also grant access to insider perspectives of what it’s like to work at a company and information such as common compensation packages.
One of the best ways to quickly gain respect and grab attention is to make clear what you can do for the company through your experience. Focus on the bottom line and describe how you can help solve problems and make money for the company. Also, keep in mind that not only are the questions asked of you in an interview important, but also those you choose to ask your potential future boss. Reversing interview questions such as “What is your measure for success?” and “What are your most prominent concerns regarding your job?” can lead to revealing discussion points.