Hey Job Seekers: Stop Focusing So Hard on Job Descriptions and Do This Instead

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Every job seeker has done the frantic window-shifting dance on their computer: from the job description to your resume, back to the description, then to your cover letter. Rinse and repeat.

While job descriptions undoubtedly contain crucial information, it’s just as important to look for other clues outside the job description that can help you stand out as a candidate.

That is exactly what Amazon is encouraging its candidates to do. As Miriam Park, director of Amazon’s university recruiting, told CNBC, Amazon looks for candidates who are “relentlessly curious” and who genuinely care about the company’s customers.

Take a note from Park, put the job description away, and focus on the company. Here are a few tips to help you impress employers:

1. Make Yourself Part of the Solution

If you’re out searching for any old job just to pay the bills, you’ll quickly learn that’s not the kind of talent recruiters are looking for in today’s market. Instead, employers seek dedicated and passionate employees who will add value to their missions, cultures, and bottom lines.

In fact, 39 percent of recruiters say quality of hire is the most valuable metric for performance, according to LinkedIn’s “Global Recruiting Trends 2017” report. This means your success on the job hunt depends on your ability to show recruiters why you’d be a quality hire. One of the best ways to do this is to make yourself part of the solution to a problem the company is trying to solve.

Get inside the employer’s mission and culture by researching what is most valuable to the company and its employees. Pay particular attention to volunteer work and charitable causes, the company’s “About Us” page, client success stories, and the organization’s social media presence.

Based on these sources, you should be able to make a list of problems the company aims to address. Then, showcase how your skills and experience can be used as part of the solution. Be detailed and direct with how each skill you’ve already successfully put into practice will help the company achieve its mission.

For example, Amazon’s goal is to provide the best customer service. Candidates applying for any role within the company need to share their passion for helping people and demonstrate how they’ve accomplished this in previous jobs, volunteer work, or extracurriculars.

binoculars2. Show Off Your Curious Side

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it’s doing just the opposite for job seekers. Recruiters want to know you’re interested in more than salary, benefits, and vacation days. Curiosity signals that a job seeker wants to learn more and better themselves, so why not show that off from the start?

Go beyond asking the traditional questions during interviews by digging into the company’s story. Look for recent news articles and funding announcements. Dive deep into the company’s history.

If the organization has made the news lately for improvements or milestones, ask the interviewer about how the company got there and the employee attributes that made it possible. If the company recently secured funding, ask about future goals and the changes the organization hopes to make in the next five years. Being inquisitive about every aspect of the company will show you’re invested in its well-being, not just your own.

3. Take Ownership of Your Roles

When you base your cover letter or resume off a job description alone, you’ll be tempted to simply talk about your ability to perform certain tasks. However, it is important to show off your passion by focusing on more than just your ability to check off a task. Recruiters are looking for candidates who take ownership of every role they hold and take pride in the companies for which they work.

The best way to give recruiters a glimpse into how you’ve taken ownership in the past is through specific examples. Think of times you went above and beyond your duties to better the company, help a coworker, or jump in where you were needed. Explain what tasks you did, what you learned, and how you grew from the experience.

While sharing how your actions helped the company or your coworkers, don’t forget to share how they changed you as an employee, too. Recruiters need to know you’re open and willing to change, learn, and grow. Nobody wants to hire someone who thinks they’re already perfect.

Close up that job description and take a moment to truly reflect on your passions and experiences in both work and life. It’s time to start giving recruiters a clearer look at the employee you could be for them.

Karyn Mullins is the executive vice president and general manager MedReps.

By Karyn Mullins