Hiring managers have seen them all: that guy who came in with the outdated resume; the woman who looked good on paper, but fell flat with a lackluster interview; or that other person, who was competent but…well, forgettable.
Is one of them you?
It doesn't have to be. Turn yourself from the candidate that makes hiring managers roll their eyes to a serious contender for the job of your dreams.
Get prepared. If you're in the market for a new job, you don't want to waste time sweeping cobwebs off an old resume you fished out of your desk drawer. "Plan to review it and make updates every six months or so," said Sharlyn Lauby, an author, and president of ITM Group Inc., a consulting firm that focuses on training for hiring and retention. "People don't update their resume and then, when they see a great opportunity, they can't remember specific details or don't have access to the information they need to document the results on their resume," she said. Take the time to keep it current, and when that perfect opening comes along, you’ll be ready to make a good impression.
Focus on results. Hiring managers are looking for proof of performance, not window dressing when they scan your resume. This means measurable results in your work history. "Hiring managers want to know what you've accomplished more than what you were responsible for," says Lauby. Being responsible for a long list of things doesn't mean you actually did anything of value.
Finish strong. "Be as interesting at the end of your resume as you are at the beginning," said Lauby. "Sometimes people throw a whole bunch of stuff at the end of their resume. You know, like they took a PowerPoint class or their hobbies. Is that the last impression you want to leave with an organization?"
Telltales. Before an interview takes the time to write down your strengths and weaknesses and put together a story for each, said Lou Adler, CEO, and Founder of the Adler Group, which provides training and consulting services for recruiters and hiring managers. Do you have excellent analytical skills? Tell a story about a time you put those skills into action. "The story should prove your strength, or show how you overcame a weakness," said Adler. Telling stories not only helps to illustrate your point, but it also makes the interviewer more likely to remember the information and you.
Ask the right questions. Before your interview, prepare questions that give you an opportunity to highlight your strengths, said Adler. Are you an expert in social media? Say, “It sounds like this job requires someone who’s an expert in using social media, is this true?” When he or she says yes, you've given yourself a stage to highlight your strength.
Fight the urge to be a rebel. Follow directions. “I know it sounds simple, but you wouldn't believe the number of job seekers who think if they go around human resources then their chances of getting a job are better," said Lauby. This might mean calling on a Monday when the hiring manager asked you to ring in on Wednesday. "When job seekers don't follow directions, it sends the message to the company that they won't follow directions when they get hired either," she said.
Don't (just) say thank you. Avoid generic thank you letters after your interview. Instead, do your homework and craft something more meaningful, said Adler. Research the company, and look for news articles. Did they just get FDA approval for a new drug? Mention it in your thank you note and relate it to how you could be an asset to the company.
Spending a little more time to prepare up front can help you impress the hiring manager and ultimately to land that job.