So, you’re checking job boards, the classifieds and work from home groups or pages, when you spot an opening that you think you’ll be perfect for. You get excited and you start scrolling to see how you can apply for that specific role. A lot of persons are currently job hunting so you want to ensure you have a fighting chance when you apply for the position.
It goes deeper than getting noticed. You have the right set of skills, your previous experience shows you are very result oriented and your overall accomplishments certainly echoes how perfect you are for the role. You really want to stand out, paint an image that convinces the hiring team you’re the best candidate, and ultimately get that offer letter. The question though, is how do you make that happen?
We’re in the business of hiring workers. In fact, our hiring team sifts through hundreds of job applications on a weekly basis. It’s important to know what you can do to catch a recruiter’s eye when you’ve identified a job you’d be a great fit for, steps you can take while applying, and the best ways to prepare for that interview. We’ve compiled ten tips you can use to help you stand out in a sea of applicants.
A Little Research Goes A Long Way
When it comes to the hiring process, quite a number of the questions asked during interviews are standard, regardless of company type or industry. They’re probably going to ask about your background, goals in 5 years, core values, and so on. It’s good to go back to the drawing board and have mock interviews with yourself in order to prepare. The research shouldn’t stop there though. Make an effort to research everything you can about the company, from its inception to present. Who is the CEO? What are the goods or services produced? Is there any recent news such as funding or disclosure of profits? If information on the hiring managers or interviewers is disclosed, research those persons too. Find a few details about their background. You never know when a little small talk might come in handy, especially during the interview.
Revamp Your Resume
You can never go wrong when you tweak your resume. Always ensure that details such as skills and work experience are relevant to the role you’re applying for. Start revamping your resume by getting rid of unrelated work experience. If you spent three months as a nurse and the position you’re applying for requires web development skills, it’s okay to de-clutter and re-organize so recruiters can focus on what’s important. Quantify data if possible. Were you able to grow the Customer Satisfaction Score? Awesome! By how much percent? It helps when your accomplishments can be measured. A 25% sales boost during your tenure will look appealing on your resume.
You probably want to incorporate verbiage from the job posting as well. Spend some time reading through the skills and requirements then add those keywords to your resume and cover letter. A lot of companies automate the initial stages of the hiring process. This means that software is often used to shortlist applicants before they get to the interview phase in a bid to reduce a very large pool of applicants by checking for skills and other keywords from the job posting. This comes in handy when a company gets thousands of applicants and wants to speed up the hiring process by eliminating the human element.
Another reason you should include verbiage from a job description is the recruiter will know that you paid attention to everything outlined in the requirements. You’re basically saying “I know what you’re looking for, and I’m ready to deliver!”
Put Your Portfolio On Display
Don’t pass on the opportunity to show recruiters what you’re made of. If you don’t have a personal website, make use of social media. LinkedIn is a professional platform that allows you to put your work experience, portfolio and samples on display. If you’re applying for an art related role such as a Graphic Designer or Concept Artist, add some of your pieces to Behance, DeviantArt or even a blogging site such as Tumblr. Coders love GitHub and Codepen.io for displaying their programming projects. Writers can always create a WordPress blog or share links to published articles, if they’ve been credited.
There are so many ways to display your work. Google Drive has convenient storage options and you can share your work with the click of a button. Choose what works for you so you can nudge recruiters in the right direction when they ask to see past work. When it comes to sample work, put your best foot forward. Ensure your work reflects the skills outlined in the job posting as well.
Check Your Online Presence
We’ve seen so many horror stories from individuals online who shared a post in the past that is considered harmful or offensive for whatever reason. It’s pretty common for recruiters to do a quick search for candidates. Have you shared anything lately that might affect your chances of nailing that job? If so, you may want to go through and ensure your profile is squeaky clean. Remove those offensive jokes that take jabs at specific groups, especially if they’re vulnerable or marginalized. Remember to respect everyone regardless of preferences, beliefs or lifestyle choices.
When it comes to your online presence, a recruiter would rather see those admirable recommendations on your LinkedIn profile over tweets spewing hatred. Solicit some good recommendations from former co-workers or past clients so you can impress recruiters. It says a lot about you when persons who actually know what it’s like to work with you can speak highly of your skills.
Make A Good First Impression
When completing the application form, don’t allow your excitement to cloud your judgement. We understand that you want to go through as quickly as possible, but speed doesn’t help your case if the recruiter is left deciphering gibberish. Follow the instructions and check for errors and typos. Do that two or three times before you submit.
An assessment is often included to make it easier to weed out the stronger candidates. Take your time when completing it. If there is a deadline, get it over with early so you’re not clicking through each page frantically. You need to be in a relaxed frame of mind so you can spot those questions designed to trick you.
Put Some Personality Into It
You’ll probably find that some companies have a more relaxed environment and are seeking persons who will fit right in. Startups tend to fall in this category. When applying for certain jobs, the questions may take an unconventional turn. You’ll see questions ranging from “What is one accomplishment that you’re proud of?” to “What’s the first thing you’d do if you woke up as a bird?” The point is - always try to be interesting. Let your answers flow effortlessly, and avoid overly complicated words, such as that one you came across in a Stephen King novel that compelled you to grab your dictionary, so you try to use it every single chance you get. Tell your story, make sure your responses are relevant and incorporate some humor if applicable.
Practice Good Etiquette
Let’s visualize a scenario for a bit. You make it to the initial screening interview and you’re emailed a link to choose a slot. You select Monday at 11AM because you don’t necessarily want to be the first candidate, but you don’t want to select a time when the interviewer may be exhausted after speaking to so many candidates. Sunday morning your child becomes ill and you have to make a run to the clinic. You’re probably going to either miss the interview, or be extremely late. What’s your next course of action? Well, you do have the freedom to choose your own date/time for your interview. Did the email mention any terms or conditions in terms of rescheduling? If not, you should reach out to the HR team and let them know what is happening before you go ahead and reschedule.
Most of the time, when candidates are given the freedom to access a tool such as Calendly and choose their own interview slots, they take advantage of the situation. Remember, email notifications are sent. If you chose 10AM on Wednesday morning, don’t go in and change the time 10 minutes before the interview. It is always better to let someone know what is happening if you have technical difficulties, or some other emergency.
Show Up And Show Out
Be on time. We cannot stress this enough. It is better to be 30 minutes early than 5 minutes late. When you come face to face with your interviewer, be pleasant, be engaging and provide relevant responses to questions asked. Don’t forget to answer in an honest manner because whatever you disclose will be verified at some point. You don’t want to be flagged as the applicant that lied about having a specific skill or working for a certain company. Even if your accomplishments come off a bit pale, you can make up for that with your personality and demeanor.
The interview is a two way street. Show how passionate you are about your field. Many interviewers leave time for questions, and use the questions you ask to determine how interested you are, as well as how knowledgeable you are of the position you’re interviewing for. If you have no questions, you’re not interested or you didn’t bother to do your research, what do you think is going to happen? You need to give them a taste of what having you around will be like. Don’t forget to throw some charisma in the mix.
End Your Interview On A Strong Note
Don’t just thank the interviewer for the opportunity and hightail it out of the interview room. Ask about the next steps of the hiring process. This shows that you’re genuinely interested in the position. Find out if there is anything else you need to do in order to prepare. This is also a good time to inquire how long you’ll have to wait before you’re notified that you’ve acquired the role.
Remember to Follow-up
Sending a Thank You Note to the interviewer or hiring team is a great way to ensure you remain fresh in their mind. You can send the note a day or so after the interview, but don’t allow too much time to pass. You don’t want them to struggle to recall who you are. Making reference to a specific part of the interview process when you made a genuine connection or discussed a particular topic is a good tactic.
You’re always going to face competition when applying for a job, especially during times of hardship when companies are downsizing to cut costs. There are so many guidelines you can use to ensure you get ahead and eventually make the cut. Always try to be in the know when it comes to trends in your field, keep tweaking your resume and just keep learning as much as you can. The end game is to secure the role, and if you keep trying, you’ll surely get there
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