Strategic preparation can lead to a successful job pursuit
By Bernard Freeman
Tailor Your Resume
There it is! The perfect job opening. Your key skills match what the company is seeking.
Your background is perfectly aligned with the required qualifications. You are confident of your ability to step in and make an immediate impact.
To make sure your resume helps launch you into the interview and eventually the hiring phase, order you must first tailor it to evoke the same type of enthusiasm from the hiring manager. This requires a combination of common sense and strategic action.
Do Your Research
When hiring managers read your resume, vialis 40mg they want to feel your enthusiasm for their job opportunity. They likely put in hours of work crafting and broadcasting their job announcement, not to mention the time they will be putting into reviewing applications.
One way you can stand out is by making it apparent that you researched the opening and the company’s background. This is key, especially if you are applying for a company with a particular product or service niche.
Research the company’s mission statement and key projects they have completed. Align this information with your own experiences and passions to convey why you are the perfect fit for the job.
Customizing Your Content
Many companies use applicant tracking systems to filter through the initial round of incoming applications. This helps create a strong “keeper” pile for hiring managers. To make sure your resume makes it through these systems, it’s important to use the right keywords.
You should always include a section that functions as an “Areas of Expertise” or “Key Proficiencies.” This is where you can load up your resume with 10 to 15 targeted keywords that help your resume perform better in applicant systems.
Don’t forget about your professional experience. It’s important to hit on some of these same keywords when detailing your career background.
Why is this so vital? Because once a hiring manager gets their hands on your resume, you want your experience section to back up your claims of expertise.
There are only so many ways to answer the same old questions that seem to always come up in the interview process. Why should we hire you? What is your greatest strength? Your greatest weakness?
One of the best ways to make a memorable impression on your potential employers is by flipping the script and asking a few questions yourself. Doing so shows hiring managers that you researched the company, have a genuine interest in its mission and are analytical in your thinking.
How to Frame Your Questions
Start your questions with these statements:
- In researching a few articles on your company …
- Your website has details on (insert project X) …
- One particular part of your job description really caught my attention …
Kicking off your questions with these types of introductory statements shows hiring managers that you took the time to look into the company and its key initiatives. This is a great way to earn some extra points from hiring managers, especially when the time comes for their team to discuss how the interviews went.
Questions to Ask and When to Ask Them
The timing of your questions can be just as important as what you ask. Try to let the hiring managers control the flow of the first third of the interview, but don’t wait until the “Do you have any questions for us” prompt that generally comes near the end of the interview.
Once a tone is set for the interview, feel free to throw in a few questions of your own. If there is a natural transition into a question you would like to ask, jump in. This is a great way of turning the traditional, stale interview into a more collaborative process. Hiring managers will appreciate this, too.
Cover Letter Mistakes
The cover letter:
Is it important anymore?
Do hiring managers even take the time to read through it?
How can you make your cover letter stand out from a crowd?
There are so many questions involving the cover letter that many people looking for a job simply send out the same one for multiple positions. While this meets the requirement for most job listings, it’s not the ideal way to differentiate yourself and your background.
The truth is that cover letters are still very important pieces of your job search strategy. Hiring managers look to the cover letter for a more personal look into your career story. Why are you passionate about what you do? What has led you to looking to your next role?
Finding out these kinds of things in your cover letter can help a hiring manager find out more about you, “the person” instead of just “the candidate,” and can help them come up with more detailed interview questions.
Overuse of ‘I’
While it is virtually impossible to completely eradicate the word “I” from your resume, cover letters are better received if you make it less about you and more about the company you are targeting. Much like during the interview process, if you can show a hiring manager that you actually did some research on the company’s missions, values and projects, you can give yourself a leg up on the competition.
Focus your cover letter on how your key skills and background can benefit the company instead of creating a look-at-me document. Be sure to integrate many of the keywords you see in their job announcement. Customize every document you send out for maximum impact.
Show Some Personality
Hiring managers are looking for a spark from their candidates, especially if they are sifting through hundreds of cover letters for one opening. The way you can make yourself stand out is by finding the balance between personal and professional.
Give insights into what drives you to do the work you do. Were you inspired from a young age? How do others describe you as a leader, mentor and collaborator? Hiring managers want to know what kind of personality they are getting when they hire you and how you can improve the overall culture of their company.
Network for Better Jobs
In today’s competitive job market, it’s not enough to simply send out your resume and wait for companies to get back to you. You have to get out there!
Your community is likely teeming with networking opportunities in the form of associations, job workshops, alumni groups and even the local gym. The best ways to make connections for potential job opportunities is by simply extending your hand and introducing yourself to people in the appropriate settings
As the old saying goes, it’s not what you know but who you know.
Building Positive Relationships
Even when you are not actively looking for jobs, networking is a great way to build relationships that could benefit you in the future. Meeting new people can unlock doors to that next career or volunteering opportunity.
Professional associations or trade groups are great for widening your network of connections. Some business networking groups or chambers of commerce even host networking dinners to help connect professionals. Many of these types of events are industry-specific, which can help you build connections with targeted populations.
Benefits of Face-to-Face Interactions
Today’s focus on technology has made it easier to network with fellow professionals online rather than face to face. This is convenient and should be a critical piece of your job-seeking approach, but there is no replacement for interacting with connections in person.
Through conversations over lunch or coffee, you can find out if someone has access to opportunities that may interest you. Additionally, you may be able to help out someone else with a job opportunity, connection or advice.
There is no limit to the benefits of personal networking, especially if you make the effort to get involved on a regular basis. It takes some extra effort on your part, but is worth it if it leads to more quality job leads for you in your search.
Talk to any hiring manager at a major company and they will tell you that finding the right professionals for their open job position is a lengthy, arduous process. If they had the choice, they’d love to fill their next role with a passive candidate — someone who is already happily established and proven within another company.
These types of prospective hires are generally not flooding the market with their resume and cover letter, and are instead focused on helping their current companies hit operational goals.
Why Passive Candidates?
The biggest reason employers are attracted to passive candidates is they are employed. When hiring someone who is unemployed, it can be a challenge to find a straightforward explanation about whether they were fired or laid off, or quit. The process requires extensive checking of references and a willingness to take a gamble on someone with a less-than-ideal work history.
Recruiters who are contracted by companies to find the best professionals can secure passive candidates through tools like LinkedIn or even stacks of resumes from past hiring cycles. They can then send out an introductory email to gauge the candidates’ interest. This process is a much simpler one that requires less time and energy on their part.
What This Means for You
This trend in passive hiring should be a cue for you to always keep your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile refined and up to date. That’s because once you engage with a recruiter about a job opportunity, the first things they ask for will be your career materials.
Locate the various versions of your resume today and put them all in one place. Also compile other key documents that can include your college transcripts, certifications and any personality test results. It’s best to have all of these in PDF form, as well, to make sure the documents hold their formatting across all computer programs.