Here's a hard truth: No matter how great you look on paper, you’re not the only highly qualified person applying for your dream job. In fact, you may not even be the most qualified. If a job is desirable, it’s going to be competitive. Standing out and impressing hiring managers takes more than simply having the requisite education, job experience, and skill set. Here are the most crucial things you need to know before you begin the application process.
Your Online Persona Is Going to Be Scoured
What pops us when someone Googles your name? What can someone see on your public Facebook profile? What do your tweets from three years ago say about your ability to work in a professional environment? If you’re not sure that your online persona is squeaky clean, now is the time to make certain. One recent survey found that at least 70 percent of employers are scouring the social media profiles of potential employees. Take the time to adjust your privacy settings and clean up (or delete) anything that is even remotely questionable.
Your Current Resume/Cover Letter Isn’t Good Enough
Generic resumes and cover letters are absolute killers when it comes to standing out. Hiring managers root through dozens if not hundreds of these things on a regular basis, and if your resume and cover letter use trite language with all-too-common tropes, there’s no way you’re going to make the cut. Your application documents must tell a story, and that story has to be specific to you and the job for which you’re applying.
Your cover letter is not a mere formality — it actually may be more important than the resume. It’s your chance to impress, so take extra care in crafting it. Try using a cover letter builder or template to give it some extra polish. Remember, both your resume and cover letter need to show why you are the perfect fit for this particular position at this particular company — not that you’re simply qualified for a similar job anywhere.
Preparing for Your Interview Is Very Important
If you’re a serious person, then you’re not applying for jobs for which you’re wildly unqualified. So let’s assume you get an interview. This is where jobs are truly won and lost. Landing your dream job isn’t easy, but it can be as simple as blowing the interviewer out of the water. Nailing your job interview is easy if you prepare. Here are the four key steps to interview prep:
- Study up on potential questions. Although every job interview is different, most will feature at least some standard interview questions. The better you are at responding to these in a smart, honest, and natural way, the better you’ll come across as a candidate.
- Pick at least three questions to ask of the interviewer. Turning the tables during the interview process is not just encouraged, it’s vital.
- Know everything there is to know about both the company at which you’re applying and the industry they inhabit. The more you know about all the facts of a business, the more likely a hiring manager is to take a shot on you.
- Make sure you have your documents in order. Even if you already submitted a resume online, it’s smart to bring physical copies of your resume, cover letter, and portfolio. You never know who will want a copy, and you want to look 100 percent prepared.
On interview day, make sure you do two things: dress smart and show up early. Both of these easy, small gestures speak volumes about how serious you are as an applicant.
If you’re shooting for a high-level position, you have to assume that everyone who applies is a solid candidate. This is why it’s the little things that will make you stand out. Instead of simply being good, be the person they can’t say no to.