As a hiring manager for many years, I’ve come across numerous candidates who are great but fall short of convincing me that they’d be a great fit for my job opening. At my past company I had the opportunity to work with a team of amazing in-house recruiters who had honed their skills at companies like Mozilla, Google, Facebook, and Evernote.  Here’s some basic good advice they shared, written by my team member who blogged about it.  Remember, first impressions are important, just like real dates 🙂 

1. So why are you the right person for this job?

Be specific in the position you are applying for and sell yourself on why the company should want to hire you. Recruiters are focused on identifying a candidate for a position. The more pin-point you can be, the better. Go beyond skill matches and talk about how your style, philosophy or past successes sync with the environment. Share what is it about the company that is exciting to you.

2. How will you succeed?

Of course they need to believe you can do the job. But what can you add to it, how can you bring it to the next level? Tell them what you plan to contribute beyond meeting a set of requirements.

3. Demonstrate what you know about the company

Show you’ve done some research, read the trades, and spent time on the website. Talk to people who work there or in related industries. Be prepared to discuss your understanding of the company’s heritage and its path, what others in the industry say about them. Companies are enthusiastic about people who are enthusiastic about them!

4. Ask questions

Don’t save all of your questions for the hiring manager, make sure that you show your deep interest in the role by asking various questions. It can be about the culture, how the team collaborates with other divisions, what the most important skills are for this role, etc., etc. This intelligence can be valuable as you prepare for your next step in the interview process.

5. Be honest

No one’s surprised to see or hear small exaggerations in one’s contributions or accomplishments, but an out and out falsehood is something else. If you declare a degree you never received, or claim work that wasn’t yours, be prepared to have that revealed – and to suffer the consequences. 

6. Follow ups – be persistent, tactful, and gracious

If time slips and you don’t hear back, following up with a reminder of who you are, why you are an ideal fit for the job and the company, and why you want to work there is a great idea. Recruiters can be overwhelmed with applicants, but many say they will take the time to respond to candidates who’ve been thoughtful enough to follow up. 

7. Is the cover letter dead?

Absolutely not – the unanimous response was that a cover note can make or break the chances of having your résumé even read, so if given the opportunity, add the cover to your résumé.

Forget the generic note, the “I am seeking a challenging position in a dynamic, forward-thinking organization…” – that one is going to do more harm than good. If you open with specifics on the position you seek and what makes you a stand-out candidate you’ve set yourself apart from those who have chosen not to demonstrate an active, genuine interest in landing that great job.

8. The “Thank you” note is also alive and well

A lot of people seem to believe the “thank you note” (an email is almost universally acceptable) is dead and gone. According to the professionals I spoke with this couldn’t be farther off the mark – they all agreed that that note makes a difference. Besides being a thoughtful acknowledgment of someone’s time and interest, it can also set one individual apart from the rest: among three equally solid candidates, the one who took the time to close the loop will have the advantage.

9.  Don’t burn bridges

And if you don’t get the job, be gracious. Keep your reputation and dignity in tact; there is nothing to be gained by sharing your outrage on social media, with the staffing team, or anyone they may come in contact with. It’s a small world, and in many cases recruiters will keep the candidates in mind for future openings so you never know!

Good luck!

P.S.  Recruiters & Hiring Managers: Feel free to add more tips for the candidates by commenting on this piece.

 – Masami

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