I’ve interviewed for many jobs and interviewed many job candidates during my career. There are things I appreciate about the process and many things I don’t. But most of all I wish the people I encounter along the way to be successful in their endeavors.
For the job seeker, particularly a person junior in their career or even an upcoming college graduate, I want to share my perspective from interviewing candidates for various roles over my career – entry-level, management, and freelance. Yes, especially freelancers can benefit from of few of these. 🙂
Here we go: My top three tips for standing out of the crowd to help land your next job.
Create a resume you’re happy with.
Your college counselors, advisors, and thousands of websites will provide you with lots of bland and boring standards for writing resumes. It won’t add up. Your personal brand, personality, core values – they’ll get lost in the black and white tussle of Times New Roman fonts and one-inch margins.
Sure, careers in business, engineering, and science require a cadence to a resume. It doesn’t mean you have to conform or follow in a straight line to communicate the value you can bring to a team or situation.
Early in my career, particularly after leaving school, I experimented with different fonts, layouts, paper types, paper colors, mail vs. hand delivery, flyers, greeting cards – you name it. I thought “I’m in marketing and promotion! I have to do it this way.” I believed that my attitude and approach helped me get interviews and land a role.
As a person that reviews resumes regularly, I can tell you if I have two unique resumes in a stack of 100 I’ll ask “why?” and spend time reading them. Even if unqualified on paper, I’ll give those two people 15 minutes of my time on the phone to ensure I haven’t missed something. I’ve never in my career been disappointed at that approach.
Your resume basics should include experiences as responsibilities and quantifiable results or achievements. Titles don’t matter early on and in an era where people title themselves, it doesn’t represent value. Responsibilities that produce some result do! Even if you were the kitchen manager at your sorority, you can write descriptions of how you managed resources and people, time, and budget to some result. Make sense?
Stand out with your personality and have substance around responsibilities with measurable results on your resume.
Do your homework. Be Curious.
The number one value I interview for is curiosity. How do I know you’re curious? You have good questions. Those questions are based on homework you’ve done to prepare yourself for an interview. And you demonstrate that throughout the interview process.
Nine out of ten people I’ll interview today will have no questions. The one person who does always gets a second interview. Always.
And here’s why: They want to learn. They can be taught. They are coachable. They are showing interest in the role and how they may contribute.
The most talented people I’ve worked with or been around in my career have been people who continued learning and were curious. The school you go to. The grades you get. The record number of sales you achieved won’t mean much unless you continue to learn and understand how you can maximize your value.
And here’s the thing as it relates to interviewing: It’s such a simple thing. It’s five or ten minutes of effort to conduct a Google search on the hiring manager, learn where they went to school, where they’ve worked, where they vacationed last… You can browse the company website, read company news, and review social media pages to get an understanding of what they’re doing. Right?
Then jot down questions. It doesn’t have to be twenty questions. It can be as few as three to five good questions on things you want to know. Then engage in conversation with those questions which hopefully, lead to more and more conversation about you doing the job.
Be curious about what you’re walking into.
Be a Pro.
Being a Pro does not mean having ten years of experience or more certifications than a Sergeant Major has stripes.
Being a pro means being on time, being polite, being clean in appearance, being prepared, and knowing how to work the webcam. Ha.
I would also add to this category, be in a place where you can talk. You know, in a place where you can engage in a conversation. And if you’re in a place where a distraction can occur or you’re needing to multi-task give the interviewer a heads up. “Hey, Tom I can talk at 1 on Wednesday but that’s my lunch break. Mind if we chat while I eat?,” you may say.
Being on time is pretty simple, I think. It’s ok to text or email if you’re running a tad late. It happens. Showing up late without a heads-up is another story.
Don’t interview for your next bike tech job in a three-piece suit. But do be neat and clean in your appearance. We all wear different threads to our jobs based on our roles, company cultures, and work environment. I’m a believer in wearing what makes you the most confident in an interview but it needs to be situation appropriate.
A few notes on webcam interviews: I think the first time someone asked me to submit a webcam interview video was somewhere around 2017. It felt odd. Now, we’re in web meetings every day. Every person and company has its process. I totally recommend if you’re doing web-based interviews test the platform you’re using in advance, have wired earbuds, and be the first one to the meeting if possible. And all the other notes above apply. 🙂
Stay active: I used to think finding work was a numbers game. To land a job, you need to apply. To get offers, you need interviews. But really I learned, activity breeds activity. Every time over my career I was thinking of making a change, and an opportunity surfaced. If I wasn’t active, the opportunity didn’t come knocking. So always consider your opportunities.
Be personal but don’t take it personally: Stay true to you, your personal brand, and personalize the process and communication as much as you can. But when you’re turned down, ghosted, or just stuck don’t take the process personally. It’s the other person’s view, the business situation, culture… it’s not you. Chin up!
So there you have it, my top three things for getting noticed in your job hunt. If you’ve taken one thing away, I’ve accomplished my goal. Good vibes and best of luck in your search!