I’ve been there. I’ve had that thought.
But once you’re there, you have a new problem. You now have to compete with a number of different people for new jobs.
How do you stand out?
In my quest to find a job that was fulfilling, and provided me an exponential raise in my income, I found 7 things that really great job candidates do.
1. Have A Clean, Short Resume
There’s a lot of advice out there about the length of a resume. Most advice you’re going to come across is to keep your resume to one page. But I don’t think that is a hard-and-fast rule. That idea is not Gospel. For example, when I applied for my most recent opportunity, I was told my resume was 6 pages. I had no idea. But guess what? Based off my work history, and the experience they had in getting to know me, they hired me. So, do you really have to have a one-page resume? It’s a good rule of thumb. It’s a good practice. But it’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Make sure your resume shows your skills in the best way possible. Brevity is a good thing. Lean toward short. But just because you don’t have a one-page resume, doesn’t mean that you’re going to be ruled out of your ideal opportunity.
2. Speak Clearly
Recently I’ve had the pleasure of coaching a young gentleman on how to find a better opportunity. But one thing that I’m working with him on, still to this day, is his ability to speak clearly. You have to understand when you’re interviewing with another person, they need to understand what you’re saying. You cannot talk to a hiring manager like you talk with your friends. You cannot speak is if you’re talking to your current co-workers who know you extremely well. You need to be easily understood, have good diction, and use words that effectively convey your thoughts and your experience. You can talk like you’re from the hood when you’re with your friends. When it’s time to get a job, you need to speak like a professional. That starts with speaking clearly.
3. Look Clean and Dress Well
It’s amazing to me how many people I see coming into job interviews wearing polos, jeans, and button-up shirts with no tie. If you do not dress, and I mean overdress, for the job you want then your chances dwindle. You want to look better than the job that you’re applying to. The person that’s interviewing you needs to know that you’re taking this opportunity seriously.
Do not dress for what you think the dress code will be for that job. You can do that after you have the job. If you don’t have the job yet, you need to be wearing a dress shirt, slacks and a tie at the very least. The reason great candidates do this is because it damn near guarantees that they’re not ruled out over something that was in their control. I’m a big fan of control. Keeping control starts with following some of these tips. One of them being this: always dress well and look clean.
4. Craft Your Resume to The Job You Want
Generic doesn’t cut it. You can’t just send out a generic resume to 1,000 opportunities and think that that’s good enough. Because it’s not. The first thing you need to do, is focus on the job description and requirements. Look at what the job is asking for. Once you’ve done that, then you need to craft your experience around that. What I mean is, if they talk about handling money, then you need to have a bullet point related to handling money. They will not care that you have taken inventory, if inventory is not a part of the job that you’re applying to. You see what I’m getting at? Make sure that you craft your resume so that it’s relevant to the job you’re applying to.
5. Provide References and A Cover Letter
The fact that I even have to have this as a bullet point on my list is saddening. Too many people think that “references available upon request” is good enough. Let me let you in on a little secret. Employers, especially future employers, do not want to have to ask you for information. The reason? Because you’re the one looking for the job. It’s imperative that you provide all of this information up front.
A cover letter is designed to initially get their attention, and tell them why you want the job. References are to show that people will back up your claims that you are a good employee. By providing this information up front it makes you more likeable. They don’t have to ask you for anything. You’ve given it all to them. If you’re in school, provide your transcript. Do it before they ask. Anticipate their needs. It goes a long way.
6. Use Numbers on Your Resume
Nobody cares about your responsibilities. Nobody cares about your tasks. Nobody cares that you take out the trash. Nobody cares that you take inventory. The only thing that matters is results. How do you convey results on a piece of paper? You convey results through the use of numbers. Numbers are a universal language. They’re understood by everyone. From base level employees, all the way up to the CEO.
Using numbers will help you stand out as a candidate because so many people are not doing that. When you can talk in numbers, dollars, and percentages, it changes the game. It makes you stand out as a candidate. On my resume, when I say that I contributed to a team the generated $1,000,000 in revenue per month, that sounds a hell of a lot better then “responsible for making sales daily.”
7. Write A Follow Up Thank You Note
It’s amazing to me how many people don’t do this. Because this is one of the things that helped me stand out as a candidate. I sent a thank-you note out to my most recent opportunity the same day I interviewed. Within the hour. As soon as I left that building, I started thinking about how I was going to thank my interviewer. As soon as I got home, I started writing. I made sure my interviewer received a thank you note before an hour had passed from time I had left.
What does this do? Why is this so important? It keeps their attention on you. It makes them think about you a little bit longer. And it never hurts you to send a thank you note. It’s only beneficial. You should be thanking them for their time. You want to work for them don’t you? Then you should be thanking them for the opportunity.
BONUS TIP: Follow Up
I remember applying for a job that I really wanted. It was at a small business located not far from where I live. They had a limited number of employees. And the job atmosphere looked like everything that I wanted. I applied. I waited two days. And then I sent a message to the owner of the company on LinkedIn. This message let him know that I was extremely intrigued by the opportunity and hope that my experience would provide beneficial results for his company. Though he got back to me saying that he was looking for more experience than I had, he did let me know that I look like a good fit for a future position. By following up on my application, I made sure that I was being considered for a future position. I let him know that I was extremely intrigued and interested in joining his company. That is valuable. Do not underestimate the practice of following up. It could change your luck for the better.
Use these tips to help yourself become the best candidate you can be. If you need more help, check out my book Build The Career of Your Dreams.