By Shay Hughes
One of the benefits of having a winning record is that everyone wants to play on your team. Much like sports, companies with a winning streak find themselves in the fortunate position of attracting lots of top talent, and at Hughes Marino, we are lucky enough to be one of those award-winning companies. But as great as the competition and the talent may be, I’m often surprised when people applying for a spot on our team don’t present themselves in the best possible light.
As the recipient of thousands of resumes each year, I sometimes marvel at the good and the bad applications that come my way. If everyone applying for a job could be in my shoes for a day, they would surely approach their next resume submittal differently.
If you’re looking to get hired by the company of your dreams, you need to stand out. Here’s how to increase your odds of earning the job you want.
1. Submit a flawless, standout application.
- Start with an email that includes a nice, short cover letter in the body of the email, which piques our interest about you.
- Attach to the email a resume and a full-length cover letter that covers these three things: 1) what interested you about the job, 2) what you bring to the job in terms of experience, skills and personality, 3) what you are like personally and why you think you are a great cultural fit.
- Make sure to PDF your resume and cover letter before attaching. If you don’t PDF your documents, you run the risk of the formatting looking terrible. It might look good on your end, but fonts, formats, sizing, and margins change from computer to computer.
- Make sure to note if you are looking for a new job confidentially, so that no one does a reference check with your current employer and creates an awkward situation for you.
2. Make yourself “findable” online and view your online profile as a marketing piece for yourself.
Publicly share what you would want your future employer to know about you. What’s important to you? Who’s important to you? What do you do for fun? If you like to go hiking with your girlfriend and adorable dog, post an irresistible picture of the three of you. If you are scholarly and close to your family, share pictures of you celebrating graduation with your family.
With so many applicants to compete with, making yourself easy to find online increases your chances of getting an interview exponentially. But while social media can be a great marketing tool when you’re trying to get hired, it can certainly backfire. You would think that everyone knows what not to show online, but it’s surprising how many people don’t clean up their profiles before applying. I appreciate that though, because if you have inappropriate photos or comments online, that’s a clear signal that you aren’t well suited for our team.
3. Tailor your application to the company.
Show that you’ve read their website, understand what they do, what you’d be doing there, and what their culture is like. Show some personality. Be funny, be honest, but whatever you do, don’t be creepy.
4. If you really want the job and you haven’t heard anything yet, follow up in a nice, non-pushy, way.
With hundreds or even thousands of applications to compete with, forwarding your original submission with a follow-up email reiterating your sincere interest (and why) certainly can’t hurt, and almost always helps.
5. If you really want a job at a particular company, don’t wait for a job opening.
Find out who does the hiring and start building a relationship now. The best feeling for any HR director is to have a job opening come available and already know the perfect person to fill it.
Pick your top ten dream companies and build relationships with the people who do their hiring via email, snail mail, and the occasional voice mail. If you check in with them once a month in a short, friendly manner, they will remember you when the perfect job comes along. And make sure it’s personal. Sending things to “Hiring Director” or “Sir/Madam” is not going to build a personal relationship.
6. If you do everything right and get the interview, make sure to follow up with an email thank you the same day that you interview.
Sometimes people think it’s more personal to write a hand-written note, but the hiring decision may have been made before the hand-written note was even received.
The best follow-up is a nice email the same day of the interview, noting what you enjoyed about the interview and summarizing why you think you’d be a great fit, all while you are still fresh in the mind of the interviewer. Remember that sometimes the follow-up email can be a tiebreaker between two fantastic candidates.
What not to do:
1. Don’t apply for jobs you don’t have the qualifications for.
If they want QuickBooks experience, make sure you have it. Otherwise it is a waste of your time and the employer’s time.
2. No typos!
I can’t emphasize this enough. We can’t stand typos within our company, so if your first contact with us contains a typo, it’s almost certainly a no. Ask someone else to read it for you before sending, and if there isn’t anyone to ask nearby, then read your submission slowly line by line to ensure you didn’t overlook anything. There is nothing worse than being nixed from consideration over a simple typo.
3. Don’t drop by unannounced and hope to meet with someone in person.
If you are able to speak to the receptionist, make sure you are friendly and express your sincere interest in joining the team, but don’t push too hard to meet someone who wasn’t expecting you. And if you are stopping by to hand deliver a resume and cover letter in person, make sure you also submit it online so the hiring department has a digital copy as well.
In the end, finding a new job should be a win-win for everyone involved, so be sure to present yourself in the best possible light and hopefully your dream employer will see you as a perfect fit. Just remember you only have one chance to make a first impression.
Shay Hughes is chief operating officer and owner of Hughes Marino, an award-winning California commercial real estate company specializing in tenant representation and building purchases with offices in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Shay writes about business leadership and company culture on her blog, Lead from Within. Contact Shay at 1-844-NO-CONFLICT or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.