Think Outside The White Paper
If youre in a creative industry or applying to an especially creative company, you dont have to be confined to a black-ink-on-white-paper resume. Instead, treat your resume like part of your portfoliosomething that showcases your skills and originality.
Ive seen graphic designers turn their resumes into beautifully designed, infographic-style works of art, and marketing and communications professionals create ad campaigns with a tagline on how their skills match the open position. Check out these stunningly creative resumes from 1st Web Desiger or Alyson Shontell’s for everything from graphic art to word clouds to even origami.
This approach obviously isnt the right fit for every company or position, but it can be a great way to make your resume stand outliterallyfrom the sea of others out there.
Trade Up One Red Paperclip At A Time
Theres potential that you dont have anything valuable enough to make an interview worth your celebrity or influencers time. Well, not yet, anyway.
To get there, you have to trade up the chain.
Have you ever heard about the One Red Paperclip? If you have time, this short recap is worth the watch:
For those unfamiliar with the story, its all about blogger Kyle MacDonald and how he traded one red paperclip for a pen, which he then traded for a doorknob, then he traded that for a camp stove. 11 trades later , he had successfully bartered his way from one red paperclip to a 2-story farmhouse.
Thats exactly what you need to do if you want to connect with big-name influencers. You need to treat social proof like its a red paperclip, and you have to barter and leverage your way up to something greater.
Its not an overnight process, but it works. We did it, too.
We interviewed entrepreneurs for months to establish enough social proof to eventually land Richard Branson on the cover of our magazine. It was a grind, and it took time to generate enough value to essentially trade up the chain. With his name behind the brand, we could then pursue the likes of Arianna Huffington and Fabio Rosati.
Start with your teeny-tiny red paperclip and start trading up the chain. Itll take time, but Kyles story shows us that anything is possibleand theres a good chance you can start with a lot more than a single paperclip.
Where to Find Your First Someone
Research The Company And Show What You Know
Do your homework and research the employer and the industry, so you are ready for the interview question, “What do you know about this company?” If this question is not asked, you should try to demonstrate what you know about the company on your own.
You can do this by tying what youve learned about the company into your responses. For example, you might say:
I noticed that when you implemented a new software system last year, your customer satisfaction ratings improved dramatically. I am well-versed in the latest technologies from my experience with developing software at ABC, and appreciate a company who strives to be a leader in its industry.
You should be able to find out a lot of information about the companys history, mission and values, staff, culture, and recent successes on its website. If the company has a blog and a social media presence, they can be useful places to look, too.
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How To Land An Interview In Three Simple Steps
Whether youre an experienced job seeker or just entering the market, it’s helpful to focus on whats needed to land an interview. It sounds so easy, butat timesit’s shockingly hard to get your foot in the door.
Id like to offer you a crash course in getting an interview. You need to treat your job search with respect , assess your strengths and weaknesses, search out the jobs that are right for you and then go after it with everything you have.
1. You must treat the job search as a second job. If you really desire a new position, you can’t approach the search in a haphazard manner with a laissez-faire attitude. You have to devote time, energy and fully commit to the process.
Set a schedule for what you will do each and every day to progress the search. Follow the plan religiously. Just like you will want to skip going to the gym or cheat on your diet, you need to stand firm, avoid temptations or distractions and aggressively pursue your goal.
Allocate a set amount of time each day toward searching jobs online, responding to the listings, networking, practicing your elevator pitch, tailoring your résumé to suit the specific jobs, enhance your LinkedIn profile, engage on social media to get noticed in a positive light and cleanse your social media footprint of all embarrassing and controversial postings.
Arrive Early To Your Interview
Arrive early to compose yourself before walking into the building. Listen to music and practice proper breathing techniques to help you relax and improve your mindset. Read over your notes and questions as well as the answers you’ll present to the interviewer. Use your notes to formulate your questions and responses to the interviewer. This approach helps you showcase your experience and can increase your chances of getting hired.
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Tailor Your Resume To The Position
Chances are, youve spent hours crafting the perfect resume. You made sure to list all of your work experience, your achievements, and your relevant industry certifications.
The only problem?
It reads like a generic template.
Prospective employers often evaluate applicants using a checklist. If your application materials dont align with their job requirements, theyll move on to the next one in a pile.
Before sending in your documents, take the time to read the description first. Write down the skills the job requires, along with the day-to-day duties that it entails.
Then, go back to your resume.
Do you have experience performing tasks that are similar to the ones required here? If so, add them in if they arent there already. Do the same with your key skills and accomplishments. Make your materials as scannable as possible so you can catch their eye immediately.
Get Noticed With A Little Wink Marketing
Confession: When I wanted to write for The Muse, I didnt pitch the editorial team outright. Instead, I endeavored to put myself on their radar before reaching out with my first article idea. I shared, liked, and commented on the content theyd written or ideas they tweeted.
My actions were small and nuanced, like the wink of an eye, but after a few weeks, a member of the team actually reached to out to me before Id had a chance to submit my first article idea. She said she loved my blog , and asked if Id consider penning an article?
The rest is history.
Wink marketing is a killer way to build relationships in the digital realm. Its also the happy medium between waiting around and the direct outreach method I outlined above.
Lets say there is a recruiter you werent comfortable contacting directly. You could follow her on Twitter one day, share one of her job postings with your LinkedIn network later that week, and comment on her posts the next. Before too long, shell be curious about you and unable to resist poking around your knock em dead web presence. Once she does, its prime time to officially introduce yourself.
You can wink market yourself to just about anyone youre hoping to have a chat with: Potential mentors, professionals with the job title you crave, and decision makers of all kinds. Just bear in mind that the more noteworthy the person or company, the harder they might be to connect with.
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Save Something To Be Revealed In The Interview
When Im hiring, I want to see key responsibilities and top-level results in an application. Save the detailed situations, tasks and actions you took for the interview. Jotting these down separately usually makes for a nice basis for preparation that will answer almost any behavioral question that could come up in an interview. When an applicant includes an overly detailed biography with their job application, it suggests an inability to present concisely.
Consider Your Resume Carefully
Structure your resume to appeal to your target audience. While you need to include an overview of your career to date, the real goal is to showcase how you can contribute:
- Who are you, and why can they trust you?
- What have you done before, and what were the results?
- How can you contribute right away?
Consider using the STAR format: Describe the Situation, the Task that was required, what Action you took, and the ultimate Result. You dont need to include every little thing youve ever done, and you dont need to go all the way back to highschool. A few related examples are more powerful than a long and irrelevant list.
Most businesses now use an Applicant Tracking System. This is a software tool that helps them organize and manage their job applicants, in a similar way to how you organize and manage your sales leads or job opportunities.
Dont be afraid of the ATS, but dont depend on it either! Jump through the appropriate hoops to show that youre able to follow a process, but look for ways to shortcut the system. Youll have more success if you engage on a human level with the decision-maker, than if you optimize yourself to appeal to an algorithm.
At the right time, a carefully personalized video can make all the difference when landing SDR interviews:
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Watch Your Body Language
Give the interviewer your undivided attention by sitting straight and giving them eye contact. These signals show that you’re engaged with the interviewer and you’re intrigued by the information they’re providing to you. Take deep breaths to remain calm and focused on the interviewer when answering their questions.
Clean Up Your Social Presence
Even if its not a formal part of SDR interviews, at some point almost every hiring manager will Google their top candidates. Dont let them be disappointed or surprised by the results.
Go ahead and search for yourself. If you have a common name, try including your hometown, your past employer, or other relevant keywords. Then start clicking on the results. Put your browser into incognito mode to see what your social profiles look like when youre not signed in. How do you come across?
Its one thing to share photos of you hiking with your dog. But its another thing entirely to advertise a wild party. Dont let your personal life become a hiring distraction. If you were an employer, what would you want to see? What would be a red flag for you?
Make your accounts private, or go through and clean them up. Hide or delete anything that youre not 100% sure about sharing. Pay particular attention to LinkedIn. For a sales job, youll likely be asked to use it on a regular basis. Your LinkedIn profile will get passed around the hiring team. Make it shine!
Are your profile photos clear and professional? A good headshot shows good attention to detail. This isnt the place for a selfiewhile you can take high-quality pictures with a cellphone, ask a competent friend or hire a professional photographer to help you.
Pro Tip: Make sure to spell check and proofread your LinkedIn bio and job descriptions
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Develop A Connection With The Interviewer
In addition to indicating what you know about the company, you should also try to develop a connection with your interviewer. Know the interviewer’s name, and use it during the job interview. If you’re not sure of the name, call and ask prior to the interview. And, listen very carefully during introductions.
If youre prone to forgetting names, jot it down somewhere discreet, like in small letters at the bottom of your notepad.
Ultimately, building rapport and making a personal connection with your interviewer can up your chances of getting hired. People tend to hire candidates they like and who seems to be a good fit for the company’s culture. Here’s how to get the hiring manager on your side.
When Interviewing With A Recruiting Firm:
This step in the process is often underestimated and mistreated. In the current market more than 70% of available opportunities are handled by recruitment firms. This includes permanent, contract, temporary and project. Please remember when you have a meeting with a recruiter whatever side of your personality you choose to display is the side your recruiter will tell their client about.
If you mistreat your recruiter by being late, not completing their internal forms, being surly and uncooperative in the interview with them or in the time you spend in their reception area they WILL NOT REFER YOUR RESUME to their client. This is not because they want to be mean to you but because you are their reputation. Give this some thoughtrecruiters do not manufacture anything, Their product is their customer service and YOU.
If you, the candidate, mistreat the recruiter they can only assume you will also mistreat their client. They have worked long and hard to get that client and they will not risk sending someone in who will potentially damage that relationship.
Author: Zag Dutton is President at careerconnectionsonline.com.
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Reflect On Your Accomplishments
Now that you have a bit of an idea of what youll need to cover, spend a little time reflecting on your achievements. During an interview, youll want to show the hiring manager you have what it takes to excel. Typically, that means discussing a relevant accomplishment.
Ideally, you want to identify key moments in your career that showcase you as a great fit. As you reflect, write down the ones that stand out most and that show that you possess the skills and qualities you found on the job description. Those are the accomplishments you want to work into your answers.
Matching Jobs With Connections
The tools listed below help you find connections within your existing social networks. For the best results, it helps to have more than just LinkedIn account. The more people you are connected with across different networks, the greater your chances of finding the right company contact. But dont sacrifice the quality of your relationships with the quantity. Quality trumps quantity any day:
- Jackalope Jobs Find jobs using Jackalope Jobs unique job posting aggregator and then the tool will help you identify the best people to connect you to those opportunities. If you link your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Plaxo profiles, youll have a wide assortment of people who can help refer you for a job posting. The advantage of using this tool is that you only need to log into one platform to find jobs and reach out to helpful connections.
- Career Sonar Career Sonar also uses job postings and matches them with your connections. You specify the jobs and companies you are interested in and CareerSonar scans your social and professional networks , matching the employment history of everyone you know with the jobs it finds across the Web.
- SimplyHired Known first as a job board, SimplyHired aggregates job postings from various job boards. When you use their social network integration, your LinkedIn connections are matched with the jobs you are interested in to help you find people inside those companies.
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Before You Even Begin To Look You Need To Know Your Odds
Companies hiring top talent often spend the first few months of every year focused on corporate strategy instead of recruitment, which will typically hinder your job search between January and March. After this initial rough patch, the market hits peaks and valleys based on the state of the economy, which explains the increase in unemployment during the pandemic.
Hiring trends, however, tend to surge upward again at the end of the year, between October and December, because companies want to devote any leftover budget to new talent.
The traditional dead zone of January through March will likely be exaggerated in 2021 as large companies recover from the effects of Covid-19, so dont be disheartened if you fail to land a job before April. This summer may be the best time to actively search for and interact with potential employers before the September through December hiring surge.
Now, lets begin.
Create A Tailored Proposal
Your resume shows the value that youve brought to other companiesbut what employers really want to know is the value youll bring to their company. So try answering that question upfront. Create a presentation thats all about their specific needs and your ideas to solve them.
For a high-level marketing position I had my eye on, I managed to land an interview by sending in three campaign ideas, complete with ad mock-ups, target segments, and a financial forecast. My interviewer told me the company was impressed with my research, attention to detail, and willingness to start solving problems for the organizationbefore theyd even called me back!
These types of tailored presentations arent just for creative fields, either. If youre applying for a sales job, send the company a new sales pitch with a forecast for the ROI. If youre in accounting or operations, take a look at the companys financials or the financials of a competitor, and build out a plan to help them reduce their overhead costs or improve their leverage. Wherever your expertise lies, wow them with a specific idea that you could bring to their organization.
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