“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius
Landing a great job is one of life’s sweetest blessings. As the saying goes, how we spend our days is how we spend our life. A fun job with purpose and meaning is invaluable. As such, when this type of job opportunity arises, it is important we nail the hiring process.
Every organization has different hiring practices and may be looking for different qualities, skills or personalities at any given time. Those variables are more difficult to predict, but here are five tips that will help you shine (no matter what) in the hiring process:
1. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, always include a cover letter with your resume and application. Call ahead and ask the hiring manager if the letter should be addressed to anyone in particular. Use the letter as your platform to stand out from other applicants. If you are tempted to copy and paste from standard letters you’ve found online or from letters you’ve used in the past, don’t.
If this is a job you’re truly excited about, use your cover letter as the way into the hiring committee’s hearts. Simply write why you’re the best for the job. Decision makers will review many resumes for a particular position and they (the resumes) have a tendency to look the same after a while. Cover letters do as well; unless they don’t.
2. Spend the time between submitting your application package and your interview learning everything possible about the organization and its team. Become familiar with the website, visit the building where you will be working, reading financial reports if they are available, read newspaper articles or social media posts. Try picturing yourself working in the position. What tools and information will you need to do the job? Are there other people with similar positions you can ask? Do your homework. It will show in your interview.
3. Prepare answers about your experience and background. Look through your resume and think about the things you are most proud of. Write down points you need to express. Obviously, you cannot control the questions asked of you, but you can remember these important points. Use them as basecamp for your thoughts during the interview process.
Is there something unique about your past? Though experiences may seem irrelevant, they can be appealing to organizations. Maybe you’ve ran five marathons, or you enjoy woodworking on the weekends. Some of these personal details can reveal more about your personality and work ethic.
4. On the day of the interview arrive early, dress above the standard, and smile. Arriving 10 minutes early is plenty. It shows the organization you’re punctual, but doesn’t create too much unnecessary waiting time. Be sure you treat the person greeting you with respect and courtesy. Talk with them, ask questions. The front line employees will often provide valuable information to those making decisions. Or, who’s to say they aren’t the ones making the decisions.
I never thought I would consider myself old fashioned, but I am still a believer in suits for interviews. Being overdressed is far better than being underdressed. When planning your attire, assume it will be the only first impression you will get. Iron your clothes and dress as professional as possible.
Finally, smile. Smile when greeting people, smile when the interview begins, smile. When we are nervous, this particular action may be difficult, but it is so important. I’ve seen interviews made (or not) by the “tone” set in the first seconds of the interaction.
5. Remember that job interviews are two way conversations. The time you spend in the interview should be just as much you getting a sense of the organization and if it will be a good fit for you. Prepare questions ahead of time that will provide insight into the organization’s culture and management style. Do your best to understand personalities of those people you will be working with every day.
If you’re applying for a position that will be life changing, make sure you treat it as such. Go above and beyond in the details. Let your personality shine. Take time in learning the job description and go into the interview prepared to discuss exactly how you will execute each job function. Finally, smile and create a pleasant experience for the people interviewing you. Leave them better than you found them.
Chelsea Rosty is the director of business innovation for the City of Montrose. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.