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En Route: A Career Blog

Are Your Cover Letters and Interviewing Skills Making You Unforgettable?

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
CATEGORY: , ,
POSTED: July 12, 2013 at 10:18 am

 

If they’re not, then you’re wasting your time. You will not get the job.

An interesting article on Mashable.com, detailed what five hiring managers found most unforgettable about candidates. Their information is informative and telling.

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Behave as if You’re Part of the Team

The Chegg’s Director of Talent Acquisition, Amy Knapp, had this to say:  “I’ve met with a number of great candidates, but one who stood out was a designer who came in and blew everyone away. She did so much research on the company, the role, and gaps she could see filling, and she asked really smart questions. She also did her research on the interviewers so she knew her audience and connected with each of them in a personal way. It was almost like she was already part of the team.”

Most of us have heard of the phrase ‘hit the ground running’. That’s what Knapp is stating about this candidate. There would be no downtime and little training in bringing someone like this on. They’ve done all the work before applying. Most hiring manager’s will tell you that’s a rarity. And it will get you noticed.

Knapp went on to say: “We were really excited to offer her a role, and she was a great hire!”

Include a Memorable Cover Letter

Account Executive Spencer Rinkus from Bread stated: “I once received a note from a job seeker that hit me in all the right places. And that’s hard to do, because some cover letters are about as easy to read as Finnegan’s Wake.”

As a hiring manager I’ve received cover letters that were addressed to other people for jobs at those companies, yet sent to me. I’ve seen cover letters that went on for pages telling me what my company does. Trouble is, I already know what it does. I work here. I’ve had those that were one line notes stating, “My resume is attached”. Uh-huh. I can see that. Few were memorable.

Rinkus adds: “She sent over what I call the ‘self-aware cover letter’. I recall a virtual handshake, a hat-tip to all the cover letters before hers, a quirky summary of her talents, and absolutely impeccable grammar. There was only a single mention of the word unique, which seems six or so times fewer than the average cover letter I’ve read. She made an impression on me, anyway. And I work in advertising – I love impressions.”

If you’re not going to bother to make an impression with your cover letter, it’s better that you don’t include one.

Prove Why You’re Relevant to the Company

Alexis Anderson, PureWow’s Director of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships reports: “The candidate I still remember took time in her first correspondence to briefly outline personal blog posts she felt best represented her as the ideal candidate and why each was relevant to me as the hiring manager and to the open position. My favorite, “What I’ve Learned,” detailed her year-long experience as an intern at an accelerator: ‘I learned: It’s better to ask a question, no matter how dumb you think you sound, than to pretend you know what you’re talking about’ and ‘I’ve come to appreciate networking and learned that being friendly, making connections, and maintaining solid relationships is a top priority.’”

Clearly, this candidate is years ahead of many other individuals just starting out. She exhibits the willingness to learn, get the job done and to make a company succeed.

The bottom line is stated very clearly by Anderson: “I’ve since hired her. First impressions mean everything.”

Ask Insightful Questions

Too often candidates are concerned only about vacation time offered, salary, benefits – everything that pertains to them. They don’t come into the interview armed with questions that tell a hiring manager they’re actually excited about the position and want to make the most of it.

Education Pioneers‘ Samantha Simmons (Associate, Analyst Fellowship Recruiting), makes this point: “Tom (not his real name) was a prospective candidate, a former science teacher who had used data in his classroom to track student performance. When we met, I anticipated typical questions like, “What do you look for in an ideal candidate?” but that’s where Tom surprised me. Instead, Tom asked me about how Education Pioneers tracks our ‘impact’ on U.S. education and why data is critical to transforming the education sector overall. His demeanor conveyed that he was genuinely interested but also cautiously skeptical – he wanted to make sure the organization was making a difference. Tom’s tactful candor and thoughtful questions made him stand out as someone who definitely believes in our mission but who also understands that a healthy sense of doubt is required to help our programs achieve their fullest potential.”

The bottom line is this: If you want to stand out from dozens or hundreds of other candidates in a still weak job market, you have to become memorable. These instances show you how.

Darlene Z.

Darlene Zambruski is a resume writing expert and CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer) with more than 13 years of industry experience. She has authored 10,000+ resumes in every industry and at every career level.

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