Getting a job can be a big challenge. Especially when you are at the start of your career. But even seasoned professionals looking to step up to the next level can find it daunting.
We have looked at what hiring managers have to say about successful technical candidates and put together advice that can help you stand out from the crowd of applicants.
Adapt Your Resume to the Job
Having a basic resume is a good start because it gives you a template to work off of. But that is it. It is only the start. Because if you want to get through the screening process and into the dream position, you will need to do the extra work to adapt your resume for the specific role.
And here is an important piece of advice to follow: top load your resume with your strengths.
How do you do that? Start with reading that job description again. What are they looking for? What do they need more than anything else? Identify that, then create a crisp and concise summary of what you can offer that matches that need. So if an employer is looking for a project manager with expertise in VOIP, you are going to want to lead with that fact that you are a seasoned or skilled project manager with experience in VOIP.
Again, it sounds obvious. But you might be surprised by how many recruiters receive generic-sounding resumes from “professionals looking for the next challenge”.
This means preparing for a screening call and for an eventual interview.
Going into this stage means being forearmed with solid information about the company you are trying to work for.
That means taking time to read through their website, corporate materials, and social media. Doing this, allows you to get a sense of the company’s ethos.
- What is their mission?
- How do they work?
- What is their strategy?
- What are the company’s goals?
- Why do these resonate with you?
- How might you help them move forward?
Think about these things. And be prepared to answer tough questions about your own experience, career, and salary expectations.
And it goes without saying –before you arrive at the interview, make sure:
- You are dressed appropriately
- Have multiple copies of your adapted resume with you
- Be courteous to everyone that you meet
- Have the address, directions to your interview clear in your mind the day before
This means knowing your biggest strengths and understanding your weaknesses. Be sure to have your elevator-pitch ready, but guard against using clichés in your communication with employers – they are pretty sussed when it comes to spotting a genuine person (and someone who is not).
Every interaction with the employer counts: from the first time you submit your application, to the initial phone screening, all the way to you submitting your acceptance of their offer. Employers value honesty and integrity, so be sure to communicate in that manner.
Grow Your Experiences and Own Them
Experiences make a difference to how employers perceive you, and they do not have to be standard across the board. Nor do they have to be a perfect match to the job requisition.
Be prepared to take non-technical experience and make it work to your advantage. Think of complementary skills you might have picked up that will add value: customer service skills, budgeting, leadership, project management, etc.—you might be surprised by what you can bring.
Cisco, for instance, values a range of skills that go beyond the technical expertise: entrepreneurial experience, thesis projects and self-learning, internships, extra-curricular activities, and volunteering. Each of these experiences on their own demonstrate motivation and initiative, problem solving, and a willingness to learn.
Know how to explain your experiences. And do your introspection well in advance of your conversations with employers.
Make Social Media Work for You
If you need to spruce up your LinkedIn profile, take a look at our webinar series to see how to use your online reputation to get hired.
Follow thought leaders in your areas of interest on Twitter.
Above all, make very sure that everything you post on the Internet is professional. Anything you put up on the web can be used by an employer looking to learn more about a candidate before they meet you.
Employers want to see that you are passionate about working in your field of interest. They want to see the energy and commitment, in your resume and when they meet you. So if you are going to apply for a job—be interested, the whole time. Be able to communicate your passion for the job, for the industry, and for the company.
And Finally, Be Persistent
Not every job, no matter how appealing it might be, is a perfect fit for you. Securing the best opportunity is usually a process. And it’s one that can take time. And it’s crucial that you stay positive and upbeat so that you feel in control of your job search.
Give yourself a realistic goal for searching and contacting employers. Maybe it’s weekly, maybe it’s daily. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date, and good copies of your CV ready to customize.
And remember to stay on the radar of contacts and friends so that they know that you’re available.
You never know where the next lead might come from.