In a fiercely competitive economy, standing out in a pool of job applicants is a tough battle. For technology professionals, it can feel especially impossible to highlight your unique skill set from a highly-structured resume or high-level project descriptions. To make it a little easier, our veteran Value Global team has outlined a few tried and true ways to get noticed, and get hired.
Nail the First Impression
Making a good first impression is always important, but particularly during the hiring process. Recruiters and HR professionals spend merely 10 seconds looking at a candidate’s resume before deciding whether or not they are worth further investigation. To make the most of those 10 seconds:
- Invest time into optimizing your resume – bold your particularly impressive projects and skills or add a comprehensive summary of your experience to the top.
- Submit extra material, like a video (even if it’s an unedited webcam clip). This can go a long way in distinguishing yourself from other candidates, as well as giving yourself a memorable face.
- Practice, practice, practice – always update your skills by building something off hours and adding it to your resume.
Do Your Homework…and the Extra Credit, Too
A distinctive way to get the time and attention of decision makers is to show you understand their business. You want to demonstrate your knowledge of the company’s direction and initiative and apply it in creative ways such as:
- If you are a developer, build a simple app using their API. A few extra hours could turn your candidacy around to the short list.
- Create a 30/60/90 day plan! This will show you are prepared to hit the ground running and detail what you will do with your time there. Your plan also serves as a conversation tool to outline what you want to achieve.
- If you are a graphic designer, design a simple mockup for one of the company’s important initiatives.
- Bring in a 5-10 page presentation with ideas on how the company can cut cost, save money, make money or outsource to offshore.
- If you do not have a project that highlights the specific technology or skill for which the company is looking, create a project that utilizes it. It shows passion, initiative and success in completing a worthwhile project.
Connect, Connect, Connect
The fastest way to an interview is to have someone you know make an introduction or recommendation; your network is stronger than you think. Don’t be afraid to leverage it as much as possible! Take actions such as:
- Reach out to previous managers and colleagues with whom you have worked for letters of reference or recommendations.
- Connect with your friends and LinkedIn contacts by sending personalized in mails to each, using social media as a vehicle to reach a large network. Additionally, you can ask connections to be an advocate for you, if they are connected to someone at the prospective company.
- Ask previous managers how they got the job that “set them apart”. They can also give you some much needed insight into your strengths and advice on how to address your challenges.
- Build rapport by mastering the art of small talk. Develop good positive energy with everyone who connects with you. You’ll become more confident in face-to-face networking, as well as build skills you can apply during interviews.
- Contact a recruiter! They are trusted by their clients and plugged into the latest opportunities. Best of all, submitting your resume to a recruiting company won’t cost you a dime.
Don’t Neglect the Follow Up
Chances are, hiring managers are interviewing several people for one job, and so, just like tributes in The Hunger Games, you’ve got to “make them remember you”. You can solidify a lasting impression when you:
- Send a personal email to everyone with whom you interviewed. Better yet, deliver a handwritten note to the company. This kind of courtesy will not go unnoticed.
- Ask your interviewers for some constructive feedback that you can apply during your next interview should they decide to go with another candidate. This leaves the hiring manager with good will and increases the chance that they would contact you for a future opportunity.
All in all, put yourself in the hiring managers’ shoes. What would YOU want to see and hear from a developer who’s interviewing at the company that you have built? Do your research, ask questions, prepare material of your work, make soft skills a number one priority and, most of all, don’t get discouraged. Be confident in your abilities; hiring managers believe in the people who believe in themselves.