For job seekers on the prowl for new employment, the rules of engagement can be confusing and seem to change from employer to employer. It's true that certain industries and employers have a distinct process for applying for available positions but it doesn't have to feel like unchartered territory. Here are 7 ways a job seeker can capture the attention of the employer and ultimately land the job offer:
1) Apply as Instructed
Employers use a variety of platforms to market and attract top talent to their available positions. It's critical to follow the instructions in the job posting as to how the employer prefers you apply for their open positions. If it's a LinkedIn job ad, then be sure to apply thru the LinkedIn portal and follow the instructions provided. Be mindful for the items that the employer wants included in the submittal. A cover letter is a given for any submittal, but some job postings specifically ask for salary requirements and an explanation as to why the applicant feels he/she is the natural fit for the position. Submittals with missing items can easily land in the electronic incomplete application pile or trigger an immediate "thanks but no thanks" rejection letter. It is also important to pay attention to requests in the job posting that respectfully ask for no calls or visits to the business. These types of requests are typically standard for positions in high security or medical professionals where a job applicant approaching the business is not considered official business. Calling or showing up in person for these types of positions can land the job seeker on a list of applicants that did not follow job posting instructions and disqualify themselves from being invited in for an interview.
2) Arrive on Time
When it comes to things in the employment realm that have not changed, it's easy to understand why showing up on-time and early to an interview is encouraged and expected by an employer. Arriving in a panic or on two wheels to a job interview will be a tell-tale sign that an applicant may not be able to arrive on time for their shift and may indicate an inability to properly plan. There are plenty of things a job applicant cannot control in the job seeking process, however arriving early and on-time to an interview is easily accomplished.
3) Calm, Cool and Collected Body Language
A resume and cover letter make the first impression on an employer. An applicant's body language makes the second impression to the employer within twenty seconds of the interview beginning. From the time the applicant arrives at the employer's place of business, the impression he/she makes on staff is the beginning of the interview. A calm, cool and collected applicant will remain kind, respectful and genuine with everyone they come in contact with prior to, during and after the interview. Body language in the waiting area and how the applicant communicates with others is often relayed to the hiring authority so keeping it professional is a must.
4) Genuine Smile and Eye Contact
In my many years of recruiting and evaluating job applicants, I have noticed that applicants can forget to smile and show their true personality during an interview. A genuine smile with comfortable eye contact will help solidify a connection between the applicant and the employer representative. Comfortable eye contact is a gift to many and difficult to others. Even applicants that struggle to make eye contact should practice answering questions and answering with direct eye contact. Applicants that are not able to look the employer in the eyes can be seen as disrespectful and may give the employer cause for concern. The easiest way to overcome this issue is for the applicant to remind themselves to breathe, smile, and look at the employer in the eyes when interacting during the interview.
5) Dress Professionally and Appropriately
An interview is an opportunity to make a strong positive impression on the employer. Unfortunately, it's all too common for the way the applicant is dressed to make a negative impression. An applicant that is dressed professionally and appropriately for a job interview will put the employer at ease that he/she has the ability to be professional and appropriate in their business interactions. A good rule of thumb for men is to be sure hair and face are groomed, shirt is tucked and shoes are clean and free of scuff marks. For women the list can be more extensive but a few areas to clue into are face and hair tended, outfit appropriate for the business and does not attract attention to chest, midriff, or legs. It can be debated that women have it harder when it comes to making a positive impression in person because body types and wardrobe selection can vary so much but when in doubt an applicant is encouraged to make conservative choices.
6) Kick the Nervous Habits to the Curb
The job interview is the first opportunity the employer has to interact and engage in person with the applicant regarding the position and the organization. It's important to keep calm hands and watch any other nervous habits that might creep up during the conversation. Nervous habits can be shifting eyes around the room, fidgeting with hands or car keys, tapping of the knee, flipping or tucking hair, or using words like "um or like" at the beginning of sentences. Interviews can induce nervous feelings that are completely normal but applicants should make every effort to appear comfortable and engaged.
7) Follow up With a Written Thank You Card
Did she say "written"? Yes, the proper means to thank an employer for an interview is to send a handwritten card of thanks. An email thank you is appropriate as well, but should not be used in lieu of the handwritten card. The card gives the applicant the opportunity to stand out from the crowd of applicants and point out specific reasons he/she is interested in the position so that the employer understands the interest level for the position and can clue into other personality traits. The card does not have to be lengthy and can include a brief sentiment of thanks for inviting them in for the interview and a line or two about why they feel they are interested and suited for the position. In cases where the employer is screening and interviewing a large amount of applicants, or where the race is close between top contenders, the use of the thank you card can be the tipping point for the employer and set the applicant apart from the rest of the competition.
The ultimate goal of the job seeker is and should always be landing a job offer from the employer. By remembering to pay close attention to the items discussed, an applicant can be seven steps ahead of fellow candidates for the position. In most cases, a job offer is extended to the candidate that the employer feels aligns to the qualifications required, possesses the personality and appearance that matches best with the organization and to the candidate that best captures their attention overall.