One of the most valuable pieces of advice we can give job seekers is to recognize that the interview process begins long before you come into the office to meet with the hiring manager. Many candidates underestimate the importance of organization and professionalism before even applying for a position. Put your best foot forward during any preliminary interaction or communication that you have with recruiters, networking contacts, HR managers, and business owners. You’re being evaluated each time you engage with someone about a job. This can seem intimidating, but don’t panic! Here are 4 tips to make sure that you’re ready to make a great first impression—during each stage of the hiring process.
1. Proofread your resume at least twice.
Job hunting is a lot like dating: you want to present the best version of yourself. Even if you’re in a rush, don’t push out a sloppy resume because it’s the first opportunity you’ll have to make a great impression. Ask a friend or relative with great writing skills to proofread your resume to ensure it’s easy to read and free of typos. Many job seekers use the same resume for each application, but small adjustments can be made to highlight the skills that are most relevant to the position you are applying for. Similarly, if your background does not fully align with the job description, be prepared to address any areas where you may be lacking skills or experience.
2. Keep a list of companies you’re applying to, and why you’re interested.
When applying for positions, it can be difficult to keep track of every job you’ve applied to, so get organized! Do a little research on each company and make notes about why you’re interested in the job. This way, if you receive an unplanned call from someone asking about your application, you’ll be able to quickly reference your notes to remind yourself what attracted you to the job and why you’re interested in their company. If you’re in the habit of answering calls from unknown numbers, be prepared to find yourself in a spontaneous interview. Don’t be afraid to politely ask if you can give the person a call back in 5 minutes (after you’ve found a quiet spot to talk and had a chance to review your notes). Don’t feel pressured to speak about a role if you’re not prepared—this can end up working against you!
3. Be gracious and kind to anyone you speak with.
Whether you’re working with a recruiter or directly with a company’s HR manager, don’t bombard them with calls and emails about the status of your application, interview, assessments, etc. There is nothing that’s more of a turnoff than a candidate who keeps calling asking about the status of his application, or one who keeps asking when the team will be making a hiring decision. Be professional and kind to everyone you meet because you never know who may be giving feedback over an interaction with you. Your ability to professionally navigate through the different hiring phases is part of the interview process. Similarly, if you decide to withdraw your candidacy for a position, let the recruiter or hiring manager know; this professional courtesy will save them time, and they may just take note and reach out to you first about future opportunities that more closely align with what you’re looking for!
4. Take note of how you’re branding yourself.
Personal branding is critical during a job search. Google yourself and see what comes up – recruiters and HR managers really do check! If your social media pages are public, ensure your posts and photos are professional. Next, check your voicemail greeting. Do you have a lot of background noise or a sarcastic greeting that you recorded 10 years ago? Taking the time to make sure your voicemail is professional is an important part of making a positive impression. The same is true for your email address, so make sure this is professional too. Finally, proofread emails and be conscious of how you come across whether it’s via phone, email, or in person. Unprofessional, impatient, or poorly worded communication can make someone think twice about offering you the job.
Guest Blogger: Amanda Guzman
Bio: Amanda is an HR Consultant with Peoplr who specializes in recruiting and interviewing. She has a degree in Psychology from the University of Florida and loves being able to help job seekers find opportunities that are a great match for their skill set. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her dogs, Khaleesi and Starke.
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