Nowadays, a hiring manager will feel that they know you long before you arrive at the interview.
Every self-respecting recruiter will scout candidates on social media ahead of time and, combined with the information in your CV and cover letter, should arrive at a pretty clear picture of who they think you are.
As a job seeker, you don’t want them to get the wrong idea.
At the interview stage, it will be much easier to confirm positive opinions hiring managers have you than to overturn bad first impressions.
How we present ourselves, both in our applications and online, goes a long way to ensuring success in the job market. After all, there’s more to recruitment than just ticking boxes.
Here are 3 top tips to present yourself better to hiring managers and stand out from the crowd.
As a job seeker, your aim is to convince recruiters that you’re capable of fulfilling they’re expectations and excelling in the job.
In short, you want to make a good impression.
Hiring managers, like anyone, respond positively to people they can trust and relate to.
The language you use to describe yourself and your candidacy tend to be the first things recruiters focus on, and will go a long way to determining first impressions.
What are buzzwords?
Buzzwords are something to avoid.
Simply put, buzzwords are those overly-used terms (often adjectives) that have, as a result, lost their meaning.
How often have you seen someone describe themselves on LinkedIn as ‘passionate’, ‘driven’, ‘creative’, ‘motivated’? Or as an ‘expert’ with ‘extensive experience’.
Of course, if you are really are one of these things then you should shout about it to hiring managers. To make yourself heard, however, you’ll have to find new ways of expressing yourself.
What you can do
- Avoid exaggeration. Recruiters tend to look at a lot of applications and a lot of candidates’ online profiles. They will quickly see through excessive exaggeration and tire of reading the same adjectives used regardless of their applicability.
- Tell it like it is. Try to explain who you are, what you do and why you do it without recourse to cliches or jargon. Write it more like you would say it, in a genuine attempt to inform. Hiring managers are desperate to get to the facts of the matter.
- Less is more. With recruiters reading CV after CV and cover letter after cover letter, they’ll appreciate being offered a concise and accurate description of your background, ambitions, and skillset. Keep it simple and the hiring manager will be more likely to remember what you have written.
2) Grammar and design
When it comes to first impressions, grammar and design may well have the biggest impact.
Before recruiters have a chance to analyse the content of your application or profile, they will get an overall sense of you from the look and feel of what they are reading.
Grammar and spelling have a big impact on the reader. We tend to judge spelling mistakes, grammar errors, and imprecise language very harshly – even though we all know how easy they are to do.
The reason probably lies in what it tells us about the care and attention that has gone into preparing the writing.
You should go to the trouble of proofreading.
With design, the situation is a little more subjective. Though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, effort should be made to create something that is visually appealing.
Even if you are severely lacking in graphic design skills, copying the aesthetic of a CV, cover letter, or online profile that you think looks good should help you whip your application into shape.
What you can do
- Proofread your writing again and again. Everyone makes mistakes. And you will certainly do it with your writing from time to time, especially if you’re continually tweaking and optimizing your applications and profiles. Double-checking grammar and spelling is a must.
- Ask a friend or contact for feedback. When you’ve been obsessively looking over the same words and documents things do start to blur a little. Getting a fresh pairs of eyes on your application before you send will help.
- Prioritize clarity. Whatever you do, make reading your application and viewing your profile easy for the hiring manager. Cramming in too much information onto one page does not make for a pleasant reading experience. Try to choose a design style that organizes the content clearly for the reader.
3) Showcase your skills
What makes you an attractive candidate should be front and centre of your applications and professional profiles.
Though this may be tweaked slightly when applying for different positions, you should be able to identify your core skills and abilities and highlight these at every opportunity.
Demonstrating these skills where possible is also strongly advisable.
If you’re a writer, for example, your grammar and spelling should be perfect, and you should include clear links to blog posts and articles you’ve written (if you don’t have a portfolio to share). If you’re a designer, be sure not just to include a portfolio but ensure every aspect of your profile and application look visually immaculate.
Creating a video application is a good way of showing off your productions skills, and demonstrating some of the personal qualities that aren’t visible on the page.
What you can do
- Highlight your core skills. Make sure recruiters don’t have to dig deep to find out what you do best. Highlight your core skills and abilities in a headline or summary.
- Show off your work. Provide links to examples of your work and include a portfolio if you have one. Give hiring managers plenty of material – they won’t look at it all, but should be better persuaded of your potential if given the job.
- Practice what you preach. Try to demonstrate your skills as much as possible in the application and on your profile. Just as you should show off your personal qualities in the interview, make sure your application is the equal of your best work.