Saratoga Springs - The hiring market has changed in recent months. It is hard to predict where we’re going, but the job seeker has a vast array of choices from the hundreds of job boards, to drive through job fairs, to recruiters calling them off of applications they’ve submitted. Applying for work can always feel uncomfortable, but the point is that employers are hiring, and searching for great candidates. It is your job, as the job seeker, to be as prepared as possible. You’ll stand apart from everyone else and create the best opportunities for you and your new employer.
First impressions matter to employers. They want to make sure that the job seeker’s impression of a company’s offerings are relevant and professional. Employers do their best to present as much detail as possible – building lists of jobs available, preparing skills checklists and competency requirements pertaining to those roles, so they are clear about what skills, history and experience they’re searching for.
Employers look for similar preparation from candidates. They are always searching for the cream of the crop – those that have great resumes, perhaps a general cover letter giving an overview of skills and experience, and a polished appearance when meeting them. Polished appearance doesn’t mean suit and tie mind you, it means eye contact, neat presentation of self and resume, and measured confidence in their approach. Regardless of the level of the position, knowing your work history shows a level of attention to detail. Here are some tips to help you prepare before applying for a new role:
- Know your dates of employment. Take time to look up old pay stubs, or call your former employers to gather this information. You don’t need the exact date, but it’s common for employers to ask the month and year of your start and end dates for each position.
- Research the jobs you are applying for. If you’re not sure which are the most appropriate, start with the top two or three that most closely mirror your experience. Print them out, or save them. Read and review them prior to visiting with those employers. If you want to demonstrate your ability to succeed in a role, nothing jumps out more than having a keen and fresh knowledge of what you’re applying for. Not knowing does the opposite - you’ll know this has happened if the interview is over in 5 minutes.
- Bring paper. Bring multiple copies of your most recent resume, blank paper for notes, and a sheet with a few questions on it. If you’re not taking the time to update your resume, what does that say about the effort you’ll put into the job?
- Know your skills and strengths. At first sight, an employer will not know what you’re good at, nor what you’ve done well in your past. At the application stage, asking an employer what they have for you demonstrates a lack of research on your part.
You may not think that these little things are a big deal. Add them up and they make up a significant impact on your first impression to a potential employer. If you’re looking to make a solid, lasting impression (enough so that they want to call you when they get back to the office), be prepared with the little details. You’ll find more success stories with this approach, than if you act as if the job fair or application process is all about you. The reality of the application/interview process is that it’s a mission of discovery for both of you. Do your best to demonstrate you’re the candidate they want – the one that’s mindful of the organization, its goals, and its company culture.
Written by Tom Schin of www.buildbetterculture.com