It is gift-giving season, and consumer goods – from socks and underwear to 80-inch TVs – are flying off the shelves. Maybe times haven't been so good for you this year, and you aren't able to give all you would hope for to your loved ones. What to do?
First and foremost, understand your own value as a human being. And give them the gift of knowing that you are doing your utmost to take the next step to get a job if you don't have one, and to get a better one if you are currently employed.
Also remember, for you to get hired your new boss must believe that you represent special value that he or she can't find in any other candidate. To do that, present your unique qualities and personality wrapped up in a bow of professional perfection. If you take the time to step back and imagine what it is that a hiring manager is actually seeking in a new employee, you can present yourself that way, and be perceived as a gift by the employer.
What gifts can you give to the hiring manager? Here are a few suggestions:
1. The gift of real dialogue without overusing buzzwords. Let your résumé and interview presentation of yourself provide an easy to understand depiction of what you've done, how you've done it, what you've achieved and why it matters.
2. The gift of making your potential employer feel "special." Always approach your job hunt with a view to how you can be the objective an employer needs in a new candidate, rather than making the employer feel that he or she is simply one of a great many recipients of your résumé.
It doesn't take much to personalize a cover letter and thoughtfully title your résumé in a unique way for each employer (i.e. Joni Jobsearcher Résumé for XYZ Company.docx).
Do the basic research necessary to show that there is a reasonable purpose in your applying to this particular employer for this particular job. And by all means, don't give any employer reason to believe that you are just spamming your message to every potential long-shot position.
3. Give the gift of relevance. A well-conceived, structured and articulate résumé is not your autobiography. There is no need to put into it virtually everything you ever did since 1979. Instead, it should show the development of your career over time, demonstrate the achievements you have made and at every turn answer the question, "so what?"
4. Give the gift of well-structured written and oral communications. Take the time to carefully format your résumé with sections for your personal brand, skills, each of your positions, education, licenses, certifications or other credentials and volunteer activities. Use consistently clear fonts, and let size, bold and italics provide recognizable guideposts to your story.
When you are speaking, quickly get to the point. Keep your answers brief and related to the question the interviewer posed rather than meandering or telling another story just because you want to get that particular message exposed.
5. Take the time to carefully prepare for your interview. It isn't just a random, free-form conversation no matter how low-key it may appear to be. Find out with whom you will be meeting in advance. Research them, other members of the their department and the company as a whole on LinkedIn. Scout out reference points of commonality you might have, such as school, former employers, etc.
Treat the interview as an opportunity to build a new relationship rather than as a grand inquisition where you are expected to rattle off one answer after another. Prepare stories about how you've done what will be required in the job you seek. Be prepared to relate how you've responded to similar circumstances that you might encounter with fellow employees, processes or the products and services with which you will be working.
6. Give the gift of quality questions. Nothing shows you care about another person as much as asking intelligent questions about them. Come prepared to ask about how this or that procedure is done, the role of the department or some other area that will build a conversation and give you further opportunity to highlight a skill, talent or success that demonstrates your value.
7. Give the gift of active listening. Come to your interviewed prepared to listen intently and actively. Soak up all the knowledge you can about the company, department, people who are currently there and the role and expectations of the job. Keep your responses and rejoinders well focused to make sure that your interviewer feels heard.
When you give your perspective employer all these gifts, you will clearly and proudly stand out as a person and candidate of great value. And when you successfully engender this vision of yourself, a job offer will not be far behind.
Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help mid-career job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.