Tag Archives: Resume

How to Stand Out in the Interview Process

The best way to learn to stand out in the interview process is through experience. When I think back to my earliest interview experiences, I can easily notice the difference between those experiences and my most recent ones. It never fails to surprise me how practice is oftentimes the greatest method of learning. Every interview experience that a person has is an invaluable experience, regardless the outcome. It is an opportunity to expand your professional network, to learn how to improve your resume, and to learn how to interview effectively. That being said I would like to take a moment to talk about some of the most important ways to stand out in an interview process. We all know that for a single position their can be hundreds if not thousands of applicants and in that way knowing how to differentiate yourself from a sea of applicants is important. In logical order, these are some of my golden tips that will help you to navigate this crucial process.

Introduce Yourself

This is probably one of the most underutilized tools at the disposal to an applicant. A very easy way to stand out is to simply introduce yourself the hiring manager, recruiter, or job poster. You can do this by e-mailing the person, if you know their address, or by sending that person an inmail here on Linkedin. There are some boundaries to be aware of when doing this. Only send an e-mail if a person’s e-mail address is available publicly or if it was given to you by a mutual contact. You simply want to be careful of being overly eager and possibly turning someone away. Tread carefully. If you are being introduced to someone through a third party, make that person aware of that fact. It personalizes your message.

As far as inmails go, I would say that job posters on Linkedin understand that that is a feature and it is to be expected that any subscribing Linkedin user will use it to their advantage. The bottom-line is that your introduction does not have to be the actual application. You can make yourself stand out by taking a moment to simply introduce yourself. It is your opportunity to make your interest know and to personalize your application. This is all towards that effort of putting yourself on that immediate short list of potential candidates.

Craft a Resume That Uniquely Identifies You

You can find hundreds of articles and posts online about how to create an effective resume, but you will rarely find one that focuses on personalizing your resume. The importance of having a direct, cogent, and cohesive resume cannot be overstated, but the fact remains that there will still be a large pool of applicants that have the background and credentials that warrants further consideration. The idea behind making your resume unique is leaving upon the reader at least 3 ideas or themes that identifies you as a unique candidate. You want a hiring manager or recruiter to be able to remember who you are past what your background is.

You want to highlight in your resume those accomplishments or identifiers that makes your resume different from that of anyone else. Including a section on your resume for qualifications is one way of accomplishing this. Let’s say that someone is pursuing a position on Capital Hill. It is one thing to be someone with the relevant educational background and internship experience, but it something different be a person with unique accomplishments and interests. For example, Derek has won many public speaking awards, has a profound interest in legislation related to alternative energy, and is an avid member of the NRA. The point is that the educational and professional backgrounds of candidates on the short list are bound to be similar. If a hiring manager can identify who you are on a more personal level, then you will stand out in their mind.

Approach the Interview as a Conversation

The final tip is the most crucial advice that I have to offer. It is something that I wish I knew years ago and something that has proven extremely effective. I do not know why more people do not approach interviews in this way, but if you are looking to gain an edge during your next interview, then implement this strategy. Approach the interview as conversation rather than a standard Q&A session.

Forbes has this great presentation, entitled There Are Only 3 True Job Interview Questions, that you can find on Slideshare. The three questions that Forbes states are as follows:

1. Can you do the job?

2. Will you love the job?

3. Can we tolerate working with you?

If you are offered the opportunity to interview, then the hiring manager has already come to a fairly solid answer for question number one. That is what your application and resume are for. Further, they have likely answered question number two as well. Your cover letter is not only your personal pitch, but really your opportunity to say how excited you are about your career field, the subject matter, and the position. That really only leaves question three. Conversation is the key to standing out. It is the key to being the candidate that is remembered when a hiring manager goes to make a decision. Approaching the interview as a conversation demonstrates your aptitude (your ability to do the job), your excitement (why you will love to come into work everyday), and your charisma (why people will like to work with you). If you can have a great, relevant and professional conversation with a hiring manager, then that will speak volumes more about your abilities, then leaving a hiring manager in a position to have to ask you back to back questions, most of which will have already been answered by your resume.

As a candidate, this will not only allow you to stand out, but will lessen the anxiety associated with entering an interview. On a psychological level, we perform better when we operate moderately. Rather then feeling the pressure to answer questions adequately, you can put yourself in the mindset and position to answer questions organically as they come up over the course of conversation. You also have the ability to steer the conversation. I cannot say enough about this final point. It has really helped me and I know it can help others.

Top 5 Features I Want to See From Linkedin

1. More Graphical Representations of Job History and Data

With the most recent incarnation of Linkedin, the team has managed to include many more graphical representations of data, but I would like to see a lot more. The ability to graphically see how you’re connected to a particular member is great. The ability to add digital media to job history entries was not only a great addition, but also essential, especially to those in creative industries. Further, the graphic that displays your skills and subsequent endorsements has taken the recommendation feature of Linkedin to a much more baseline level. It’s a snapshot of the synthesis of one’s recommendations. Despite the above, I look at sites such as Re.vu, which is a service that allows you to create a digital/interactive resume, and see a lot of features that are lacking in Linkedin. For instance, the timeline feature of Re.vu gives a person an immediate snapshot overview of a person’s professional history. It’s an effective way of immediately giving a prospective employer or anyone a great, rough sketch of where a person has been and where they’re heading. These kind of graphics are what I would like to see in the future from Linkedin. Of course, in the meantime I’d recommend that everyone take a look at Re.vu. I have a profile there and the great thing about Re.vu is that it has import tool that makes it very easy to create a profile from your Linkedin profile. It’s the perfect professional companion to Linkedin.

2. Widgets, Such as Twitter and other Blogging Services

Prior to the most recent Linkedin update, the site offered many options for addition of third party services as well as social media integration. In the aftermath, it seems that most if not all of these optional additions have been removed and though it was my hope that by now they would be added back; they have not. I am thankful though that my WordPress automatic posting to my Linkedin profile still works. I would like to see greater customization of Linkedin profiles through the use of widgets. I think it’s a great way to keep a Linkedin profile dynamic and to demonstrate a person’s abilities. Blogging, for instance, helps a potential applicant to demonstrate that they are up to date with current events and can help to fill in gaps in employment.

3. HTML Embed Codes

I think that Linkedin should make there HTML embed codes more prevalent to users so that they can make they’re Linkedin profiles more easily viewable on personal websites and blogs. I utilize this feature already, but it did take me a bit of Google searching in order to find my own personal code that would work. I think that Linkedin should make this more accessible to users by including it in the user settings.

4. Lower Price for Premium Features

I think that Linkedin would see a higher subscription rate for their offerings of premium accounts is they offered a tier at lower rates. I’m not attempting to say that $19.95/mo for a basic job seeker account is unreasonable, but given prolonged unemployment times, it might be best to start out at a lower rate. I for one would be much more receptive to continuing my premium subscription if the basic rate was lowered by 25%.

5. Linkedin Storage for Files

The way Linkedin functions right now, you aren’t able to store any files on Linkedin. Everything has to be linked to from somewhere else. This itself isn’t that big of a problem. Many users, such as myself, obviously circumvent this problem by storing files on a cloud solution such as Dropbox and linking to files there. There are obviously also many other options, such as, Google Drive, Sugarsync, Box.net, and Amazon Cloud storage. I think that Linkedin should include some degree of storage in order to make these already present features more accessible for less tech-savvy users.

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