If only you knew how desperate some hiring managers are for you--or anyone--to be the right candidate for the job. No one wants to interview endless disappointing candidates only to go back to the drawing board without a hire. It's not very difficult to stand out from the crowd of applicants, because many job seekers fail to follow the most basic job search rules.
Apply for jobs you're qualified to do. In the 2013 CareerXRoads Source of Hire report, respondents estimated that half of all applications were unqualified. The report also cites the February 2013 Talent Board white paper, which questioned 90 firms about their job applicant pool. That paper reported an estimated 60 percent of applicants were unqualified.
Who knew that just applying for positions for which you're qualified puts you ahead of half of the applicants? The trick is to prove why you're well qualified and to not assume it's clear to the person or computer scanning your materials.
Show why you're a match for the position. Describe exactly how and why you're a good match for the position via your resume, online profiles and other application materials. Don't rely on your cover letter to make the case for you--weave the details directly into your resume. Job descriptions are the best sources of information about what employers want. Use them to tailor your materials and make direct connections between what the employer wants and what you offer.
Specifics are helpful. If the job requires fund raising experience and marketing, make sure to elaborate on your successes in those areas. Do not expect the employer to realize that your strong sales skills qualify you.
Be the candidate you are on paper. You can create the most amazing resume, detailing exactly why you're the best candidate for the job, but if you cannot fluidly and succinctly talk about those experiences in the interview, you may lose the opportunity to compete for the job. Expect the interviewer to ask you about what is on your resume, and prepare to explain your skills and accomplishments in stories that resemble sound bytes more than autobiographies.
Suggest a way to solve a problem. When you win an interview, it's because the employer believes you have the basic qualifications necessary to do the job. If you want to be irresistible, do your research in advance and identify a problem or concern the employer faces and suggest how you may be able to help solve it. While most employers won't respond well to a candidate who presents him or herself as the savior riding in on the proverbial white horse, many will be impressed by a candidate who takes the time to research their needs and outline a solution.
Be likable. You may be surprised to learn that some people would choose to hire a likable person over a competent person. Obviously, the best-case scenario is a candidate who is both likable and qualified, but it's not that shocking that hiring managers often will seek a good fit--someone who will work well and mesh with the other employees on the team--as a key factor when hiring. People spend the majority of their waking hours at work, and most people would prefer to spend that time with people they enjoy.
How can you show you aren't a pill to be around and would be a good addition to the team? Overcome job search nerves and smile. Appear happy to be at the interview. Use the strong communication skills you say you have; the employer will be more likely to believe you have all the other skills you list in your resume. Act interested in what the interviewer is saying and be prepared to describe situations when you pitched in at past positions and went beyond your job description to help achieve a goal.
When you extend yourself and think of the employer's needs, you will be much more successful landing a job.
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to reach their goals.