Friday, May 30, 2008

6 Ways To Become the Top Dog Before Your Interview

Did you realize that nearly all hiring managers pre-rank candidates before they’ve interviewed even one? If you’re the top candidate before interviews, then it’s basically your job to lose.

So how can you position yourself as the top candidate?

It takes a lot of planning, and takes into account all 4 audiences of your resume. Check out the post on 4 audiences to see how to write for all your audiences. Why? If you don’t write for the database or HR, then your resume won’t get seen by the hiring manager. That makes it pretty tough to be the top candidate.

But let’s imagine you’ve successfully written for the Database and for HR, and your resume is in the pile for review on the Hiring Manager’s desk. How do you get to the #1 spot on that pile, before they’ve talked to you?

Here are 6 Tactics:

1. Demonstrate achievements not management: Many senior level managers forget that they hire people to solve specific problems, rarely based on the number of people they’ve managed. Use active bulletpoints to demonstrate how you Created Employer Value. State that you increased profits by X% by doing Y, Increased sales by X% by doing Y, Cut costs by X% by doing Y.

If your major bulletpoints have verbs like “Managed”, “Led”, “Coordinated”, “Liased” you are shortchanging yourself, because you’ve probably done much more exciting things in your career. Sure, many people haven’t gotten a position because they hadn’t managed a large enough staff – that’s often a nice way of saying “We found someone we liked better”.

2. Determine Target Company Problems and Goals: If you can demonstrate that you’ve already solved the problems that the company or manager has, you’re an early favorite candidate. Research everything about the company, but don’t focus on what happened in past company financials (unless you’re a CFO candidate). Focus on finding the problems that exist right now, or will occur in the next quarter. Draw inferences to guess how your target department and potential manager will be affected.

3. Network to a problem. Here’s a fantastic way to use your personal network, LinkedIN network, Facebook network, etc. Most people network to find someone to ask for a job, and it’s often a low return activity. You can make much better use of your network by finding out what’s going on inside the company, and insight about the people you’ll interview with.

4. Club your reader over the head: Once you’ve found out what’s important from research and networking, construct bulletpoints to address those issues – and put them at the top of your resume. Bold specific individual words to address job description keywords. Don’t bold phrases – instead make a greater visual impact by just bolding words.

5. Be the unique solution to the problem: Demonstrate how you have already solved the problems the company or manager has. Show how you are a Subject Matter Expert in solving their specific problem. Be the right person at the right time and right place.

6. Communicate in their language: Use keywords from the job description – the EXACT words. Don’t rephrase, because databases don’t understand rephrasing. More importantly, the job description along with research, conversations, and networking can tell you how the company communicates. Pay attention to your research and conversations to pick up more key words, and to note the communications style. Mirror the style in your resume and include liberal servings of keywords, and you’ve got a recipe for being the top candidate before you ever step foot into an interview room.

So look at your resume….does it make you the top candidate?

If you’d like a free 30 minute resume consultation or some advice about your career transition, just email your resume to reCareered at, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

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