Detail is Everything

Post by: Tom Schin
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image of ancient scrolls

There used to be a couple of key seasons in the hiring market which we would fondly call “Job Fair” season.  It was a period in which you’d see five or six or more job fairs pop up in various locations within a 2-3 week span.  While employers are all about diversifying the candidate pool at a job fair, the same principles apply to applying for a position in person.

As we went to one of our more recent fairs, it gave us some time to think about how we can help job seekers find greater success at the next hiring event.

As an employer, first impressions matter. We want to make sure that the job seeker’s impression of our offerings is relevant and professional.  We do our best to present you with as much detail as we can – building lists of jobs available, preparing skills checklists pertaining to those roles, and having a client profile prepared so we are clear about what skills, history and experience we’re searching for.

We look for similar preparation from candidates. We 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.  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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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. The opposite applies here as well.
  3. Bring paper. Bring multiple copies of your most recent resume, blank paper for notes, and a sheet with a few questions on it. I can’t count on my two hands the number of times a candidate has handed me a resume from two or three jobs ago. I can tell you that that number matches the number of people who did that and didn’t get a job.
  4. 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.
  5. Give-a-ways. Most employers bring them. They’re meant to provide you with something to remember their brand with. If your first reaction is to ask or take the candy, pen, stress ball, then you’re telling that employer that you are more interested in the “stuff” vs. employment opportunities with them.

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.