Interviews can be worrisome and daunting, so the more opportunities you can get to practice, the better you become. A lot of people have said to me “If only I could just get an interview”. Here are five ways that I have found can greatly improve your chances of getting an interview.
1. Pick up the phone
I highly recommend that you call the contacts in the advertisement, introduce yourself and make enquiries about the role. This conversation starter is a great way to make make a memorable first impression. Make sure you sound enthusiastic (i.e. making the right noises in the right times) if the role is appearing to be one that you’re interested in.
After you have discussed the particulars of the role and explained a little about yourself and your experience, ask if they think you are suitable for the role, based on the conversation you have just had (they should say yes if you’re on the same page, and you have sounded enthusiastic making all the right noises at the right times). At the end of the phone call, set the expectation that you will apply for the role and confirm when the close off date is. It is also prudent to enquire as to the salary range at this point. If it is significantly lower than what your expectations are, then you needn’t bother apply.
I go into more detail under HR Hot Tip #11 in my book 101 HR Hot Tips: Handy Secrets for Success in the Workplace.
2. Write a standout covering letter (if required)
Some recruiters don’t believe in the value in covering letters; others believe a great covering letter is only what is required in order for them to maintain enough interest to keep reading your application. For me, it shows you can write, spell, pay attention to detail and follow instructions – basic yet critical skills in the professional world – so I usually don’t keep reading unless the applicant’s covering letter is professional and captivating.
Assume your recruiter places high value on the covering letter, especially if they are asking you to include one as part of your application. Be sure to address the selection criteria in the advertisement and you now have the advantage of what you learned during the phone call you just made, so capitalise on this and include any salient areas discussed.
HR Hot Tip #2 provides an example of a standout covering letter for an HR Manager role, but this can be emulated for any role.
3. Tailor your Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Recruiters are time-poor and do not have the resources to read every line of every application. The key is to engage their interest early. I always recommend editing your CV for the role you’re applying for so as the recruiters can more quickly identify your suitability for the role, from the dozens of applications they probably received. Whichever areas are important in the role as identified by the person you have spoken to as well as what was advertised, need to be moved to the top of your list of achievements and responsibilities. It can be hard to prioritise but you have the added benefit of knowing what they’re looking for. I do this for every single role I apply for. It is worth putting in a little extra hard work to be distinctive.
4. Highlight your strengths
What might stand you out from your competition? On paper (and in conversation), this is the part where you really “toot your own horn”. And don’t hold back. Your application is your first chance to really showcase your achievements. This can be done without being arrogant: you are simply stating the facts of achievements you have made and the impact they had on the business. What have you done that has moved your current company forward that can be transferrable to this role and really add value to what this prospective organisation is missing? Don’t undersell yourself – you may only get one shot at this dream job.
5. Reinforce your passion with a powerful closing statement
The mission, the vision, the values – these are the backbone of the organisation. This is where they’re going, why they’re going where they’re going and how they’re going to get there. They expect all employees to jump on board and be aligned with these three areas.
If you’re serious about this role and the company, learn about their mission, vision and values and as a closing statement in your covering letter, write something like “I am genuinely motivated by Company XYZ’s mission, vision, values and their contribution to XYZ. I feel I would be a great fit for the role and the organisation” or words to that effect. You must be genuine though – not every industry is for everybody – but this is a good hook for you to include on your covering letter to improve your chances of getting an interview.
Next week’s blog: How to conduct a memorable interview
Would you like a free consultation? See www.harlandhansen.com for more information about services I provide to candidates, as well as to companies.