When employers are receiving countless cover letters and resumes each day, you may wonder just what you can do to stand out from the crowd. Of course, having a well-crafted cover letter and a flawless resume helps. However, hundreds of other candidates are submitting equally compelling material.
So, how do you go above and beyond the norm to catch the attention of a company you'd like to work for? Eugenia Sawa, a staffing manager at Microsoft, has provided some insight into how candidates can stand out.
Here's what she had to say:
"For any role, a dream candidate will provide me with a universal, well-rounded, and informative picture of themselves professionally."
"Everything content-wise that appears on each channel should match up in terms of expertise, accomplishments, and personality (cheeky/out there), and fit with how you present yourself in person."
"We love meeting candidates at conferences, so let us know you’re attending the same conferences we are through our various social media channels. How else will we get the chance to meet you there? Help us get a good idea of who you are and what you’re looking for so we can set up a meeting with someone from our team."
"LinkedIn is your unofficial resume. We do spend a lot of time here."
Let Your Expertise Shine Beyond Linkedin
"Even more so, we are looking for domain experts: people who speak about technical challenges they are having at work and the people who offer advice to help resolve them. Quora and Twitter are key places to ask and answer questions in specific fields of expertise."
Keep Your Accomplishments Fresh
"At the start of the New Year, start your running list of your accomplishments at work. It helps you update your resume easily when you need to and makes for an easier time writing your annual performance review."
Set Professional Goals - and Reach Them
"Every New Year, you should think about your game plan for the year. Are you going to simply update your LinkedIn profile or are you going to take that class that you have been meaning to take, or actually apply to jobs? Tell one friend and keep yourself accountable by meeting with your friend every quarter. Accountability keeps us true to what we set out to do at the beginning of the year."
A Checklist for Success
As you gear up to approach your dream company, it’s good to have a plan. Not only will this help you to focus upon your career search, but it will also give you the confidence and the information you’ll need to impress when you finally do land your interview. Based on Eugenia Sawa’s recommendations, here is a checklist of steps for you to take during your campaign to get noticed by your dream employer:
- Make a list of your top 10 “dream” employers, and then carefully research their organizations. Become familiar with their corporate history (a good source for this is the “About” section on their website), their mission statement, their organizational structure, and the names of their key personnel in management, human resources, and in the department you envision yourself joining.
- Create or update your resume on LinkedIn so that it emphasizes the skills and professional experience that would best qualify you to work for your dream company. Make sure your professional brand matches what you are seeking for the next phase of your career.
- Use LinkedIn, as well as the organizational website, to learn who works at your target companies and how long they have held their current tenures.
- While it is risky to directly approach hiring managers themselves through LinkedIn, it is perfectly acceptable to ascertain if they share any of the same professional contacts who are in your network. If so, then it’s fine to approach your shared contact and ask if they’d be willing to provide you with a referral to the company.
- Research and list all of the job fairs/conferences where you know your dream employer will be recruiting, and make it a point to attend these.
- Regularly review the company’s current job listings to see if there are entry-level positions they are searching or internship opportunities they offer. Often the best way to “get your foot in the door” is to land an entry-level job and then work your way up the ranks.