This is a guest post by Vanessa Merit Nornberg, owner of Inc 500 Company, Metal Mafia.
As an employer, I often see many candidates who are not the right fit for my company. Many times the actions they take in the application process prevent them from even getting to the interview stage and often, even if they do make it that far, they have not truly considered whether the job is the right fit for them.
In an effort to help the right candidates find the right positions, I put together ten tips to help people searching better understand what prospective employers are looking for.
- Look for a job you will love. Anything can pay the bills, but not everything can make you look forward to showing up for work every day. When you begin your search, decide you are going to apply only for the jobs that truly interest you. Employers know when you are just looking for a job just to get a paycheck, and most do not want to waste their resources on someone who will not stay.
- Learn about the companies you consider applying to. Once you have narrowed down the type of job you would like, take the time to look up the company proposing the job you are thinking about applying for—BEFORE YOU APPLY. Is this the kind of place you want to work? Is their product something you feel excited about?
- Tailor your resume to interest the hiring manager reading it. If the job sounds great, show the company why you are a great fit by highlighting the skills you possess which match those required for the job. For example, if you are applying for a job in telephone sales, but all your experience has been in retail, point out how everything you did on the retail floor was about sales.
- Write a cover letter explaining the value you could bring to the company. With your tailored resume, send a well-written cover letter—NOT COPIED FROM A BOOK OR WEBSITE—further explaining why you think you could be a great asset to the company to which you are applying. Be specific. Saying that you are a team player or a people person is empty. Explain how your ability to cooperate with others or your ease with people will serve you in the specific job you are seeking.
- Make sure your email address conveys professionalism. When you are ready to submit your cover letter and resume, do so from an email account that shows professionalism. Email accounts are free, so sending your application from one which uses your name instead of something like firstname.lastname@example.org will make the right impression instead of the wrong one.
- Follow up. Mark your calendar to call or email the company to follow up on your application three days after submitting your application. When you contact the company, let them know you are very interested in the position and provide a specific reason why. Confirm that they have received your application. Ask them when they think they will begin the interview process, note the date in your calendar and thank them for considering you.
- Follow up again. If you have not yet heard from the company two days after the scheduled interview start date, follow up with another email letting the company know you are still very interested, and highlighting a specific reason why you would be of value to their team. Tell them you hope to hear from them soon to schedule an interview.
- Do your homework. If you are granted an interview, PREPARE for it. Spend time looking at the company’s website in detail. Pay attention to their products and services, and be able to discuss them in depth. Search articles about the company for more information on how it operates, and finally, see if you can find any reviews or customer input about the company. Write down any questions your search generates. These are great questions to ask during the interview to show that you have studied the company and are looking to understand the business so that you can help grow it.
- Use good interview etiquette. When you go to the interview, you need to Arrive 15 minutes early for the interview, not more, not less. Before you enter the offices, get rid of your gum, turn off and stow your cell phone, and dispose of any beverage cups you have. Give a solid handshake and introduce yourself to each person you meet–from the receptionist to the interviewer.
- Conduct yourself thoughtfully during the interview. The interview is your moment to demonstrate who you are and how you can add value to the company, but also the time to find out if the job will really make you happy. Listen carefully, ask specific questions, and be both curious and honest—the interviewer should get to know you, not just hear the answers you think she is looking for. Your interests and the company’s interests should align, or it is not the right fit. If they do, you will get the job—and probably love it.
In 2004, Vanessa opened Metal Mafia, a wholesale body and costume jewelry company that sells to more than 5,000 specialty shops and retail chains in 23 countries. Metal Mafia was an Inc. 500 company in 2009. Fluent in Spanish and French (as well as English), Vanessa has also worked abroad in communications and business development in the video game and jewelry industries.