All that time you spent creeping on your friends’ — and exes’ — social media profiles is about to pay off. Here’s how to find information to ace every step of the application process.
Whether you’re sending generic resumes and letters or highlighting your skills and achievements, there’s a better way to increase your chances of getting hired.
All it takes is a little bit of digging. It’s only fair. Many recruiters check your social media profile, so why not do the same? (Click here to Tweet this thought.)
Here’s how you can find information and use it to ace every step of the application process:
Start with reconnaissance
Let’s say you find a job ad. The next step is looking up the company’s website, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and Facebook accounts. Find the following:
- The name of the hiring manager or recruiter. Look up his Linkedin profile and see if you have anything in common. Check his interests and interview pet peeves on Facebook or Twitter.
- Company background. Look for target demographics, recent news, products or services.
- Someone who’s already working at the job position you’re applying for. That guy (or gal) has the job you’re targeting for a good reason, so check what you have in common. If they have qualifications or technical knowledge you don’t, and those are related to the job, that’s a clue. Study those topics.
- Challenges the company and its industry are facing. Prepare two to three suggestions on how you can solve them.
- Company values, vision and mission.
Use the information — or lose it
On your resume
Align the skills and credentials listed in your resume with the requirements for the job posting. Highlight related achievements, too.
Remember your research on the guy who already has the job you’re applying for? Check his job description and see if you can insert some of his skills or tasks on your resume. (Of course, don’t list these skills unless you really have them.)
On your cover letter
Don’t put “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern” on your cover letter. Put the name of the person.
Use key phrases from the job ad, and pair them with a few phrases of the company’s values.
Instead of writing “analyst with five years’ experience in banking,” put “analyst with a get-it-done attitude and five years’ experience in banking” (where “get-it-done attitude” is part of the company’s values).
You might think it’s cheesy, but doing this gives the recruiter a subliminal signal that says, “Hey, he’s gonna do well with the team.” It’s also much better than using clichéd phrases, such as “hardworking,” “honest” or “quick learner.”
In the interview
Use your knowledge of the interviewer’s LinkedIn and Facebook profiles to break the ice. If you don’t have anything in common, try talking about their interests.
Don’t say something like, “I saw you worked at Chase Bank for two years. I worked there as an intern!” This ruins the icebreaker because the recruiter will sense you’re trying too hard to establish rapport — and he’ll know you’ve been snooping around his profile.
Mention whatever it is you have in common, but don’t drag the recruiter into it. Say, “I did my internship at Chase Bank.” If he welcomes your attempt at rapport, he’ll likely smile and mention his job stint there.
Assuming you’ve built rapport, the next step is to establish that you’re the best candidate for the job by eliminating the competition. This is where most of your research will pay off.
Asking questions makes you stand out from the hundreds who just shake hands and say, “Thank you for your time.”
Ask about the challenges new hires encounter, then tell a story about how you handled similar challenges successfully. Your knowledge of the skills someone in the same position has will be helpful, so use this to highlight your competence in the tools they use and the job-specific knowledge required. If you can confidently use the jargon or lingo for that job, use it.
Ask about the challenges the company or industry faces, then share suggestions you’ve prepared in advance. Just don’t overdo it; your task is to portray yourself as a problem-solver, not a know-it-all.
The next time you want to apply for a job, do research before you send an application. Customize your resume and cover letter for every job application you send.
Paul Bailey is a confidence coach who can help you get out of a toxic job and find meaningful work that matches your skills and values. As a gift to readers from Brazen Life, you can get his free ebook and get exclusive content to help in your job hunt here.