Hiring managers are a romantic lot. When we have a vacancy to fill, we're desperately looking to fall head over heels in love, and are convinced that this time, we'll find "the one." We're usually in the market for a candidate because of a recent breakup. Either we got dumped, or broke it off ourselves. Either way, we know what we're looking for and, more importantly, what we don't want in a long-term relationship.
The Resume and Cover Letter
Like in a brutal chat roulette session, we're eager to hit the next button if we don't immediately like what we see when going through resumes. You've got to make information easy to find and navigate. On the cover letter, fuse your experience and our job description to tell us exactly how you're the perfect candidate, and that it's close to divine providence that we're now in possession of your application materials. In short, romance us. And use proper grammar and good writing. After all, if things work out, we may introduce you to the CEO.
The Phone Screen
Since we've probably contacted you to set up a phone screen, be prepared and in a place you can talk freely, and where there isn't some horrible background noise. We want someone who really wants us, so do some research and let us know that you understand our business. Even more important, be able to articulate why you want to work with us and how you'll add value.
This is the first date. We finally get to meet each other face to face. Again, we want you to be "the one" in Harlequin proportions. But this is also a time where the jilted lover in us comes out and we start nit-picking.
Don't take any chances. Leave yourself enough time to get to our office way before our meeting is scheduled. If you get there too early, use the time to gather your thoughts in your car. If you encounter any delay, traffic or otherwise, you'll still have plenty of time and won't get stressed, which always shaves off a few IQ points.
Dress nice. Wear the nicest thing that you have. If it's a suit, great, there are still a lot of old school "dress for success" hiring managers out there, and this is a nice gesture. Show us that you're prepared for changing circumstances by bringing multiple copies of your resume printed on a nice high bond paper. You never know when we may decide to have you talk to another decision maker, and having a spare beautiful resume can come in handy.
Most important of all, be sincere and be yourself. Don't tell us what you think we want to hear in a frenzied effort to get the job. We've interviewed a lot of candidates, and we'll see through you.
Also, remember that this is a two-way conversation. We want you to ask about us and the job. We want to know that you're envisioning yourself in the available role so that we can both make the right decision.
The Follow Up
We're touched when you follow up after the interview to let us know that you enjoyed discussing the opportunity with us. It tells us that you have good manners, and that you're genuinely interested in the job. Just don't sell yourself too hard in the follow up note. It's more of a, "hey I had a good time and would like to do it again" kind of thing.
Now you know the dark secret of a hiring manager's struggle with unrequited love, and how you can inject a little "romance" into the process. Show us you care, are prepared, and really want the job, and you'll have us at "To Whom It May Concern."