It’s that time of year again! I can’t wait to drink egg nog, watch Christmas Vacation for the 7641st time, and erect the Festivus pole/prepare for the airing of grievances.
Speaking of grievances, have you ever gotten a really terrible holiday gift?
Many moons ago, a boyfriend of mine got me a stunning, likely expensive, gold bracelet. The design was lovely and it really was beautiful…except for the fact it was gold. What’s wrong with gold, you ask? Well, nothing if you’re a leprechaun. But I’m not and I hate gold.
I had been dating this guy for a long time…how had he not noticed that every single piece of jewelry I owned was silver?
While it was a sweet gesture, he clearly didn’t put much thought into it.
And that brings me to the notion of the “gifts” that candidates give hiring managers throughout the hiring process. Sometimes these gifts look more like a White Elephant exchange than a real attempt at getting a job.
If you really want the job, here are five gifts the hiring manager actually wants:
- EVERYTHING that is requested in the application instructions – Easy enough, right? If the application instructions ask for a cover letter, resume, and writing sample, be sure to include all three items.
If they ask for a cover letter that addresses two specific questions, make sure to address those two questions!
And if they ask you to share your desired salary range, don’t say “I’d prefer to share that later in the process” because the hiring manager may decide that he prefers to give you a lump of coal instead of an interview!
- A mention in your resume of EVERYTHING you’ve done that correlates to the key job requirements – You wouldn’t believe how often candidates tell me, “I didn’t put this in my resume, but I have extensive experience doing X”…and X just happens to be one of the key requirements for the job! Unfortunately, hiring managers are NOT Santa Claus: meaning they do NOT know when you’ve been naughty or nice, nor do they know you’ve overseen a company-wide database upgrade or a multi-year strategic planning process for a $5M organization. So, you must tell them!
And if you don’t include this important information in your resume, you run the risk of being declined for not meeting the requirements! This season, give the hiring manager the gift of knowing you ARE qualified!
- Evidence of your philosophical alignment and passion for the organization’s mission – Are you as excited about the job as a kid on Christmas morn? Great! Say that in your cover letter!
Clients routinely decline candidates who don’t take the time to articulate their philosophical interest in the organization’s mission. Sending a generic cover letter to a hiring manager is like sending a fruitcake to anyone with tastebuds: it won’t be well received!
- A regular review of your spam folder – Clients often come to us saying, “I emailed John to schedule an interview, but never heard back.” All too often, that important email was sitting in John’s spam folder, sad and lonely, just like your neighbor’s half-deflated inflatable snowman who is doubled over like he drank too much eggnog.
And by the time John thinks to check his spam folder, the job has long since been offered to someone else.
If you are searching for a job, be sure to check your spam folder regularly!
- Flexibility on scheduling – Have you ever spent the holidays traveling from one family member’s house to the next, and then to the in-laws’ house, and then to Cousin Eddie’s? It’s exhausting!
And this is exactly how the hiring manager feels! He is trying to arrange interviews with multiple candidates over multiple days and perhaps even with multiple staff members.
Don’t be a Grinch and be difficult about finding times that work for you.
Instead, be sweet and flexible with your schedule, like Cindy-Lou Who!
(See what I did there?)
Following these five tips might just land you a job, and if you’re really lucky, a membership to the Jelly of the Month Club! Happy holidays!