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Eight steps to stand out in your job search

If you want to ignite your job search and win a job fast, here are eight key steps to help you achieve that goal.

1. For each company you are targeting, find out what problems the company/department has as well as any future initiatives. You can get this information from people in your personal network and people you are or can be connected with in LinkedIn. If you have the proven skills to solve its problems and/or to implement future initiatives, you can promote your ideas in the professional summary of your resume (see No. 2 below) and also use your ideas in interviews to help your application stand out from the pack.

2. Create a custom resume for each job with a professional summary section at the top that contains a six- to eight-line sales pitch showing you have the key skills listed in the job description. Also highlight one or two major accomplishments (measurable, when possible) that are directly related to the job that prove your worth. This summary should grab the reviewers' attention, make them say "Wow" and get them to bring you in for an interview. Remember that accomplishments can also include brief but powerful testimonials from managers, co-workers, customers, etc.

3. Build a strategic business value presentation that briefly summarizes your value to your prospective employer. This includes what you've done (brief summary from your resume); your major accomplishments (three to five of them); your strategic business value (three major areas, such as people, processing and planning, with three to five ways that you contribute to each); and, how you can help your future employer. You can send this to an employer a week after submitting your interview, post it on your Linked profile and use it in telephone pre-screening or in-person interviews.

One job seeker showed this presentation in an interview to a director, who was so impressed he brought him to the senior vice president, who also saw it and gave the applicant the job on the spot. See the "Downloads" section of the Training Tamer website for an example.

4. Create a career portfolio containing samples of your work (brochures, reports, proposals, manuals, budgets, graphics, photos, project plans, schedules, customer testimonials, comments from annual performance reviews, awards, etc.). You can use these in a telephone prescreening or during in-person interviews to "prove" your worth.

5. Prepare for an interview by getting a list of interview questions and writing out the answers (this helps you to remember them). Then, you'll be more prepared to answer the hiring manager's questions than your competition. Remember to use compelling examples to support your answers and cite accomplishments where possible.

You can also use testimonials to support your answers. Be sure your answers include the benefits of what you've done as often as possible. This includes benefits to your company, manager, co-workers, customers, suppliers, business partners, etc. Benefits are what will sell you to employers most.

Also, prepare a list of questions that you want to ask the hiring manager. These include questions about the company, the hiring manager and his co-workers, the job and the benefits. One great question for the hiring manager is, "If I were to ask three of your subordinates what it is like to work for you, what would they say?"

6. Remember to ask the hiring manager at the beginning of the interview to leave time for you to ask questions and show your work samples from your career portfolio. Otherwise, he/she may use up all the time. Take notes during the interview so you can assess it later to determine if the job — and the company, culture and the hiring manager — are a good fit for you.

7. End the interview effectively by doing a form of sales close. To do this, first ask the hiring manager if he/she thinks you're a good fit for the job based on your resume, work samples and interview performance. If the manager says yes, ask him if he has any reservations about you. If he says yes, ask what it is. Then provide an example from your work history to prove this isn't a problem. Continue doing this until all the hiring manager's concerns are resolved.

Finally, ask the hiring manager what the next step is (finish the interviews, choose the candidate, etc.). Be sure to get a date when this step will begin or end. Remember to follow up using gentle persistence. The day after a deadline has passed, call the hiring manager (if you haven't already heard from him/her) and check on the status of the position. Avoid calling before one of these deadlines. It will make you appear like a pest. When you do inquire, do it nicely and be sure to briefly reiterate your enthusiasm, value and fit for the position.

8. Send a thank-you note after the interview to thank the hiring manager for his time, reiterate why you're a great fit for the job, and if possible, provide something to address one of his pains (e.g., provide a link to a website that has an article to solve a problem).

For examples of many of the items discussed here, go to and click on Downloads on the main menu.

Larry LaBelle is president of Training Tamer Inc., which provides comprehensive training, coaching and support services for job seekers, H.R. staff and hiring managers. To learn more about Training Tamer, visit or call (813) 924-8404.

Eight steps to stand out in your job search 08/07/10 [Last modified: Thursday, August 5, 2010 5:00pm]
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