We’re going through some hiring right now, and every time we do a round of hiring I learn something new. Acting as a hiring manager (especially if the hire will report to someone else) gives you a rare opportunity to view both sides of the problem (what am I looking for from the perfect candidate and what would make the perfect candidate excited about our company and our process). The first time you lead a serious hiring process, you learn a lot about yourself and the path your career is on — it represents the quickest accumulation of knowledge towards career development (in my humble opinion).  I’d love to write a lengthier post on what I’ve learned through hiring (I’ll add it to the list of topics), but today I’m in the thick of reviewing resumes and I’d rather share some tips on how to get past the first stage and how to communicate with hiring managers.

  1. If the job listing gives a specific way to contact the company, follow it to a tee. The more specific the instructions, the more this applies. ~50% of applicants are “spray-and-pray” job hunting. I want to avoid hiring these people at all costs. This is as simple as throwing a very easier curveball into standard application procedure (my favorite is to ask for PDF attachement of resume and the cover letter printed in the body of the email with a specific subject line such as “EA Position Inquiry.” Miss any of those? You will not be getting an interview 99.999% of the time.
  2. Always, Always go above and beyond if you think of a way to be helpful to the hiring manager. I had a candidate recently say “I know you requested a resume, and you may find it attached, however I’ve always found LinkedIn profiles to be easier to read than attached PDFs, so I’ve included that as well: www.linkedin.com/in/yadayadayada.” This let’s me know the person thinks beyond instructions (yet still follows directly laid out commands), and is capable of placing themselves in others shoes.
  3. Don’t show off flowery writing. I’ver written published poetry, I have a love for witty turns-of-phrase, and I’ve read some beautifully written cover letters that I stopped reading halfway through. The world of business rewards clear, succinct communication. Save the pontification for your blog (why do you think I write this damn thing?)
  4. The previous point is if you are a great writer. If you’re a mediocre writer DO NOT try to use large words or clever phrases to prove your intelligence. Be thankful that, in most cases, the business world only requires general clarity and not fanciful method. With all the time you’ve saved looking up words in the Thesaurus, go back and delete 30-70% of the words you wrote without altering the meaning.
  5. Answer any questions clearly and upfront in the cover letter (eg “I know I’m over/under-qualified, but here’s why I am applying”).
  6. List relevant skills/positions (no more than 2-3) in the cover letter.