Have you ever applied or interviewed for a job that seemed to be nearly custom-designed for you, only to get the incredibly abrupt and unexpected, "Thank you, but we've gone in a different direction" email hurled into your inbox?
If you have, you probably sat there staring at your screen for a few moments wondering what the hell just happened. Right?
I mean, puh-lease, universe. You were perfect. Your experience was a dead-on fit. You can't imagine that anyone could have been more qualified than you. Could they have?
Maybe, maybe not. But here's the thing:
The person who scores the offer in any given competition typically isn't just "most qualified on paper." Sure, sure, you've got to have the skills needed to perform the role. However, the person who most often gets hired is an emphatic "yes" to three important questions.
1. Can he or she do this job?
This, of course, is the "qualified on paper" part of the equation. It's the baseline question that must be a "yes" or you're finished in the race. The final contenders will all be people the decision makers presume have the chops to successfully deliver on the key requirements for that job. So, right out of the gates, you've got to make it clear that you've got this one on lock.
2. Do we like him or her?
If you're invited in for an interview, this can be a pretty doable assignment. Just be likable. Be friendly (but not weirdly over-friendly), conversational and engaged. Make eye contact. Be interesting and interested.
But you don't have to (and you shouldn't) wait until you're in a face-to-face meeting to begin planting the seed that you're likable. Do whatever you can right from the point of introduction to strongly hint that you're a good-natured, enjoyable human being -- in your resume, your cover letter your initial email(s).
3. Do we think he or she is going to fit in around here?
This is the final deal-sealer. Are you a cultural match? Can the decision makers envision working side-by-side with you every day? Do they think your customers will jive with you? Do they see you as "one of us"?
It's one thing to be talented and affable, but if you don't seem to align with the vibe of the organization, you may not succeed in (or, frankly, enjoy) the role.
So, now that you have the questions, what do you do with this information? If you want the job, you take all of these questions into account from the moment you insert yourself onto the radar of the organization. You study the company, the people, the tone and the culture of the firm.
You pore over the job description and/or talk with people working at that company, to figure out exactly what the hiring manager is looking for in the person they hire. And, if you truly want this job, you take all of this data and work like heck to make sure you're coming across as "that."
You come out swinging, and you come out positioning yourself as a yes, a yes and a yes to these three critical questions, every time. Because the decision makers are all going to be looking for it -- either in an obvious manner, or (more likely) through observation.
Need help getting it right, right from the start?
If you need help positioning yourself on paper -- in your resume, cover letter and/or LinkedIn profile -- as a yes, yes and yes for the next job you take a run at, check out our Ridiculously Awesome Resume Service or our Ridiculously Awesome Resume Kit.
Or, if you're interested ...
We've just launched our first e-course, the Weekend Resume Makeover. We created this course to help anyone who wants or needs to quickly develop or update their resume, for an immediate opportunity or something on the horizon.
Interested? Come on over and check it out.
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons (Erich Ferdinand)