8 Ways to Be the Best Job Candidate You Can Be Resources

Not everyone has the luck or luxury of being sought out by recruiters who specialize in finding candidates for jobs and prepping them for interviews. Most of us have to go it alone, apply for positions ourselves, and hope for the best.

Fortunately, Michelle V. Rafter of the Orange County Register recently sat down with a group of recruiters to get some of their expert advice for jobseekers. In a post titled “Tips for Becoming a Better Job Candidate,” Rafter shares the following eight tips — all fantastic, all worth reading.

1. Be a Joiner — Obviously, you need to be on Twitter and LinkedIn, but as Rafter writes, that’s not enough. Recruiters sometimes find candidates on websites or at events tied to specific industries. Join professional organizations and alumni groups and be as active as possible. You want to keep your name out there.

2. Fill All Gaps — If you have holes in your employment history, don’t leave the space blank on your resume. It could make you look unreliable, Rafter says, and at the very least, it’ll raise questions. Instead, list any work you did during those periods — even if it was part-time or volunteer in nature. Chances are, you picked up some skills or experiences you can highlight to a potential employer.

3. Take Pride In Your Resume — This document is your chance to sell yourself. Begin by making sure there are no grammatical or formatting errors. Then, spend the time to thoughtfully tell the story of your career and trace your progression to where you are. Also: Double-check to make sure your contact info is current. You want people to be able to get in touch, after all.

4. Do Your Homework — When you get to the interview stage, your task is to explain how you’d fit in with the company and help the team. This is obviously far easier when you know a lot about the company and the team. It also pays to read up on the people you’ll be interviewing with.

5. Be Proactive — Sometimes, applying for jobs online can feel like throwing your CV and cover letter into the void. For this reason, Rafter recommends following up directly with the manager who posted the position. As with the last step, this may require some digging on your part, but it’s worth it.

6. Look the Part — Not every position requires a suit and tie, so if you’re interviewing for a gig at a casual company, don’t show up dressed to the nines. If the dress code is formal, though, be sure to shine those shoes and have a neatly pressed outfit.

7. Be Super Prepared on Interview Day — Before you head in, pack extra copies of your resume and make a couple of cheat sheets. One should have a list of the accomplishments you spelled out on your resume; the other should be a rundown of the people you’ll be chatting with, including their names and whatever bits of information you’ve gleaned from doing your research. This might help with making small talk.

8. Stay on Target — Whenever you’re asked a question, answer directly and succinctly. As Rafter says, you’re not going to give a perfect answer every time, but rambling or over-explaining is never a good idea.

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