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Every job application you fill out presents both a challenge and an opportunity. Whether you’re writing a cover letter, ensuring your resume is tailored to the job description or trying to remember what to say during your interview, you have a chance to impress the hiring manager and land the job. The challenge, of course, is making sure your application outshines the dozens of others a hiring manager may receive.
While there’s no secret formula for impressing potential employers, there are ways you can make yourself stand out. To help, 10 members of Young Entrepreneur Council each share one thing the high-quality candidates employers look for do when applying for jobs and why you should do those things too.
Young Entrepreneur Council members describe the common actions of high-quality job candidates.
Photos courtesy of the individual members.
1. They Speak With Honesty And Humility
I like candidates who are down-to-earth team players. I am not usually impressed by the pedigree and big talk, but I am interested in candidates who are humble and can honestly speak of what they know and want to improve themselves on. Their stories do not need to sound fancy, but I will think highly of candidates who can confidently address the detailed questions I ask related to their work. This way, I know that they actually did a lot of solid work without exaggerating. In addition, a great candidate usually sees their own limits and is willing to grow together with the team. This is important because no one is an expert on everything. Pulling together a stellar team that is willing to help others is my objective for recruiting. – Lianxin He, GrandLine Technologies
2. They Follow Up Post-Interview
Quality candidates are focused on long-term goals and plans, which means they almost always follow up or attempt to follow up after the interview. There are some candidates who think all they have to do is have an impressive interview, and then everything else will be taken care of for them. I’m far more impressed by the candidates who ask for contact information so they can get in touch later, or who physically show up in person to ask for updates on the job selection. This shows that they’re forward-thinking, ambitious and committed to actually showing up in order to get the job done. – Bryce Welker, The CPA Exam Guy
3. They Show An Eagerness To Learn
In a world where the shelf life of the knowledge gained with a degree is shorter than ever, most companies do things their own way and need to train you on their processes. Humility and the willingness to learn are the number one things we hire for, as well as company core values. Some of our employees didn’t graduate college but made over $200,000 last year. These are the most eager learners, and they practice in real situations as much as they can, shadowing executives and actively relieving their bosses of nagging responsibilities. Each new task is a learning opportunity. Approach the interview with that energy. The hiring manager will pick up on it and be more likely to forgive other drawbacks, knowing that on-the-job training is required for most roles. – Jonathan Maxim, K&J Growth Hackers
4. They Show Measurable Results
When applying for jobs, high-quality candidates show measurable results that demonstrate their skills and expertise. Giving exact numbers gives potential employers the ability to see how you can improve a company’s processes and what you have to offer. It specifies the accomplishments that you’re sure to bring into your next position. – Jared Atchison, WPForms
5. They Share Their Excitement
They share why they are excited about the position and share how their skill set will help them perform well in the available role. It’s one thing to see a resume and think the person would be a good fit; it’s a completely different feeling to see the person would be a good fit and watch them relay how excited they are to accept and progress in the role. At the end of the day, I want to fill my company with excited people who are happy to be there. Excitement for a role will outweigh better qualifications from a candidate who lacks the excitement. – Mary Harcourt, CosmoGlo
6. They Show Off Their Organizational Skills
I believe the key differentiator between a good and great candidate normally comes down to organization. An organized candidate will put in the time to research the company, key people in the company and as much information about the role as they can. You will know they are organized because they will come in with good, well-thought-out questions that will allow them to gather information about the company, the role and the expectations of the hire. If they are well organized, they will be interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. – Zane Stevens, Protea Financial
7. They Consider The Company’s Mission, Vision And Values
Qualified candidates look at the mission, vision and values of a company to prepare for the job interview. Qualified candidates are aware of the company vision and align with it. This is evident when someone is interviewed about their communication skills. When a candidate knows the mission of the company and sees themselves functioning within the mission, this is a great sign the candidate might be qualified. This passion trumps skill level, as skills can be learned. – Libby Rothschild, Dietitian Boss
8. They Share How The Company Can Improve
Quality candidates bring up their ideas and suggestions for the company during their interviews. For example, if you’re hiring a social media manager, a quality candidate will bring up ideas for how to improve your social media strategy or ideas for new content that could be created. This helps to demonstrate that they have done their research on the company and are truly passionate about working there. It also shows that they are willing to think outside the box and are proactive. Such candidates stand head and shoulders above the rest. – Blair Williams, MemberPress
9. They Do Their Research
They do plenty of research to make sure they are a good fit for the company and position they’re applying for. A surprising number of people looking for jobs use a scattershot approach, sending out hundreds of resumes and hoping they get interviews. This ends up wasting time for both the applicants and the business owner or hiring manager. Give plenty of thought to the type of job you want, the kind of company you want to work for and, if relevant, the location (or if you prefer remote work). Of course, you also must have the right qualifications. If the position calls for someone with over five years of experience, don’t apply if you just finished college. Only apply for positions that you really want and that would really gain something by hiring you. – Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting
10. They Tailor Their Applications
It’s important to tailor your application to the position you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing role, highlight your experience in marketing and provide examples of how you have used skills like persuasion or branding. Many candidates make the mistake of using the same resume or template for all jobs. A top tip is to use an AI resume booster to tailor your resume for each job. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner