As much as candidates SAY they want the job, there are some who don't give off the impression that they really want it. And as I've noted many times before, it is critical you convey your excitement and strong qualifications for the opportunity you are pursuing.
Job seekers I've worked with recently have surprised me with their lack of preparation or effort in their job search. When you know you will be one of 10 or 20 or 100-plus applying or interviewing for a job, you must do everything you can do stand out in a good way, not a bad one. To convey you are the perfect fit, you should be very consistent in your message that ties your qualifications directly to the job requirements.
You've heard it over and over, but some still don't listen, so here are the two most critical rules for job-seeking:
1. Do your homework
2. Present the facts that prove you can meet the needs of the hiring team
To better clarify this perspective, here are some examples of what NOT TO DO!
Send the wrong signal in the interview
During an interview with one of my clients, one of my candidates was asked what he enjoys the most in his career. Although he and I had discussed the fact that this was a role for a sole contributor with no direct reports, he chose to respond with, "I love mentoring and leading others." This automatically sent a signal to the hiring manager that he is not the right fit for the job. Yes, it's important to be true to yourself; but at the same time, if there are equally valid responses to a question that meets the job requirements, why respond with the worst answer instead?
Submit resumes for the wrong jobs
I've had other job seekers send resumes for jobs they are absolutely not qualified for -- some who obviously don't even know what the job is. They are just sending their resume to anything that is posted. Some job seekers think a hiring manager or recruiter will see their resume and be so excited about their background, they will find them a different job to interview for.
This is rarely the case. If anything, hiring managers may remember (or put in their tracking system) to not interview this person ... ever. I'll explain why another day. Bottom line: You need to apply only for jobs you are qualified for. As an alternative, you can send an e-mail with a resume attached stating you know there are no current jobs posted that fit your background, but would like to be considered for future opportunities.
Provide sloppy materials or poor communication
I've received cover letters that say "Dear Susan" (I'm not Susan). Or just "Dear ," (obviously using a form letter that they didn't take the time to put my actual name into). I've also received e-mails asking the status of the selection process for a job that isn't mine to fill (obviously a mix-up with someone else). I even recently had candidates in interviews talk about how they've resented their last boss for making more money than everyone else.
I'm not trying to pick on job seekers. I recognize all job seekers face a tough challenges. But the reality is, if you're not going to do your homework, heed advice you've heard time and time again (because it is truly valid advice), or take the time required to have a quality conversation with the gatekeepers of the companies your applying at, the results will not be positive. In my case, I simply cannot present applicants to hiring managers when the experience I've had with them has been subpar.
The good news: If you flip it around, at some point you will get a job where you are a good fit. So, take the time to check your cover letters and resumes to make sure they will make the right impression. Present the key information that makes it easy for them to hire you. And most of all, be sure to apply for a job you really want -- it'll be obvious to the interviewer if it is.
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