What’s that Hiring Manager Thinking?

By: Marti Benjamin, MBA

Certified Career Management Coach (CCMC)

Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW)

“Champion for a great work-life!”

When you’re a candidate, it’s hard to imagine that filling an open position could be anything but the highest priority for the manager. From the other side of the desk, that open position might look very different; if you’re aware of that perspective, you might gain an advantage in the competition for the job.

In the years I was a hiring manager, I don’t recall a single time that a vacant position arose when I had extra time to review résumés, conduct interviews, check references and arrange for other managers to meet and interview candidates. The job opening always came when I was already busy and then had to deal with the loss of an experienced employee on top of the hiring process to replace him or her.

It’s no wonder many managers give the least amount of attention possible to fill the position. The game becomes one of eliminating candidates from consideration to winnow the pool to a manageable size.

I’m not suggesting that hiring a new employee is unimportant. To the contrary—I think it’s probably the most important thing a manager does. And, I realize that managers live with a sense of urgency on nearly everything they do and must be both efficient and effective.

As a candidate, you can help the harried hiring manager and establish yourself as a uniquely perceptive and understanding person, one who will be able to read both customers and co-workers.

  1. Understand their needs. The position description or posting provides information about what’s most important in the job and the employer’s wishes. Review the posting and the company website to comprehend the organization’s priorities. If the website includes the hiring manager’s profile, read the bio to learn more about their personal and professional background, particularly noting their participation in professional associations and networks that overlap with your own. That information will be useful in networking, writing a cover letter and interviewing.
  2. Speak to their needs. The hiring manager will review your résumé or application very quickly, in probably less than 30 seconds. He or she will decide whether to continue reading or to set the document aside. You must tell him or her why you are worthy of further consideration succinctly and in a compelling manner. Explain the value you can offer the company in as few words as possible, in your headline, summary and qualifications section, on the top third of the first page.
  3. Sell yourself quickly and often. A job application or résumé is not the time for false modesty! Choose the most powerful words you can honestly claim to describe your talents and achievements. Don’t over-state, inflate, exaggerate or lie about yourself but be your biggest fan and use the strongest business language. Every word and phrase on your career communication document—résumé, cover letter, social media profile, bio—should add to the reader’s understanding of your candidacy; no filler or fluff, no vague adjectives or meaningless jargon allowed!
  4. Use your advocates appropriately. The hiring manager will usually trust a recommendation or introduction more than an application. Check for common connections. Do you have a LinkedIn connection who could introduce you? Do you both belong to a professional association or an alumni group? Who in your network can tell you about the manager and help you get in front of him or her? Use your connections wisely to bypass or supplement the usual application route with a direct contact. If you come with a recommendation from a trusted colleague, you already are more attractive as a candidate than the dozens of others who are using the normal channels to access the decision-maker.
  5. Interview well. Answer the questions completely and concisely. Check for understanding. Be prepared with well thought-out questions about the company and the position. Avoid rambling; be organized in your responses. I suggest using the Rule of Three’s: three proof points (i.e., examples of your skills and talents) for your response to the question.

Demonstrate in every interaction with the hiring manager that you understand that he or she is very busy and needs to make the best decision possible in the least time possible. Don’t make the manager work to understand why you’re the ideal candidate—spell it out clearly, concisely and quickly, with solid accomplishments and success stories that show you can add value to the team, starting on your first day.

Marti Benjamin inspires great work-lives in her business and career coaching practice. She describes being a professional coach as, “The best possible job in the world for me.” Since she began coaching in 2004, her systems have led fed-up professionals from frustration to fulfillment in their work-life. www.CareerFromHere.com , www.BusinessEnergetix.com  


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