Think Like a Hiring Manager – Get the Job!


The only real way to write the perfect resume is to think like the hiring manager of the company you are targeting. Because your resume has to walk a fine line between showcasing you and your skills and experience, whilst at the same time proving that you understand the objectives and ethos of the company you are applying to. To do these two things in tandem requires skill and perception. And you have to try and put yourself in the mind of the hiring manager.

Of course, this is tricky business because, well, who knows what hiring managers are thinking? To shed some light on the topic, here is a walk-through of the process many hiring managers go through before offering you an interview – and, more importantly, how to stand out in each step. 

When hiring managers sit down together to decide which candidate gets a job offer, the decision is not likely going to be made based upon any one candidate’s education, qualifications, work experience, or hard skills. Those elements are a given. Occasionally, one or more of those could play a part by breaking a tie between two great candidates, but that does not happen all that often. The simple fact that decisions typically do not centre around that criteria should clarify the truth – some people who are clearly less qualified than you are, do get the job offer. As an attempt to be the most impressive candidate, many job seekers search online for the most common interview questions and then spend time pulling up their best stories so they can give great answers that show they have the skills to do the job. But by the time you get past the interview (and especially when you get to the second interview and beyond), it’s not really about whether or not you meet the requirements set forth in the job posting anymore. It has already been determined that you are qualified enough. Pulling out your best stories is a good idea, but it skips over a key component – hiring managers do not just want to know what you did in previous jobs. They also are looking very closely at how you did it. Hiring managers are very interested in knowing who you are as a person – your work ethic, your attitude, your work style, your people skills, and whether or not you will fit in the work culture and be a big asset to it. But we are getting ahead of ourselves, how can you work out what the hiring manager wants to see in that initial application?

What are hiring managers thinking?

Well, let us talk about the cover letter first, because cover letters are actually quite simple. Instead of restating your resume in sentence form, have your cover letter add value by highlighting two to three relevant skills that the hiring manager is looking for and giving an example of a time you used that skill. Better yet, figure out exactly how you can make the hiring manager’s life easier and write about that. 

So, what about the resume? What is the hiring manager really look out for here? A stated, although it assumed everyone applying would be qualified to do so, they will want to see your experience, qualifications and skills and how you have demonstrated their application in real-world scenarios that have verifiably positive outcomes. But they want to see this clearly articulated in succinct, clear prose that is presented within an aesthetically pleasing design. Anything less will result in rejection. However, there are other elements that must be addressed. These are somewhat harder to communicate. 

In order to show the following qualities, you will need to revisit the basics of your resume and ‘re-engineer’ the text. Passion and enthusiasm must exude from the text. Not in an over-the-top, cloying manner naturally, but a spare and strategic use of positive adjectives such as ‘decisive’, ‘thorough’, ‘meticulous’, ‘structured’, etc. will enhance the text and demonstrate passion. 

When the hiring manager has sifted through all the applications, how do you imagine they will be describing you compared to your competitors? That is a key question to ask yourself. Do you express your positive attitude, enthusiasm, excitement, and stellar work habits? Soft skills are critical, and it is not enough to say you have them. Most people state they are a positive person and are committed to getting the job done right. That counts for nothing unless you quantify it in writing. If you want to impress, hiring managers must be able to feel those words and see how you displayed those characteristics in the past. A couple of descriptive key achievements, from anywhere in your work history, and pertinent to the tole, will do this. Articulate in writing how you always put forth your best effort in everything you do by giving clear examples of excellence in past jobs. Show ways you went above and beyond and express what steps you took, and the positive outcomes that resulted from them. 

When it is all said and done, hiring managers need to be wowed by you! If you want to stand out and get job offers, then show it in your cover letter and resume in ways that transcend the usual list of jobs and qualifications.

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