In Pursuit of Profession: The Do’s and Don’ts of getting noticed


Let’s start this week’s column with something we’ve never done before: a pop quiz. Don’t worry if you didn’t study, these questions are designed to figure out what kind of job seeker you are more than anything else. In other words, depending on how you answer each question may just determine whether you get the next job for which you apply or are left standing at the altar.

Read through the following scenarios from CareerBuilder, the online company that specializes in cutting-edge HR software as a service to help companies with every step of talent acquisition and management, and determine whether each applicant got the job or not. Since we will discuss the answers in this article, no peeking at the paragraphs following the questions below. This might also be a good exercise to share with friends or your kids and discuss their answers. Good luck!

  • Candidate bought a first class upgrade to sit next to hiring manager on a transatlantic flight.
  • During the month of October, candidate came dressed in a costume for Halloween.
  • Candidate’s wife made homemade lavender soap bars for the hiring manager as a thank you for taking the time to interview the candidate.
  • Candidate sent a pair of embroidered socks with a note saying he would knock the company’s socks off if hired.
  • (This is my favorite) Candidate sent a shoe with a flower in it as a thank you after the interview. The note said: “Trying to get my foot in the door.”
  • Candidate mailed hiring manager money in an envelope.
  • Candidate kissed hiring manager.

So, which candidates above do you think got hired? The answer: it doesn’t matter. Do you think that any of the above scenarios, especially number seven, is appropriate? The answer is no. But that doesn’t stop candidates from trying unusual and unique ways to stand out from the pack. Fortunately, CareerBuilder also has a list of five things that we should do to get noticed by hiring managers. They are:

  • Give a few examples of how your past experience is transferrable. It shows that you’ve thought through how you would fit into the organization.
  • Tweeting, blogging and commenting about things you know builds up your credibility online. When an employer searches your name after an interview, you want them to find a knowledgeable individual who can fit well into their company.
  • Be sure to prepare a few good questions of your own. Want to know what the corporate culture is like? Are you curious about opportunities to advance? Your questions communicate to your interviewer what’s most important to you. They can also position you as a solid candidate for the role and set you apart from the competition.
  • Use as many facts and figures as you can when promoting yourself. How many people were impacted by your work? By what percentage did you exceed your goals?
  • If you feel the interview has gone well and you want to continue pursuing the opportunity, let the interviewer know. Tell him or her that you’ve enjoyed the interview; you believe you can thrive in the role, and you are interested in exploring the next step.

They’re just not that into you, or maybe they are

So while the ways to stand out in our little quiz above are over-the-top and should be frowned upon, and we’ve all been told to do the five things above at some point in time when we’re out pounding the pavement, wouldn’t it be great to actually see how we compare against the competition in real time? Or what if we got a little peek into the mind of the hiring manager to see if he or she is thinking that we’d be a good fit for their organization? That would be gold, right? If we knew how we stacked up against the competition, then that could help us strategize our job search. It shouldn’t be that hard to do, right? If we can turn on our air conditioning in our house in Fort Worth from a pub in Germany with a few taps on our smart phones then we should be able to get some inside information on our career searches.

Well, it turns out that there is such an application. The tech folks at CareerBuilder designed a tool called the Job Competition Snapshot, which allows users to track, among other things, how many applicants there are for the job, how much experience they have, and how well they stack up in terms of education. “Our Job Competition Snapshot provides more transparency into the likelihood of being called by an employer based on how you stack up against other candidates,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “By removing some of the speculation, we can help candidates determine whether they should invest time in applying for a particular job, as well as help those who are qualified feel confident that their application is likely to be noticed.”

Those who apply for the posted job can immediately see more in-depth insights from a hiring status report, called Hire Insider. The report tracks a wealth of information including: applications that have been viewed so far, the number of applicants who are currently employed, the top college majors of applicants, a breakdown of applicants’ years of experience, and the average current salaries of applicants. “The information is automatically updated as other candidates apply, so job seekers can continually assess the competitive landscape in real time,” Ferguson added. “No other job site offers this level of free data to help job seekers make more informed, strategic decisions about their job search.”