One of the more annoying aspects of the recruitment process for hiring managers are uninformed candidates. This manifests itself in generic resumes been received which are a complete waste of time for busy managers – they spend less than thirty seconds on them before they are thrown into the garbage bin.
Another manifestation of uninformed candidates are those who get invited to interview because their resume was somewhat focused and relevant, but turn out not to know much, if anything, about the company, its structure, its vision and plans, etc. Worse still are those candidates with completely unrealistic expectations of salary, benefits and working conditions. These candidates didn’t do their research and come to the interview uninformed. The majority of hiring managers admit that they will not consider an uninformed candidate even when their qualifications are a match for the job.
So what, you might ask, is an ideal candidate? From what I’ve written above you can already guess that an ideal is an informed candidate – but informed in what way?
Firstly, an ideal candidate’s cover letter will be addressed to the correct person and will briefly and concisely explain how the applicant meets the requirements of the job (which mostly will form the selection criteria for the job). Hiring managers love such cover letters because this entices them to read the attached resume – where the second mark of an ideal candidate should be.
A resume must be focused on the requirements of the job (or the selection criteria if you can discover them – try asking HR for them!). Anything that is not focused on these requirements is fluff and irrelevant. The resume of an ideal candidate will demonstrate how they match against the requirements of the job in terms of experience, skills / competencies and qualifications. For each such resume, the hiring manager will say: “Great! Let’s have a chat with this one.” They know that such a candidate has done their research and is informed.
The third mark of an ideal candidate is that, at interview, they can relate their skills and experience to the requirements of the job, and do so in such a way that they provide appropriate examples of using those skills. Being able to do this is especially important for competency-based or behaviour-based interviews which are becoming more common. Furthermore, the ideal candidate will ask pertinent questions and exhibit knowledge of the company’s culture, values and public strategy while they talk. In short, they demonstrate that they are informed during the interview.
Hiring managers’ view informed candidates as being more reliable and more likely to stay with the company because they know about it from their research. Informed candidates are also seen to be more likely to settle into the job quicker and be productive because they know about the actual job.
So demonstrate that you are informed about the company, the job and its key requirements. You will then be seen by hiring managers as an “ideal” candidate.