How to Stand Out to Employers in the Hiring Process

By Bob Evans
In February 23, 2017

When an employer begins the process for hiring for an open position in their company, the first thing they do is lay out what they are looking for in an ideal candidate. From the skills necessary to the years of experience and everything in between, a hiring manager creates a picture of the “ideal candidate” way before they interview one person for the job.

Unfortunately for many hiring managers, they do not always find the candidate imagined when they first set out on their hiring journey. For one reason or another, the candidates do not find a way to stand out from the dozens of other resumes they received online for the position. In fact, a recent survey shows there are actually five key areas that candidates are missing out on according to hiring managers.

According to the Dale Carnegie Global Leadership Study of 2016, the following were labeled as “Employers’ Top Hiring Roadblocks.”

  • Lock of available applicants/no applicants – 24%
  • Lack of hard skills – 19%
  • Lack of experience – 19%
  • Looking for more pay than is offered – 14%
  • Lack of soft skills – 11%

While there were quite a few surprises on this list, a few of them should stand out to job seekers everywhere. Why? Well, while I am sure there are cases where applicants do not have the skills and experience required for a job they are applying for, there could be a bigger issue or two going on here for job seekers.

What is that issue? Put simply, job seekers are not doing a good enough job conveying to hiring managers how their skills and experience translate to the job they are applying for.

What can you as a job seeker do to bridge the gap between being viewed as not having the skills and experience necessary for a job? Well, we reached out to three different hiring managers to get their suggestions (anonymously) for job seekers.

No. 1: “Provide me with relative skills and experience.” – Hiring Manager in the Food Service Industry

When speaking with this hiring manager, she specifically called out the fact that applicants very rarely have experience in her industry when applying for a job. Even though she always looks for industry experience first, those who are able to convey how their skills working in a different industry would translate over to the new industry were put to the top of the list.

Discussing it further, she detailed that “utilizing the cover letter” as an area to talk more about their experience was an opportunity not enough job seekers take advantage of. In fact, if someone took the time to write a detailed cover letter, they almost always received a call back.

No. 2: “Show me how you acquired the skills necessary to get hired at other jobs.” – Hiring Manager in Professional Sports

When talking with this hiring manager, he discussed the fact that the majority of applicants looking for entry-level jobs in the professional sports industry do not have much, if any, experience. “They are usually coming straight out of college and if I am lucky, they did an internship or two while taking classes. But the majority of them do not have real, professional experience.”

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When we talked further, he really focused on how applicants need to show him how in other jobs they were able to learn on the go and how they stayed dedicated to learning the skills necessary to be the best. “My field is always evolving, so I need team players who never stop learning and getting better at what they do.”

No. 3: “Don’t tell me about your experience, show me how you excelled during your time working there.” – Hiring Manager in Sales

Going contrary to the data points provided above, having years of experience did not really matter to this Sales Manager. “Sales is a bottom-line industry. Either you make your numbers or you don’t. Sure, having 10 years of experience is great because it shows me you lasted in the industry, but if you cannot show me how those years of experience helped you hit your numbers—then they are meaningless to me.”

It was not shocking to me the Sales Manager was focused on whether or not his employees can hit their numbers, however, it was sort of a surprise about the experience aspect. So I dug in on that a little more, “If someone has 10 years of experience as the middle performer at their company, all that tells me is that they are good enough to get by. If another candidate has five years of experience at the top of the sales board … I want that person on my team, plain and simple.”

Final Word

First off, I want to thank these three hiring managers for taking the time to discuss their hiring experience with me for this article. Their insight and experience in their respective industries will help a number of job seekers out in the market.

In regard to their expertise, the common theme from all three was the need for applicants and job seekers to truly show them what they can do. These three seemed a little more progressive in terms of not being stuck on skills and experience when they are hiring compared to the survey, but the message was the same—do not tell me about it, show me how you did it.

As job seekers, many get so caught up in trying to prove their worth on a resume they forget their resume is not doing the work if they get hired. So, when you are applying for jobs and speaking to hiring managers, do not forget to discuss and show them how you overcame a lack of skills and then gained the necessary skills to do the job you were hired for at a high level. Because if you can do that, you just might be able to stand out from the crowd when it comes to landing your next career.

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Bob is the Digital Content, Marketing Manager for NexGoal and has been writing in the digital world for 10-plus years.