Beyond the interview: 4 ways to stand out

August 6, 2015

I paid for a manicure. I splurged on a blowout. I practiced my answer to “Tell Us About Yourself” in front of the mirror more times than I can count. It was my first real interview after college, and I made sure to take every precaution possible before the big day.

In retrospect, I probably could have chilled out a bit. While the interview is certainly a critical part of the job search process, it’s not the only factor that dictates whether you’ll get the gig. From submitting a resume to signing the offer letter, there are plenty of ways to impress a potential employer throughout the hiring process. On the flip side – and I’ve seen this first-hand as an interviewer – there are certain things you can do to decrease your chances of getting hired, even if the interview itself was stellar.

A well-designed résumé: Whether you’re a designer, a developer or a dentist, a good-looking résumé can help you stand out from the pack. No need to learn InDesign or create custom iconography, but do pay attention to your font, spacing and sizing to ensure the resume looks clean. Not only will this help demonstrate your savviness and attention to detail, it will also help ensure that employers actually read through your accomplishments. And please, don’t forget to PDF your document. I don’t care if you’re a Nobel Prize winner or graduated summa cum laude; if the résumé is attached as a Word doc, it’s over between us.

Basic research skills: Many job applications ask candidates to submit cover letters along with their resumes. It’s easy to address this cover letter “Dear hiring manager” or “To whom it may concern.” But you know what’s really impressive? To address the cover letter to the person who is actually managing the hiring process, which you can generally find out by calling the company and asking, “Who is managing the hiring process?” Taking this step shows that you’re resourceful and know how to get the information you need.
A timely, well-written thank you note: Most people I’ve interviewed have sent a thank you note… eventually. But some of these have rolled in on Sunday night at 3 a.m. or almost a week later. If you want the gig, email a thank you note (or drop one in the mail) within 24 hours of interviewing, preferably within normal business hours. Be sure said thank you note is well written, typo-free and references a conversation you actually had with the interviewer. And don’t forget to figure out how to spell your interviewer’s name correctly. (Shout out to my colleague Sylvie with a “y” who generally bears the brunt of this). Doing so will help showcase your professionalism and demonstrate that you’re serious about the role.

Following up: You had a great initial meeting, hit it off with your interviewers and know you’re perfect for the job. But unfortunately, the right role just isn’t available. Or maybe the company decided it needs to hold off a few months before making any hires. This is a situation we’ve all been in, and it’s no fun. But by following up every few weeks, you can keep yourself top-of-mind while also demonstrating gumption, a quality you need to succeed in many industries and especially in PR. Don’t go full-on stalker, but keeping the communication lines open will certainly serve you well.


Got gumption? We’d love to meet you (just don’t forget to PDF your résumé).  

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