This column originally published on FastCompany. Here are tips for job seekers that hiring managers secretly want everyone to know.
As a job candidate, you’ve heard all the insider tips about how to impress hiring managers. Firm handshake? Check. Good eye contact? Check. Cut the “likes” and “ums” from your speech? Check.
Yet you might still be struggling to gain an edge in the job market and find the position that suits your needs. From responsibilities to salary, location, work environment, company culture, mission, and client base, there are a lot of elements to get right.
After interviewing some 5,000 candidates throughout my career, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that hiring is a two-way street. Companies are making a decision just as much as candidates are. The more transparency and openness we have during the recruiting and hiring process, the greater chance both parties will find the right match.
With that in mind, here are seven under-the-radar tips to help candidates find the right job—and even, dare I say, enjoy the experience.
1. YOUR RESUME ISN’T AS IMPORTANT AS YOU PERCEIVE
Hiring managers get a much more accurate picture of who you are by evaluating your online persona—including your social handles, work portfolio, published articles, etc.—which are typically more up-to-date and honest than resumes. Ensure all these digital handles are strong and reflect on you well.
2. HIRING MANAGERS DON’T WANT TO INTERVIEW YOU
They want to have a conversation with you to mutually decide if you should work together. Talk about each other’s goals, toss around ideas for growing the company, share your work philosophies, and see if you click.
3. FUTURE GROWTH IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN PAST ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Work history can provide helpful background, but the past is in the past. What’s at stake is the company’s future. What can you do today and tomorrow to advance organizational goals? Spend more time talking about the potential future work relationship rather than past positions.
4. PUT ALL YOUR NEEDS FOR SUCCESS ON THE TABLE
Finding common ground with a hiring manager requires you to be upfront about your needs for success and happiness. By the same token, ask about the hiring manager’s needs. Do you jive?
5. YOUR QUESTIONS INFLUENCE HOW HIRING MANAGERS EVALUATE YOU
Ask questions of every hiring manager you meet, even if it seems repetitive. Your questions provide insight that every hiring manager wants—your interests, concerns, and passions. By the same token, you’ll get nuanced responses from different people, which give you deeper perspective into whether the position is the right fit.
6. YOU SHOULD COME VERIFIED
Hiring managers tend to favor candidates with whom they share mutual connections. That’s because these candidates have already been vouched for by their trusted network. Maintain a robust professional network to create one degree of separation from as many hiring managers as possible.
7. HIRING MANAGERS WANT TO ENJOY THE PROCESS
Recruiting has a reputation for being a painful process. But it doesn’t have to be. Hiring managers appreciate the energy and enthusiasm you can bring to your conversations. You’re getting to know each other before embarking on a potentially new and exciting relationship, and there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be fun.
Recruiting and job seeking is a vulnerable and exciting time for everyone involved. We need to work together to make it a straightforward experience, not a cat and mouse game, so both sides can make the right decision.
Candidates, remain honest to yourself and to hiring managers, and hiring managers, meet candidates in the middle by bringing transparency and openness to the table. Use these tips to get on the same page and have job conversations about whether you should work together.