When you’re applying for a job, there are several questions that are likely to run through your head. Does my resume need to be updated? Am I portraying myself well? Have I prepared enough?
Unfortunately, a lot of these job application questions don’t get answered until the process is over. However, we’ve been put in a unique position to give you the answers you’re looking for no matter what stage of the application process you’re in. We recently had the opportunity to get those behind-the-scenes answers firsthand.
Recently, we sat down with two junior business analysts at Maximus, a consulting company tasked with protecting health, supporting families, and streamlining government services, to hear how they crushed the interview and application process. In our conversations with them, they revealed what it takes to stand out to recruiters both at Maximus and in the professional world.
Format Your Resume for the Job You Want
Odds are you’ve been hearing different kinds of resume advice over the years – keep it to one page, think beyond your job duties, highlight relevant skills, etc. While some advice is better than others, what Zain Baig, Business Analyst and former intern at Maximus, believes is most important is to format your resume for the job you want.
Zain didn’t have experience in the industry or department that he was applying for. However, by reframing the past experiences on his resume in a way that was aligned with the internship he was applying for, he seemed more like a fit in the eyes of the recruiter.
Make Use of Networking Opportunities
Recruiters and employers also want to see prospective students attend networking opportunities available to them.
While it isn’t likely to land a job on the spot at a career fair, that’s not necessarily the point. Making this first point of contact sets you up for your second, third, and fourth moves. Now you have established familiarity with the recruiter or employer, which will make you stand out in the application process. However, that’s not the only benefit.
Benefits of attending a career fair/networking event:
- Gain more knowledge about a company
- Establish familiarity with recruiters
- Practice interacting in a professional setting
- Find out what you do and don’t like
Whether it shows you something you never thought you’d like or just helps you stretch those networking muscles, there really isn’t a reason not to take advantage of these events.
Know the Basics About a Company
This next piece of advice might seem obvious but is often overlooked by so many students and young professionals looking for a job. When you’re applying for a job, a major red flag in the eyes of recruiters is a candidate who doesn’t know anything about the company.
What Edda did to prepare for the interview process was simple. She went to the Maximus website, clicked through various pages, read about the company’s offerings, and caught up on the most recent articles they published. This gave her just enough information to speak with interest and familiarity for the company, something always stands out to recruiters.
Be Prepared for Tough Questions
One of the harder parts about applying and interviewing for jobs is answering questions on the spot. This is because there is only so much you can do to prepare for them. Chances are, you’ll be getting asked a question you didn’t expect or have a planned answer for.
What’s most important about crossing this bridge is approaching the question genuinely. If you need a second to think about an answer, politely ask for a moment to reflect. Recruiters will appreciate that much more than you rushing to a conclusion or pretending to know something you don’t.
Additionally, recruiters suggest not to over-prepare for questions with copy-and-paste answers. Recruiters can tell when you’ve put together responses in advance, especially when you’re reading them on your screen. Again, approach the question genuinely and craft your response with care, precision, and grace.
Express a Desire to Learn
While all the tips on this list will help you shine brighter in the eyes of recruiters, the most important thing young professionals should do when looking for a job is express a desire to learn.
For those who are early in their professional careers, chances are you don’t have a whole lot of job experience. So, what you need to let the interviewer know more than anything else is that you want to learn. But you have to be direct about it! What is it you want to learn more about? What skills do you hope to learn? What position would you like to eventually see yourself in?
By expressing this desire to grow and learn with a company, recruiters will always be more willing to give you a chance to prove yourself.
While both Zain and Edda followed different paths to get to where they are now, they both relied on these core tips to secure jobs that launched their careers.
Now that you know what it takes to crush the job application process, why not try your luck? Start browsing open positions today!