At the start of August, our office was tasked with filling three brand new positions due to growth in programming and responsibilities. After close to 100+ emails to HR, interviewing numerous people, and coordinating a search committee, here are some tips from my perspective to help you land the job you desire.
1. Out of the 180 resumes I read, I spent less than 20 seconds on each one dividing them into yes, no, and maybe piles. We also used a quantitative chart to rank applicants based on their total yes, no, and maybe score from the committee. Your immediate goal is to get into the yes pile.
2. Your cover letter can’t suck. No one cares about your personal highlight reel, they want to read how you connect your expertise to the position. What this means is that after you are in the yes or maybe pile then we spend time looking at your extra materials so you should talk about how your experiences connect to the things we are looking for from the job description.
3. Attach your documents as PDF. I can read them in my browser. If someone actually prefers a word .doc, they’re so 2000 and late and hate technology.
4. Speaking of files, name your file “LASTNAME.FIRSTNAME.INSTITUTIONYOUAREAPPLYINGFOR.PDF”. Obviously I used caps for emphasis, but once we get to the point of downloading things, uploading to shared folders, etc.. “2077732.pdf” is a horrible name for your application.
5. Learn how to talk about diversity. Not just some copy/paste speech, but something personal, raw, and real. Talk about identity, talk about race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, and connect it to your previous professional experience. It is not good enough to be like “I think it is important to just get along and be empathetic”, we are looking for language that shows you have thought about your own experiences and interactions.
6. Speaking of talking, Google the most common interview questions and know what you’re going to say. This includes strengths, weaknesses, a basic introduction of yourself, how the job connects to your personal career path, leadership philosophy, how you handle conflict, etc…
7. Be an expert for the position you are applying for. Know the best practices and the literature from that field inside and out and connect it to your answers.
8. Have a solidified vision for what you would bring to the campus to enhance the culture and office you are applying for.
9. When it comes to your question time, ditch the question of “what do you find rewarding about the work” and ask the interviewees about their proudest accomplishments of the year. This is a great evaluation question for candidates to see if their interviewees can name something and for you to measure if this is even a place you want to work. I’d be hesitant to join an organization that could not name a goal that they accomplished over the last year.
10. Google the people who you are interviewing you and try to anticipate responses that match their professional interests from LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, etc…
11. Do everything you can to get into the yes or maybe pile. Do not be afraid to email people on the search committees or call their offices, but at the same time do not over-extend yourself.
Obviously these tips are subjective, as every search committee is unique in its own way. I always encourage candidates to be themselves but in this highly competitive industry, we also want the best for our organization.