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Don’t you wish you could get inside the mind of the person reviewing your résumé or interviewing you? Find out what they really want to hear in an interview and what sort of things they care about?

It turns out there are several things recruiters and hiring managers are looking for in a good candidate — including the way a resume is written to writing a timely thank-you note. Here are some tips they want you to know so you can be as successful as possible in your job hunt.

What have you done for me lately?

Hiring managers want you to market yourself through your achievements rather than just your duties with regard to your resume. For the most part, employers already know what your job duties entail. They want to know what sets you apart from other candidates. What are the types of projects you’ve completed? What are your accomplishments and the contributions you’ve made? These achievements will make a better overall impression than just listing your daily responsibilities. Be as quantifiable as you can too — this will help legitimize your exploits. Numbers are often more revealing than words.

Don’t forget to proofread!

This seems like a no-brainer but needs reminding. Many people write wonderful résumés and cover letters, but don’t take the time to proofread them! Any hiring manager will tell you they get countless résumés with typos or grammatical error’s* and it’s a deal-breaker for them.

A well-qualified candidate can quickly become a disqualified candidate with a typo. Get someone — ideally in your line of work — to read over your résumé. Another set of eyes on it will help catch any errors and they might also have some great feedback to offer.

Personality is key, but keep it concise

The average hiring manager/ recruiter spends about 5 to 7 seconds looking at new résumés. That’s not much time and it means you have a very small window to impress and stand out from other candidates. A little personality and/or creativity can go a long way. Your cover letter is a great place to let your voice and personality shine through.

Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path with a style that’s a little more quirky, customized or unconventional. Grabbing the attention of the hiring manager quickly is half the battle after all.

Checking references beyond your list

Don’t be surprised if a hiring manager calls to check references beyond the list you provide them. They know most candidates list references for people they feel they can trust to give them a good review, so often times hiring managers will make a point to call people who aren’t on the list. By doing this, they feel it gives them better insight into your work ethic, performance and personality.

Be honest about your weaknesses

Talking about your weaknesses when you’re trying to land a job is a hard and awkward thing to do. Hiring managers get that. They know you want to put yourself in the best light. But, it’s also really important for them to know what your real strengths and weaknesses are so they can determine how those weaknesses can be worked through, or if you’ll be the best fit for the position. Answering that you “work too hard” and “care too much” won’t fool anyone and will make you look oblivious or dishonest.

That question isn’t meant to undercut your ability or make you look unqualified. It just gives the hiring manager a little more insight into the real you and how you work.

Send a handwritten thank-you note and send it immediately

Many people think sending a handwritten thank-you note to the hiring manager after an interview is out-of-date. It’s not. It’s just not that common anymore, and because it’s not that common, it will be appreciated and remembered. Just remember to send it quickly after the interview. A prompt thank-you card will help keep you top of mind during the hiring process.

Pro tip: if you have more than one interview, send a thank-you note (handwritten or email) for each one.

New grads need work experience

If you’re entering the workforce for the first time, a diploma or degree may not be enough to land a job. A candidate really needs to have some work experience and a skill set in order to hit the ground running and know what to expect in a professional environment. If working while going to school isn’t an option, try getting an internship, paid or unpaid. Even volunteering in some capacity will help give you that much-needed experience.

Volunteering with an organization that relates to the field you want to work in is an even better option and will definitely help get your foot in the door.

*We know what we did.

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