- Be clear with your key messages
Your cover letter should state clearly the position you are applying for, and make a compelling case as to why you are the best candidate for the role. These are the most vital objectives of any cover letter and while they should take priority, you also want your potential employer to connect with you as a person. Refrain from using industry business jargon – you may end up diluting your value and confusing the reader, which would make any form of human connection virtually impossible.
- Show up as your best, authentic self
We always want to put our best foot forward at an interview. “Be yourself” might be a cliché, but it’s a cliché because it’s excellent advice. If you shine a spotlight on your best attributes in an interview, in the knowledge that every word you’re saying is valid, it makes it easier to get into a confident stride. If you’re trying to oversell yourself, there’s a high chance you’ll end up even more nervous and could contradict yourself during the interview.
- Refine your elevator pitch
Your elevator pitch is a quick snapshot of your background and experience. It should be 30 seconds in length and inform your prospective interviewer who you are, what you do, and what you want to do. Communicate your elevator pitch by giving it a story structure; this makes it more interesting, both to tell and to listen to. And when you have finalised your elevator pitch, refine it to reflect the requirements of the particular role for which you are applying.
To update and create consistent content across all of your communications, adapt and use your elevator pitch as the introduction on your CV, your cover letter, and your LinkedIn ‘about’ section. And include keywords from your elevator pitch in your LinkedIn headline to help prospective recruiters and employers find you among the masses.
If delivered compellingly, your elevator pitch will help you build business relationships throughout your career. It can also help you connect more meaningfully with colleagues on day one of your new role.
- Align your values
Research the values of the company you wish to join. Consider which of your own values truly align with the company’s values, and include them in your CV, cover letter, elevator pitch, and in how you answer interview questions. This will help your prospective employer more easily envision you slotting in with the company’s ethos and culture.
- Communicate your core messages
Identify the core messages of your professional personal brand and incorporate them in your communication with the interview panel. Doing so will reinforce critical messages and ensure that you won’t have that rueful “I never told them I could…” feeling after the interview.
- Prepare stories
Stories connect us to people. The job description highlights the characteristics of the role you’re applying for, so prepare a variety of stories which demonstrate each of these characteristics. Give each story a beginning, middle and end. And keep them brief – this will make the remembering and telling of each story much easier.
In the rush to communicate your suitability for the role, it can be easy to forget to listen or to mishear what is being asked of you. Listen to what is being said, and take a breath before answering the question. Doing so will reinforce your value as a measured and discerning candidate.
- Dress as if you already belong there
Leverage your personal style by indicating through the use of colour that you fit in with the company. If possible, incorporate a colour used in the organisation’s branding in your interview clothing (if the organisation’s branding features purple, for example, wear a purple tie or handbag). This gesture creates a visual cue that you already belong in the organisation.
- Manage your online presence
Social media is a fantastic way to showcase your skills, interests and network. A recent study by the Society For Human Resource Management found that 84% of employers recruit via social media, and 43% of employers screen job candidates through social networks and search engines. The same study found that 36% of companies have disqualified job candidates after doing an online search or viewing an applicant’s social media! With this in mind, Google yourself and ensure that prospective employers will find only favourable information when they do the same. Also, review your social media accounts – including those you don’t currently use, but have in the past – to ensure nothing could go against you in the eyes of a prospective employer.
Use your elevator pitch as your starting point and when posting online, reflect your values and highlight clearly what you have to offer to the companies you wish to be employed by.
- Reflect your personal brand in VIRTUAL interviews
Online interviews can also present you with opportunities to highlight your personal brand to companies before you even speak. Pay attention to your clothing, background and lighting as this will emphasise your attention to detail, which is a skill consistently sought by employers.
Áine Killilea is Director of Áine Image & Communications and Founding Director of Evolve PR.
This article was taken from the Career Guide 2020. To download a copy of the full Career Guide 2020 click here.