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How to Grab the Hiring Managers Attention

Posted on 02 August 2023

How to Grab the Hiring Managers Attention

​6-minute read

When you’re one of many applying for a new job, how exactly do you stand out in the eyes of the hiring manager? What key elements can you focus that from research appears to be relevant no matter the size or industry of the company?

While it's not a guaranteed method, insights from industry experts such as Damijan Cavar, Technical Director at Turbine Kreuzberg, Onur Ergin, CTO of Footprint Technologies, and Carsten Windler, Principal Engineer at PlanA, have revealed some commonalities that can significantly improve your chances of grabbing the right persons attention early in the process.

In this article, we'll share several aspects highlighted by our expert guests, offering findings that might seem obvious at first glance but are often overlooked. Instead of getting lost among numerous applicants, implement these strategies today and increase your chances of standing out to potential employers.

 

Relevancy to the desired skills

Contrary to popular belief, a Senior DevOps position in one company may differ significantly from another, even if they both use the same technologies. Hiring managers and talent teams invest considerable time in crafting unique job specifications for each opening, highlighting core skills, specific requirements, and subtle hints about the challenges they are facing.

During our conversation, Onur emphasised that one of the easiest ways to stand out as a candidate is by possessing the core abilities required for the job. Both Onur and Damijan pointed out that many applications are submitted by individuals lacking the necessary skills or expertise in the relevant area.

While there's nothing wrong with pushing yourself as a job seeker, it's essential to take a logical approach that benefits both you and the business. Applying for a position without the relevant skills could result in wasted effort for both parties.

As a job seeker, Damijan advised that everything listed on your profile should be something you feel comfortable and ready to delve into at a moment's notice. Being prepared to deep dive into your listed skills demonstrates your readiness and commitment to the role.

 

Self-awareness

Expanding upon the previous point, a valuable trait that is highly esteemed by almost all hiring managers is the ability to recognise one's strengths, weaknesses, and long-term learning goals, as Damijan mentioned earlier.

As a hiring manager, their primary responsibility is to ensure the successful delivery of projects by the team. As an individual contributor, clearly articulating what tasks you can handle proficiently and which ones might be a stretch allows the hiring manager to assign the right tasks to the right individuals, ultimately leading to a more successful project outcome.

This aspect embodies the essence of effective leadership, and it begins with each team member being self-aware of their capabilities and limitations and feeling comfortable discussing them openly. Embracing this approach right from the outset provides a genuine opportunity for individuals to stand out, as it's not as common a practice as one might expect.

A valuable piece of advice from Carsten is that "less is more" when it comes to listing skills. Merely having briefly encountered something does not necessarily qualify it as a skill. True skills are those in which individuals possess a deeper understanding and proven proficiency.

 

Connecting the dots for the company

Staying motivated and customising each job application can be challenging, especially when you're not receiving responses. However, it's essential to consider the perspective of hiring managers, who provide valuable insights on this matter.

Onur values applicants that apply with intent. While a full cover letter may not be necessary, a concise statement expressing why you are applying and how your skills and interests align with the specific opening can make a significant difference. Avoiding generic copy-and-paste introductions demonstrates a genuine interest in the position and increases your chances of standing out.

Carsten refers to this approach as "connecting the dots." Taking the time to thoroughly research the company, its projects, industry challenges, and potential colleagues allows you to present this knowledge in your application. This strategy assists the hiring team in understanding your alignment with the company's goals and can streamline the selection process, potentially leading to further rounds of interviews.

 

Updated GitHub

Let's take a trip back to 2017. If you were working in the technology industry at that time, it's likely that your GitHub account had far more green squares than it does now. While GitHub remains a widely used platform, its appeal for job seekers to showcase their abilities has somewhat diminished.

Carsten and many other hiring managers I've spoken with value a well-maintained GitHub account. While it's not a mandatory requirement, having one can send the right message to the hiring team and potentially make the difference between progressing to the next round or not.

An updated GitHub account with personal and open-source projects (excluding company take-home challenges unless you are particularly proud of them) can reveal various aspects of your skills that a resume simply cannot capture. It showcases your code quality, testing ability, documentation structure, and more, giving hiring managers valuable insights, especially in the development field. A strong GitHub profile can even expedite the hiring process if the team is impressed with what they see.

Carsten suggests starting with a smaller personal project and gradually expanding it over time to demonstrate consistency. While it may not represent your absolute best work, having at least one project that highlights the skills required for the job opening can significantly increase your chances of moving forward in the hiring process.

Of course, life happens, and maintaining side projects can be challenging. If you haven't added anything to your GitHub for several years, it might be best to leave it off your profile, as it won't provide an accurate representation of your current skills and could potentially do more harm than good.

 

Flowing conversation

Have you ever experienced leaving an interview with the distinct feeling that it was more of an engaging conversation? That's precisely what hiring managers including our 3 guests are aiming for nowadays. Gone are the days of rigid question-and-answer formats; instead, they seek a free-flowing exchange where both parties actively interact, contribute, and discuss.

To truly stand out and captivate the attention of the hiring manager, it's essential to go beyond brief responses. Take the opportunity to elaborate on your answers, ask thought-provoking follow-up questions, seek clarity on certain topics, and even offer your insights and ideas. Treat the interview as if you were conversing with a colleague, fostering a comfortable and collaborative atmosphere.

Effective communication is crucial, particularly for more senior roles. If you recognise that this skill might be lacking in your repertoire, it's highly recommended to explore ways to adapt and enhance it before pursuing roles that genuinely interest you. A practical approach is to begin by interviewing for positions that might not be your top choice, as it will allow you to familiarise yourself with the job search process and refine your interview skills.

 

Personal Brand

Overcoming the fear of being judged and putting your work out into the world is undoubtedly challenging. However, according to Carsten, those who can push past this fear and focus on building a personal brand tend to be more successful at capturing the attention of hiring managers.

It's essential to clarify that building a personal brand doesn't necessarily mean becoming a conference speaker or maintaining a consistent blog, which by itself doesn't make someone a better developer. Instead, it offers a range of benefits that can set individuals apart from the competition. While we've already recognised the advantages of having an updated and well-curated GitHub profile, there are several other positives to developing your personal brand:

1. Visibility: Establishing a personal brand enhances your online visibility and presence.

2. Credibility: A strong personal brand fosters credibility and trust. Consistently communicating your expertise and values helps build a reputation as a reliable and knowledgeable professional.

3. Career Alignment: Actively shaping your personal brand brings clarity to your career goals and aspirations. This process allows you to align your skills and interests with potential job opportunities that resonate with your brand identity.

4. Adaptability: With a robust personal brand, you become more adaptable to the evolving job market. It enables you to effectively showcase your skills and expertise, making it easier to transition to new opportunities as they arise.

5. Job Search Magnet: As employers often research candidates online, having a positive and cohesive personal brand can attract the attention of recruiters who are actively seeking skilled professionals like yourself.

6. Confidence: A well-defined personal brand can significantly boost your self-confidence during interviews and networking events. Knowing and articulating your unique value proposition instills a sense of assurance and poise.

7. Long-Term Investment: Building a personal brand is not only advantageous for your current job search; it's a long-term investment in your career. As you evolve professionally, your personal brand evolves with you, creating a strong foundation for future growth and opportunities.

 

The essence of standing out in the current market lies not in unveiling entirely new concepts, and that's the beauty of it. As our guests attest, those who excel in mastering the basics, adeptly connect the dots, showcase their skills through various avenues, and present a genuine reason for their application will undoubtedly find it much easier to capture the attention of hiring managers. Surprisingly, not many people are taking these essential steps, making it a powerful way to stand out in the crowded job market.

 

A massive thank you to Damijan, Onur and Carsten for sharing your thoughts, and if you feel this article could be useful to someone else, don’t forget to share it with them so we can collectively bring simplicity to the chaos of recruitment.

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