26 days ago
The hiring process is ultra-competitive. But there are specific actions you can take to stand out. Here are 16 ways to stand out in a hiring process (that don’t involve your resume):
Stop Fearing Rejection I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been rejected for more jobs than I can count. It happens—it's ok. The first way to stand out is to stop fearing rejection and actually put yourself out there. Remember: You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Leverage Warm Intros Warm intros are the holy grail of a competitive hiring process. Scan your networks for any connections to a company—LinkedIn is a great place to start. If you find any that are close enough, use them.
Targeted Outreach Before applying to a company, try to interact with 1-2 of its employees. Send a personal note to a few people in similar roles to what you’re applying for—ask if they would be willing to share their insights. You’ll learn a lot and improve your odds.
Nail the Cover Letter Cover letters seem like a relic of the past, but they still matter. A short, well-written, personal cover letter is one of the best ways to get an interview. Include specifics on why you're a fit for this role. Try to infuse an element of personality.
Do Your Research Before an interview, spend a few hours researching the company and role. At a minimum, you should know: • Company mission • Recent company news • Recent market news • Backgrounds of leaders • Backgrounds of interviewers Google is a powerful asset—use it.
Carry a Notebook When you go to an interview, always bring a notebook and pen. It’s not just pageantry—use it. If something comes up that is interesting or requires a follow up, make a point of writing it down. It shows attentiveness. Interviewers notice these little things.
Prepare for "Tell Me About Yourself" This isn’t an invitation to recite your resume. It's a test of whether you can provide a concise, thoughtful overview of your past, present, and future. Keep it short. Focus on key decisions and insights that may not pop off the page.
Prepare for "Why Us?" Interviewers inevitably ask, “Why us?” Make sure you're prepared for it. Leverage your research. Write down 2-3 unique points about the company that appeal to you. The more specific, the better. Generic answers get minus points. Specific answers win.
Embrace “I Don’t Know” You can’t know the answer to every question. And you know what? That’s ok. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”—but follow it with a plan to acquire that information. Ex: “I don’t know, but I’ll dig in and follow up via email.” Then actually follow up!
Highlight Learning as a Goal When asked about your goals, always highlight learning. Lifelong learners tend to be great employees—they're interested, intellectually curious, and driven to do more than what is asked of them. Emphasize your focus on lifelong learning.
Cite Real Weaknesses The majority of candidates try to pitch a weakness that is (not so) subtly a strength. “I get TOO caught up in the details" just means "I’m detail oriented!" Don’t do this. Give a real weakness, but also how you're working to address it.
Play to Your Strengths Don’t fight on an even playing field. If you have unique attributes or competitive advantages, use them. Played a team sport? Talk about it! Taught yourself to code? Hype that up! Humility is great, but make sure they know what makes you special.
Show Your Passion Showing a genuine passion and excitement for the company and role is the easiest way to stand out from the crowd. People want to hire candidates that want to be there. So smile, express your excitement, and let that passion shine through.
Pass the Plane Test There’s a common—and dated—test in the hiring process: “Would I want to sit next to this person on a plane for 6 hours?” This used to be about being “normal”—but normalcy is overrated. Be yourself, but be sure to get across that you're kind and genuine.
Ask Unique Questions Most interviews end with a classic: “Do you have any questions for me?” This is a test of preparation and personality. Generic questions won’t kill you, but they won’t help. Try this: “What are you most excited about that you’re currently working on?”
Personalized Thank Yous After an interview, always make it a point to send a thank you note to the interviewer. It should be concise and direct. Include a specific, personalized detail from the interview—something you found interesting or a key follow up. This stands out!
These are 16 ways to stand out in a competitive hiring process. Given all of the layoffs in the news, I hope this helps someone break through and find their next role. Follow me @SahilBloom and join 128,000+ others who receive my newsletter each week. t.co/32basvpFtR