Tag Archives: make an impression

Using the right words to catch the hiring manager’s attention

In the last article I talked about how hiring managers are NOT God. I even went as far to say, “Hiring managers are like giant cockroaches. They just want to hide in their offices and get away from you. You are a waste of their time unless you tell them something that proves they need you. They would rather have their receptionist shred your resume than take the time to talk to you.”

The hiring manager is not God. They are a giant cockroach. 

You cannot assume that a hiring manager will glean 4 key words and 2 key points out of a 3 page resume. You get no points for length and thoroughness. You get no points for briefness. You get points, or an interview, for saying the key words and phrases that the hiring manager wants to hear. If you don’t shout those key words and phrases, the manager’s receptionist will shred your resume. Then the cockroach, the hiring manager, can hide in their office where you can’t get to them.

To find the right words and phrases you need to do some forensic language work. Like a crime scene investigator. Take 3 or 4 job listings on Indeed or ZipRecruiter for different jobs with the same company. Place them all side by side. Highlight all the phrases that are identical. Identify the stuff the human resources department puts around the description the hiring manager wrote. That fluff may possibly be necessary to get you past the HR department, but it won’t get you a job. 

Now take your blue highlighter. Mark every misused acronym, word, technical term or technical phrase. Those are the words the HR person didn’t understand. They could very well be critical. You need to have an exact match on those words in your resume.

Continue marking with an orange highlighter. Again look for all the technical terms and acronyms. Mark them all. The orange words are the most likely to be used by a computer or receptionist to screen out resumes. 

Finally, go back over the resume with a pink highlighter. Mark the skills that are the most difficult to find. What are the things in the ad that everyone wants and nobody has?

I bet those ads look terrible. That’s good. It means you have taken the time to study the exact words that will get you an interview. You need to include those words and technical phrases in your resume. They will force the screener to pass your resume on to the hiring manager. He will have to call you in order to see if you can do the job. You will prevent him from closing his door and hiding from you. 

Something to do today

Get some highlighters and go through ads on the internet. Find the really key words and phrases. Alter your resume before you send it out. Make it so they cannot miss the things that are important to them.

One huge secret to escape a stalled career

Nerds don’t just happen to dress informally.  They do it too consistently.  Consciously or not, they dress informally as a prophylactic measure against stupidity. (Paul Graham)

My partner changed the career of a man stuck in a job rut.  He was looking for a job and no one would hire him.  His current boss wouldn’t promote him.

Dress for your career, not your job

He was a banker.  He had a great personality, was a hard worker, smart, self assured, and educated. He got things done. He was going nowhere in his career.  His white shirt under that nice suit and tie was slightly wrinkled and just didn’t look sharp.  Karen gave him one piece of advice that made all the difference, “Get your shirts done at the dry cleaners.” He got the job and rose like a rocket in his new bank. 20 years later he came into our office and expected her to notice that he still got his shirts done at the cleaners. She noticed.

The secret

If you are applying for a job, you have to be dressed in at least the same crispness as the hiring manager.  A little better is okay.  The hiring manager has to get the first impression that you will work as hard as he does.  That first impression is often the only real thing that keeps a job candidate from being hired.

When you dress up to the level you want to rise to, you are seen at first glance as someone to be reckoned with.  People will automatically figure out where you want to go. Your clothes need to be clean, pressed, and sharp.  Your shoes need to be nicer, cleaner, and shinier than the shoes of your boss’s boss. And wear nice socks that never show skin at the bottom of your pants leg.

Look at how your boss’s boss dresses.  If you want to impress him, you are going to have to look like him.  Sorry. That is just a fact. If you are of the opposite sex, it only applies more strongly.  You have to look like you are in his circle of acquaintances in order to be invited to work directly for him.

The way you dress will actually change your performance.  Other people will subconsciously give you more respect and more opportunities.  Take advantage of it.

Instead of dressing like all the rest of the nerd herd doing your job, dress like the person whose career is going places.


Something To Do Today

Ask your boss to tell you how you should dress.


Later:             Resume blasting

Certifications – gold and lead

Recruiter motivation