Begin with Character and Integrity.
Unethical behavior is alive and well. In my own case, as a recruiter or hiring manager, I have witnessed deplorable behavior and practices by those senior to me, those who should have known better or didn't really care. We, as individuals, must look within ourselves and follow leaders with a proven track record and either pattern ourselves after them or build our own ethical blueprint -- one that becomes clearly evident by our own actions, by the reputation we build over time, and by the questions we ask and those we answer truthfully, as well as our own experiences and how we represent or share them.
Ethics and proving character can be a difficult hurdle when it comes to securing job interviews, let alone a new job. I have been a recruiter for years and have been lucky enough to work for several organizations that put character first. I have never invited any jobseeker in for an onsite interview until I was able to determine some semblance of "character" during a phone interview or as the result of a personal referral. If a candidate, initially, doesn't fit in with the culture of the company during this early stage of the hiring process, chances are they never will. And if it can be ascertained that the applicant is even the slightest bit sycophantic, they will never pass an interview with the hiring manager or a direct supervisor.
Over the years, I have compiled a list of tips to aid jobseekers in showing their best face, letting the light of their character shine through loud and clear. It is my hope that with this modest list, a general understanding of how a recruiter or hiring manager thinks will result.
1. Your IEI Quotient. Whenever possible, indicate on your resumé that you hold three vitally important characteristics: Intelligence, Energy and Integrity. Employers seek these in every applicant, Every. Single. One. These three qualities show hire-ability. Simply add an instance which demonstrates your IEI under your most recent job or project -- this could even be a school-based project for new jobseekers and recent grads
2. An LOR. Include a Letter of Recommendation with your cover letter from a previous colleague or supervisor that simply attests to your possession of the above three qualities. Should a previous employer indicate they would hire you again, if given the opportunity? All the better.
3. Establish Your Interest. If you are invited in for an on-site, face-to-face interview, prove your intelligence and interest with a strong understanding of the position and the company, itself. Do the online research necessary, make some calls to contacts or past employees who may have valuable insight or could directly refer you.
4. Résumé Review. PLEASE have your resumé reviewed by a recruiter and several friends who will give you the critical feedback you need -- maybe there is something key missing or misrepresented that you are just too close to see.
5. Make it Pop. This you should know: A good recruiter will be able to ascertain within the first 10-15 seconds of opening your resumé or application whether or not you will even get a call or second look. Make something stand out at the top of the resumé or within the first paragraph of your cover letter.
6. Avoid Buzz Words. Be very careful when using cliché buzz words of the day -- thought leader, expert, guru, etc. -- these are an instant turn-off to most recruiters and most recruiters will stop reading and immediately dismiss your application/ resumé.