To Improve Your Chances of Getting an Interview, Focus On This Strategy

Our HR expert discusses what resume elements will help lead to an interview, what he looks for in employees and the importance of thank-you notes.

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By David Ossip


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Q: When looking at resumes, what are key elements that are likely to get an interview? And how much do thank you notes weigh on the process?

A: The resume process has changed and LinkedIn, your social-media presence and any publicly available work that you've done all factor into the decision whether or not to interview someone. However, the basic objectives of your resume and how you present yourself and your work are largely unchanged.

Related: 5 Huge Resume Blunders -- and How to Avoid Them

Here are a few elements to focus on:

  • Highlight differentiating achievements -- either unique experiences or large achievements that will help your resume stand out from the pack.
  • Demonstrate leadership capabilities by showing that you are able to step up when the circumstances require it and help a team reach a positive outcome.
  • Provide examples of commitment and follow-through activity. Have you completed large projects? Worked at a firm for more than several months? Many candidates fall into a habit of job hopping or working on only small projects, so if you have been part of something big or stayed at a company for a while, highlight this.
  • Mention hobbies and personal interests

However, the resume is just a gating step in the larger talent-acquisition process, so I'll speak more generally about what we seek in our applicants.

In a word, FIT. We look for people to be part of a "Fun and Intelligent Team." By fun, I mean people that you enjoy working with at the company. If you were to travel with this potential colleague, would you board the plane together or put your headphones in and avoid each other? Depending on the answer, can help determine the cultural fit the employee would have with the company.

Related: Is LinkedIn Trying to Catch You Lying on Your Resume? Maybe.

Intelligence is obviously important. We seek people who are willing to learn and who learn quickly. And while technical skills are important, they can be trained on the job.

Finally, teamwork. We can't build a company out of mavericks -- that doesn't scale. I look for people who are strong team players and who recognize that we're able to accomplish more together.

To identify FIT in a candidate, my managers will often ask about interests outside of work. The best candidates are able to provide differentiated answers that help clarify or underscore their character and values. Likewise, I will often ask hypothetical questions about how a candidate would problem solve in a team setting. You would be surprised how many people fail to see the forest from the trees and focus on just the problem and not the team aspect.

With regard to thank-you notes, courteous communication is always important throughout the interview process. However, rather than speak to the weight of a thank-you note in particular, it's important that any communication you send is responsive, professional and direct.

Related: What Font Should You Use on Your Resume?

David Ossip

CEO of Ceridian

David Ossip, CEO of Ceridian. a company that provides human-resource software to businesses

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