Set yourself apart from the competition on your next job search

Jan 10, 2018 | By: Kristin Wolfrum

When a company is formed, or when a company expands, there can be growing pains that come with interviewing and hiring the perfect staff.

Luhrsen Goldberg was created in June 2016 by two extremely compassionate, highly experienced attorneys. Julie Luhrsen and Christina Goldberg are committed to restoring justice for our personal injury clients by getting the maximum compensation for their injuries.

The employees of Luhrsen Goldberg’s boutique personal injury law firm reflect these values, but as with most organizations, there have been growing pains. To arrive at our current caring and capable administrative and legal support staff, we have had our fair share of job openings, interviews and job offers. As firm administrator, I’ve made several hires at Luhrsen Goldberg and have also screened candidates in past positions.

After the holidays, the job market tends to pick up. A new job might be one of your New Year’s Resolutions. Here are some suggestions for those on the job hunt or entering the workforce for the first time.

Tips for job seekers in the initial stages

Follow instructions on the job posting. This includes submitting all of the requested documentation. One recent job posting asked for applicants to submit a cover letter and resume. Most applicants just sent their resume, and that immediately rubbed me the wrong way. A cover letter — a good cover letter, customized for the position — is time-consuming and can be challenging. I get that. But if you aren’t willing to follow directions and put forth effort to apply for the opening, why would I think things would be different if I hired you?

Don’t use a canned cover letter. Formulaic letters are easy to spot, especially with erroneous info. For example, if you’re applying for a nursing position, don’t include “I was pleased to see your opening for CUSTOMER SERVICE/DATA ENTRY” or “I have extensive CUSTOMER SERVICE/DATA ENTRY experience” in your cover letter.

This is your one chance to earn a phone call. What sets you apart? What makes you passionate about this opportunity? What prior experience qualifies you for this position? Don’t write a novel, but be specific and direct.

This is also the perfect opportunity to explain any employment gaps or numerous short employment stints on your resume. Explain them to the extent of your ability and comfort — if you get an interview, you can discuss them further. Prospective employees who left a position after three months because the business closed are more attractive than one who left after three months because of minor issues with schedule, pay, coworkers or job duties.

Spell correctly. I have had candidates list the word “administrative” five times in their resume and spell it three different ways. Again, if you don’t care to proofread your application, that could be reflective of your work ethic, personality and attention to detail.

Be mindful of your social media presence. If you’re in the market for a new job, you have to consider what prospective employers might see with a few clicks of the computer mouse. Check privacy settings and set them accordingly. What impression do you want a potential boss to take away from your Facebook posts?

Advice for the interview process

If you are contacted by a prospective employer, return the call or email. Hiring managers get dozens (or hundreds) of applications. They don’t need to put forth a lot of time and effort to follow up with one unresponsive candidate when they have a thick pile of other prospective employees.

If you schedule an interview, SHOW UP. I wish I could say I was making this up, but for almost every position I have interviewed in the last three years, at least one person has failed to show up. Occasionally, I’ll receive an email or call after the fact explaining the absence. Usually, though, I never hear from the person again. And every so often, those people will apply for another opening with the same company.

Send a follow up. To me, this is something simple that can make a huge impact in setting you apart and staying top of mind. It seems to have fallen by the wayside as digital communication has grown. When I was first interviewing for jobs, I mailed a handwritten thank you note to the key people I had met with and/or had influence over the hiring for the position. Even in the last decade, as the pace of filling positions has quickened, I always send a thank you email. It doesn’t have to be elaborate – just a “thank you for the opportunity to meet with you and for taking the time to speak with me” type note – but it speaks volumes. This one act serves as a reminder of your interest in the job, shows that you care and reinforces open communication.

No matter what the position or pay, a little bit of extra work can go a long way in setting yourself apart from the competition. I have seen the vast number of people looking for jobs as well as the expansive amount of jobs that are available. Job seekers from Bradenton to Sarasota can make a huge impact on prospective employers with just a bit of additional care and effort.

This information is provided as a public service of the office of Luhrsen Goldberg.