When you're job searching, simply getting the attention of potential employers can be a challenge. Of course, there are always a few tricks to keep employers intrigued, no matter what job you're eager to land. Wondering what hiring managers want to see? Here, job-search experts weigh in on what makes job applicants irresistible:
Presenting a stable work history
Employers need to see consistency on a résumé. "Many companies these days are not interested in people who have changed jobs every few years," says Joseph Kotlinski, a partner at Winter, Wyman & Co, a recruiting firm. "If you were out of work for a number of months, show a prospective employer that you stayed busy by taking classes [or] volunteering."
Make the résumé come to life
These days, simply handing over a one-sheet résumé is not enough. Most employers are eager to see an online showcase of your work. "While résumés are static, a link to an online portfolio can give it new life and meaning," explains Nathan Parcells, chief executive of InternMatch.com, a service that matches employers with interns.
Showcase awards on your résumé
Don't let notable awards be an afterthought, says Dawn Rasmussen, president of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services. Instead, list any achievements in the top third of your résumé because employers want to find people who are publicly recognized for their work.
"The types of things to put in this section include industry, peer, supervisor, subordinate or partner recognition awards (not financial incentives), speaking engagements, relevant industry presentations, any articles in industry publications that you might have authored [and] patents." she says.
Demonstrate listening skills
"Show that you are really listening," says Jennifer Kahnweiler, author of "The Introverted Leader." "You can get so focused on crafting the next right response that you may miss out on what is most important to your potential employer." To demonstrate your listening skills, take advantage of any opportunities that ask you to paraphrase what your interviewer has shared.
Understand company initiatives
It's not enough to quickly browse the company's website an hour before your first interview.
"Demonstrate your dedication and interest in the company," says Jessica Miller-Merrell, chief executive of Xceptional Human Resources. To gain an insider perspective, browse LinkedIn and industry publications and look for news interviews with key executives. Learning as much as you can about the company also helps when it comes time to discuss compensation or work-life balance, she says.
Explain what you can do for them
A sure bet to get hiring managers to pay attention is by delving into how your experience can benefit the company. Career coach Malcolm Munro suggests describing two aspects: "How your experience can help the company solve its problems, and how your experience can help the company make money." Before each interview, take time to tailor your response.
Ask the right questions during the interview
The flow of the interview shouldn't be a rigid question and answer session. Instead, end the interview by discussing a few well-thought-out questions with the interviewer. "Two invaluable questions for the person who might be your future boss are: What keeps you up at night? And, how will you measure success?" Kahnweiler says.
Don't forget the follow-up
Sending a thank you email or card should never be an afterthought. Forgetting to do so or simply running out of time can prevent you from advancing to the next round of interviews. Not all employers abide by that principle, but many are eager to see that you're dedicated to landing the position. "Dropping a handwritten thank-you note into the mail immediately after an interview can make all the difference in getting hired or not," Parcells says.
Alina Dizik researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder. Follow @Careerbuilder on Twitter.
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