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What Hiring Managers Want to See

Searching for a job is competitive. It's hard to even get an interview sometimes. While there are jobs out there, there are also many candidates for the same position. Since employers can be very selective in who they hire, you've got to make a great first impression. So, get your game face on and avoid the penalties that could get you ejected from the competition.

Look the part. Looking the part means being groomed and appropriately dressed. If you are not sure if you should wear a suit, wear a suit. You will never be criticized for dressing too professionally. Pay attention to your grooming (clean hair, nails, etc.) and the details of your wardrobe. Yes, first impressions do matter!

Do the research. Nothing screams unprofessional, ill-prepared and lack of interest more than a candidate who hasn't taken the time to research the company, job or industry. Do your homework: check out their website, read blogs, newsletters and magazines about the industry, know the company's competition and be prepared with smart questions for the interviewer.

Communicate with confidence. Especially if this is your first job, but even if it's your fifth, a lack of work experience can be overcome with strong communications skills. Use your hobbies, volunteer time or past work experience to show how it's relevant to the job you are seeking. Communication skills are strong attributes that can help you edge out others — sometimes even those with more experience.

You Can Get Noticed

But you've got some competition!
1 in 4 HR managers receive 50 resumes per job listing
1 in 10 receive 100 per job listing

What are HR managers looking for in candidates?
Relevant experience - 77%
Specific accomplishments - 48%
Resume customized to the open position - 41%

HR managers also look for keywords in resumes.
Problem solving/decision making - 56%
Leadership - 44%
Oral/written communications - 40%
Team-building - 33%
Performance and productivity improvement - 31%

Source: Lawrence Ragan Communications 2013. Reprinted with permission.

Carol McDaniel is president-elect of HR Florida and senior vice president of Kinetix.