Job searches can, at times, be frustrating and confusing. And one of the most frustrating and confusing things about them can be the opacity of the process. You may take hours preparing and submitting your resume and receive only a brief auto-reply after you submit your materials. You’re pretty sure your application materials made their way into the prospective employer’s applicant tracking system, but what may or may not happen beyond that is often a frustrating mystery. Who’s going to look at your materials? What are they really looking for? What are your chances of being called in for an interview? When will you hear back?
Unfortunately, we can’t give you the answers to all these questions. They vary greatly by employer and position. But, we can point you in the direction of a very interesting article from TheBalanceCareers.com that might help you imagine your job search from the other side, from the perspective of the hiring manager (or managers). Imagining your job search from the perspective of a potential hiring manager can give you some insight into your job search process. It can also help you decide which aspects of yourself to put emphasis on in your application materials, interview, portfolio, and any other related job search activities or materials.
Put simply, The Balance Careers makes the point that hiring managers are going to look to hire the candidate who is going to do the most to make the hiring manager’s own job easier. This has a few components, but it’s important to keep in mind this is likely the overall guiding principle for most hiring managers. Let’s break this down into a little more detail, though, and look at the questions hiring managers are going to ask themselves about a candidate:
”Does the candidate have the skills needed for the job?”
This is a fairly basic question, although depending on the skills, it can be harder to answer. The best way to answer this question for a potential hiring manager is for you to provide evidence that you do have all the skills needed for the job. Remember, showing is almost always more powerful than telling. It’s one thing to say you’re a “people person.” It’s another thing to be able to show that you have successfully managed people or skillfully dealt with challenging interpersonal situations.
“Is this candidate a good fit with our organizational culture?”
Organizational culture can be a hard thing to measure and observe, especially from outside the organization, but try to get the best sense you can from what information you can access. The Balance has a very good article about specific questions you can use to learn more about an organization’s culture. You can try to answer these questions yourself based on what you can learn about a company through the web or through any contacts you might have. Or you could ask some of these questions in your interview. However you get a sense of an organization’s culture, try to emphasize the aspects of yourself that best fit that culture.
The Cost-Benefit Analysis
Almost every manager is working within a budget, and that budget likely covers their whole team of employees. A manager might like you a lot as a candidate, but if hiring you at the salary you’re looking for would wreck their budget for their whole team, it might not be possible, no matter how great a fit you are. There’s not much you can do about a hiring manager’s budget, but it’s still important to be aware that it’s a factor in the manager’s decision. If you are a truly exceptional candidate, and you are able to provide evidence of that, your hiring manager might be able to take that evidence to their manager and get their hiring budget increased, but this is not always possible.
Within almost every organization there are interpersonal and political dynamics you will likely not be wholly privy to, but that will affect your chances of being hired nonetheless. There’s sometimes not a whole lot you can do about this, but if you get the sense during the hiring process that there is some sort of conflict going on within an organization, it’s probably best to avoid taking sides. Be honest but also measured in your responses to questions touching on topics that are potentially controversial within the organization.
So, there you have it. A few of the things that are likely going through a hiring manager’s mind when considering who to hire. Hopefully this makes the job-searching process a bit less opaque, confusing, and frustrating and leads to some helpful insights that help you get the job you want.