Impressing Picky Employers

Let's face it. Hiring has slowed recently, and companies have become even more selective about who they are recruiting.

What does that mean for you? Either start your own small business or quickly learn the "must-do" ways to succeed with pickier employers.

"Hiring has improved this year over 2010, with 54 percent of employers in the survey indicating they have added workers. However, companies have become much pickier in the types of employees they want, and job candidates need to adapt to these changes," says Steve Ford, managing partner of OI Partners/FS&F.

These are the top "must-do" ways that applicants can succeed with more demanding employers:

1. Be ready to undergo more interviews and a longer search process. 32% of surveyed employers said it is taking longer this year than last year to bring people on board as companies conduct more interviews to confirm they are selecting the best candidates.

"There is a greater supply of qualified candidates than there was last year as more people are looking for opportunities in an improved job market," Ford says. "That means employers can afford to be extremely choosy about whom they decide to hire. Do not become discouraged by the number of times you may have to interview for a job, and bring a high level of enthusiasm to each one.

2. Be prepared to be interviewed by multiple people at the same time. Forty-one percent of employers are more often interviewing candidates in teams or using panels of their employees.

"Conduct mock interviews and practice connecting with several people at the same time instead of just one interviewer," Ford says. "This is a chance to demonstrate how well you work in teams and seek input from others by including everyone in your responses. Adopt a conversational tone, remain relaxed, and smile throughout."

3. Convey your suitability to work well in teams and with customers. Seventy-one percent of employers in the survey want employees who are team-oriented, and 63 percent are seeking candidates who are customer-focused.

"Companies are looking for people who work well together and realize how important customers are in this challenging economy," Ford says.

4. Rehearse being interviewed by telephone. Fifty-four percent of employers in the survey are more frequently screening employees by phone than last year.

"Be prepared to make the most of the limited time you will have, and don't repeat what is on your resume," Ford says. "Highlight your achievements and results related to the position and the skills that set you apart from others. Stand up while talking and have a list of bullet points prepared. Close by inquiring what the next steps will be and ask to meet in person."

5. Round out your social media presence. Forty-four percent of surveyed employers are more often recruiting candidates via LinkedIn and 19 percent are more frequently using Facebook.

"Make sure your online profile is essentially your resume and is continually updated. Showcase yourself as an expert in your field with an impactful headline and description and searchable key words that reveal the breadth and depth of your experience and skills," Ford says.

6. Persuasively communicate your related experience and the results you have achieved for similar types of employers. Seventy-seven percent of employers said they are looking for people who have experience in their industries--the No. 1 quality survey respondents are seeking--and 62 percent want candidates who have a track record for achieving similar types of goals as those related to the open position.

7. Seek out opportunities on the websites of prospective employers and obtain referrals from the employer's workers. Thirty-six percent of organizations are using their own Web sites more often to recruit candidates, and 32 percent are more frequently relying on their employees' recommendations when hiring.

Check out this video for another take on interviewing:



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