what makes a hiring manager fall in love?

In most economies but especially this one, hiring managers get flooded with well-qualified candidates for any job they post. When you’re up against dozens of strong candidates, it’s smaller things that will help you break through the pack and emerge as a clear top contender. These are the things that change you from one of many solid candidates who could do the job well to the candidate an employer is dying to hire.

When I’m faced with an overload of qualified candidates, here are some of the things that can make me fall in love with one candidate in particular:

* Do what you say you’re going to do, by when you say you’re going to do it. For instance, if you tell me you’re going to send me a writing sample by Monday, send me a writing sample by Monday (or update me accordingly). If you send it Tuesday without explanation, I’ll notice. It will even end up as a note on your application.

* Be responsive. I pay attention to how quickly a candidate responds to requests for writing samples and references, and even how fast he or she returns phone calls. My assumption is that you’re on your best behavior during the hiring process — so if I have to wait days for you to get back to me, what will you be like when you’re working here?

* Ensure every communication is flawless: No typos, no entirely lower-cased sentences, not even if it’s just a short email.

* Don’t play it cool. Let me know you’re excited about the job, if you really are. It’s human nature — people respond when they feel a personalized interest from you. Works in dating, works in job-hunting.

* Ask good questions. Asking the right questions shows a level of thoughtfulness and engagement that a hiring manager loves to see. You can get some ideas of things you might want to ask about here.

* Make it easy for me to check your references. Give me a neatly organized list of your references, with up-to-date phone numbers and a note about what your connection is to each, and make sure they know to expect my call. When a candidate gives me a list of references with outdated phone numbers and people who are hard to reach, I wonder if it’s going to be reflective of other work they’ll give me.

* Be likable. Be friendly and genuinely interested in the people you’re speaking with, and show your personality. Be someone we’ll start to want to work with.