How to Impress Your Interviewer without Saying a Word

This post is not about how to impress with clothes, shoes, or style; it's not about how to impress with great answers to interview questions.

This post is about how to impress your interviewer with the written word.

It's about a leave-behind document.

A long-time client, currently working in a great role for a leading financial service, let's call her Jill, needed help. We've been working together for 8 or 9 years now, during which time she has transitioned through three positions. 

Jill recently found out her position was being reorganized and was given a few short weeks to find another position within her firm. Thankfully her resume was up-to-date and we only had to tweak it a wee bit to get her ready to apply for a couple of suitable postings that came available. Contacted with an invitiation to an interview, and wanting to make sure she did everything she could to land the job offer, she asked whether I could recommend anything else to help her stand out.

I suggested creating a T-chart, which lists the position's requirements, as taken from the job posting, and matches the applicant's corresponding experience, skills, and knowledge.

Having created one, Jill asked for my feedback on her draft. Here's what I told her.

Make it easy to scan: Keep your info in bullet form. Start with a strong and accurate verb. Rather than "assisted," pin down exactly what you did to assist - organized, researched, took notes, kept team members accountable. And keep the verb tense consistent as much as possible. Usually the past tense, unless it's very much a present and ongoing example where the past tense would be potentially confusing or an outright lie.

Give it oomph: If you want your information to have impact, add context. Maybe numbers, maybe name dropping, perhaps outcomes or results - there are tons of ways to ensure that the reader truly understands what your contributions meant to a division, to business, to a project's success, to the bottom line.

Get specific: Now's not the time for generalities. Rather than referring to "communications," narrow it down. Blog, news release, user instructions, meeting minutes, executive report - these are all communication pieces but each is appropriate for a different kind of job. Select your specifics strategically, according to what is needed in the position to which you are applying.

This kind of document serves a few functions.

1. It shows the interviewer (or hiring manager) how serious you are about the position. You put in the time to communicate exactly how you are well suited for the job, and by extension, how fast you're likely to become fully productive.

2. It distinguishes you from your competition. How many job hunters are going to go to this trouble? Very few.

3. Going through this exercise will help you interview well because relevant info will be top of mind. You'll spend less time fumbling and you'll be more confident as you'll be well prepapred. 

Standing out is not about bringing copies of your resume on fancy paper, it's not about having a graphic resume (unless you're in an artistic field), it's not about impressing with flair, pizzazz, or smoke and mirror tactics. It's about knowing exactly why you'll be great in the job and being able to communicate it.

Give it a try.