After years of caution, employers recently have been adding to payrolls. As hiring momentum increases, employers and job seekers alike are taking a fresh look at the nuances of the hiring  process. What are employer hot buttons? How can candidates make themselves more appealing to a potential employer? There are three primary areas of analysis during the hiring process: presentation, skills and experience, and behavior. In this article, we’ll look at presentation and behavior to understand what employers want and how candidates can best meet those requirements.

Presentation
First impressions speak volumes, and employers make judgments based on how job candidates present themselves at each point of contact. In most cases, a resume serves as the initial introduction tool. Employers, especially staffing firms, often receive volumes of resumes for advertised positions. The easier the resume is to read, the more likely the chances of a positive first impression.

There are several basic steps job seekers can take to appeal to hiring managers:

Format. Use one-inch margins, 12-point type, and a standard typeface, like Times New Roman.
Organize. Use bullet points and short paragraphs; group like items together, e.g. work experience.
Simplify. Avoid graphics and use plain white printing paper.

When it comes to the hiring process, there’s a second chance to make a first impression—the interview. An employer is assessing if the candidate is appropriate to represent the company. Interviewees, in turn, need to meet and exceed expectations. Clean, appropriate attire and evidence of good grooming is expected. In addition to personal appearance, employers also evaluate a candidate’s demeanor. Candidates should exude confidence, use proper manners, maintain good posture, make eye contact, and use proper grammar during an interview.

Behavior
In addition to resume critiques and interviews, employers are frequently using behavioral assessments to make smarter hiring decisions. Behavioral interviews focus on the soft skills needed to be effective in a position and require candidates to describe specific events where they exhibited these competencies. The premise behind behavioral interviewing is that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance.

Preparation is the best way for job seekers to successfully traverse behavioral interviews. Think back to challenging situations, successful projects, and other accomplishments. Examples can come from professional experiences, hobbies, volunteer work, school, or personal experiences. Be ready to talk about these situations in detail.

In the end, employers and job seekers are working toward the same goal: making a good match. For both parties, the best outcome is satisfied employee. Although the process to get there may seem arduous, the payoff is well worth the effort. Next month, we’ll cover skills and experience in the hiring process. IBI