This thread was Originally published as a Tweet by Sahil Bloom
The hiring process is ultra-competitive.
But you’ve incorrectly been told that the only way to stand out is by having fancy degrees and credentials.
THREAD: 20 ways to stand out in a hiring process (that don’t involve your resume):
Before an interview, spend a few hours researching the company and role.
At a minimum, learn the company mission, read up on recent news on the company or its market, and study the backgrounds of the key leaders.
Google is a powerful asset. Use it.
You can’t know the answer to every question.
And you know what? That’s ok!
Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” - but then follow it with a plan to acquire that information.
“I don’t know, but I’ll dig in and follow up with an email.”
Then follow up!
I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’ve been rejected for more jobs than I can count.
It happens. You can’t be a fit for everything and everyone.
Stop being afraid of rejection and put yourself out there.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Interviewers inevitably ask, “Why us?”
Make sure you are prepared for it.
What attracted you to this company? The more specific, the better.
Generic answers (“I love investing”) get minus points.
Specific answers win.
If you know who you will be interviewing with, spend time learning about their background and experience.
Identify potential bonding areas (e.g. same alma mater, similar interests or hobbies, etc.).
This prior knowledge may help you connect more deeply.
Warm intros and references are the holy grail of a competitive hiring process.
Scan your networks for any connections to a company (yes, LinkedIn is actually useful for something!).
If you find any that are close enough, use them.
The smallest edge can help!
Show deference to your interviewer, but not at the expense of confidence.
The power dynamics of an interview are nuanced.
Blending deference and confidence is how you manage them effectively and leave the interviewer with a positive impression.
Don’t fight on an even playing field.
If you have unique attributes or competitive advantages, use them.
Played a team sport? Talk about it!
Taught yourself to code? Hype that up!
Humility is great, but make sure they know what makes you special!
Showing a genuine passion and excitement for the company and role is the easiest way to stand out from the crowd.
People want to hire candidates that want to be there.
So smile, express your excitement (calmly!), and let that passion shine through.
When you go to an interview, always bring a notebook.
It’s not just pageantry - use it.
If something comes up that is interesting or requires a follow up, make a point of writing it down.
It shows attentiveness.
Interviewers notice these little things.
After an interview, always send a thank you note to the interviewer.
Make them punchy (so that the person actually reads it!).
Include a specific detail (that you wrote down in your notebook!) from the interview so that it doesn’t appear generic.
Most interviews end with a classic: “Do you have any questions for me?”
This isn’t just a throwaway question.
It is an opportunity to show off your differentiated initiative and hustle.
Ask a unique question grounded in your diligence on the company.
Getting asked about your weaknesses feels like a trap, so we tend to give weaknesses that are actually strengths (“I’m TOO detail oriented”).
Don’t do that.
I once told an interviewer I didn’t know accounting (but that I would learn it). That’s a real weakness!
An interviewer may ask about your plans for the next few years.
Beware! This question can be a trap to catch short-term thinkers.
Simply reframe it and focus on the long-term.
Companies want long-term thinkers, so tailor your response to that want.
When asked about your goals for the coming years, always highlight learning (among any others).
Constant learners tend to be great employees.
Since you want to present as someone that would be a great employee, emphasize learning as a primary goal.
A punchy, well-written cover letter is one of the best ways to stand out.
Keep it short and include a *specific* answer to the “why us?” question.
Try to infuse an element of personality.
Especially for “reach” jobs, make sure you nail the cover letter!
In large organizations, hierarchies matter.
If interviewing at one, be clear about how you will fit in and help it thrive.
When speaking with your future manager(s), you want them to believe you will make them look smart to their bosses if they hire you.
There’s a common (+ dated!) test in the hiring process: “Would I want to sit next to this person on a plane for 5 hours?”
This was about being “normal” - but normalcy is overrated.
Be yourself, but be sure to get across that you are kind and genuine.
Before applying to a company, try to interact with 1-2 of its employees.
Reach out to a few people in similar roles to what you’re applying for and ask if they would be willing to share their insights.
You’ll learn a lot and maybe even improve your chances.
Hiring managers want to know you can do the job (or quickly learn to do it).
If possible, cite examples of how you’ve done the requirements of this job in the past.
If not possible, cite examples of times you have quickly learned something new and had success.
So those are 20 ways to stand out that don’t involve your resume.
If you are a job seeker, check out my new job board launching this week.
I will be personally curating roles at high-growth finance and tech companies committed to open hiring.