How can I become a more competitive candidate?
This is a sentence I make my students memorize: “How can I become a more competitive candidate for your internship program by Summer 2012?” It’s amazing how often you can get exactly what you want if you just ask! Fill in whatever company name and timeline you want, but the basic structure is pretty simple.
In the hunt for part-time jobs, internships, or even full-time positions, you can encounter an extremely competitive environment, particularly in today’s world. But have no fear, this sentence will get you much further than your peers, I promise!
If you have gotten yourself up, dressed, and at a job fair or speaker presentation, you are already ahead of the game. Once you get there, all you have to do is introduce yourself and ask what the company looks for in a potential hire. After you discover the candidate criteria and you feel it is a good match, tell the recruiter a bit about yourself and why you think you’re qualified. Then, ask them what you can do in the coming weeks or months to become a more competitive candidate for their company program by whatever deadline you choose (summer, graduation, semester off, etc.).
They will tell you exactly what to do! There is no longer any mystery or stress over what the recruiter wants in a candidate, because you asked them upfront. If you do what they tell you, it stands to great reason that you will then get the position, or at least have a much better shot than everyone else.
There are a few reasons why this sentence is so critical:
1) When you ask people for advice or help, you are acknowledging them as an expert in their field. Everyone likes to feel like an expert, so you flatter the recruiter.
2) When you ask for help and they give you advice, the recruiter then becomes slightly invested in your success as you follow that advice.
3) When you say “competitive candidate,” you acknowledge that the position is important and widely desired. The recruiter feels proud to represent a coveted position, and perceived exclusivity is attractive.
4) By asking what you can do to get the job, it shows that you are interested and committed to the company and position. Most people at job fairs just ask what the job is or what the company does, so a committed student is rare.
5) If you are a strong qualified candidate to begin with, you give the recruiter some credit for your future success when you ask for their advice. Credit is free for you to give away and can mean a whole lot to someone else receiving it!
This sentence has worked for me COUNTLESS times, and I have witnessed it work for others. Try it out next time you are at a job fair or talking to a recruiter!
*Make sure you are relatively prepared to talk about the company and the position, and why you would make a good fit. Do a little research on the firm before hand, or Google them on your phone while you wait in line at the career booth!
Think about how you would answer that question as a recruiter for your dream job. What would you want from a candidate?