After hours of research, deep-dives through LinkedIn, and job board websites, you’ve found the perfect position. Your cover letter basically writes itself because you were made for this role, and within a few hours, you’re able to submit your application. What next? Set yourself apart from other candidates by demonstrating that you are wholeheartedly interested in the company, its mission, and the opportunity.
While on the job hunt, you may be interested in a handful of jobs for different reasons. With each one, it’s important to authentically highlight your excitement. It may make all the difference as you move through the application process, and could lead to you getting or losing the job.
“I have definitely turned someone down due to their level of enthusiasm, despite meeting a variety of different qualifications on paper,” says Jason Veirs, president, and owner of Insurance Experts Solutions, Inc.
Showing enthusiasm lets the hiring managers know that you’re eager to jump in, that you’ll positively contribute to the work environment, and that you’re more likely to work hard to pick up new skills. “A skill or method can easily be taught to the right person,” says Veirs. “A positive and high level of enthusiasm typically translates into a great attitude, which in turn, produces a better-finished product.”
That’s not to say that skills or experience don’t matter. “One’s enthusiasm cannot make up for a legitimate lack of skills and experience needed to do the job,” says Andrea Nellestyn, a candidate marketing specialist at Peak Sales Recruiting. “However, I have seen a less experienced candidate get the job over a more tenured candidate, as they demonstrated an unwavering interest in the position and a willingness to learn.”
Many jobs require multiple rounds of interviews. The initial round is typically when you submit a cover letter and resume. This part of the process can feel impersonal; it may even feel like you’re sending your resume into a black hole as you don’t always hear back. But you can still find ways to demonstrate your enthusiasm.
“You can reach out to the recruiter, hiring manager, or HR staff personally and let them know you have applied,” says Debra Boggs, co-founder of D&S Professional Coaching. “This shows initiative and enthusiasm.”
You can also update and polish your online profiles, as recruiters and hiring managers may double-check those before reaching out to applicants. Nellestyn says you can even leverage your LinkedIn profile and “position yourself as an expert in your field or niche.” You could do this by changing your profile’s header, summary, and job descriptions to show how your experience and interests align with the types of jobs you’re applying for.
If the initial application process also includes a phone interview, be sure to prepare ahead of time. Write down why you’re interested in the job, what you like about the company, and questions for your interviewer. You can share your personal connection or passion for the type of work, but also try to be succinct. It may be best to practice your responses rather than read them, as reading can sometimes lead to a monotone voice that could overshadow your enthusiasm.
The in-person interview is your opportunity to shine and demonstrate your excited for this role. However, you don’t need to wait until you’re in the room to exhibit your professionalism. If the scheduling is over email, read the instructions thoroughly and respond promptly. If you’re scheduling over the phone, make sure that you are in a quiet space and have access to your calendar.
The small details can be key in signifying that you’re serious about this role. Try to show up early and dress professionally. Boggs says you can also read about recent company and industry news and learn about the backgrounds of the people who will interview you.
The company’s press releases could be a good place to start, as that’s often where company’s highlight their accomplishments. You could also try doing research on industry association’s websites, reading employee’s LinkedIn profiles, or even finding and reaching out to former employee’s for informational interviews.
If you really want to stand out from the other candidates, Boggs says you can also prepare and bring high-quality handouts, such as a 60- or 90-day plan for what you’d do after starting your job, or a portfolio of relevant projects.
Being enthusiastic for a job isn’t a gimmick to get hired. There may be times when you need a job quickly and will take whatever comes. But if you’re considering a change on your terms, try to be honest with yourself when you start a job search. Your time is valuable, use it to prepare for the roles you’re actually interested in.