Extra polish that makes a job candidate shine

Amid the global economic uncertainty, business confidence and optimism about growth opportunities in Hong Kong are influencing almost half of Hong Kong companies to add skilled personnel to their team in the first half of 2012.

The latest Robert Half Financial Employment Report reveals that 46% of CFOs and finance directors in Hong Kong plans to increase the number of permanent accounting, finance and banking personnel during the first half of 2012, while only 2% plans to decrease permanent headcount, leading to a net employment increase of 44%.

But in a competitive job market like Hong Kong where skilled financial talent continues to be in high demand, catching a hiring manager’s eye is never an easy task. So how can a job candidate stand out from the crowd? Here are some tips to help you shine and win the battle.

Cultivate your digital brand
Today, it is critical to maintain your “brand” and reputation both offline and online as what you share on your social media profile page, in a YouTube video, or on a blog all matter to potential employers.

Hiring managers may use social media or perform a “Google” search to check a potential candidate’s background before an interview. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by Robert Half, 71% of the hiring managers in Hong Kong claimed that they check potential candidates’ Facebook profiles before offering them a job. So be aware at all times that what is viewable to the public doesn’t reflect poorly on you as a professional.

In addition, consider using technology to your full advantage in your job search, especially if you are looking for IT related positions. Certain tactics, if used strategically and judiciously, can work in your favour. For example, having your LinkedIn network up and running and keeping it up-to-date is a big asset.

Some hiring managers are likely to review your contact list to see who you know at what levels and in what industries, a measure of your networking skills. Another idea is to register your name as a domain and create a simple website for posting a digital resume.

Create targeted job application materials
Tailor your resume and cover letter for every application. This may take time, but it’s well worth it.

First, it makes the hiring manager’s job easier. It’s apparent at a glance that you have the right credentials and should be considered for an interview. Communicating what you know about a potential employer, and why you’d be a great fit for the company, also can impress.

Additionally, adapting your resume for each job opportunity shows you’re taking a thoughtful approach to your employment search. Instead of just hitting “Send” and deploying the same information time and again, you’re making the effort to explain why you’re the best candidate for each specific role.

Follow up, follow up and follow up
Some Hong Kong candidates tend to be less proactive during the hiring process. You shouldn’t feel uneasy about following up on the status of your job application.

In fact, following up within two weeks of applying for a position is encouraged. Furthermore, sending an email or calling to confirm your resume was received can help earn you a spot on a busy hiring manager’s radar.

After an interview, make sure you proactively follow up and send a thank-you note within two days of the interview. This can be done conveniently via email. It’s important to re-emphasize both your enthusiasm for the position and your strengths. It’s also part of the extra “polish” that shows a potential employer you’re a professional who will put forth the effort to do a job well.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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