Guest Post from Heather Huhman: Impressing Hiring Managers to Get Your Dream Job

3 12 2009

Today’s guest post comes from Heather Huhman, a career expert and founder of Come Recommended.  See what she has to say about the importance of impressing your hiring managers to get your dream job!  -Stefanie

In 2010, employers expect to hire 7% fewer graduates than hired in 2009 says a recent survey released by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).  For graduating seniors and students looking for internships, the numbers are frightening. Organizations are tightening their belts these days and that means hiring managers are being more selective than ever.  When the going gets tough, what makes you standout? Impressing hiring managers is the key to getting your foot in the door to whatever industry you are pursuing. It is not as easy as it used to be, thanks to tighter budgets, but it is nowhere near impossible—you just have to go that extra mile.

  • Set goals. Take a look at your previous internship experience and career goals. Create a well-defined idea of what your ideal entry-level position looks like and where you hope to see your career in the future. Hiring new employees is an investment, and hiring managers want to know you have developed a plan for what you hope to achieve and learn, should you be invited to join their organization. They simply can’t afford the time and capital investment in a wild card.
  • Create a rock star résumé and cover letter. Cater each résumé and cover letter to the specific position. This gets drilled into the heads of new graduates, yet still gets overlooked for convenience sake. Know what makes you indispensable and emphasize it. Think of it this way: Why would an organization want to invest time in you if you haven’t invested any time in them? Small details like personalized résumés, cover letters, and thank you notes can go a long way.
  • Research the company. This goes beyond entering the name of a business into a search engine. After doing a preliminary search, look up industry news that would be relevant to the company. Know their strengths and weaknesses. Follow some of their employees on Twitter. Read their company or industry blogs. This will help you not only have knowledgeable conversation with a recruiter, but it will also help you understand more about your future career field.
  • Be honest. The hiring manager knows you’re not perfect, so don’t pretend to be. Know your weaknesses and be prepared to explain how you plan on improving them. Don’t dwell on your bad points, but don’t glaze over them either. Instead, address them directly and move on. This will show that you are willing to learn from mistakes and you can be held accountable.
  • Don’t forget a portfolio. Always bring a mini-portfolio sample to leave behind. This is usually made up of about 3-4 samples of your best work. This will make the job of your hiring manager a little bit easier, and who doesn’t want that? Just be sure to be aware if an emailed copy is preferred.
  • Etiquette. This means sending a thank you note following the interview, making an effort to remember the names of people you meet, dressing appropriately for the interview, and maintaining an overall professional appearance. You can immediately take yourself out of the running if you don’t perform these simple acts of consideration.

Although the job market is tough right now, companies are hiring. They’re just being a lot more particular about it. Focus in on what you do best and market that sincerely to the companies you are most interested in and you will leave a mark that hiring managers will remember.

Heather R. Huhman is a career expert and founder & president of Come Recommended, an exclusive online community connecting the best internship and entry-level job candidates with the best employers. She is also the national entry-level careers columnist for and blogs about career advice at




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