Standing out the Right Way

What stands out to social enterprise hiring managers in the interview process?

This is the question I began exploring a couple months ago. After finishing a blog series on how young professionals are breaking into social enterprise careers, this was the question that was left most unanswered.

Sure, young professionals could speculate on why they get hired, but they had no way of making a comparative assessment of the other candidates. Hiring managers, on the other hand, make extensive comparative assessments before deciding who to hire.

After talks with several hiring managers on why they hire, how they hire and what stands out to them, clear themes emerged.

Some of the answers from hiring managers were similar to what I heard from young professionals. For example, everyone agrees that preparing in advance for the interview is a must if you want to stand out. But many of the answers from hiring managers were more pragmatic and tactical than what I heard from young professionals.   

When I asked both groups why one  candidate gets a job over another, many young professionals wove tales of deep commitment and a burning desire to have a positive impact on the world. The hiring managers, on the other hand, were quick to point out that not following application instructions filtered out many otherwise qualified candidates.

What I also found interesting about my conversations with hiring managers was the level of consensus on what made applicants truly stand out. Here is the short list of what I heard again and again.

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For me, this short list shows that there is an important distinction between standing out and landing a role. It's not enough to just get noticed. Landing a job in a social enterprise means getting noticed for having what an organization needs to grow and succeed.