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Job searching is stressful. Broad requirements, fierce competition and high unemployment rates make standing out to a prospective employer difficult and daunting. In the increasingly social workplace, companies are searching for diverse, team-oriented employees that can grow and change with them, and demonstrating this is key to nabbing your dream job.

Janice Kellar, Cole Engineering’s Director of Staff and Culture, believes that proving your company “fit” is just as important as experience and education when applying for a job. But it’s not as simple as it sounds - how can you convey personality on paper?

Showing your flexibility, diversity and passion in a number of ways can get you the job you want. Here are some helpful tips and tricks for making your resume shine and nailing your interview.

Accent your resume

Resumes are always your first line of contact with an employer, and standing out from hundreds of applicants is a challenge. Sometimes being bold is key in getting an employer’s attention. 

Kellar recalls a resume she received inside of an old running shoe, labeled “I just want to get a foot in the door”. The approach, while risky, was creative and interesting enough to land the applicant an interview. Fun and fresh tweaks to an application, even in engineering or finance, can make you stand out. Just make sure you use them wisely!

Metric yourself

Do some well-known personality quizzes before an interview (no, not BuzzFeed). Sharing your psychology-based “True Colour” or Myers-Briggs type conveys your strengths and weaknesses better than simply repeating familiar, overused interview buzzwords.

You can use personality metrics to “prove” that you’re hyper-organized, or team-oriented, or even a natural leader. Many firms, including COLE, use similar metrics in team-building and orientation workshops. Taking the initiative to quantify yourself puts you ahead of the curve.

Research the corporate culture

Know your company, know their culture, and use it to your advantage. Cole Engineering has a flexible, team-focused organization that leans heavily on employee empowerment and strong group dynamics for successful projects. Positioning yourself as a sociable, challenge-driven employee shows that you’ll fit right in once you’re hired.

Get comfortable

Nervousness is completely normal, and even commendable, when interviewing for a position. Kellar says that even a clammy handshake shows that an interviewee is enthusiastic and cares about the position. But in an interview there is limited face-to-face time to sell your social skills under pressure, so getting comfortable early is key. Engage support staff and even the interviewer in friendly conversation before jumping into your interview pitch. It’ll make a great impression and show you’re more than just a resume.

Bring examples

If you’ve written an excellent paper, finished an interesting project or won any related awards, share them! Use your achievements to show your excitement for the position and explain how it will make you a better employee, whether on your resume or in your interview.

Sell your hobbies

Well-rounded employees are healthier, happier, and more productive. Sharing your specific hobbies and activities shows the diversity and flexibility that firms are looking for in a successful employee. Are you on a baseball team? Use it to show your high energy and leadership qualities.

Kellar recalls an interviewee – now a junior engineer at COLE – who talked about a personal project to retrofit a golf cart with a snowmobile engine. Creative projects and hobbies show initiative, drive, and the robust passion required to succeed in the rapidly-evolving industry. Don’t be afraid to share!

Treat requirements as guidelines

If you’re short on the listed experience for a position, apply anyway. If you haven’t yet graduated, apply anyway! Cole Engineering is a firm that focuses on culture as well as degrees and experience, and by taking initiative and turning your weaknesses into challenges, you’re showing that you’ll be an excellent fit for the team. 

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