I have spent a lot of time sifting through resumes and online profiles in search of the perfect people to join my company. As the owner of three online businesses, I manage a team of 29 staff – 24 of whom are remote employees based all over the world. Since I opened up my company to remote hires, my pool of applicants has grown exponentially. This has not only given me access to the world's best talent in my field, but has also unfortunately exposed me to a slew of poor candidates.
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I am very selective in my hiring. There are a few qualities and behaviors that are major sellers for me and many other business owners. Read on to find out what would make me – and probably most other CEOs – hire you.
1. An Impressive (and Active) LinkedIn Account
I rely heavily on LinkedIn Recruiter to keep me up to date on potential hires in the field. If I find a profile that interests me, I use LinkedIn Recruiter keep an eye on the person – even if they are currently employed – with the hopes of developing a relationship.
In this day and age, there is no excuse for anything but a current, thorough, and creative online resume. LinkedIn is a massive resource that many business owners and CEOs use to access new talent. If you are looking for work, you need to make your presence (and skills) known on this network.
But a word of warning: An outdated, inactive LinkedIn profile is worse than no profile at all. LinkedIn is not meant to be a static resume. The platform provides an opportunity for updates and sharing, which you should be taking advantage of regularly. If I see a candidate stays apprised of the industry and is posting relevant, thoughtful commentary on trends, I'm always intrigued. This exemplifies motivation and creativity, two highly desirable traits in a potential employee.
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2. Eagerness to Participate in a Trial Project
I am passionate about trial projects for potential employees. Trial projects are representative of the responsibilities that a candidate will be entrusted with, and they usually require some degree of problem-solving. This exercise provides potential hires with an opportunity to display their abilities, skills, and talent for devising innovative solutions.
While the project itself provides an opportunity for me to assess a candidate's skills, the candidate's reception of the project allows me to assess their attitude. Reluctance to participate in a trial project is a major red flag. A candidate should be thrilled about an opportunity to show me what they can do, rather than apprehensive about spending time on something that might not get them the job. They should be confident that when I see them in action, I'll want them on my team. Anything less than eagerness for a trial project is unacceptable.
3. Clear Communication
I get hundreds of emails every day. If you are using paragraphs to explain things that could be conveyed in a single sentence, it's unlikely that hiring you will make my life easier. The ability to be clear, concise, and quick is a quality that I require of all of my employees. Both your time and mine is important, and we need to have an efficient working relationship. Keeping messages short and to the point is one of the most important traits in a new hire.
Part of this is judgment.. You have to decide what you can answer on your own and what you actually need my help for. An employee who knows exactly when and where my input is required and doesn't bombard me with unnecessary questions is invaluable. Jump at opportunities to demonstrate clear communication to impress any busy CEO.
4. An Understanding of Our Company
Demonstrable knowledge of our company immediately endears me to a candidate. It's not enough to just regurgitate information from our website. I'm impressed when someone can take the information they have gleaned about our company's mission and values and then connect that to their work history, skill set, and passions.
For example, our mission at Doubledot Media Limited is to help people build successful businesses online. Not only should a potential candidate know this, but they should also be able to relate a time when they worked with an online business or eCommerce company and why they are pursuing a career in this field. By sharing this experience unprompted, they are showing me that they not only comprehend our mission, but can contribute to it.
5. A Documented History of Innovation
When I look at employment background, I want to see how a candidate has gone above and beyond their job duties. Was there a project they took on that exceeded expectations? What did they do that wasn't required of their position? This could be as simple as putting in some overtime hours or hosting a company event. There are almost always opportunities for an employee to do more than the minimum, and I want to see where that has happened.
This type of activity shows initiative, which is important to me as a business owner. I want to know my employees will be invested and do what is best for the company, even if it isn't in the job description. Any time you have demonstrated this type of innovation and dedication should be clearly documented in your resume or cover letter.
Each of these five elements is a highly important business skill that can be practiced and developed in almost any professional setting. Complete your LinkedIn profile and continue to update it. Show enthusiasm when offered a trial project. Be clear and concise, and demonstrate to a business owner that you understand their company. Show them how you have gone above and beyond job duties. Combine all of these, and you're sure to impress more than one potential employer.