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6 ways to follow a company’s guidelines and get hired fast

How can you improve your chances of getting hired? By following the rules—both written and unwritten—of your prospective employer.

When you search for a new job, you probably have a list of "wants" and "needs" that you hope your next employment opportunity will provide. Similarly, your prospective employers have their own sets of "wants" and "needs" for the person they are looking to hire. 

By matching yourself to the "wants" and "needs" of your dream organization—as well as following their written and unwritten company guidelines—you can stand out from the pack. 

But how can you play on a company's expectations and guidelines to get hired fast? Consider these six points:

1. Pay attention to the job requirements
Job descriptions provide a huge amount of the information that you need to know to get hired. A good job description should include information about work responsibilities, company culture, travel obligations, and other factors. Your task is to use the job description to match your wants and needs to the wants and needs of the organization at hand.

Pay extra special attention to the qualifications and pre-requisites demanded in the job description. Normally employers will provide minimum educational and work history requirements that their applicants must meet to be competitive, such as a bachelor's degree in a field related to the job at hand or five years of experience in the industry. The employer might also require technical skills, like knowledge of a certain type of software.

These prerequisites are clear guidelines that the company is going to use to pick its next hire. The "years of experience" category can be negotiable if you have a relevant background and credentials, but the employer may not be willing to hire someone who has no college degree or none of the required software skills. Keep these factors in mind and focus your application efforts on jobs for which you are definitively qualified.

2. Tailor your resume to the job description—but be honest
Every job description includes a list of responsibilities that the career in question will involve. It's a good idea to tailor your work resume to show that your experience matches up with the job. For instance, if the employer is demanding excellent written communication skills, experience working with Internet content management systems, and knowledge social media marketing, highlight where in your work history you have gathered such experience. The catch? Be honest. Don't make up previous job responsibilities or list duties you didn't do on your resume just because they look good.

3. Use your resume to display your accomplishments
While fine-tuning your resume to suit the job description, keep in mind what most hiring managers are looking for -- relevant duties and quantifiable accomplishments. 

No one wants to read a resume that looks like a laundry list of job descriptions. Your resume shouldn't just list the responsibilities you had at a past job, but WHY your duties mattered and what you accomplished while undertaking those responsibilities. 

Don’t just say that you "Oversaw a company's social media pages;" say you "Grew the company's social media following from X to Y number of followers, which resulted in a Z% increase in sales." 

One unwritten hiring guideline is that employers don't just want to know what you did, but how well you did it and why. The resume is a great opportunity to follow that guideline.

4. Be truthful about criminal history
Some companies still require applicants to disclose any previous criminal history on a job application. If you've followed the "ban the box" movement, you know that plenty of politicians and citizens believe that this practice is unfair. However, if a job application includes the "have you ever been convicted of a crime?" question, you must answer it truthfully. 

You might feel that following this guideline will hurt or ruin your chances at getting hired, but try to turn it into something powerful instead. Explain your criminal history and how you have been working to rebuild your life. Your prospective employer will appreciate your honesty and might well be willing to give you a shot as a result.

5. Approve the background check—and prepare for it
At some point in the application or interview process, you will be asked to consent to a pre-employment background check. Companies use background screenings to check applicants' criminal histories, verify education and work history, and more. These checks are company policy and refusing to consent to them will effectively end your hiring chances. 

Businesses need to vet the people they are hiring to do their due diligence, to protect themselves and their employees or customers, and to prevent legal liability or PR problems down the line. So approve the background check, but prepare for it the same way you would for any aspect of the interview process. Run a background check on yourself and see what you find. 

Filing mix-ups or identity theft are both factors that can result in a background check report coming back with inaccuracies. Finding these inaccuracies yourself will give you a chance to get everything sorted out before your prospective employer finds them and jumps to the wrong conclusions. 

6. Present yourself as a team player
Sure, great credentials are impressive, but almost every employer is looking for team players. Businesses want to hire someone who will get along with other employees, be amenable to customers and help the company achieve its goals. Loner geniuses, in other words, don't typically mesh well with a company's hiring guidelines. 

Present yourself as the team player. Be friendly, conversational, and fun in your interview, and ask questions about company culture, organizational goals, and team collaboration. By making yourself seem like someone who both works well with others and wants to be a part of a larger whole, you will almost always make yourself more hirable.

There is no exact science to landing a job, and no two companies are looking for the exact same thing in an employee. However, by keeping these guidelines in mind, you can improve your hiring chances. Even in the toughest economy, there's always a job for a team player who is honest, qualified, and personable.

Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. 
He is the lead author and editor for backgroundchecks.com

Michael lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.

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