Personal Growth

The Little Things Are the Big Things

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I don't want anyone to struggle during the job search process. I want you to make your ideal job search a slam dunk no matter who you are competing against. But in order to compete at this level, you need to view things differently, think differently, and do things differently. I'm here to reframe your job search and help you stand out and land your ideal job.

The Little Things Are the Big Things

Don’t forget the importance of the little things. During the job search process, the little things are the big things that will often make or break you. One error on your cover letter or resume will probably eliminate you. A flimsy handshake can create a negative impression that is hard to overcome. If you fail to ask questions at the end of the interview, you will probably not get invited back for a second interview. The incorrect use of a semicolon for a communication position will likely hurt you. One wrong word on your application materials or during an interview can change how people feel about you and close the door to your job candidacy. 

I often ask employers why they hired one candidate over another, especially when I know the top candidates. I do this because the candidates typically have similar technical skills and training, and I want to find out the difference on the non-technical side. One Fortune 50 employer told me the difference with one hire was how the top candidate answered the phone when the hiring manager called to set up the final interview. The committee members could immediately tell that the applicant was customer service-oriented and prepared. The applicant answered the phone interview call in the following manner:

Hello, this is Sally. How can I help you?

That was it! Most people would say “Hello,” and all Sally did was add her name and show that she cared about the employer. What did she accomplish? Sally made the employer’s job easier by revealing that she was friendly and approachable. The employer didn’t have to ask for Sally. They knew they had the correct number and had the right person. They were excited to talk with her because she was interested in them and wanted to help. She showed she cared about them! Sally was the only applicant who answered the phone this way. It separated her from her competitors, making the employer’s job easier. It also started the interview process off in a positive way, and from that point on, the hiring committee probably looked for the positive in Sally rather than the negative. A positive Halo Effect was in full force. 

When employers have difficulty deciding between candidates, the decision often comes down to the details. Did you

  • Develop good rapport? 
  • Write professional and timely email messages? 
  • Clearly articulate your relevant qualifications? 
  • Demonstrate rather than tell? 
  • Smile during the interview? 
  • Shake hands firmly? 
  • Look the interviewers in the eye? 
  • Bring a padfolio, pen, extra resumes, professional reference sheet, and business cards to the interview? 
  • Exhibit excellent customer service? 
  • Make the employer’s job easier?
  • Push in your chair after the interview and leave the room how you found it? 
  • Follow-up after your interview?
  • Send a thank-you note? 

Always look to capitalize on the little things; they make a big difference, and they will help you close the deal. As prior UCLA championship basketball coach John Wooden has said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” And, since landing your ideal job is a big thing, you need to capitalize on the little things at every turn. Never leave anything to chance.

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