Have you heard of the card game Apples to Apples? It came out on the market a couple years ago, and used to be one of my favorites to play when my friends and I got together for a game night in (I have a 3 year old now so these game nights rarely happen anymore!). If you haven’t played it, it goes like this…the “dealer” for that round picks a green card that is typically a descriptive word (risky, comfy, dull, nerdy, etc..) while the other players have red cards that have nouns on them (places, people, etc). The dealer puts the green card down, and then each player picks a red card that they think best matches the descriptive green card. The dealer then decides which red card they think matches the descriptive card best and then that player who played that card gets the green card. The player with a certain number of green cards at the end is the winner. The trick to this game is a little phrase called “Play to the dealer”. If the word on the Green card is “cute” and one of your red cards is “Luke Bryan” and you know the dealer thinks Luke Bryan is dreamy…well you’re going to play that card because you know the dealer will choose your card!! The game gets rowdy when the other players try to fight for their cards because the game really is so subjective. But you will win if you think strategically and lay all your cards out on the table (literally!)

How does this relate to my role here as a Career Coach you ask??  I tell my students all the time to play to the dealer…when they write their resume, when they apply for positions, and when they go on interviews. You want the Recruiter or the Hiring Manager to choose you right?!? Here are a few thoughts on things students can do to play to the Recruiter (dealer):

Use Job Description Key Words on your Resume!

When I was a Recruiter and I was recruiting for a position, let’s say in sales..I would print out the job description and highlight the key words in that job description that I would be looking for in the resumes I was about to review. I would then review all the resumes that came through and I would pull out the ones who had the keywords I was looking for and those would be the ones I would reach out to. As a job candidate, you will want to follow the exact same exercise. If you come across an Accounting Internship, print out the job description and highlight the key words – probably things like “Excel, financial statements, general ledger, invoices”, along with soft skills like “communication skills, detail oriented, analytical skills”. When updating your resume to apply for this position – make sure these words are on your resume!!! Now don’t lie on your resume – obviously only put them on there if you have the experience (even if you have the experience in a class project). This seems like an easy, no brainer thing to do but you’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t do this. This is playing to the dealer because you are giving them exactly what they want to see (again, as long as you are NOT lying on your resume)!

Don’t play hard to get

When I recruited for the Orlando Magic, one of my favorite things was when candidates showed up to our offices for in person interviews in Magic colors – blue and black! This might sound like a cheesy, minor detail but I noticed it every time and complimented them on it – especially if they were interviewing on a game day J One time, we were hiring a Marketing Manager and a candidate wrote out a Marketing Business Plan on an actual basketball! It was so creative and I believe that basketball is still somewhere in the Orlando Magic corporate offices. Another candidate put his resume on a Gatorade bottle – the ingredients were his qualifications and the flavor of the Gatorade was his background and skills. These candidates went the extra mile and absolutely played to the dealer. We lived and breathed sports, so they thought outside of the box to show us they were passionate about the same thing. Interviewing for a job is the LAST place you want to play hard to get. You want to be creative and knock their socks off!

Get to know the dealer

When you snag an interview because you had the perfect key words on your resume, do your research on who you are interviewing with. Again, this sounds obvious but there are minor things you can do to make sure you do more research than the other candidates. Find them on LinkedIn. Look at their background and the college they went to. Look at the clubs they were part of. Look to see where they volunteer or who they are connected to that you might know. I call this “Professional Stalking”. Obviously look at their career path as well. The better you know who you are trying to impress, the better you will be at it. And don’t be too direct to them when you are bringing these things up in the conversation. You don’t want to scare them! In the interview, when it’s your turn to ask questions, you could say, “I saw that you’ve been with the company for 8 years and started out as an Associate! What has been your favorite position and what has kept you here so long?” You could also say “I saw on LinkedIn that you graduated from UCF! What was your favorite part about being a student? Do you have any advice for me as I finish up my degree?” These are easy, passive ways to bring up your research on their background, but they are also thought out and direct.

I often tell my students that job searching and interviewing is like dating. You will go on a lot of interview dates and you will probably experience some rejection. But once you find that perfect position that you want to “woo”, you want to lay all your cards on the table and sweep that job off its feet!! Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, do some research and play to the dealer!

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Lindsay Bridges – Accounting Career Coach

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