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By Julia Glum
January 7, 2019
Illustration by Ryan Snook for Money

If you’re going to land the job of your dreams in 2019, you can’t just slap a bunch of snazzy words on your résumé and hope for the best. You need to take intentional steps to stand out from the crowd.

Money consulted eight human resources experts to find out what they’re looking for in stellar candidates this year. Use these tips to impress the hiring manager at your next interview — and don’t forget to wear a clean shirt.

Know the Tools

“As work becomes less traditionally structured, we need people who have innate initiative to integrate with coworkers. Also, we are seeking people who can use an increasing array of communication and collaboration tools to work effectively. Comfort with simultaneously using Slack, Trello, G Suite, and other team-specific tools is a must.” — Jen Raines-Loring, vice president of people at Springboard Retail

Learn New Things… Fast

“The skill that is emerging as one of the most important in a successful candidate is learning agility. The speed at which someone can learn new things and manage change and complexity is becoming more and more crucial for success.” — David B. Nast, CEO and managing partner, Nast Partners

Improve Your Soft and Hard Skills at the Same Time

“The combination of soft skills and the ability to work tactically makes the most competitive candidates stand out. Rising talent that can both interpret data and effectively engage the person in front of them adds tremendous value to any team.” — Carol L. McDaniel, director of talent acquisition at Delta Air Lines

Go Beyond the Job Description

“It goes by many different names: team player, servant leader, low ego. Every team wants that multifaceted person who has the credentials to lead and win new business—but also train the new receptionist. The individual who will roll up his or her sleeves and help beyond the job description is critical to the ebb and flow of the business.” — Colleen Drennen Pfaller, founder of A Slice of HR

And Know How to Elevate Your Position

“It’s fairly obvious on paper when a candidate can do the job, but employers will be asking, “How can he or she elevate the position?” Candidates able to illustrate a growing expertise outside their current role will stand out. These might be applicants who have published blogs, serve on the boards of organizations, or provide professional advice to others.” — Robin Schwartz, HR director at Career Igniter

Or Even Just Look Great

“It’s crazy what candidates are doing these days. I am seeing more fluff and less substance. What I look for is the traditional approach: a well-dressed candidate (or just iron your shirt), written followup thank-you notes (email is fine), and an effort to research the company.” — Daniel Starobin, senior director of operations at Financial Finesse

Up Your Empathy, Too

“I’ll need people with the ability to code switch across generations with very different understandings of technology, social norms, and the role of business in society. And I’ll be looking for people who will lean in to building empathetic connections across cultural and geographic distance.” — Peter Dudley, chief development officer at Cancer Support Community, San Fransisco Bay Area

But Also Know Yourself

“Candidates will need to be emotionally intelligent— have a solid grasp of who they are and how those emotions can affect their leadership— as well as recognize and understand the emotions of others to effectively manage relationships.” — Lisa A. Holmes, chief business strategist for Strategic Performance of Los Angeles

Advertiser Disclosure

The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

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