By Rania Oteify

Special to Gulf News, March 24, 2017 

Employers look for people who are likely to fit into their corporate culture.

Nationals looking for career opportunities at the Career fair in Dubai. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/ Gulf News archive

Job seekers are often overwhelmed with the flood of job-hunting tips that are available online, with some of which is contradictory. Should you really keep your resume to one page? And how soon can you bring in money negotiation?

Although different career advisers and coaches may have different views on what makes an applicant successful in proceeding to the next step, there are many aspects of the job application and interviewing process that are not negotiable.

For example, you should be responsive, courteous and interested. It is unlikely that you would be advised to be otherwise. In most cases, if you get the basics right in applying for any job, the other items are not really a deal breaker. That is why you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff.

What you really need to do is to focus on the points that could be deal breakers with potential employees. Some of them can get you excluded from the process very early, others may raise red flags that come to haunt you later even if you’re shortlisted.

Here are three areas that must be considered carefully.

Overall attitude

Employers look for people who are likely to fit into their corporate culture. If you know what that corporate culture entails, you could emphasise your personality or experience aspects that make you a good match for this environment.

If you don’t have a clue and you can get any insider information, play it safe. Appear to be positive, enthusiastic, proactive, collaborative, etc. Employers look for people who are flexible and easy to adapt, so make sure you don’t come across as rigid or set in your own ways.

You also can show evidence of these traits in how you handle the interview and hiring process. Being responsive and positive can help you show your interest. In an in-person interview, make sure that you don’t bring up unnecessarily past problems or issues. Frame your experience in a way that explains what it is relevant to the job you’re applying for.


Before you even get invited to a job interview, hiring managers and human resources staff evaluate you based on your resume and cover letter. So don’t mess this up. Put your ego aside and get a friend or even a professional to read your resume and give you an honest opinion. Your goal is to get a job, so listen carefully to their advice, especially if it is related to typos or grammar issues.

In addition, if you are applying for jobs in different fields, be prepared to have more than one resume that emphasise your experience that matches the job you’re applying for.

Pay attention to small stuff, like how you name your resume. Add your name to the file name. And avoid adding the company name, or words like “revised,” “final,” etc. It takes a few seconds to change a file’s name and it is a simple step that shows professionalism.

Finally, avoid funky fonts and colours. Unless you’re a graphic designer and you know what you’re doing, go with a plain, clean template that you’re sure will open and display nicely on almost any operating system.


How you present yourself can be impacted by whether you think you’re a good fit for the job or now. In all cases, presenting yourself as a perfect match for the job requirements takes a lot of confidence. While being humble about the experience that you’re missing is advised, you must not sell yourself short. Be positive about your ability to learn and stress your strengths and your past experiences.

Your goal is to leave your interviewer with clear visibility on why you’re a great match for the job, rather than what you’re missing in terms of qualifications and experience. The only way you could achieve this is to explain — with confidence — your relevant experience and skills, and how you’d tackle areas of weakness.

In addition, be confident in promoting the skills you have acquired. Interviews are the place to explain — and slightly brag — about your accomplishments. Even if they were stated in your resume, pick one or two aspects to mention in response to questions to emphasise why you think you fit the job.

You should not compromise on the following:

– Being positive, proactive and good fit for corporate culture

– Sending clean and clear written communication

– Being confident about your experience and what you’d bring to the job.

The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.

— R.O.