Hint: It's probably not what you think.
Mindfulness helps us connect with the deepest, truest version of our self
A little inside information that most people don’t know about the job application process, is that at the end of the day, most hiring managers base their final decisions on the “vibe” they get from the candidate. That is not to say that your education, experience, skills and qualifications aren’t important, they are. But it is to say that who you are, and how you show up, are arguably just as important.
The power of authenticity
Practicing mindfulness helps us get in touch with our truest version of our self. When the nervous system is relaxed, we can let go of that many ways we may have tried to fit ourselves into an ill-fitting box over the years. Society tells us to be “professional,” often at the expense of our authenticity. I believe that we can be both professional and true to ourselves, but it takes some practice. This is where applying mindfulness in the job search can set you apart from other applicants in all the best ways.
Your most authentic self is not like anyone else
When applying for a job, it might seem counter-intuitive to want to stand out. Most of the typical resume writers out there will look at your skills and experience and write you a resume that looks and sounds a lot like the other applicants out there. Yes, you need to format your resume in a way that makes it through the Applicant Tracking System (another topic for another day). BUT, once the recruiter is looking at your resume, you want to stand out from the crowd. The best way to do that is to express who you really are, especially the things that make you unique and different. It is your difference that makes you an interesting candidate who can bring what only you can to the table.
Recruiters may not know it, but they are responding to your energy
My very first job out of college was as a middle school Spanish teacher. I didn’t have a teaching license, and I had just graduated with a degree in psychology and human studies. I interviewed at a private school and, although I had taken some education courses, felt highly under qualified for this job. What I did have, however, was a strong sense of self, (and pretty much nothing to lose). In my resume, cover letter, and interview, I gave honest, thoughtful responses. I was professional, but more importantly, I was calm, and true to myself. I didn’t sugarcoat the fact that I was a recent graduate, or try to prove that I was the best person for the job. Instead, I allowed my natural strengths and abilities shine through. Some of those strengths are a calm demeanor, a strong work ethic, and commitment to service, and the ability at building strong relationships with middle school aged students. I didn’t actually mention these skills in my application or interview, but I demonstrated them. The person who interviewed me liked me, and I think my more experienced co-workers had a hard time understanding why at first (due to my complete lack of experience). I was invited to teach a sample lesson to a full classroom of students and a panel of administrators sitting in a row on the back of the room, taking notes. I was terrified, yes, but I decided, once again, to rely on my natural strengths. I focused on the students, and allowed my love for them to shine through. The lesson was a blast and I ended up getting the job.
Authenticity gives you the “edge” that recruiters are looking for
So, the question remains, how do we do this? First, I recommend getting into a relaxed state and quieting the mind. There are infinite ways to accomplish this from breathing exercises, to guided meditations, to body scans, the list goes on. From this state, write down the things you know are true about you. What almost always motivates you? What is exciting to you? What is relaxing to you? What do you enjoy thinking and talking about? What activities do you most enjoy doing? Don’t limit this to only “job-related” things, include hobbies, interests, even the simple, everyday things that bring you joy. Not all of this will make it to your resume, but read over the list and ask yourself “what kind of person cares about these things? What kind of person enjoys these activities?” And list some qualities or skills that stand out to you. Perhaps you are a natural helper, or creative problem-solver, or good at working with your hands. The point here is to express you true self on your job application, even if you think these skills or interests aren’t directly related to the job. You are a person at the end of the day, and you’re looking for a place where you can thrive. Ultimately, the company will thrive in return.