Call me old-fashioned because I most certainly am - at least when it comes to how I view job applicants. 

I've been hiring people for jobs for almost 30 years, and I'm amazed at how many job applicants still don't understand some of the basic fundamentals of leaving a positive impression on the person making the hiring decisions. Some of these steps are just so simple that it's perplexing that many job candidates don't do them. I'm more convinced than ever that high schools and colleges need to teach courses on how to apply for a job. 

In an effort to help those who are new to the job search world, I'm offering you five recommendations that are MUST DO's for any job seeker. And as simple as they are, each will actually set you apart from the competition because, most likely, they're not doing any of them.

5. Do a little research on the organization. I'm shocked at the number of people who apply for jobs and clearly haven't even taken five minutes to look at the company website.  How do you know if you even want to work somewhere if you don't understand what the business does, its mission, or its core values?  This should be the very first thing you do when you decide to apply for a job.  And if they call you in for an interview and you still haven't done even the most basic research on the company, you only have yourself to blame when the interview ends right after they ask you, "Do you know what we do?".  And here's a little secret...that question will be asked within the first ten minutes of the interview. 

4. Find out who the hiring manager is and reach out to them. It's a small gesture but it can make a big impression. With most medium and large organizations (and a lot of small ones), the person responsible for the hiring decision is not going to be the one making initial contact with you.  It will likely be someone from the HR team.  If a recruiter is requesting you come in for an interview, ask them who will be making the hiring decision and then do a little research on that person.  Get to know their background, follow them on LinkedIn, and look up their bio. You'd be amazed at how much you can learn about a person with just a quick Google search.  That information will likely provide you with enough knowledge about the hiring manager that you'll be better prepared to discuss subjects that are of mutual interest and even some topics you may want to avoid. Then follow up with a short note or email just to share how much you're looking forward to meeting them and how excited you are about the opportunity.  This whole process should take you less than one hour but could make a huge impact on the person who may become your next supervisor.

3. Send a "thank you" note immediately following an interview.  A card is better, but an email is fine.  A lot of people think this is outdated, but the fact is, we're all human, and receiving a message of thanks is always appreciated.  Many hiring managers still look at this gesture as absolutely mandatory.  Yet, it is done so infrequently.  A short note confirms that you really want THIS job, not just ANY job.  Failure to send a thank you note can give the impression that you're just going through the motions.

2.  Dress appropriately for the interview. This one used to surprise me, but sadly, it doesn't anymore. I can't tell you the number of times I've interviewed someone for a management position, and they showed up in attire better suited for a Las Vegas nightclub (and I was not interviewing for a nightclub environment) or the student section of a college football game. You may be interviewing for a job that doesn't require you to wear a suit and tie to work, but not showing up dressed in business attire can be disrespectful. It tells the person you're meeting that you don't value their company culture. Even if one's skills and expertise can be better indicators of job suitability, dressing for the situation makes a difference. Developing a strong personal brand goes a long way. 

1. PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY!! Does this really require an explanation? Put it away. Just put it away. Don't leave it on the table with the volume down. Just turn it off and put it away.  That is all.

If you have any additional thoughts on things job candidates should do to set themselves apart from the competition, please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comment section.