In this crazy economy, one would expect there to be lots of people dusting off their resumes and applying for jobs that are available. The problem seems to be that people are applying for jobs without getting all that dust off, and without brushing up on their interview skills. There are several things you can do to hopefully get an interview, and then to land the job you really want. It’s all about Marketing YOU.
Your cover letter should have a strong opening. If it says the exact same thing as every other applicant, well, who cares? Make it stand out! Everyone knows the importance of a strong resume. It should be clean, neat, free of misspellings, and succinct. Put yourself in the employer’s shoes…if you were the one looking for a new employee, what would you want to know about them? Does your resume answer those questions?? Another resume tip – go ahead and include your references, rather than putting “References available upon request.” I know we were all generally taught that it’s OK to put that line, but as someone who has to hire people as part of her job, I know from experience that I’d prefer to get that info up front. Don’t make the potential employer work harder to find out more about you. Do the work up front and save them some time.
If you land that coveted phone screening or face-to-face interview, your job at that point is to sell yourself. How do you do that without sounding conceited or cocky? Here’s my next tip: The best way is to do your homework on the company, and show that you did it by asking intelligent questions and engaging the interviewer in some conversation about the company. In short – be prepared! If you don’t remember anything else I have to say, please remember that – being prepared is key.
You may be asked “what do you know about this company?” or “did you look at our website?”. If you don’t have a clue what to say, that’s going to be a big strike against you. It tells the employer that you didn’t take the initiative to do your homework. If you didn’t take the initiative when trying to get the job, that probably means you won’t be the type of employee to take some initiative when you’re actually on the job.
Other tips that are important to know…of course, be on time – show up 5 or 10 minutes early, but no more than that. Showing up 30 minutes before your scheduled interview time could annoy the interviewer. Dress appropriately for the interview, prepare to answer the most frequently asked interview questions, and try to check your nerves at the door. Be confident, but not cocky. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – you should have some already prepared (there’s that word again). Remember – you’re interviewing the company at the same time that they are interviewing you! Send a follow-up thank you note or e-mail to the interviewer as soon as possible.
I don’t claim to be an expert. The tips I gave here are all common sense, but I’m amazed at the people who don’t seem to know it. I’m sure there are dozens of other good tips I could pass along, but these are the ones that stand out to me…the things I look for when interviewing job candidates. I’m sure not everyone agrees with all of my tips or would have more to contribute. I’d love to get some feedback on what you’re looking for when interviewing job candidates.