Sharon DeLay is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Professional Career Coach. She wrote this article for our newsletter recently, we thought it was definitely worth a second read. Congratulations! You landed the job interview. What now? Many job candidates assume that their résumés will speak for them and that all they need to do is show up for the interview. This assumption is doubly dangerous if the candidates are working through a staffing or search firm, because they assume the intermediary (the staffing or search firm representative) has already sold them to the employer. As a matter of fact, the interview is where the candidate needs to really start working! To improve your interview experience and increase your chances of becoming the preferred candidate: Research. The number one deal breaker recruiters and hiring managers have identified is whether the candidate has taken the time to learn about the hiring company. With the abundance of information on the Internet today, employers believe candidates should be able to develop a basic understanding about the company, the market, and the company’s values and cultures before ever walking into the interview. Using the excuse that you’re “just” an accountant, graphic designer, janitor, etc. doesn’t work. To learn more about a company, do an Internet search and review the news coverage, as well as the company’s public Web site (including annual reports and the About Us section, as applicable). You can also ask your friends and colleagues what they know about the company. Adjust your attitude. A very close second is having a good attitude. Some employers have even said this is more important to them than the skill level of the individual. They are willing to invest in training if the candidate’s attitude is stellar and a good fit for the company. To demonstrate a good attitude, always smile. Practice answering your interview questions in front of a mirror and check to see if you have a relaxed, approachable (and smiling) visage. Also, avoid using the interview as a platform for voicing your displeasure over your last job or boss. No matter what the truth is, always formulate your answers to be positive and forward-looking. The past is just that. Learn from it and move on. Create value. Of course, employers want to know you have the basic required skill set to do the job. However, all that gets you is consideration as a candidate along with several others. To separate yourself from the pack, you need to demonstrate how you can help the company do the same. When you talk about your skills and experience, do it in the manner that demonstrates how what you have done has added value to your past employer. Use quantifiable information, discuss efficiencies you’ve introduced and revenue or savings you’ve generated. Simply reiterating your job description only proves you met the basic job requirements.
Sharon DeLay is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Professional Career Coach. She wrote this article for our newsletter recently, we thought it was definitely worth a second read. Studies indicate that the most effective way to find a job is through networking. Whether you’re trying to get into the company of your dreams or move across the country, networking is the way to go. Research indicates that most of the jobs available today will be filled through networking, yet resistance to this method of securing a job remains high, mostly due to uncertainty about how to get started. Try these five easy steps to jumpstart your career networking strategy.
- Avoid assumptions. Often, the first words out of the new networker’s mouth are, “I don’t know anyone who can help me get to where I want. Everyone I know is just like me.” Actually, you would be surprised who people know. Even your closest friends and family members either know someone you should meet or know someone who knows someone. Don’t assume your current network is full of dead ends, which leads to the next point.
- Begin in your comfort zone. One misconception about networking is that you have to talk with people you don’t know. This is uncomfortable for a lot of people because they simply don’t like talking to strangers or don’t know what to say. Select a few people (friends, family members, co-workers, etc.) you know, like and trust to begin with them.
- Identify your goals. To get started, you need to first clarify a few things. What is it you want this year? A new position within your company? A new job altogether? New projects to expand your résumé? Knowing what you want to accomplish will help you determine your approach and what to say.
- Just ask. Because your first time is always a bit awkward, just make a determination that you’re going to just ask…to meet, talk on the telephone, get advice, or whatever it is you need to do. Once you get over the initial fear and discomfort of asking, it gets easier.
- Resolve not to ask for a job. That’s right; don’t ask someone for a job. If you ask someone for something not within his or her power to give you, he or she will be less inclined to want to help you. It’s a common human response: we tend avoid what we know we will fail to achieve (or that causes us pain). Rather than asking for a job, ask for information, other people to talk to, or feedback on how people perceive your skills, abilities and marketability. Nearly everyone can successfully give you what you need in these areas and this will ultimately lead you to your end goal.