Earlier I mentioned a symposium I attended on helping homeless Veterans find jobs and some of the job seeking advice I heard there. There was one more bit of advice that’s been running around in the back of my head – do I blog about this or not? I decided the answer is yes. There’s nothing earth shattering here but it can’t hurt to get this kind of advice periodically during your job search.
Here are 15 basic tips that you need to aware of when you go to an interview or a networking meeting. Again, I hope there are no surprises here, but if there are, at least someone told you. These are not in priority order, you need to do them all.
- Be on time. Before the interview know where you are going, how to get there, where you will park, etc. Plan to arrive 10 minutes (or so) early. Sit in your car and relax if you’re too early. Use the power building suggestions from by Body Language post while you wait.
- Be clean. I shouldn’t need to explain this.
- Smell good. This really should be “don’t smell.” Too much cologne or perfume is sometimes worse than none at all. I suggest you be a neutral as possible.
- Dress appropriately. I suggest you dress one step above what that office’s every-day work attire is. Guys – a business suit is not required or appropriate for all occasions. If they wear ties, you wear the suit. If they are business casual, you still wear the suit. If they are in jeans you wear dress pants and a dress shirt – tie is optional. If they are in shorts and filp-flops then you’re in business casual. Never less than business casual. Rarely more than business suit. If you don’t know what they wear, call the company and ask the receptionist. You don’t have to tell her your name J. Ladies – sorry but you’ll have to take your dress cues from my advice for guys. I’m not qualified to translate.
- Bring copies of your resume. I suggest between 2 and 5 copies. It depends on how many people you expect to meet.
- Bring something to take notes on. Not your hand or a pack of post-its. Don’t forget the pen.
- Remember your body language – smile, look people in the eye, offer a firm handshake.
- Speak clearly. Talk slowly, clearly. Use full sentences. Answer the question that is asked, nothing else. Don’t ramble.
- Remember your manners. Say please and thank you. I think you can use “sir” and “ma’am” but be careful. I may get some backlash on this, but some women take offense to ma’am because they say it makes them feel/sound old. I grew up with parents from the South and sir and ma’am are just part of who I am – no offense intended.
- Be patient. Take time to consider the question you’ve been asked before answering.
- No lying. Enough said.
- Ask questions. Be prepared to ask several questions (even if you already know the answers). You can ask about the company history, the strategic plan, their products, whatever – but show an interest in the organization.
- Ask when you can follow up. Even if they tell you when they plan to get back to you, ask when you can check back with them. Be proactive.
- Relax. This is a job interview. You are not being investigated for murder. The worse thing that can happen is that you don’t get this job. That’s okay – there will be others.
- Be yourself. Let them know all the ways you can make their organization better.
There you go – fifteen simple things to remember. Have a great interview!
Last week I posted about self-confidence and first impressions. I thought it was pretty good – had some hard science in it – very helpful stuff. Then about 4 days later my daughter sends me a link that just blew me away. To a degree it reinforced what I was saying, but then amped it up about 10 times.
In this Ted Talk, Amy Cuddy, Associate Professor at Harvard University talks about not only how your body language influences others (what I was talking about) but more importantly how it influences you. If you are a job seeker you MUST watch this. I won’t steal her thunder, but she says through some very simple techniques you can dramatically influence the outcome of your interviews.
Her talk is about how your body language influences your mind and your powerfulness (or powerless-ness). She explains how her research proves that by simply changing your posture for two minutes before an interview, you will not only appear more confident, but you will actually change your brain chemistry and feel more powerful and confident.
Here is the link. WATCH THIS VIDEO and then come back here next week and find out how to continue to make your search more effective.
You’ve been working on creating the perfect resume. But something seems to be missing. What is it?
For most resumes that I see, what is missing is context. Someone tells me they managed this, or implemented that, but there is nothing to suggest that they managed it well or implemented it successfully. Without the context, their “responsibilities” are empty statements.
A list of accomplishments tells the recruiter what you’ve done and how successful you’ve been. The theory is: what I’ve accomplished for my prior organizations, I can accomplish for you. The good news is that theory often holds up.
Rather than highlight your career and various functions you’ve been responsible for, your resume needs to quantify what you’ve accomplished. Your resume might say “Responsible for managing a staff of 14 with an operating budget of $500,000”, but what it does not say is if you did those things well. If instead it said “Successfully managed a staff of 14 with an operating budget of $500,000 with turnover substantially below the organizational average and expenses within budget” then we’d know a lot more about you.
Showing that you’ve improved operating margins by X percent or reduced expenses by $xxx gives context to your statements. Tell the recruiter how much you increased sales or profits, reduced expenses, expanded market share, etc. That is what will open their eyes, and get you the interview.
Here are a few more resume guidelines to consider:
When emailing your resume, send it in a PDF format rather than in Word (or your word processor’s format). This will ensure that it looks like you want it to, rather than how their word processor formats it. This also avoids problems if you have a newer version or an incompatible software. (There are several free software packages to publish your documents as PDFs.)
While a well formatted resume is great, often times a company wants you to copy and paste your resume into a text box on their website. That typically means that all formatting is stripped away and your once beautiful resume is not very functional. So, keep a .txt version handy. After you’ve “finished” your resume, convert it to plain text and clean up the formatting so that it looks good again. This will ensure that those nasty uploads work well and still look good.
Back in the day when I was starting out we were taught to put a “Career Objective” as the first thing on our resume. We’d craft a bold statement like “To use my education and analytical skills to allow me to grow with a strong and forward looking company.” While that might have been good advice in the early ‘80s (emphasis on might have been) it’s not anymore. Now recruiters want to see a 2-3 sentence (or bullet points) elevator speech that tells them exactly who you are and why they need to read the rest of your resume. Words like proven, experienced, customer-focused, market leader, etc. show energy and drive. Craft your summary so it makes peoples say “wow, tell me more.”
I imagine some of you are shaking your head or rolling your eyes. I’ll admit, some of these suggestions are a lot easier for me to say than they are for you to do, but trust me, they work. If your word processing or editorial skills aren’t up to the task, get some help. Find a friend who can help. If necessary, use a consultant. But if you get help, make sure they give you “your” resume and not “theirs”. Make sure it reflects you, because that’s what you’ve got to sell when you land that interview.
A great resume can open doors. Spend some time on yours and you’ll get more interviews, which will lead to getting the job. Happy Holidays!
There are lots of resources on the Internet for making a resume with tips and templates galore. Out of all that, what is the most important? We’ll I’ve talked with some search pros and we’ve put together these suggestions for creating resume magic. Unfortunately I couldn’t get all of these tips in one post, here is part I – stay tuned for the remainder.
Let’s start with why you’re doing this at all. What is the purpose of your resume? Is it simply a written version of your career history? Is it your opportunity to tell others your goals and aspirations? Is it a chance to detail everything you know and highlight your incredible mastery and technical expertise? Well, yes … and no.
The purpose of your resume is to be your personal brochure and sales pitch indicating why someone should hire you. With a resume you’re not trying to meet your needs, you’re trying to meet the needs of the recruiter and hiring manager. You are attempting to show them that you are the perfect candidate for the job they are trying to fill.
Your resume is a paper representation of you. It should be a personal statement that reflects your technical skills, competencies, expertise, involvement, awards and accomplishments. While templates and sample resumes are great for giving you ideas, your resume needs to be distinctly you, not a template. As you expand your brand, make sure that your cover letter, reference page, thank you letters etc. all have the same look and feel. They need to consistently support your brand.
Here are some guidelines to remember:
- Choose the format that is best for you – Chronological vs. Functional (we absolutely prefer chronological). Use your career progression to support that you know what you know.
- Lead with your strengths. Start with a summary of why you are the best candidate. Add your accomplishments to support those statements. Show your career history as proof of your success and list your education as the foundation for it all.
- Be concise and keep it to no more than two pages – and one page is better. Remember, if you are lucky a recruiter will read the first half of the first page. If you haven’t caught their attention by then you are not going to get that job. If they have to wade through 4 pages of jobs, references and citations you have no hope.
- Customize each resume based on the position and/or company you are applying to. Research the company and tailor the resume to fit what they are looking for.
- Be industry specific, but here’s where some balance is needed. You should include industry buzz words so that companies who use computers to scan and evaluate resumes will find the keywords they are looking for. But, don’t include so much jargon that others can’t understand what you are talking about.
- Be truthful – enough said.
- Make it look good. Use a bright white paper and clean, simple font. Make sure you have sufficient white space so it doesn’t look cluttered. Use formatting to make it easy to read and to highlight the most important parts.
- Make it perfect. Use multiple proofreaders. Your spelling, grammar, and punctuation need to be perfect. Your formatting (bold, underline, italics, centering, line spacing, etc.) needs to be consistent. Your margins should match. Take the time to do it right.
A great resume won’t get you the job, but a bad resume will keep you from it. Stay tuned for some more tips and a focus on accomplishments, the real key to success.