We have officially made it to my Workin’ Wednesday series! Woo! Are you excited? For those who are new here: This October, I’ll be sharing all of my secrets on how to ace the interview process (not just the interview, but the ENTIRE process). There will be four parts, each of which will be posted on every Wednesday this month. As you can see, you have reached Part 1 of this series. So instead of letting my excitement drag this intro on, I’ll let the rest of this post do the talking. Enjoy!
So, let’s back up for a sec. Before you consider looking for jobs, there are a few things that you must do first.
- Resume cleanse
Get rid of anything that even looks like a typo or grammar mistake. Fill in any gaps of employment, and if you can’t fill them in, be prepared to discuss them in the first interview. Also, use the font size (between 10 and 14 on Microsoft Word), bold and italic features to your advantage. These features are great visual cues for your reader to distinguish one block of text from another.
This isn’t exactly mandatory, but I would strongly suggest making a cover letter to accompany your resume. For those who don’t know, a cover letter is a one-page document that acknowledges your selected employer, summarizes your job experience and discusses some of your professional skills. While every employer may not require this, some will. Not to mention, adding a cover letter to your file shows professionalism, dedication and intelligence. Click here to read more about how to structure a cover letter.
The biggest problem people have is keeping their resume at one-page length. No, it is not required to fit every job you’ve had since you were 16 on your resumé. I would suggest putting down jobs where you worked for more than one year or jobs whose duties relate to the job you’re searching for now. Remember: employers are looking for the value in your experience, not the candidate with the most jobs.
- Reputation management
Remember that MySpace account you created back in 9th grade? You know, the one with your party pics, peace-sign photos and those silly, little comments dat l00k lyk3 d1s?? Get rid of it. And anything else that resembles it, for that matter. The last thing you want is for your employer to find embarrassing old accounts and photos of you on the internet. According to Huffington Post, 80% of employers Google you before inviting you in for an interview. So hop to it! And while you’re at it, create more sophisticated accounts, such as a LinkedIn, Storify or a blog.
- Work samples
If you don’t have them, then GET THEM. And have these ready at all times. Keep both physical and digital copies. Think of your work samples as evidence and your resume as your plea. Your samples are the proof you need to show that you’re the qualified worker this employer has been looking for.
So you might be wondering why I spent half of this post talking about what to do before you start your job hunt. This is because planning and preparation are key if you want to be successful. Which brings me to my next point: what to do once you’ve got the first interview.
More than likely, your first interview will be a phone interview. This is a chance for one of the employees to pre-screen you. As in, make sure your personality is the right fit for the company, examine your job demands and determine the way you communicate. I think Arnie Fertig, a writer for U.S. News and World Report, wrote it best:
“At this stage, you will likely deal with someone in human resources whose role is to pave the way for the hiring manager to decide which candidates to bring in for a more serious discussion. He or she is tasked with gaining basic information about multiple candidates and making initial judgments about personality, temperament, communications style, salary expectations and more.”
So before you talk to anyone on the phone, you want to be prepared by doing these things:
- LinkedIn stalking
This is the part where I remind you that if you haven’t already, open up your own LinkedIn account. Ninety-three percent of companies use LinkedIn for recruiting, so it’s about time you hop on the bandwagon. Fill in all the professional information as best as you can, and use a decent profile picture (preferably a headshot).
OK, so back to the point. Your goal here is to get noticed. As you may or may not know, LinkedIn has a feature where users can see who viewed them. Use LinkedIn to search the company that you’re interviewing with, and then…ya know, “view” some people. Look specifically for people who work in your future department. Just let them see your face, so they’ll remember you the next time your name pops up.
- Preparing for the day of the interview
I don’t have to tell you to make sure your phone line is clear and make sure you’re on time, right? Right. OK, moving on. You also want to make sure you have a nice, quiet space to talk. If necessary, warn others near you that you have a phone interview. Prepare yourself by having your resume and/or cover letter in front of you. Yes, of course you know your own job history. But you never know when you might need more talking points. Or if you’re just a nervous mouse like me, then having that information will help you when you start to draw a blank.
This might seem random, but this is very important advice. If your phone interview is early in the morning (or even in the afternoon), give yourself at least an hour between the time you wake up and the time of your interview. Trust me, no employer is going to appreciate your raspy wake-up voice. To those who sleep past the alarm (like I often did during that time), drink some water and sing Do-re-mi‘s until the time of your interview. You’re welcome.
Now that I’ve provided you with tricks you never knew before,
I hope that I’ve kept you coming back and wanting more.
If all the information this week was not enough for you,
Stay tuned until next week for Workin’ Wednesday, part 2.
Yes, that poem was especially for you. Thanks for reading! 🙂
(To see Part 2, click here.)