Today’s job market is highly competitive. If you are currently searching for a job in any specific discipline or location it is important that you prepare to present yourself and your credentials in a professional manner. This means creating an eye-catching resume that presents you in a positive light, polishing your interview skills and presenting yourself in proper attire, prepared to meet what may well be your next employer.
This special resources section can help you prepare for your job campaign.
Your resume is a concise summary of your qualifications. For this reason it is critically important that you present a well-written, neatly formatted resume as evidence that you are a serious candidate for a position. Your resume should capture the attention of a prospective employer. If the type is too small or tightly spaced, hard to read, disorganized or not well formatted, it will typically be discarded, despite your qualifications for the position.
Here are some general guidelines:
- If you list an Objective, be sure it supports your case for the position for which you are applying.
- A concise Summary at the top of your resume (but beneath the Objective,) provides the reviewer with a very quick analysis of your suitability for the available position. It is important to keep this section as concise as possible while providing the reviewer with useful insight into your background and capabilities.
- Provide an employment history in which the dates are chronologically correct, with current or most recent position at the top, with previous jobs in declining order in which you held them.
- Use action verbs to describe your current or previous employment and begin each skill or achievement with one of these verbs.
- List college or professional courses attended and/or completed. However, after five years of continuous employment after graduating from college, you may omit the graduation or certificate date.
- Always include a cover letter when mailing, faxing or emailing a resume.
- Do NOT include the following on your resume:
- Desired salary
- Reason for leaving a previous job
- Names or contact information for your references; have these ready to hand out on another sheet of paper if requested during an interview
- Hobbies or personal interests, unless they relate directly to the position for which you are applying and strengthen your case
A great resume may get you “in the door;” but a great interview is your key to securing the position. Here are some guidelines to help you present better during an interview:
Rehearse: Start at the beginning. In the age of technology, it is easier than ever to learn about a company via their web site and other internet tools.
- Research the company and know about them before you walk in for your interview.
- Ensure you know how to get to the interview site; it might be good to take a mock trip few days before your interview at the same time of day you will be traveling to understand normal traffic.
- Get a book on typical job interview questions and prepare short answers for each. Practice answering the questions confidently and in a concise, professional manner using only positive information to respond. Never denigrate a former employer, colleague or superior.
- Prepare questions about the position that you will ask the interviewer.
- Be sure to bring extra copies of your resume to the interview, as well as a list of references with their contact information in the event those are requested.
Appearance: Much like your resume, when preparing for an interview, appearance matters. It is the first and last thing the interviewer will notice about you.
- Dress professionally – wear conservative clothing; keep makeup, perfume and all fragrances to a minimum.
- Be well groomed: combed or styled hair, clean fingernails, neatly shaved; clean shirt and tie; for women, clean dress, skirt, blazer or pantsuit.
- Wear shined shoes that do not show excess wear.
Presentation: Work on your presentation skills.
- Always give a firm handshake before and after the interview, regardless of how you feel it went.
- Be relaxed but don’t slouch in the chair; make eye contact with the interviewer.
- Answer questions candidly and in full. A common first question is: “Tell me about yourself.” Begin by describing your current employment situation or position and work backward chronologically, hitting only the highlights.
- Feel free to use hand gestures to make a point or to add interest to the conversation, but don’t overdo it.
- Be prepared to address any negatives, but answer only with positive information.
- Don’t bring up salary, benefits or vacation time; those will surface when a job offer is extended.
- Don’t be the first one to give a salary figure if it does come up; if pressed to give an expected salary amount, simply ask the interview what someone with your skills might command in the position.
- Ask about timing; when the employer anticipates having the position filled.
Follow Up: Close the post-interview loop.
- Always send a post interview letter, email or neat, handwritten note thanking the interviewer for his/her time and complimenting the interviewer or the company about something you learned during the interview. This is an opportunity to express intense interest in the job, to make up lost ground by correcting any negatives that may have surfaced during the interview, or by selling your skills one final time. Many an opportunity has been won by sending a thank you note, or lost by failing to do so.
Feel free to follow up by phone with the interviewer if you haven’t heard from the company within the expected time.