Planning for a career change, looking for a new job or just entering the workforce can be an overwhelming experience. The following is a list of tips to help you get through the process of sending out resumes and cover letters
to preparing for the interview.
The first thing you should do is get a calendar and a note book. This will help you remember when you sent your resume and to whom. You will also use this to jot down any follow-up calls and research that you do on the company you are applying with.
The second thing you should do is compile a list of companies that interest you and then begin to research those companies and write down the information that you gather. This information should include things like what the company does. Is it a manufacturing company? If so, what does it manufacture? Is this a marketing company? If so, what types of marketing does it consist of?
Most companies have a website where you can obtain a lot of your core information on the company. You should be looking over this information and preparing yourself before you send out the actual resume. If you haven’t researched the company prior to sending your resume then you should do this immediately in case they call you for an interview sooner than you expect.
Your resume and cover letter should be focused and not canned or generic. The average resume is only glanced at for about 10 seconds so yours needs to have an immediate impact and be eye-catching.
1. Use sentence fragments or bullets to provide focus.
2. The most important information should be at the beginning and the end.
3. Your objective should cover three points: job title, industry and two or three key skills you are likely to use.
4. Build examples that show accomplishments.
5. Create uniqueness.
Your cover letter should be one page in length and printed on good quality paper like your resume. The font style and size should be identical to your resume and envelope. They should be easy to read, attractive and action-oriented. Do not be cute, humorous or over-confident. It should also be tailored with content for each situation.
If you are using your own computer, it’s a good idea to create individual folders for each company that you will be applying with and save the cover letters in those folders.
You have your research done and organized in your notebook, the next thing you should do is prepare for some questions that may be asked in the interview. It’s always a good idea to be prepared for this step in advance. You never know when they will call and want an immediate interview.
Some typical interview questions are:
1. Tell me about yourself.
2. Tell me about a challenge you faced and how you dealt with it.
3. What are your strengths?
4. What are your weaknesses?
5. Why do you want this job?
6. How do you handle pressure?
7. Where do you see yourself in five years?
8. Tell me about a difficult problem and how you solved it.
You should consider all of these questions plus many more that may pop up. Most of these are general questions and can be answered in many different interviews. You should also focus on some specific questions that may be asked for the industry that you are interviewing for.
Another key thing is to sound positive. If you are asked the question, “What are your weaknesses?” you will want this to be positive as well. You would not answer this question with a statement about how lazy or unorganized you are. You may want to consider something like, “I sometimes take the job home with me instead of leaving it at the job.” Turn a weakness into a strength.
You should also prepare questions of your own to ask an interviewer. Many of these can be general and some will be industry specific. Some good questions that you may want to ask are:
1. Is this a new position?
2. Why is this position open?
3. Who would be my direct supervisor?
4. What is the initial focus of the job?
5. How often do you give performance evaluations?
6. What factors do you consider when evaluating a person/position?
7. How long do you expect the decision process to take?
8. Do you have incentive programs for advancing in the company?
There are many websites, articles and books devoted to job hunting. You can find and use many resources to fit your individual needs. The best tip is to do your homework and be prepared.