Why Am I Here? And What Do I Do Now?
Knowing how to confidently be interviewed is a skill that will serve you well throughout your life. It applies in numerous areas, but is perhaps the best known in connection with the job interview. While the majority of this book assumes that you have already obtained an interview, you don't need to have an interview lined up in order to learn more about the process. It is important to review a few of the steps which lead up to getting that interview in the first place, because how you obtained the interview can have an affect on the interview itself. There is a lot of information to cover here before we can get to the interviewing portion, so let's get started, shall we?
1) What Do I Want?
This may sound like common sense, but you'd be surprised how many people overlook it. Ask yourself, "Why do I want a job?"
Are you unhappy with your current employment situation? Are you a homemaker returning to the work force? A student looking for additional income while in school? Do you just want to have something to do to occupy your time? Do you want to contribute to the family finances?
Ask yourself what your purpose for job hunting really is. This information is crucial to determining the right job for you, and will aid you during your interview.
2) Is It Me?
Now that you know exactly why you are seeking employment, consider your strengths and weaknesses. What do you think would enable you to meet your objective, as set forth in the first step, and at the same time simply make you happy? If you are an artist, you probably won't be happy doing assembly-line work, no matter how much it pays. If you are mechanically-inclined, it's unlikely that editing or writing will give you job satisfaction. Match up your talents and interests with potential jobs. See if there are any which will leave you satisfied AND meet your goals. If you're stuck, try imagining yourself actually doing that work, in that sort of working environment. Many times your gut will tell you whether or not that job is acceptable, long before your brain does.
Don't get bogged down in titles and terminology. In many cases, especially for newspaper want ads or short job postings, you may need to contact the employer for a description of duties and responsibilities. Pay attention to these carefully, as they will tell you what you will actually be doing if hired. A title of "Customer Service Liaison" may sound impressive, but if the job duties are primarily taking orders and serving customers, you may find yourself working in fast food...albeit with a nifty-sounding title. In effect, you want to be concerned with what the job does, not the title. You may find that your interests and ideal duties have a completely different job title from one company to another, even entirely different industries. Be open to a myriad of possibilities!
3) About That Resume...
A common misconception I have encountered more times than I can count is that a resume (C.V.) has to include your life story. It most assuredly does NOT. Here are a few facts about resumes:
- A resume should be tailored to the specific job you are seeking. Generic resumes may cover a lot of ground, but they don't tell the interviewer why you feel THIS job is right for you and your talents/experience.
- Resumes do not have to include your entire work history, nor even your entire recent work history. You should list the jobs you have held which directly pertain to the job for which you are applying. You may also list jobs which have indirect relevance to your ideal job. For those who are uneasy about this, the solution is simple: Use the heading "Relevant Work History" and include a small section afterwards that includes your other employment. Always include months and years of your employment, not just years.
- There are many different styles of resumes which are commonly used. The two most common are chronological and functional. Chronological resumes are best for people who have remained in a single career field and have progressively moved upwards in position and responsibility. The majority of people would do best with functional resumes or a mix of functional and chronological, either of which can be modified according to qualifications or skills. Functional resumes focus on the applicant's abilities and skills, rather than work history. They're also great for the job hopper, people returning to the work force after an extended absence, or for military families who are uprooted frequently. KNOW WHICH STYLE SUITS BOTH YOUR NEEDS AND THE TARGETED JOB BEST.
- A resume is supposed to get your foot in the door. Its primary objective is to obtain an interview. It may then be placed in your employee file (if you are hired), but the main purpose is to get that all-important interview. It is not forbidden to tease the reader somewhat, and in fact, this often helps your resume stand out in a reader's memory. Include enough material to show that you are indeed a qualified candidate, but be brief enough that the reader feels the need to call you for an interview just to add detail to some of your resume material. Be professional, but keep in mind that you are trying to "seduce" the reader into calling you in for a personal meeting (interview). I sometimes think of the resume as a professional personals ad.
In general, you should have a resume tailored to the target job. If you have to create or modify your resume for every single job you want, so be it. It's worth the time and effort. Know which style of resume works best for you. Use action words as often as possible, and tempt the reader with qualifications and hints at other experience that will benefit the company at which you are applying.
If you need assistance in creating a resume, there are a lot of books out there and other resource materials that can assist you in creating a knock-out resume. You may also wish to check out your word processor program; many have resume templates. Also, there are resume-preparation services which can be used.A word of caution on this, however: Only you know your own experience and skills. The best resume preparers will sit down with you for a one-on-one and ask you many questions about yourself. It's a lengthy interview in and of itself, but the end result is a personalized resume. The downside is that you may or may not feel comfortable modifying the resume yourself when a slightly different job opening comes along. Your best bet is to learn how to do your own resume, but how you choose to develop your resume is completely your choice.
4) Where and How Do I Send My Resume?
In this day and age, you can submit resumes via email, fax, mail, or in person. Pay attention to the application directions provided by the company. For example, if they ask for email submissions only, do so. Don't send it via fax. Respect the company's wishes, and show from the start that you pay attention to detail and can follow instructions.
Always include a cover letter with your resume. I won't go into cover letters here, as there are again many valuable resources which delve into this topic in more detail. Suffice it to say though, a cover letter serves as your personal introduction and is often the first impression a prospective employer will have of you. Take your time to do a good, thorough job with your cover letter!
I will mention that in your cover letter, which should be no longer than a single page, you should state that you will be following up your submission with a phone call.Specify the day you will be calling, and be sure to do so. This will help the hiring staff to learn your name before you even walk in the door for your interview.
At this point, you should have a very clear idea of what you want to do, what you CAN do, and what will be most likely to keep you happy in the workplace.Remember these things. Write them down if you must. You will need to use these things in your interview, even if nobody comes right out and asks you about them.
You should also have a good idea of what a resume is and is not intended to do.Remember to use action words and brag about yourself! If you don't, who will? How else will a potential employer know what you have done before and may do for the company? Be sure to modify your resume according to the position you desire, and always follow the directions you are provided regarding means and method of submitting your resume. Take the time to find out the name (and spell it correctly!) of the Human Resources director or whomever will be conducting the interview. This shows you have done your homework and are not just mass-applying for work.