Tips for a Successful Interview #2

So much of the job search advice and preparation is to help the candidate get to the point of being invited to interview.  Networking to make connections and learn the company, developing a flawless professional resume, preparing compelling customized cover letters and utilizing your networking connections to get your resume in the hands of the hiring manager.  If all those things work and you are invited to interview, that’s great news but now the hard work begins.

Preparing for Interviews

  • Research the company, review their website, look at recent press coverage, review your networking notes to see what you have learned about the company.
  • Prepare questions in advance that you can ask your interviewers.
  • Review the job description carefully and think about how you will discuss your qualifications.  What have you done that demonstrates your ability to perform this job and do it well?
  • Anticipate the questions they are likely to ask and think about your responses.  Don’t memorize your answers but know what key points you want to cover.
  • Prepare your examples to behavioral questions.  Identify the likely skills they will ask about and identify your examples.  Think about how you can explain the situation what action you took and don’t forget to emphasize the results you achieved.  Know what examples you will want to share.
  • Be sure you know how to get there in advance.  Take a test run if necessary.

Photo Courtesy of Sales Force Search

Cardinal Sins when Interviewing

  • Arriving late.  Always know where you are going, allow plenty of time to get there and to park.  Always arrive a few minutes early.
  • Wimpy or tentative handshake.  Demonstrate your confidence with a professional handshake.  Don’t be a bone crusher either.
  • Lack of eye contact.  If you can’t look at the interviewer while you are answering they suspect you have something to hide and they perceive that you lack confidence.
  • Acting like you are not interested or even wishing you were somewhere else.  Demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm for the position.  Employers often report back that the candidate seemed well qualified but lacked a passion for the opportunity.  They want to hire someone who wants to be part of the team.

Send a Thank You Note

If you want to be remembered after an interview be sure to send a handwritten thank you note.  Remind them why you are so excited about the opportunity, thank them for their time, and reference something you discussed.  Employers remember who send handwritten thank you notes.  It makes a very positive impression.




Finding a Full Time Job

Finding a full-time job needs to be your primary focus and priority.  Resist the urge to fall prey to distractions and stay focused.  Set weekly goals and hold yourself accountable.  If you have a friend who is also searching, consider holding each other accountable and offer support to each other.   Finding a job can be a full-time job.   Click here for some suggestions!

When It’s Time to Leave Your Job

How you depart a job leaves a lasting impression on those you worked for and with.  Since you will likely need a reference from that job at some point in the future, you want to leave on as positive note as possible.  It is also an amazingly small world these days and you could easily cross paths with those former colleagues in the future.

Once you have given your notice, here are some key things to do:

  • If you don’t already have up-to-date documentation on your key responsibilities, prepare it as soon as possible so there is time for someone to review it and ask questions while you are still there.
  • Organize and label your files so others can easily find what they need.
  • Review your key responsibilities with your manager and ask if there is someone you should train on various functions to provide interim coverage.
  • Leave all your work surfaces clean.  Don’t leave personal items in your desk when you leave.
  • Be sure you let key people you interact with on a regular basis know that you are leaving.
  • Turn in keys, ID cards, passwords, etc.
  • Participate in your HR exit interview if requested.  It is a valuable opportunity for them to gather information.
  • Thank your manager as you leave for the experience you had there.
  • Clarify how you want to be contacted if they have questions – home email?  Phone, etc?

Be positive and professional from the moment you give your notice until you walk out the door for the final time.  Your efforts will be rewarded down the road by those you worked with and for as you receive positive references etc in the future.

Do you still have responsibility to that employer?  Yes.  You are still being paid by them until you leave.  It is professional courtesy to honor your commitments to the end and leave things organized and documented for the next person in that position.

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Tips for a Successful Interview #1

Great news, from the mountain of applicants for the position, they found your resume and the recruiter has called you for an interview.  Bad news, you are a bundle of nerves about the interview.  How can you survive this process and land the job you want?

Keep Your Perspective

  • Allow yourself to feel good about being selected for the interview.  Clearly they saw something in your resume and cover letter that makes them want to invest time to get to know more about you.  This is great news and should give you confidence.
  • Remember, the interviewer wants you to succeed.  If it is a recruiter they are anxious to find qualified candidates and they can send to the hiring manager.  If it goes well, you’ve made their job easier.  If it is the hiring manager, they want someone who can do the job and that they will enjoy working with.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

  • The more prepared you are for the interview, the easier it will be to manage your anxiety
  • Review the job description carefully.  Have examples of work you have done that demonstrates your ability to perform in this new job.  If it is something you have never done before, share an example of how quickly you learned new aspects of your current job.
  • Research the company and the people you will be meeting ahead of time.  Have specific thoughtful questions prepared that you can ask your interviewer.  Demonstrate that you have done your homework.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before.  Don’t go to the interview on an empty stomach and stay hydrated.
  • Spend time with a friend or family member prior to the interview.  Tell them why you would be the best person for the job.  Before you can convince the interviewer, you need to convince yourself.  Go in feeling confident.
  • Identify sample interview questions and think about your answers in advance.  Don’t memorize them but feel confident about how you want to answer typical questions.
  • Have examples prepared for behavioral questions.  Be prepared to summarize the situation, identify the actions you took and the results of those actions.  You can find sample behavioral questions online for reference.
  • Picture yourself confidently presenting your job-related skills and answering the questions clearly and effectively.
  • Be sure you know where you are going and allow plenty of time to get there.


  • Arrive a few minutes early.  Use the waiting time to collect your thoughts and gather your confidence.  If you get sweaty palms, use the rest room to wash your hands.
  • Treat everyone you come in contact with at the company as if they have the authority to hire you.  You never know who will be asked for input.
  • Greet the interviewer with a smile and enthusiastic greeting.  Let them know you are happy to be there and are excited about the opportunity.
  • Maintain eye contact and listen carefully.
  • Take quiet deep breaths through your nose and exhale slowly through your nose to stay calms and focused.
  • If necessary, admit that you are feeling nervous.  Sometimes it helps relieve stress to verbalize it and the interviewer may have empathy.  Frame it as “Despite all my preparation, I still feel nervous because I’m so very interested in this opportunity.”
  • Ask if you can take notes, sometimes it helps relieve stress to be doing something.  Capture just high level points.
  • Stay in the moment – this is the best place for you to be at this time.  Don’t worry about anything else and don’t worry about next steps.  Stay focused on the interview.
  • Be a confident YOU.  Don’t try to be someone you are not. 

Follow Up

  • Thank the interviewer for their time.  Reinforce your strong interest in the opportunity and ask about next steps.
  • Send a handwritten thank you note within 24 hours.  If the process is moving quickly send an email thank you as well.

Tips for Attention Getting Resumes #2

Tips for Attention Getting Resumes #2

In order to have an opportunity to sell yourself to the hiring manager with an interview, your resume must sell you first.  Your resume needs to catch their attention and show them that you have experience and expertise relevant to this position.

Summarizing Your Professional Experience – This is a critical section of your resume.  Always list your most recent position first.  If you  have had multiple positions within the same company, show the overall dates for employment and then dates for each specific position with the most recent first.  If the company is not well know, include a brief, one-line description of the company to provide context.  Bullet points should focus on your accomplishments in each position.  Why was the company better off by having you in that position at that time?  Do not list your job responsibilities.  When possible, quantify your accomplishments with the impact on the company – increased sales by 20%, reduced turnover 10%, identified cost savings of more than $50,000.  You should focus on the accomplishments that would be most relevant to the employer, not necessarily what you enjoyed the most.

If you are early in your career and your professional experience is limited, be sure to include summer jobs, part-time employments, internships and even volunteer work.  Identify accomplishments in each role.

Focus on Action – Every bullet point under your professional experience should start with an action verb.  If it is a current position, use current tense.  For all prior positions, use past tense.  Action verbs include words such as managed, implemented, designed, reduced, prepared, and many more.  Avoid phrases such as “responsible for” in your bullet points.

Academic Experience – The employer also wants to see you academic qualifications.  If your degree is recent and relevant you can choose to list it prior to your work experience but for most resumes it should follow the professional experience section.  List the school you attended, the dates you attended and the degree you earned with your major noted.  If you graduated with an honors status such as “summa cum laude” you can note that as well.  While you should never list all your specific courses, if you are a recent graduate with limited experience you may choose to highlight a few, relevant classes.  If you were a leader of a student group of were actively involved in campus activities, it is great to include that on your resume but it should be listed separately under activities.  The only time you would ever include high school on your resume would be if you did not have a college degree.

The professional experience and academic sections of your resume are important and deserve careful attention to detail in your preparation.  Ask someone else to proofread it for you to ensure that it is clear.  Avoid company jargon or acronyms.  With these sections complete you are well on your way to a successful resume.

See future postings for more resume tips. Need more tips? Check out Tips for an Attention Getting Resume #1!

Cartoon Via Google

Networking for Job Search Success #2

If networking is so critical to a successful job search, what do I need to do to be a successful networker?

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Networking is Not Asking for a Job.  You should never be asking your networking contacts for a job.  Most people won’t want to talk to you if that is what you are asking for in your request.  You should be leveraging contacts to learn about the companies they work for, to understand their specific role and the qualifications for that role, to explore the culture of the organization and to gain insights into career paths and hiring processes.

Networking is a Two Way Relationship.  Networking isn’t simply what people can do for you.  It should be a reciprocal relationship to be successful.  Think about opportunities to help your contact.  Can you make an introduction for them?  Maybe you can share an interesting article.  Did you attend an interesting professional meeting you can share?

Don’t be Afraid to Ask.  Do not let shyness paralyze your networking efforts.  Start with people you know.  Expand your reach gradually.  If you are a student, leverage that.  Many professionals will give a student a few minutes.  Most alumni will help a fellow alum if asked.  What is the worst that can happen?  Some may decline or at least defer your request but that is ok.  Keep asking because more will say “yes” than “no.

Always Say Thank You.  While it is true that most people enjoy talking about themselves and their careers, they do have other demands on their time.  If they are gracious enough to share time with you, always take time to send a handwritten thank you note.  It makes a very positive impression and helps you stand out from the crowd.

Leverage Linked In.  Linked In makes networking much easier.  The true power of the tool is not just in who you know but who you contacts know.  Search for connections at your target companies or in your desired field.  Leverage your connections by asking for an introduction to their relevant connections.  Expand the power of Linked In by leverage groups.  Look for groups such as your college alumni group or a former employer.  Identify groups based on your career interests.  Groups give you access to an even broader group of contacts and the discussions can be enlightening

It’s Not All about You.   You should never do all the talking in a networking meeting.  You are there so learn so be a good listener.  Have open ended questions prepared to ask you contact to provide insights into your areas of interest.  Do you homework.  They expect you to know something about the company in advance.

Networking for Job Search Success #1 in case you missed it! Click here for Networking for Job Search Success #3.

Is it time for a career change?

So, you’ve been thinking about making a career change.  How do you know it is time to take the leap?  Here are some key considerations.

How do you know it is time to change careers?

  • You have trouble getting yourself out of bed in the morning and motivating yourself to go to work
  • You dread going to work, just the thought of it makes you anxious
  • You get depressed on Sunday night knowing you have to go back to work in the morning
  • You are constantly thinking that this isn’t what you want to do when you grow up
  • The thought of doing this for the rest of your working career depresses you
  • You are frustrated that you are not using certain talents and abilities or not pursuing key interests or passions
  • You have that nagging feeling in your gut that just won’t go away

Is it real or a passing phase?

  • Do some self-assessment exercises to clarify your interests and abilities
  • Get input from colleagues and friends about your strengths and your possible fit in your desired role

Learn more about the career you aspire to before making a final decision

  • Conduct informational interviews with people who are doing the job you think you want, find out what it is really like
  • Is there any opportunity to test what you think you want to do by doing it part time or in a volunteer situation while you keep your day job?
  • Identify what education or certification may be required and determine what you need to do to meet those criteria
  • If you aren’t qualified to take your dream job now, identify what you need to do to quality, what job now would lead to the job you desire?
  • What companies offer the type of job you desire?  Who do you know at those companies for networking?

If you decide it is time for a change, have a plan.

  • Identify target companies and research those companies
  • Identify networking contacts within those companies
  • Conduct informational interviews with contacts in your target companies
  • Prepare your resume and cover letter to focus on your transferrable skills
  • Prepare your pitch of how you will present yourself in networking events and in interviews, explain your motivation for the change and your transferrable skills
  • Identify opportunities to gain needed training or experience while you are searching
  • Use your passion to motivate you throughout the process

We all spend too much time working to be miserable doing it.  Find work that you love and do it well.

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