The Paper – Resumes and Cover Letter
- Hiring managers often receive hundreds of resumes for each open position. You want to stand out from the crowd in a positive way.
- Always include a customized cover letter. Don’t expect the hiring manager to review your resume and think about how your experience relates to what they need. Demonstrate the value you add by preparing a customized cover letter that clearly identifies how you can address their business needs. It is about them, not you. Use key words from the job description. Make them want to talk to you.
- Resumes and cover letters must be flawless. A typo or grammatical error gives them a easy excuse to move you to the no pile if not directly into the trash can. Proofread carefully and have someone else review it for you with fresh eyes.
- Be sure your resume is accomplishment focused not a list of job responsibilities. Demonstrate what value you added to the company by being in that position.
- Take the paper to the next level. If you are one of hundreds in the review pile, the odds of being selected for an interview are slim even if you have great qualifications. Use your networking skills to build a network within your target companies. Then, when a position becomes available, ask your contact to share your resume and cover letter with the hiring manager. The manager is much more likely to spend time looking at your resume and cover letter when it is shared by a colleague. Increase your chances of being seen by leveraging your network.
- The goal of your resume and cover letter is not to get you the job but to get you an interview. Make the hiring manager want to talk to you.
Do Your Homework
- Research the company in advance, check out their website, recent press releases, business databases such as Hoovers, etc.
- Prepare questions in advance that you want to ask your interviewers
- Also identify questions you can ask your network to learn more about the company, the industry and the area
- Distinguish yourself with your outstanding preparation
Leverage Your Network
- In additional to using your network to get your resume into the short pile, they can be a valuable source of other insights. Very important to identify contacts in the new area who can answer your questions about the logistics and specifics of the company and the local area.
- If you have contacts in the company, learn more about the company, the culture, their hiring process etc.
- Leverage other contacts in the area to learn about the reputation of that company in the business community, identify any key competitors
- Get as much “inside scoop” as possible in advance
Interim Step – Telephone Interview
- Many companies insert an interim step between the paper input and the live interview. They conduct a phone screen or phone interview prior to selecting candidates for in person interviews.
- While you have the advantage of having notes if needed, you lose the benefit of facial expressions and body language. You need to convey your personality and passion without any visual cues.
- You also can’t pick up on the interviewer’s body language so it is much harder to maintain the pace and flow of the interview.
- Stand up while you are on the phone. It gives you a stronger voice. Have a small mirror by the phone to remind you to smile. It shows in your voice if you are smiling. Stay engaged and focused. Use all your best interview techniques. Execution is critical since you don’t have the added impact of visual.
- Send a thank you note. It makes you stand out from the crowd.
In Person- The Interview
- If at all possible, arrange to do the final interview in person. It enables you to put your best foot forward and to better assess the chemistry with the hiring manager and others on the team
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. Research the company. Check their website. Read recent business press. Use resources such as Hoovers. Talk to people in your network who know the company. Google the people you will be interviewing with. The more prepared you are the more you can relax and be yourself in the interview. Prepare questions to ask in advance. Think about your responses to common interview questions. Think about examples you can share for behavioral questions. Clearly identify the three most important things you want them to remember about you.
- Arrive a few minutes early. Be sure you know in advance where you are going and where to park. Do a trial run if necessary.
- Dress professionally and conservatively. Your best suit, polished shoes, impeccable grooming etc. Make the best possible first impression.
- Bring a pad folio so you have the questions you want to ask as well as an opportunity to take notes. Bring extra copies of your resume just in case it is needed. Be prepared with a list of references just in case you are asked.
- Be yourself. Let them see the person behind the resume. Your personal brand should be consistent across your cover letter, resume and interview. Answer questions honestly and thoughtfully. Give them strong examples. Show how you can add value to the company and help solve their business problems.
- Focus on what you can do for them not what they can do for you.
- Always thank the interviewer for their time and demonstrate your sincere interest. Be sure to follow up within 24 hours with a handwritten thank you note. Customize the note by referring to something you learned or discussed and again confirm your interest. It can clearly differentiate you form the crowd and failure to send a note could cost you the job with some managers.
Official Interview by Phone
- In an effort to manage both time and expense some companies will conduct the formal interview by phone. If they request a phone interview, ask if it is possible to do it via Skype. That way they can see you and you can see them. It is not as engaging as a live interview but it is huge improvement over phone only.
- Some companies are also utilizing technology to conduct video interviews.
- If you have a phone interview with the hiring manager and the signals are indicating that it is going well, you may want to ask if it would be possible to schedule a phone conversation with colleagues to the position. It shows your interest and gives you a chance to get further insights into the job itself and the team you would be working with if hired. Fit is such an important component that it is important to interact with as many people as possible.
- Utilize all the points above to keep focused, engaged and smiling.
- Don’t forget to distinguish yourself with handwritten thank you notes to anyone you interview with even if it only by phone. It makes a difference.