Whether you are seeking a job with a staffing firm or a Fortune 500 company, the process is pretty much the same. Start by crafting a compelling resume. This will help you identify your marketable skills. Then, before you apply for a job, make sure that your skills match what the company is looking for. If so, prepare an effective cover letter, and send it to the prospective employer with your resume. Lastly, if you get an interview, prepare and practice in advance.
The following tips are guaranteed to help you stand out from the crowd:
- Unless you have more than ten years of experience, your resume should be no longer than one page.
- At the top, type your name in large print and list all your contact information. This ensures that the employer will be able to reach you without trouble.
- Under your name, start with a Summary Statement, which briefly highlights your main skills and accomplishments. Instead of just listing your job skills, describe the benefits and results of your performance.
- Sell yourself. You only have one shot to make a great impression. Showcase your strengths and one or two outstanding skills or abilities. List your education, training, and any relevant awards. For each permanent job or staffing assignment, develop a list of major accomplishments, placing the most emphasis on your recent achievements. Keep in mind that most companies value workers who enhance profits and work efficiently.
- Never list the reasons for termination or leaving a job on your resume. The reader can find negative connotations for even the best reason. You’re far better off explaining employment lapses in person.
- Make sure the resume and the cover letter are error-free. Proofread carefully, and have others proofread them, too. Make your resume understandable by avoiding jargon and slang.
The main purpose of a cover letter is to emphasize your strengths and assets in a way that will interest employers.
- To attract the reader’s attention, the cover letter must be concise and easy to read. Pay attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, spacing, and paragraph length. Address the potential employer by name, making sure that the spelling and title of the individual are correct. A good cover letter should be no longer than a single page.
- The first paragraph should arouse the reader’s interest. State some specific knowledge you have of the reader’s business, or comment on a timely issue relating to the company’s operation.
- The body of the cover letter should explain what you can do for the company. Present facts that will be interesting and that accurately describe your assets and qualifications. Your prospective employer will be interested in your ability to make or save money, conserve time, and effectively assume and delegate responsibility.
- The last paragraph should request action. Courteously request an interview, and thank them for their consideration and time.
- The letter should end with the formal salutation. Below the salutation, type your name, and then add your signature.
- The day before your interview, call and confirm the date, time, and location of the interview. Make sure you have the employer’s phone number or email in case you must call due to unexpected circumstances or emergencies.
- Clear your calendar. If possible, keep your schedule free of any other commitments. The interview might run over or you could be asked to stay longer. Explaining that you have to be somewhere else could create an awkward situation.
- Say their names correctly. If you know the names of interviewers in advance, confirm the pronunciation and spelling.
- Be on time. Don’t arrive more than ten minutes early and, most important, do not be late. Arriving late not only labels you as rude, it also makes you seem unreliable. If unforeseen circumstances arise and you must be late, do everything you can to call ahead of time.
- Dress to impress. If possible, find out in advance what attire works. If you’re still not sure, wear a suit. There’s no such thing as overkill when dressing for an interview.
- Let them know you’ve arrived. Walk up to the receptionist, smile, shake hands, introduce yourself, and state that you have an appointment.
- Turn off your cell phone, or leave it in the car.
- Drinking, eating, smoking, and chewing gum don’t work during an interview. Unless the interview is scheduled with a meal, nothing should be in your mouth.
- Prepare a short information statement. Be ready to answer the dreaded question, “Tell me about yourself and your background.” Your statement should include some information on the types of companies and industries for which you have worked, your strengths, your transferable skills, and your own personal objective for this job. Practice saying this statement until it feels natural.
- Be prepared to talk about your successes and experiences. The employer will want to find out about your past experience—successes and failures, your work ethic, and your track record.
- Be able to amplify every item on your resume.
- Be nice. Everyone you meet during your interview—from the receptionist to the interviewer—should be treated with respect and courtesy. The receptionist might not be conducting the interview, but his or her opinion of you might be solicited.
- Follow up. Send a thank you letter within a day of the interview. Provide any documents that might have been requested, such as references, an employment application, or samples of your work. A few days later, call to express your continued interest and to see if you could offer more information.