Looking for a new opportunity and career is a fun undertaking that can occasionally be met with challenges. I am here today to help you not only get the interview, but get the position you have your eye on!
To make things simple, I am going to break the process down into a few easy steps.
Step 1: Prepare Your Resume. The resume is typically your first opportunity to show your future employer who you are. First impressions are key, so ensure that your resume is well written, with an emphasis on results. This means you need to spell out your successes not just tell people what your day to day duties included at your current/former positions. Opinions vary, but I will always advise following each position with a bulleted list of accomplishments. For example, instead of just saying that you assisted customers with concerns, a you could state that you successfully assisted customers find resolutions and maintained above the company standard for customer satisfaction ratings. You must be honest, so if you do not have metrics, do not make them up, but use them where you can. It is all about what you have been successful at mastering in prior positions to prepare you for your next one. Please be sure to have someone else read your resume for misspelled words and grammatical errors. Attention to detail is important in almost every position, and your resume must reflect that you are able to handle that responsibility. A resume with errors does not convey expertise. Lastly, keep in mind the position you are applying for, and ensure that you emphasize past experience that lends itself to the position you are considering.
Step 2: Getting the Interview. Now that you have applied for the position, the waiting game begins. While being too aggressive can be a turn off, I do recommend if you have access to the contact information of the hiring manager, that you send an email. A well written email letting them know you have applied, attaching your resume for reference, and including a few points of why you are interested and why you think you would be a good fit is an excellent step to take. I once had a candidate send a handwritten note with a tiny shoe to my office, stating they were just trying to get their foot in the door. Considering this position was extremely marketing heavy, this was a brilliant move. As a marketing associate, we would expect candidates to be memorable and creative, and they were already showing us that they had that ability. Think of positive ways you can make yourself stand out and get the interview.
Step 3: Dress for the Job You Want in the Future. The CEO of a company I worked for was a very wise man and was very generous with his wisdom. He always said that you should wake up every morning and prepare for the position and place you would like to be in five years from now, and not just make it through the day. Along those lines, you need to dress for the job you want five years from now. Be professional and if you can, wear a suit. It is also important to be conservative in your attire – nothing too tight or low cut. I know many consider this antiquated, but I promise you it is noticed and, more than anything, it is a sign of respect. It shows the hiring manager you take the interview seriously and want to be professional.
Step 4: When interviewing, confidence is Key. The first recommendation for any interview is to always make sure that you know a good bit about the company, and prepare a list of questions. Questions show engagement, let a hiring manager know that you have done your research, and you are taking the opportunity seriously. When asked questions, it is ok to take a moment to compile your thoughts. You need to answer directly and be well spoken. If you do not have the particular experience they are asking about, relate it back to something you have done. For example, if you have a lot of customer service experience and no sales experience and are asked a sales question, relate this back to customer service by showing how your excellent customer service skills enabled you to retain a client (be specific and use specific examples), and that these skills will make you more successful in a sales position. Be confident in your skills and make it a point to mention things you have done extremely well in the past. During the interview process you have to be your own cheerleader. This is sometimes forgotten, and it is critical. No one wants to hire someone that isn’t sure if they will do a good job.
Step 5: Follow Up. I am going to let you all in on a little secret. There have been two instances in my career where I later found out after being hired that I was in close competition for the position and one of the reasons I was selected was because I followed up with a thank you email after the interview. It is not that hiring managers have to be thanked for the interview. It is because I have always been in a sales/marketing/human resources field, and following up is a big part of any position I have had. It also shows follow through, and any manager wants to know that you are going to manage your job roles from start to finish. I could write pages about this, but instead will implore you to please, please, pretty please follow up with a quick note after the interview.
It is also a great time to mention things that you thought of after the interview. After a particular interview, there was one question that I did not feel I answered well. When going to bed that night, I thought of 50 things I could have said that would have been better. In my follow up email the next day I mentioned the question and let them know that I had some additional thoughts, letting them know other ways I would address the problem they gave me. That hiring manager let me know how impressed they were that I continued to think of solutions, and wanted them to know additional solutions I had come up with. The handy dandy follow up email gives you a tool to continue the interview by sending a quick thank you and letting them know any additional points you would like to get in.
While there is a lot of competition out there for any job you may be interested in, I promise if you follow these steps, you will be closer to landing the job you would like. So prepare that resume, be memorable, dress for success, and take the next step in your journey confidently. You have got this!