Choose the Right Format
Are your current job title and responsibilities marketable toward your new career objective? Are you trying to secure a position similar to your current job or conducting a transition search?
Generally, if you're seeking a position that's considered the next logical move up the organizational chart - where your current job title and skills are marketable toward the desired position - a chronological resume is best. If you're conducting a transition search, where your current job title and skills are not directly applicable to your objective, a skill-based or functional resume likely will be most effective.
Focus on Appearance
While many resumes are submitted electronically, it's important to have a finely tuned and polished paper resume to take to the interview. To this end, consider the following resume tips on appearance:
- Don't crowd information onto the page; use ample margins and subheadings, thereby increasing readability.
- Proofread your resume several times before the final draft is printed. Have someone who knows you well review your resume as well.
- Use off-white or white textured bond paper. Never use colored paper.
- When you have several years' experience, your resume will probably extend beyond one page, but remember:
- Always begin page two with a major subheading.
- Only use two pages if the material is meaningful and marketable toward your objective.
- Don't exceed two pages.
Job Interview Preparation
In addition to bringing extra copies of your resume, at least three professional references, a list of questions about the company and the position, and a pen and paper to the interview, you'll want to follow these job search and interview tips.
Do a Pre-Interview Check
Review your resume, the job description and the company's website.
Arrive at the Interview Relaxed
If possible, do a dry run so you know how to get to your destination. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early to complete an application or other paperwork.
When you Arrive, Introduce Yourself to the Person Greeting You
Always treat company personnel with respect. This is the first impression you'll make.
Be Neat and Accurate When Completing the Application
Don't write "See Resume" anywhere on the application.
Use Strong Interpersonal Skills
When you meet the interviewer, smile, introduce yourself, use a firm handshake and maintain good eye contact.
Develop Answers to Difficult Interview Questions
- Tell me about yourself.
Sum up your resume in 15 seconds. You graduated with a degree in ___ and earned a graduate degree in ___. You’re career-oriented and passionate about the ___ field. You have ___ hours of applications-based experience in the areas of ___ and ___. When asked to tell about yourself, present your portfolio (if you have one), explaining how it demonstrates the positive combination of education and skills needed for the position. Also, sell your soft skills - leadership, communication, organization and time management - and prove these skills through examples; don't merely offer an opinion of yourself.
- Why should I hire you?
Approach this question as you would if asked to tell about yourself. Reiterate your strengths, your interest in the job and the company, and why you'd fit well into the organization.
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
During your job interview preparation, review your job-related work experience and soft skills. Prioritize the skills most applicable to the job for which you're interviewing. When discussing strengths, talk about your top two or three. Be honest about your strengths. Spin a weakness into a positive. Offer an example of a skill you know is marketable to the job and explain steps you're taking to enhance your performance in this area. For example, in sales it's important to be both adept at listening and aggressive in closing the deal. Thus, mention your strength in closing deals and steps you're taking to improve your listening skills. Showing that you know listening skills are important and are taking action to improve will be viewed as positive.
- In what ways can you contribute to this company?
This question provides an excellent opportunity to sell yourself (i.e., reiterate your strengths) and for the company research you did to pay off. Relate your strengths to the company's mission, which you should have found during your job interview preparation. You might also discuss how you'd instantly become a team player dedicated to making positive contributions from day one.
Develop Questions to Ask During the Interview
An interview is a two-way process. You need to know as much about what the company has to offer as the interviewer needs to know about you. Ask questions that will provide the information you need to thoroughly assess the job and the company. Questions might include:
- What are the day-to-day responsibilities and major accountabilities of the position?
- Why is the position open?
- How would my performance be evaluated?
- To whom do I directly report?
- What are some challenges I might encounter in this position?
- What do you like most about the company?
- What are the company's plans for growth?
- What are some current issues and challenges facing the company?
- What is the typical career path for someone in this position?
- Is there a formal training program?
- How does the company encourage and support professional growth?
- What characteristics should a person possess to succeed in the company?
- How does this position interact or relate with others within the company?
Post-Interview Job Search Tips
Evaluate Information Gathered in the Interview
While the interview is fresh in your mind, jot down your answers to such questions as:
- Will I be developing as a professional?
- Do the organization's philosophies and values match mine?
- Are there opportunities to advance within the company?
- Would I like the daily responsibilities of the job?
- Are the expectations for the position realistic?
- Could I work well with my manager and learn from him or her?
- How will the demands of the job (hours, required travel) affect my family/lifestyle?
Soon after the interview, it's critical that you send a brief note to everyone with whom you spoke, thanking them for their time and reiterating your interest in the company. The thank you note is not a vehicle by which to remarket yourself, but rather an opportunity to further your relationship with a potential hiring manager by reinforcing your understanding of the position and your ability to excel in the role. This letter also allows you to demonstrate your communication skills. Snail mail or email: which medium is best for sending thank you letters? Either is fine. Use your best judgment as to which method best fits the corporate culture.
Be sure to call your references and inform them of a possible contact from the company. Tell your references the attributes the company is seeking, and ask that they try and reinforce your strengths in those areas.
If you've used an executive recruiter, call him or her to obtain feedback on the company's reaction to you. However, never tell a headhunter if you've sought employment at a company without using his or her services. Independent recruiters work for themselves, not for you, and are compensated based on placements made. By letting recruiters know of an open position in the marketplace, you've encouraged them to refer other candidates to the position, thus increasing your competition.
The Job Offer
If a company extends a job offer, accept or reject it within 48 hours. Asking for more than this reasonable period of time may encourage the company to continue interviewing other candidates, which could possibly lead the company to withdraw its offer to you. Nothing is official until you formally accept the job. Therefore, begin evaluating the job and the company the minute you begin the interview. Don't wait until an offer is presented.
Salary Research & Negotiation Tips
Salary research relevant to the industry and type of position you're pursuing is a critical part of the job search
process, so digging into salary info of course makes our list of job search tips. Many factors affect compensation, including the following:
- Type of employer
- Salary range established by the company for the position
- Your current compensation
- Company size
- Benefits offered
- Corporate philosophy
- Competition in the field
- Geographic location
- The skillset you bring to the job
To the extent possible, find information that correlates with your education and experience level. Also, be sure to:
- Consider cost of living when comparing positions in different geographic areas.
- Look for similar job listings that mention salary range.
- Review business and trade journals, and contact professional associations.
- Ask your networking contacts Opens a New Window. what their companies pay employees with your experience
Learn About Salary Negotiations and Fair Compensation
An abundance of helpful salary information is available on the Internet, but be sure to use this salary research merely as a benchmark.
- Never cite a salary survey when negotiating your own compensation.
- When negotiating salary, ask what range of salary the company is prepared to pay for the position. Then be prepared to demonstrate how you will add value to the team (initial observations and recommendations, professional experience, educational background) to earn an offer at the higher end of their range.
- If asked what you currently make, be honest. It's a legitimate question. If you try to avoid answering directly, you may reduce your chance of securing the job offer.
- Let the company make the initial salary offer. After this, either accept the offer or formulate a salary negotiation strategy. Such salary negotiations can be risky, so consult your career services advisor before attempting to negotiate.
- Salaries cited in many surveys are often just median figures, meaning half of those surveyed make more and half make less.
Want to learn more? Talk to your career advisor or visit the following sites for salary research and ranges: