Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 3 of 3

Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 3 of 3

Question Category: Technical Competence

This is the third in a series of posts about how to best answer interview questions for financial analyst jobs, based on question categories: Education and Work Experience; Goals and Company Knowledge; and Technical Competence.

In the first two posts of this series, we discussed financial analyst interview questions you should expect to tackle in the categories of Education and Work Experience (part one) and Goals and Company Knowledge (part two). To wrap up the series, we will conclude with the category of Technical Competence.

As we mentioned in the earlier posts, interview preparation is key if you want to stand out as the best candidate for the job and advance your finance career. A seasoned interviewer will notice immediately if you are not prepared. Whether you are applying for an entry-level finance position or have a few years of work experience under you belt, do your homework.

Here are some of the questions regarding technical competence that you could face during your interview, along with some tips on how to approach them.

Technical Competence Questions

The interviewer will ask specific questions pertaining to finance terms, methodologies and your industry knowledge. Further, he or she will want to hear how your past experience (work experience, course work, industry involvement, etc.) has prepared you for the job duties at hand and which tools you have used. Some potential questions may include:

General Finance Questions

- What is EBITDA and how does it figure into revenues?

– What is a DCF analysis and can you walk me through how it works?

– What is EVA and in what scenarios would you use it?

– How do you define cash flow?

– What steps would you take to determine a company’s cash flow?

– When would you use a ratio analysis?

– How would you define present value analysis?

– What is a capital market and how does the concept apply to our clientele?

– What methods would you use to value a company?

– Can you explain in which scenarios you would use marginal costing, standard costing and activity-based costing?

– Which profitability models do you find the most accurate for forecasting?

– What impact can accounts receivable and inventory levels have on an income statement?

Questions Regarding Your Experience

- What quantitative coursework did you complete in college?

– Can you describe in detail a case study you completed in school, how you approached it and how the results would inform how you would approach this job?

– What software programs have you used for financial analysis?

– What types of charts and reports are you comfortable creating?

– Can you share a scenario (course work or real) where a company’s credit risk figured prominently into a financial analysis you performed?

– What stocks do you follow and why?

– Can you explain a financial analysis recommendation that you later regretted and what you learned from the experience?

– On a scale from one to 10, how would you rate your technical writing ability?

The interviewer is trying to: find out if you are well-versed in key financial terms and methodologies; learn how much experience you have making financial analysis decisions based on quantifiable tools and theories; get a grasp on how you approach a project; and determine how capable you are at formulating a recommendation based on the data and intelligence you uncover.

Prepare yourself for this series of questions by doing a thorough review of your past course work, case studies and job experience – essentially take a walk down memory lane. Refresh your knowledge of the different skills and methodologies you used, and think about how they would apply to the type of financial recommendations you would need to make if this specific company hired you.

The job description will help you focus in on the areas of expertise that the interviewer is hoping to find in a candidate, so review it closely and be prepared to address how you can excel at handling the specific duties and objectives listed.

There is no doubt that you will encounter a number of questions in your financial analyst interview that we didn’t cover in this series of posts. As we’ve said throughout, if you take the time in preparing for an interview and research the top companies on your list, you can increase your odds of standing out in this competitive job market.

Doostang strives to offer helpful insight here on our blog and offers a number of other great tools for recent finance grads and MBAs. Visit our website to learn more and search for the top financial analyst jobs, today.

Photo source: Shutterstock:

Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 2 of 3

Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 2 of 3

Question Categories: Goals and Company Knowledge

This is the second in a series of posts about how to best answer interview questions for financial analyst jobs, based on question categories: Education and Work Experience; Goals and Company Knowledge; and Technical Competence.

In the first post of this series we discussed how to answer financial analyst interview questions based on the categories Education and Work Experience. As with the first post, we’ll share some of the questions you might expect in the categories of Goals and Company Knowledge, along some tips on how to approach the answers so you make a great impression.

As we mentioned last time, if you want to make it past the first interview, you must take time in preparing for an interview and practice answering frequently asked interview questions. The more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you will feel. So do the prep work and practice hard if you want to stand out.

Interview Questions to Expect by Category

Here are some of the questions you will likely be asked during your interview, along with some tips on how to approach questions about your goals and your company knowledge.

Goal Questions

The interviewer will ask questions about your finance career goals as they pertain to the financial analyst position you are trying to secure, as well as your goals for the future. Some potential questions may include:

– What are your short- and long-term goals in this financial analyst position?

– Where do you hope your finance career takes you in the next five years?

– How much money do you expect to earn in the next five years and 10 years?

– How can your personal career goals help our company achieve its goals?

The interviewer is trying to determine if you are a good fit for their organization based on where you are today and where you intend to be five and 10 years from now. The type of work you hope to do as well as the amount of money you hope to earn should align with what the position in question allows. He or she is also trying to learn how much you know about the company’s goals (more about this in the next section) and if your experience and desire will benefit the company.

Prepare yourself for this series of questions by researching the roles of the financial analysts who currently work at the company. Try to speak with someone who works at the organization and has an understanding of the financial analyst roles, goals and responsibilities to gain some insight. Otherwise review the job description closely, and tailor your answers to align with the duties outlined there.

You can also review the profiles of financial analysts who work at the firm (now or in the past) on LinkedIn to see if there are any consistencies across backgrounds and experience, and highlight any of those qualities that you also offer. Earnings information is pretty easily found online or through word of mouth.

Company Knowledge Questions

The interviewer will ask you questions that are specific to the company to which you are applying. Topics can range from specific stats and history to how your background aligns with the organization’s goals. Some potential questions may include:

– Why did you apply for a position with this organization?

– Why would you like to work for us?

– Can you tell me what you know about our company?

– What qualities do you have that make you a better hire for our company than your competition?

– What experience or knowledge do you bring to the table that will help our company improve or grow?

– What challenges do you expect to experience in this company’s financial analyst role?

The interviewer is trying to find out if you did your homework and took the time to research their organization. They are looking for people who will be passionate not only about the finance industry but the firm in particular. If you don’t show any specific knowledge about the company, its history, goals and challenges, the interviewer will likely write you off. And if you can’t show how you can contribute to the organization’s bottom line, consider that another strike against you.

Prepare for this series of questions by doing some good, solid research about the company and try to answer each of the aforementioned questions specifically. Read the company website from top to bottom, and look for the latest news about the organization and its key players online. Again, arranging to talk with people who work with the firm can really give you an edge. Do your homework.

You can read part one of the series here. Next up? We will address questions about your Technical Competence.

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Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 1 of 3

Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 1 of 3

Question Categories: Education and Work Experience

This is the first in a series of posts about how to best answer interview questions for financial analyst jobs, based on question categories: Education and Work Experience; Goals and Company Knowledge; and Technical Competence.

According to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 236,000 financial analyst jobs in 2010 in the U.S. The job outlook for those seeking positions as financial analysts is also promising, as BLS estimates there will be 23 percent more financial analyst jobs (54,200 positions) from 2010 to 2020.

While this all sounds great, you will still have to contend with stiff competition if you’re looking for a financial analyst position with one of the top Wall Street firms or in a niche industry where there are fewer desirable jobs available. Acing your financial analyst interview is a must if you want to come out on top. And in order to succeed, you must take time in preparing for an interview and practice answering frequently asked interview questions.

Interview Questions to Expect by Category

Here are some of the questions you will likely be asked during your interview, along with some tips on how to approach questions about your education and work experience.

Education Questions

The interviewer will ask you questions about your education, how you spent your time in college and why you chose to focus on finance. Some potential questions include:

– Why did you choose to major in finance (or related degree)?

– When did you know that finance was the right career path for you (and why)?

– How did you spend your time outside of the classroom during college (what did you do for fun, what extracurricular activities did you choose)?

The interviewer is trying to find out if you have a passion for the finance industry. They don’t want to hear about the parties you attended, so if you can tailor your answers to experiences that tie into finance-related activities, you’ll be set to impress – as long as your responses are genuine.

Prepare yourself for this series of questions by asking yourself how your interest for a career in finance revealed itself (a job, a class, a competition, an article, exposure to a thought leader, a game, etc.) to you and how you chose coursework, study groups, finance competitions and the like to enhance your knowledge and feed your passion for the world of finance.

Work Experience Questions

The interviewer will focus on your resume and ask questions about past jobs in general, other entry-level finance jobs, volunteer work, etc. Some potential questions may include:

– Of the jobs listed on your resume, in which position did you feel the most pressure and why? How did you deal with the pressure?

– Tell me about a scenario where you made a mistake or missed an important deadline and how you dealt with it.

– What was the biggest challenge you overcame in a past job and how did you resolve it?

– Which on-the-job duties or experiences have frustrated you the most?

– Why did you leave your last position?

The interviewer is trying to assess your attitude toward the job at hand and what skills you use to overcome challenges.

Prepare yourself for this series of questions by making a list of the key challenges you faced in your work life to date, then think about situations where you can share a positive outcome.

It’s OK to admit that you faced some tough challenges, and even made a small mistake. You just need to show how you turned things around quickly and what skills you learned from the experience.

Most of all, the interviewer is trying to see if you can handle the pressure and do so with a positive attitude. Avoid talking about negative experiences, unless you can show how you turned that negative into a positive.

In part two of this series, we will take on the categories of Goals and Company Knowledge.

Photo Source: Shutterstock

Resources:

“Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Financial Analysts.” Available at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm. Accessed   Nov. 5, 2013.

How to Write a Cover Letter for Entry-Level Finance Jobs, Part 2 of 2: Include the Right Stuff

How to Write a Cover Letter for Entry-Level Finance Jobs, Part 2 of 2: Include the Right Stuff

If you will be applying for entry-level finance jobs or finance or accounting internships in the near future, you should include a cover letter with your application and resume. As we mentioned in part one of this two-part post, writing a cover letter isn’t exactly brain surgery, but it’s important to do some solid research about the companies you are targeting, present the letter in an appropriate style and include a few key items to make a good impression.

In the second installment of this two-part post, we’ll discuss the presentation and content of your finance job cover letter.

If you’re applying for an internship or entry-level position in finance or accounting, your cover letter and resume should be professional in tone. As with any type of career, you need to present yourself in a fashion that reflects the industry you are pursuing.

The finance industry and the people who work for finance companies are steeped in professionalism and old traditions. Your cover letter and resume should reflect this. In addition, typos and grammatical errors can land your application in the trash before a hiring manager even has the chance to read it. So review your cover letter (and resume) closely before you submit it.

You should also “make your case” in one page or less, because most busy recruiters and hiring managers won’t make it past the first couple of paragraphs unless the cover letter highlights key qualities that they desire in a candidate.

Review the job description closely, then include pertinent, quantifiable accomplishments that pertain specifically to the job in question. Candidates seeking out finance careers are plentiful, so you need to look like a star.

It’s also important to stay on point. Achievements that don’t apply to the finance jobs you are considering can typically be left out. Items that need more explanation can usually be presented better during the interview phase.

So what should you include in your entry-level finance job cover letter, and where?

1. Your contact information. If you’re creating a word document, follow standard letter style with your contact information up top and in your closing paragraph. For email body cover letters, contact information in the closing paragraph should suffice.

2. Your current status, the job for which you are applying and a brief but compelling explanation as to why you’re a good fit. You need to make a big bang out of the gate so incorporate these key items in your opening paragraph.

3. Who and what you know about the company. If you have any company contacts mention them here and explain how you met them. Follow up with why you want to work at XYZ Company. This is where your research really comes into play, and it’s a good place to show your passion for the finance industry and this company specifically, which is important.

4. A bulleted list of quantifiable accomplishments if possible. Include specific, quantifiable accomplishments that pertain to the company’s goals, and avoid other achievements that don’t apply to success for this position (too much information). You can derive these stats either from previous work experience, class work, finance case study competitions, scholarly papers, volunteer work, etc.

5. A strong closing paragraph that reinforces why you would be an asset. Summarize your accomplishments here and explain why you’d be a good candidate or asset to the company. Then follow up with the best way to reach you (your contact information as noted above, phone and email address should suffice).

6. Keywords drawn from the job description throughout. Both your cover letter and resume should include keywords throughout that are derived from the job description and are tied specifically to your qualifications. Keywords play a key role in your cover letter and resume making it through applicant tracking systems, so don’t skip this step.

If you’re ready to pound the pavement and find the finance career of your dreams, Doostang can help. We specialize in helping recent finance and accounting graduates and MBAs find accounting and finance jobs at top accounting, banking and finance firms. Visit our website to search jobs and learn about the wide range of services that Doostang offers.

Photo Source: Shutterstock

Sources:

Isaacs, K. “Cover Letter Tips for Finance Professionals.” Monster.com. Available at: http://career-advice.monster.com/resumes-cover-letters/cover-letter-tips/finance-cover-letter-tips/article.aspx. Accessed October 24, 2013.

“2013 Corporate Recruiters Survey.” Report 01. Graduate Management Admission Council, 2013. Available at  http://www.gmac.com/~/media/Files/gmac/Research/Employment%20Outlook/crs-2013-hiring-report-01. Accessed Oct. 28, 2013.

DeChesare, B. “The Investment Banking Cover Letter Template You’ve Been Waiting For.” Mergers & Inquisitions website. Available at http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-cover-letter-template/. Accessed Oct. 30, 2013.

“Example of a covering letter for a graduate finance traineeship.” University of Kent website. Available at http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/cv/covlet.htm. Accessed Oct. 30, 2013.

“Investment Banking Resume;” “Private Equity Resume;” “Hedge Fund Resume.” Street of Walls website. Available at: http://www.streetofwalls.com/. Accessed Oct. 25, 2013.

How to Write a Cover Letter for Entry-Level Finance Jobs, Part 1 of 2: Do Your Research First

How to Write a Cover Letter for Entry-Level Finance Jobs, Part 1 of 2: Do Your Research First If you will be applying for entry-level finance jobs or finance or accounting internships in the near future, you should include a cover letter with your application and resume. Writing a cover letter isn’t exactly brain surgery, but it’s important to do some solid research about the companies you are targeting, present the letter in an appropriate style and include a few key items to make a good impression.

In the first installment of this two-part post, we’ll discuss what you need to do to get a good start, doing the research.

Getting Started on a Finance Job Cover Letter … Research First

Before you start typing, you’ll want to do some research first. It’s crucial that in your finance job cover letter and throughout the interview process you portray your knowledge about and interest in the company in question.

Why? If you want to distinguish yourself from other candidates and vie for the best finance positions and internships available you need to go the extra yard.

In your research, you’ll want to learn about the organization’s goals. This information will come in handy when you’re explaining why your skills and background will help them REACH those goals. In cover letters and resumes for finance careers, hiring managers and recruiters are looking for quantifiable accomplishments.

If you can tailor your accomplishments to the target company’s goals, you can increase your odds of getting an interview, and ultimately the job.

A recent survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) asked employers about their hiring and business goals for 2013. Employers are focusing on efficiency, with 68 percent looking to improve performance and productivity.

In addition, organizations are also focused on growth, with 61 percent looking to expand the business’s customer base. So, start digging.

You can learn a lot about a business by visiting its corporate website and examining recent press releases, videos and blog posts.

But don’t stop there; start working your network (if you don’t have a network, start building one!). Ask yourself who you know, who might know someone “in the know,” at your target companies.

Start Working Your Connections

Next, make a list, and work your connections to get an introduction to people who currently work at the companies you are targeting. Try to get face-to-face meetings if possible, or a phone or Skype conversation, to learn more about the company and its goals. You might also be able to use this person’s name in your cover letter to give it more credence if the person is agreeable.

All of this research may sound like a lot of work (and it is), but it’s worth it. Senior accounting and finance managers are looking for candidates who will contribute to the company’s bottom line; have knowledge of the business’s goals and structure; and would be passionate about working for their firm. Your research and how you demonstrate that your personal accomplishments and background would contribute to the company are necessary if you want a career in finance.

In part two of this finance careers cover letter post we’ll talk about the nuts and bolts – presentation, style and what to include from top to bottom.

Photo Source: Shutterstock

Sources:

Isaacs, K. “Cover Letter Tips for Finance Professionals.” Monster.com. Available at: http://career-advice.monster.com/resumes-cover-letters/cover-letter-tips/finance-cover-letter-tips/article.aspx. Accessed October 24, 2013.

“2013 Corporate Recruiters Survey.” Report 01. Graduate Management Admission Council, 2013. Available at  http://www.gmac.com/~/media/Files/gmac/Research/Employment%20Outlook/crs-2013-hiring-report-01. Accessed Oct. 28, 2013.

DeChesare, B. “The Investment Banking Cover Letter Template You’ve Been Waiting For.” Mergers & Inquisitions website. Available at http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-cover-letter-template/. Accessed Oct. 30, 2013.

“Example of a covering letter for a graduate finance traineeship.” University of Kent website. Available at http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/cv/covlet.htm. Accessed Oct. 30, 2013.

“Investment Banking Resume;” “Private Equity Resume;” “Hedge Fund Resume.” Street of Walls website. Available at: http://www.streetofwalls.com/. Accessed Oct. 25, 2013.

7 Must-Haves of a Wall Street Resume

7 Must Haves of a Wall Street Resume

If you’re priming yourself to score a dream job on Wall Street after graduation, creating a resume that stands out should be on the top of your to-do list. Competition for finance jobs in the Big Apple is stiff today, even if you attended one of the premier Ivy League finance schools.

In fact there are 13.5 percent fewer jobs in the securities industry today than there were prior to the financial crisis, according to a recent report from the Office of New York State Comptroller.1 So what can you do to ensure that your resume makes it to the top of the pile?

1. Follow one of today’s key resume best practices – include keywords. Regardless of your field, if you want your resume to make it to the hiring manager’s or decision maker’s desk, it needs to get through applicant tracking systems and/or be easily found in search engines.

This means you should include keywords that pertain specifically to the finance position for which you are applying. Pull keywords from the job description and include those in your resume and cover letter, then highlight your skills pertaining to these keywords as well.2

Yes, you should customize your resume for each individual job. That’s one way that successful job applicants get to the interview phase.

2. Keep it professional. For graduates who are seeking careers in finance, you shouldn’t be using your resume to show your cute or funny side. You’re going into finance, not art direction or web design. Wall Street is steeped in tradition and professionalism, and finance recruiters want to see resumes that are presented in a traditional fashion.3

This means no pretty paper or wacky fonts. Clean, black and white, period. Consider these financial analyst and investment banking sample resumes from Monster and Street of Walls respectively.3,4

Professional also means no typos or grammatical errors. If you’re not a wordsmith, hire a professional who specializes in finance careers to help write your resume or trade favors with your friend who is majoring in journalism.

3. Start with a bang (albeit a professional one). Once you’ve made it past the applicant tracking systems (or if you have had the luxury of emailing your resume directly to a person), your resume needs to make an impression FAST.

Along with a compelling cover letter, you need to highlight those skills and accomplishments that matter most to the employer (not you) in a summary at the top of the page. The person reading your resume has hundreds more to look at after yours, so if he or she makes it past the top quarter of your resume, consider yourself lucky.

Human resources pros and managers who hire finance professionals will scan your resume to see if you meet the specific job qualifications required, such as an MBA or experience managing a specific type of project. For recent grads with minimal real world experience, highlighting case study or classwork experience that pertains specifically to the job can help keep you in the mix.

This is also the place to show why you’re special. Any significant accomplishments you have achieved, that could impact how you would perform at the finance job in question should be worked into the introductory summary.

4. Include examples of your quantitative and analytical abilities. Wall Street firms want to hire people who know how to handle and analyze large amounts of data. They are looking for problem solvers. Include specific examples from your past jobs, internships or classwork that show how you excelled in these two areas.3

Generalizations have no place in a Wall Street resume. Spell it out.

5. Highlight quantifiable accomplishments. If you have real world job or internship experience in the finance world (or elsewhere), and can show how you contributed to reducing costs, increasing profits, etc. spell out these quantifiable accomplishments specifically.5

Show them the numbers if you want to separate yourself from the pack.

6. Show your passion for the finance industry. Along with your educational accomplishments, how else have you immersed yourself in the financial world? Have you competed in finance case study contests? Do you belong to any finance clubs? Have you helped others with their finances? Have you given presentations or written about finance topics for a paper at school or on your own blog?

7. Education, GPA and the like. This is a no-brainer, but it is a must-have. The school you attended does matter to some firms and hiring managers, as does how well you performed. This is especially true if you’re coming up light in the quantifiable accomplishments section.

Once you’ve created your stellar Wall Street resume, check out the finance jobs available through Doostang. We cater to recent college graduates and MBAs seeking finance careers with the best finance and investment firms on the planet. Visit our website to find your Wall Street dream job today!

Photo Source: Shutterstock

Sources:

1. DiNapoli T.P., Bleiwas K.B. “The Securities Industry in New York City.” Office of the State Comptroller, State of New York, Report 7-2014. October 2013. Available at http://osc.state.ny.us/osdc/rpt7-2014.pdf. Accessed October 22, 2013.

2. Isaacs, K. “Cover Letter Tips for Finance Professionals.” Monster.com. Available at: http://career-advice.monster.com/resumes-cover-letters/cover-letter-tips/finance-cover-letter-tips/article.aspx. Accessed October 24, 2013.

3. “Investment Banking Resume;” “Private Equity Resume;” “Hedge Fund Resume.” Street of Walls website. Available at: http://www.streetofwalls.com/. Accessed Oct. 25, 2013.

4. Sample Resume for a Financial Analyst. Monster website. www.monster.com. Available at http://career-advice.monster.com/resumes-cover-letters/resume-samples/sample-resume-financial-analyst/article.aspx. Accessed October 25, 2013.

5. Meade, B. “Five Top Resume Turnoffs.” Forbes website, Feb. 19 2013. Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2013/02/19/five-top-resume-turnoffs/

 

Top 5 Words Recruiters Look for in Resumes

 

checklistAs job seekers work to perfect their resume, it’s important for them to know what recruiters are looking for. According to CareerBuilder, there are five keywords most HR managers look for on resumes. If job seekers are able to match their experience with these types of skills and experience, recruiters will be more likely to spend time reading their resumes.

Let’s dive deeper into what these keywords mean and how they will set a job seeker’s resume apart from the rest.

1. Problem solving. Job seekers need to display this strength in their resume because it illustrates their ability to approach challenges and solve them. Whether the job seeker is applying for an entry-level position or the C-suite, problem solving is a skill used by every employee. In order to meet goals and fix problems in the workplace, employees need the ability to solve problems effectively.

2. Leadership. HR managers look for leadership experience on resumes because they want employees who possess skills associated with good leaders. Employees need to be able to demonstrate confidence in decision making, good listening skills, and the ability to be a team leader. Employers expect their employees to take initiative and communicate new ideas to management.

3. Written communication. While this skill is underestimated by many job seekers, this is one of the strongest skills HR managers look for. If an employee can demonstrate strong writing abilities, this will give them a better chance of finding a job. The majority of communication between the employees and management is through writing; therefore, employees must show in their resume they are prepared to communicate with top management.

4. Team building. Team building is what helps a company achieve their goals. When a job seeker displays the ability to work in a team, HR managers will see they are able to collaborate with their co-workers to meet company objectives.

5. Performance and productivity improvement. Job seekers should be able to illustrate throughout their resume how they have contributed to the success of their previous companies. Employers want to know how you can improve upon the success of their company and your ability to increase a company’s performance.

If job seekers can demonstrate these keywords and provide concrete examples with experience, their resumes will stand out among other candidates. Recruiters expect to see these types of skills on resumes, so job seekers must be prepared to share their experiences.

Have you used any of these keywords to describe your skills and experience on your resume?

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

How Your Career Can Benefit from a Professional Portfolio

professional portfolio

When you think of a portfolio, you usually think about career fields such as modeling, art and writing. However, it doesn’t stop there. Every professional, no matter if they work in the consulting field or the engineering field, can reap the benefits of the portfolio.

Creating a professional portfolio does not mean that you have to have the perfect looking template with visual images of your past work, but rather that you have taken the effort to show how you have been successful throughout your career. Whether you create a professional portfolio website and submit it with each job application, or you put together a sophisticated binder to present at certain times throughout your career, having a professional presentation of your work will help get you to where you want to be.

Your portfolio can also help you market yourself. While jobs can come and go, your portfolio remains constant. Your experience is what gets an employer to hire you, and a portfolio can back up the claims you make about your skills, accolades, certifications and experience. You are highlighting what you’re great at and offering it up for current and future employers to take advantage of.

It is inevitable that you will end up in the following scenarios throughout your career, and the time you put into making a portfolio will get you positive results:

Job interview

Career professionals stress that there’s no better place to provide proof of your experience, skills and knowledge then a job interview. Employers can look at your resume as a quick summary of who you are as a professional, but they look at your career portfolio for a depiction of each accomplishment you have had. While discussing your experience for each of your past positions, refer to your portfolio and show them exactly you contributed to the success. Everyone can say that they turned around a client’s sales numbers, but not everyone can show it, and you can prove that you can through your portfolio.

A great portfolio also gives off the impression that you are a candidate who is passionate about your career and motivated to succeed.

Reviews at current positions

A career portfolio is not only beneficial during your job search; it can also be useful during performance reviews at your current position. They provide you with a source to look back on to highlight how you have made a positive impact while at your position. You’ll be able to go beyond just saying that you’re a great asset to the team by being able to show and remind your employer that you’ve done certain things that have added to their success as a business.

Salaries and promotions

Often, one of the most uncomfortable parts of your career is when it comes time to negotiate a salary or asking for a promotion. In order to even be considered, many employers ask that you explain why you feel you deserve it, and that can be difficult when your heart is beating a thousand miles a minute and your mind is racing. Many people leave the meeting wishing they remembered to say certain things, but career portfolios prevent this from happening. By using your portfolio as a reference, you’ll be able to provide your employer with an endless amount of reasons as to why you should receive a certain salary, raise or promotion.

 

Making a career portfolio is one piece of advice that you shouldn’t ignore, and not having one may cause you to miss out on numerous opportunities throughout your entire career. Therefore, make your job search noticeably easier by backing up your claims with proof and showing that you are determined and motivated to excel at what you do.

 

Nailing the Interview

interview

 

Know the employer

Once you have an interview it is time to get to know the company that is doing the hiring. Scour their website and any other online presence the company may have.  If you know who you are going to interview with look them up on the organization’s website and LinkedIn.  Familiarize yourself with the company’s goals and values. Look for subjects you may bring up in the interview.

Have your story ready

Once you have familiarized yourself with the employer, distill your qualifications down into several sentences. What will make you stand out from others interviewing for this position? How will the company benefit from your skills or services?

Consider what subjects may be brought up in the interview and be ready to illustrate how you approached similar challenges and surmounted them.

Be human

At this point in the hiring process the employer can choose from any number of qualified candidates. One way to stand out from the rest is to be yourself. Let them see your personality. Relax and smile. Let them see the person they will be spending a large portion of their day with.

Show enthusiasm

If you don’t feel enthusiastic about the job position then you will have a hard time faking it. Even if this is not the dream interview you’ve been hoping for, it is a legitimate opportunity to find employment. When you discuss your goals and accomplishments, do it with enthusiasm. Show some passion. What drives you about your work? How do you feel you are making a contribution to other people’s lives?

Show results

It is not enough to simply list out your achievements in an interview. You need to back up what you say with evidence. Can you quote the numbers reflecting your hard work? Do you have any awards or accolades to speak of? Your achievements become much more credible when you can back them up.

Practice

You’ve heard the saying “Poor preparation promotes poor performance.” The more you sweat in preparing for the interview means the less you’ll sweat during the interview. Go over a list of potential questions you may be asked and develop concise point on answers. Know your weaknesses and your greatest strengths and have a plan to address them.

You’ve managed to land the interview thanks in part to your resume writing skills. By following these interviewing tips you will bring all that effort to fruition by landing that job you’ve been working hard to get.

About the Author:   Aaron Newbold is a communications specialist that helps individuals through the job search process. He currently writes on employment related topics from resumes to online personal online branding for Resume  Edge.

How to Get Your Resume Through an Applicant Tracking System

applicanttrackingsystemAs a 21st century job seeker, it’s important to understand the status quo for resumes: around half of all mid-sized companies and almost all large corporations use some type of applicant tracking system to review them. In other words, a computer is screening your resume way before a human employer sees it. Employers receive so many resumes every day; the systems are simply necessary.

Because so many employers are using these systems, it is essential to write your resume with the applicant tracking system in mind. It’s all about keywords. With that in mind, here are some ways to write your resume for an applicant tracking system:

Do some research.

You need to determine the best keywords for each specific position for which you apply. The best way to narrow down these keywords is research.

One good research method is to insert job postings into a keyword aggregator like Wordle.net. This site creates a tag cloud, highlighting the most frequently-used keywords in the posting. Then you can implement these words into your resume (honestly, of course!).

Another research option is social media. On LinkedIn, for example, you can find other people who might be applying for similar jobs and see what words they use in their resumes. Alter your resume to compete with these people.

Include keywords multiple times.

Once you’ve determined the best keywords for the specific job opening, implement them into your resume multiple times. The more they appear, the higher up you will be ranked. You can’t possibly know how many times your competitors will use these words, so be strategic.

Don’t go overboard, though. You should not repeat full sentences or include keywords out of context. Remember, a human will still be reading your resume at some point, too. Include keywords where they make sense.

Use both abbreviations and full titles.

Keep in mind, a computer is not going to be able to associate an abbreviation with a full job title. It’s important to list both versions in your resume history so either can be caught as a keyword. For example, if you were the Chief Financial Officer, you should spell it out and include CFO in parentheses. Now, no matter which keyword the employer searches for, you will be found in the results.

Use keywords on social media, too.

You should write your social media profiles with the same mindset as your resume. Keywords, keywords, keywords. An applicant tracking system works just like a Google search, so be sure to focus on the keywords in order to be found by employers on LinkedIn.

An applicant tracking system makes employers lives easier, so it’s important to suck it up and take these extra steps in your resume. The right keywords could be the difference in landing your next job interview.

What other advice do you have for writing a resume for an applicant tracking system?

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at Come Recommended.