6 Great Tips to Landing an Interview

 

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The emphasis for most job seekers is on how to clearly communicate strengths to the potential employer.  While that is critical, the way in which you focus on skills, experiences, and talents has to appeal to the needs of the hiring manager and corporation in order to get an interview.  One of the most productive strategies to facilitate this “match” between you and the company is to do a little background research.

1) Research the Company

Use the Internet and local resources to find out all you can about the organization.  Most communities have a business section of the newspaper or perhaps a separate publication. The Chamber of Commerce may also have company profiles.  It’s not just major corporations you want to investigate; it can also be helpful to analyze changes among small, local businesses.  Which ones may be expanding? Which ones are on the decline?  Target your energy toward those most likely to render positive results.

2) Local Networking

Expand your research to look for networking opportunities.  Most papers continue to have local news about social events and the “movers and shakers” in attendance.  Perhaps there are some opportunities for you to become involved in the same organizations and meet these individuals outside the office.  Most sources still report that networking continues to be a job-seeker’s strongest key to opening employment doors.

3) Cold-Calling

Okay, you’ve identified the best potential prospects within your target market.  Now, you must get ready to start calling.  Be organized. Rank your contact list from those companies that are most appealing to those that are least interesting.  Include phone numbers, email, snail mail, and the identified contact person.  Set it up like a log so you can keep notes about conversations, such as the day you called, the outcome, and any follow-up plan.  You don’t want to appear disorganized by calling the same person within a couple of weeks!

Prepare a script for phone calls, including your selling points, but more specifically, have responses ready for potential objections. That’s the beauty of phones – no one can see you’re referring to your notes.

Typical examples of objections include:

“I’m very busy” or “We’re not hiring”…

I understand, however, in researching your organization, I feel I can positively impact your bottom line perhaps without the investment of a salaried position, at least at the outset.  May I send a proposal?

“You need to talk to HR”…

Whom should I contact? I’m happy to provide a resume and an outline of my proposals to improve sales or maximize employee productivity to keep on file.

4) Dropping by

Take a resume and a brief bio of your highlights that align most closely with the organization’s current mission.  Here is where your research pays off.  Brainstorming about potential special projects or ways your unique skill set can benefit the company’s new direction can set you apart.  This approach is an expansion of old ideas about cover letters – showing the company you have gone beyond just “doing your homework” to actually envisioning yourself within their corporate mission.  Companies typically need people with vision and initiative, and they will take notice.

Don’t try to make an impression by leaving your glossy 8×10 headshot, using fancy fonts, and colored paper.  Take a professional approach. Attach your business card and make certain you use your best contact information – which means staying away from anything related to a current place of employment or an informal email address.  Include your bio or project proposals.

5) What is your brand?

Think of yourself as a product. What are you trying to “sell” to the employer? What is it about your “brand” that can optimize the company’s bottom line?  These are points to emphasize in any brief contact you have with the organization.  This can be the brief bio you provide, a voice mail, or an email message, all of which should contain a consistent message about strengths, skills, or that special project you are offering. This is not a time to be secretive, coy, or too concerned about proprietary rights.  If you have a great idea and the company actually usurps it, you have dated documentation of when you provided this to the company.  In that event, you have a very different scenario on your hands.  What you want to focus on is your initiative and willingness to be a team player even before you become a part of the team.  Hopefully, you can lessen the odds of any negative outcome by conducting thorough research that includes some information about the company’s ethics, relationships with staff, and orientation toward innovation and intellectual property.

6) Stay Positive

Keeping up your energy level and a positive attitude are important aspects of your job search, though a bit less tangible.  Be aware of the energy you project when you enter a room.  Even though it can be easy to slip into the doldrums if you have not been able to achieve the results you want as quickly as you would like, it is critical that you maintain a positive attitude.  Perhaps doing research about the company has energized you about new possibilities.  Remember to keep up your exercise program, leisure activities, and friendships for rejuvenation.

Your positive attitude is the strongest asset you can display to potential employers.  If contacts at your target organizations remember their interactions with you in a positive way, you are more likely to get a return call.  Do your research and put your plan in motion to get that interview!

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Financial Analyst / Associate

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Author: Alesia Benedic

Ace the Resume and the Interview!

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

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Think it’s too early to consider questions you will encounter during an interview?  The answer is a resounding “NO”.  It is never too early.  In fact, thinking about questions you will be asked can strengthen your resume and create a consistent impression as you formulate your “brand” for potential employers.

Consider the first impression you want to deliver to potential employers and hiring managers.  You control first impressions by being meticulous about details contained in your resume, and that process can help you develop consistent answers to commonly asked interview questions.  The resume begins to build your brand, reflecting positive impressions of you from very first glance to final reading.

Convey Strengths instead of Weaknesses

Focusing on “duties or responsibilities” emphasizes your reporting to others.  A better presentation showcases your initiative, creativity, and ability to exceed expectations on your own efforts.  A description of your role as an “underling” can diminish the power of accomplishments. Balance accurate job descriptions with a presentation of your skills as achievements to convey strengths.

Present a Progression of Professional Growth

Using a chronological resume provides a progression of accomplishments and professional development, culminating a forecast of the next step in your career.  The progressive professional summary replaces the old career objective with a sense of how your talents can complement the potential employer’s mission and “bottom line”. Past success predicts future contributions.

Don’t Detail Reasons for Leaving Past Positions

Although most interviewers will ask the reasons for leaving your more recent positions, you don’t want to use the limited space in your resume to explain this part of your professional history.  These are definitely answers you want to prepare for the interview, but extensive explanations in the resume direct the reader’s attention away from your strengths. Prepare to provide answers during the interview, but not before.

Ask Pointed Questions About the Company

Appropriate questions can highlight research you have done about the company’s strengths and new directions.  Do not use the interview to explore salary or benefits. Avoid including salary history in your resume as well, so you don’t under-estimate the ceiling before negotiations even begin.

Highlight Unique Skills

Compare your job history and accomplishments to other likely candidates.  What skills are unique and which are considered routine?  Using common software, such as Microsoft Word or Excel, is unlikely to distinguish you from the 100 other candidates.  Analyzing current trends in the field and creating forecasts to help the employer stay one step ahead of the competition, however, are clear strengths that set you apart.

Handling Conflict

How have you managed difficult situations successfully, such as counseling or terminating an underperforming staff member?  Have you facilitated consensus among a diverse team? Quantify these successes in typical results you are likely to produce for the new employer, such as increased productivity or team cohesiveness.

Managing Competing Demands

Multi-tasking is a common requirement in most positions, particularly as companies downsize.  Have you effectively managed and delivered multiple projects simultaneously? What about directing teams remotely? Have you over-delivered despite challenges of tight time-frames and reduced budgets? These are valuable skills that deserve the spotlight in your resume.

Performance under Pressure

Typical examples of this quality include being calm under pressure, bringing structure to chaos, and rapidly responding to unexpected obstacles. Not all candidates bring these high-level skills to the interview. Demonstrating a history of consistent performance despite challenges conveys your value in being able to manage unexpected obstacles by innovating process and procedure.

Turning around Failure

None of us like to think about shortcomings, however interviewers often want to know how you perceive past failures to gain a sense of your own objectivity and ability to grow from challenges and constructive criticism.  Be cautious about how you present these scenarios.  Remember, you are not talking with your best buddy no matter how comfortable you may feel with the interviewer.  Package the “failure” in the context of how you turned it into a success by emphasizing a short time-frame or major results achieved.

Establishing Credibility

Describe how you establish authority as you take on a leadership role.  Do you use the position to create leadership or cultivate respect in leading by example? Do you unintentionally sabotage your authority by being too much of a worker bee?  Is your status as a Subject Matter Expert your basis for credibility?  Each approach creates a different type of respect, affecting interactions with your team.  Review your work history in the context of what kind of leader you have been and what kind you want to be.

Where do you want to be in 5 years?

This classic interview question can provide the framework for your resume.  Your answer should build on your individual career progression by highlighting accomplishments in each position that provide logical steps toward your 5-year plan.  Be certain your plan is career-related. Your life-long goal of being on the pro-golf circuit is unlikely to help get that coveted position you seek. Ideally, your 5-year goals dovetail nicely with the mission of the company where you plan to interview.

Translating the Big Picture Produces Results

Reviewing your answers to likely interview questions and incorporating them into your resume will help you present a consistent brand to potential employers.  Your ability to condense the big picture into a practical presentation of skills and accomplishments provides an example of your planning and communication strengths to potential employers.  These skills can translate into success for you in the interview process, as you translate your big picture into positive results from your resume.


About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!