How to Prepare for Your Next Job Interview

interviewtips

It’s always important to do well on a job interview, but especially in a struggling economy. The market is still tight and there are plenty of unemployed folks looking for work, which means there’s a lot of competition out there. In that kind of environment, you have to give yourself every advantage you can. Do the necessary research and prepare accordingly so the next time your phone rings with an opportunity, you can really knock it out of the park.

1. Plan to Arrive Early
Show up late to the interview and you may be out of the running before the conversation even starts. Get your directions from both Google Maps and MapQuest. If there’s a discrepancy, research it to find out which route is best. Make sure you give yourself an ample amount of time to shower and dress, and a few extra moments of relaxation certainly can’t hurt. Add an additional 15 minutes onto your estimated travel time in case you hit any traffic. If you do arrive early, give yourself a last-minute pep talk and try to relax and get in the zone.

2. Know What to Wear
A job interview is not the time to make a fashion statement or try out your latest trendy outfit. Think conservative in all areas – solid colors, limited jewelry and accessories, and nothing flashy. Your attire should be professional and should not in any way distract the interviewer from your most important feature – what you have to say.

3. Research the Company
A time comes at the end of every interview when the person sitting across from you asks if you have any questions. If you don’t, it’s an immediate red flag. Use the Hoover’s website or Dun & Bradstreet, or go directly to the website of the company to learn more about it. Look for recent achievements or areas the organization is looking to expand. There’s nothing wrong with introducing what you’ve learned during the heart of the interview, but definitely keep a few nuggets in your back pocket for the conclusion. Speak intelligently about the company and you’re going to show that you’re serious about landing employment.

4. Practice Your Responses
If you don’t already know some of the more common interview questions, do some Internet research and get yourself a list. Practice your answers with a friend or even in front of the mirror to sharpen your performance. Just be sure that these responses don’t come across as rehearsed during the actual interview.

5. Carefully Review Your Resume and Cover Letter
Take some time beforehand to carefully review both your resume and cover letter for stylistic issues and grammatical errors. A less-then-perfect resume likely means you can kiss your chances goodbye. If you’re not as well-versed in grammar, ask a skilled friend to help you out.

6. Touch Base With Your References
If it’s been a while since you’ve spoken with your references, now is a good time to check in with them. Let them know where you stand on your employment search and that you appreciate their assistance throughout the process. The last thing you want is for an employer to check references who are caught off-guard.

7. Address Your Red Flags
If your resume has no red flags, you’re in great shape. For most of us, however, it’s important to identify and decide how to address them. For example, if you were out of work for a long period of time be sure to have an explanation prepared. And don’t shy away from these issues during the interview. Address them head-on and make sure you communicate them clearly and confidently.

One key talent you need in order to perform effectively during an interview is self-confidence. Obviously, however, simply being told to “be confident” doesn’t necessarily make you so. Focus on your professional achievements and other successes, and always keep these in mind during the interview. We’ve all got certain talents and assets – it’s just a matter of learning to articulate them during an interview in order to boost your self-confidence, impress the interviewer, and land that job.

What preparation tips do you use for job interviews?

 

8 Interview Clichés to Avoid

The point of an interview is to show off to the hiring manager how wonderful and unique of a candidate you are.  So why would you waste precious time and words answering questions with clichés?  Unfortunately, when put in a nerve-racking situation, people often freeze up or stumble over their words, and these standard lines are the first things that come to mind.  Here are a few clichés to look out for, and some alternate ways to respond:

1. I’m a Team Player

The ultimate cliché, this one pops up in resumes, cover letters, and interviews.  But what does it really mean?  If you’re a “team player” and really want to get this point across, don’t say this line.  Explain what it is that makes you so great to work with.  Focus on your excellent ability to communicate or your willingness to both lead and follow directions.  Talk about a few instances where you have picked up the slack for someone else without having to be asked.

2. I’m the Perfect Fit

Ultimately this is up to the hiring manager.  Instead of wasting your breath telling them this and expecting them to believe you when they know nothing about you, barrage them with examples of why you’re a great fit.  Then they’ll come closer to making this conclusion on their own.

3. I’m a Hard Worker

Aren’t we all?  Again, saying this really means nothing to the interviewer until you provide concrete examples.  Tell them about all those times when you stayed late, turned work in before its due date, anticipated what needed to get done next, etc.  Make the interviewer really believe that you are a hard worker, because just saying so is not enough.

4. I’m Willing to Do Anything

Often this is the road many people have to take, especially when starting out in entry-level positions.  And while it’s great to have that sort of mentality, you don’t want to sound too desperate in a job interview.  And worse than sounding desperate, you don’t want to imply that the job itself is something you’re “willing to put up with” until you advance on to something better.  Mention specific parts of the job that excite you, and instead of focusing on your willingness to do anything, focus on your desire to do these specific things.

5. I’m a Fast Learner

When you say this, Hiring Managers hear, “I don’t know how to do this“. Saying this makes you sound like you are inexperienced, and that you may be underestimating the level of understanding it takes to do the job.

6. I’m Good with People

That’s exactly what the interviewer is trying to determine in the interview. It’s not just about determining if you have the skills and qualifications to do the job. The interviewer is trying to determine your general demeanor and personal skills, so let them see you in action, don’t simply state it.

7. I’m a very Loyal Person

People who say this are usually overcompensating for holding many jobs in the past, but not staying at any particular job for very long. Candidates who say this are typically concerned that the interviewer will think they’ll get bored and leave soon after taking the position. Instead of saying this, stress how you see this potential employer as a long term career path.

8. I really need this job

Some people think it’s a good idea to talk about their personal life in an interview, and how important it is for their family that they get this job. Even if this is true, do not say it. It only makes you look desperate. The less it seems you need the job, the more valuable you seem to the employer, because other employers want you too.

Clichés hurt you not just because they make you sound less credible, but also because they take away the chance to go into depth and provide specific examples of why you’d be a great hire.  Don’t do yourself an injustice by speaking vaguely with a hiring manager – the specifics will get you much farther.

6 Resume Details that Help You Land More Interviews

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Analyst, New York, NY
Data Specialist, Waltham, MA
Investment Banking Associate, San Francisco, CA
Litigation Secretary, Denver, CO
Director of Finance, Los Angeles, CA

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“It’s all in the details.” This old adage also applies to your resume. Getting the details right will land you that interview! The resume is your first impression. Make sure you send the right message by getting the details across in a powerful presentation.

1. Remember the Purpose of the Resume

A resume is designed to land an interview. You have to do the rest of the work in the interview to get the job. Remembering this primary purpose of the resume can help you remain focused on only those details of your work history that will compel the hiring manager to call you for the interview. Think of the resume as a pitch to the hiring manager. Each section has to speak to the needs of the company and serves a definite purpose in selling that message.

2. Omit Irrelevant Information

Be certain to include all necessary details about your work experience, but don’t fall into the trap of including accomplishments from early in your career because you have a sentimental attachment to those achievements. Another old-school approach is including an objective on the resume. An objective is considered irrelevant because it addresses your needs rather than those of the potential employer.

3. Stand Out From the Crowd – In the Right Way

If creating your own resume, avoid using any of the templates available in your word processing program. Templates create the same kind of document that the hiring manager is used to seeing from many other candidates. To counteract this effect, many are tempted to use fancy fonts, colors, and pictures. Resist that temptation! These superficial approaches will not represent the substance you bring to the position (which is what actually sets you apart from the crowd). Emphasizing your accomplishments is the way you want to stand out from other applicants.

4. Toot Your Own Horn

Though you may have a hard time playing up your accomplishments, the resume is not the place to be humble. Be specific about every achievement you bring to the table. These achievements are what will set you apart from the crowd. Details speak to your strengths and also prevent you from embellishing beyond your actual accomplishments. Unique achievements tell the hiring manager why they need to call you for an interview!

5. Go Beyond the Job Description

The job descriptions for most positions share many of the same responsibilities. Every banker, financial analyst, and sales professional has a similar base of duties. Including “other duties as assigned” to highlight your willingness to go the extra mile is not going to set you apart from other candidates. Detail exactly what those other duties are as long as they strengthen your position in the resume. If the additional duties are mundane, you achieve a greater effect by describing yourself as a “motivated team player” in the professional summary of your resume. If the duties are innovative and achieved strong results, then include those details in your accomplishments.

6. Be Specific

Specific details create a picture of your past successes for the hiring manager. Clarity in your resume helps the reader see you in the role of the new position. For example:

Too General:

Seeking a position as a project manager where I could lead effective teams for great results.

Specific & Powerful:

Experienced project manager with diverse leadership skills ranging from green initiatives with LEED compliance to streamlining operations, growing profits, and increasing productivity.

Remember that the details of your resume need to answer the hiring manager’s question of “Why you?” Don’t leave any questions in the reader’s mind that you are uniquely qualified to solve the company’s problems and create success. Get that interview with the right details in 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!

Search Business News to Find a New Job

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Investment Banking Analyst, New York, NY
Marketing Intern, Nationwide, USA
Analysis Group Head, Miami, FL
In-House Editor, Los Angeles, CA
Research Analyst, Denver, CO

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Reading the news with an eye toward your job search can open up unexpected leads and contacts for a new job. The key lies in what you are looking for when you read the news. Learn to mine the news for hints of impending job opportunities and you will be landing a new job before others are even aware of potential openings.

Review the Job Market

To gain a sense of local hiring trends and openings, online job sites are the obvious starting point. However, between the hidden job market and inside employee interest, by the time you hear about openings your chances of getting hired may be quite slim. Information on who is hiring is only part of the picture. Analyze the openings you see across industries as well as specific positions. If you notice there are many openings for a certain type of position, for example project managers, at several different companies, you may be in a stronger position to gain an interview. Thoroughly research the companies with openings and submit your resume with a 3-point plan of potential improvements that address specific concerns for each prospective employer.

Analyze National Trends

To add power to your search, expand your analysis to national papers such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. What you’re looking for in these papers are trends and news of business expansions.  A simple online search for “business expansion” can also provide a game plan for regional and national opportunities. Research global companies to identify possible local expansions. Is Ford opening a new plant? Is Johnson & Johnson rolling out a new quality assurance program? What tech firms are merging? Any of these changes may foretell increased hiring efforts. Put yourself first in line with your keen investigative skills and unique perspective on the hunt!

Business Section Leases and Mortgages

Investigate shifts in local business locations. Businesses signing new leases or gaining new mortgages could signal impending hiring increases. Create a list and begin a cold-call campaign. Follow up with your resume, including any plans you may develop for increasing the company’s client base, quality improvements, or streamlining production.

Identify Small Businesses

Economists consistently tout the importance of small businesses in hiring, though it’s often difficult to find those opportunities. Small businesses may not advertise openings in traditional ways simply to save on time and expenses. Enlist the local Chamber of Commerce or other directories to create a list of local small businesses. Small business owners appreciate innovation and hard work, qualities exemplified by seeking out their business in your job search. Fewer layers of administration also favor the likelihood that you will speak directly with the business owner making the hiring decisions. No HR screening or gatekeepers in lean small businesses!

Create Opportunities

Even if you are able to identify local job options, businesses may not be able to offer a full-time salary. Build your own opportunities by tethering together several part-time options across small businesses. In addition to increasing your immediate salary, you are also expanding your professional network. Each person you meet has the potential to connect you with another opportunity. Your winning attitude can help open that door!

Thinking outside the box has become a trite term, but the approach remains powerful. By reading the newspaper from a unique perspective, you will be leaping ahead of the competition. Distinguishing yourself in how you manage your job search is a great way to show potential employers the value and creative energy you can bring to their company. Mine the paper for opportunities and you will be in a new job before anyone else even realizes the company is hiring!

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!

Use Targeted Strategies to Land a New Job

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Investment Analyst, Boston, MA
Strategy Sr. Manager, SF Bay Area, CA
Investment Banking Analyst, New York, NY
Corporate Development Manager, Burlington, MA
Corporate Banking Analyst, New York, NY

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One of the single most important pieces of advice that hiring managers offer is to be single-minded in your job search. Although it can be tempting to take a “shot-gun” approach targeting any available opening, such a broad strategy is likely to work against you and can in fact communicate desperation. Following a targeted strategy projects confidence that appeals to hiring managers.

Narrow Your Job Search

To create confidence in your approach, identify a single position or “family” of similar types of positions for which you will apply. However counter-intuitive this may seem, you need to focus on the most highly desired positions for which you qualify. Targeting your efforts gives you a clearer focus, increasing your confidence and strengthening the core message in your pitch.

Align Your Resume with Your Target Position

Review your resume and highlight accomplishments that support your proven track record in this targeted area. Your resume must communicate the ways in which you can contribute to the employer’s bottom line. Compare the job description for the open position to your resume to be certain your accomplishments correspond to as many of those qualifications and needs as possible.

Create a List of Potential Employers

Potential employers may be compiled from online job postings, information from your network, or savvy analysis of the local business market. Conduct research on employers for potential openings, projects, and areas of professional interest. Prioritize the list based on factors of greatest importance to you. Then start to work on highlighting your expertise by creating solutions to the company’s challenges that you discovered in your research.

Develop a Plan

Your plan should include the basics of finding a contact to whom you can send your resume, as well as potential problems you can address based on your accomplishments and skills. Outline a link between a potential problem the employer faces, your plan, and your history of specific accomplishments in which you addressed similar challenges. Use your plan to show the employer exactly how you will provide immediate value by actually beginning to work for them before you are even interviewed!

Make a Cold Call

Call the hiring manager to follow up regarding your resume and discuss the ways in which your previous accomplishments, such as saving $100K annually by streamlining production processes, could translate into immediate results for their company as well. With your research on the company, you have an edge by providing specific examples about the value you can bring. Be specific in your examples, whether you are talking about sales figures, cost reduction, or winning Fortune 500 accounts.

Write Your Own Script

Writing down your accomplishments increases your confidence. Following a script can also help you express yourself more clearly on the phone. Review the script a few times to sound natural when talking with the hiring manager. While you may not follow the script verbatim, it can help you remember key points in making a case about your strengths. If you are unable to get the hiring manager on the phone, write up your script as a formal plan to include as an enclosure with your resume and mail it to the appropriate person within the company of interest.

Showing the employer your strengths and drive by addressing company problems before you even interview will distinguish you from the competition. Each contact with the company is an opportunity to demonstrate your skills and expertise. Be certain to take advantage of every interaction to show off your accomplishments and you will land a new job!

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!

Tricky Interview Questions

Analyst, San Francisco, CA
Operations Intern – Summer MBA, Atlanta, GA
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We’ve covered a lot of tough interview questions in past posts, and here we come at you with yet another round.  Sometimes interviewers ask us questions that are more on the tricky side.  It’s hard to know what to say – it often seems the best approach is to tell them what they want to hear, rather than the truth – and sometimes it’s just confusing why these questions are being asked in the first place.  Here are a few examples:

What Are Your Hobbies?

Why is this question relevant to the job you’re applying for, and why would the interviewer care enough to ask this in a formal interview?  Try to look at this question as a means for the interviewer to understand who you are a little better.  If you’re hired, you’ll be absorbed into the company culture, so the company wants to get a more complete picture of you as an individual.  Understanding what you do for fun can help the interviewer determine what your working style might be like.  It can also help them determine how a job will fit into your life, given what you do outside of your work.

How Would Your Coworkers Describe You?

Do you even know the answer to this question?  Could you really provide an accurate assessment of what others think?  This question is more of a way for the interviewer to find out what qualities you most value about yourself, as you likely assume that these are the same traits that others appreciate.  It also showcases how modest or overconfident you might be.  Here you might take the chance to describe some positive interactions you’ve had with coworkers, citing instances where you have collaborated with them on projects.  This will give you a way to back up your answer, as well as to imply that you are able to work well in a team.

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

This question is tricky because it’s hard to tell if you should speak about yourself in five years at that company – after all, you don’t want to appear presumptuous, but you also don’t want to seem disloyal.  And what if where you want to be is in the seat of the person who is interviewing you?  Instead of focusing on what specific position you see yourself in, try to think of things you want to have achieved.  In what areas will you grow the most?  What goals do you have for your career?  After you’ve considered these questions, you can then turn your answer around and talk about ways in which you will be able to accomplish all of this at the company you are interviewing for, speaking about how your growth will be mutually beneficial for you and the corporation.

Some questions during the interview can seem like time wasters – and some are.  But interviewers often have underlying points they’re trying to get at, even if it’s just to see how you’ll react to a specific question.  Try to prepare for an interview as thoroughly as you can and keep an open mind when tackling tricky questions like these.

All the best,

The Doostang Team

What to Include on Your Resume

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Many job seekers feel the need to present a broad view of skills in order to qualify for a variety of positions and want to add in everything but the kitchen sink!  Discerning what to include and what to exclude can be a difficult task.  Don’t despair — here are some points to help:

Don’t Try to Include Too Much Information

Most hiring managers currently aren’t interested in a resume that goes back more than 15 years. In fact, including a lot of significant accomplishments from early in your career could backfire by inadvertently emphasizing the lack of recent accolades. Start by paring down to the essentials.

Each section in a resume has to reinforce your strengths and serve multiple purposes because of limited space. Many readers will not continue because of the time required to sort through the resume.

Package the Resume with Effective Position Titles

Be as specific as possible and consider changing the title as needed to fit the current job search.  With a well-rounded resume you probably won’t need to create an entirely separate resume for each application.  In addition, the broad range of skills can also make you a more valuable candidate.

Compare these two opening titles:  Software Developer vs. IT Professional.

There are pros and cons to the use of each type of title. The more specific title of Software Developer may unintentionally limit your search. However, greater specificity can also give you a leg up on the competition because it helps the hiring manager see exactly what opening your qualifications fit.  The more general title of IT Professional may help you in being considered for a number of positions, although you may stand out less from the competition. If you are applying to a broad range of positions and feel you won’t be able to modify the title for each position, you may be better off using the more general title.

Do Include a Brief Company Description

A brief company description provides a context to help the reader understand your accomplishments and it saves valuable real estate on the resume since you only state it once. Look at the 2 examples below to see the difference between a traditional approach and a powerful one.

Logistics Manager 2010 – Present
ABC Successful Company, New York

Duties included planning daily schedules to achieve production goals. Supervised plant personnel in US and Mexico to maintain on-time delivery.  Balanced budget. Trained and supervised office, plant, and management positions. Responsible for P&L oversight, analysis, and reporting. Increased sales and reduced costs. Expanded business.

ABC SUCCESSFUL COMPANY, New York, New York – 2010 to Present
Global multi-million dollar sprocket manufacturer, applying lean manufacturing principles in 100 factories throughout North and South America.

Logistics Manager
Orchestrate all aspects of daily schedules, remotely managing 13 sites through direct supervision of plant managers. Analyze production to reach weekly targets and maintain budget and delivery schedules. Command full P&L oversight, analysis, and reporting. Utilize participative management techniques to facilitate communication and shared ownership, while developing staff to potential.

How you choose to package your experience and skills is just as critical as your talent and expertise. If a hiring manager is unable to get excited when reading the resume, you are unlikely to get called for the interview. You have a lot of control over how the reader will react to your resume. Make your achievements shine by effectively organizing your resume and you are likely to be preparing for an interview! Good luck and stay positive!

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!

Doostang News March 14 – How to Make a Good Impression on an Interviewer

Associate, New York, NY
Real Estate Intern, Philadelphia, PA
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While you can spend countless hours preparing polished answers, learning how to make great eye contact, and putting together a stellar outfit, one part of the interview that you don’t have total control over is the human element.  For better or for worse, much of what determines whether or not you’ll get the job is how you connected with your interviewer.  If that person doesn’t like you on a personal level, you probably won’t land the position, even if you’re extremely qualified.  That said, here are a few things you can do to make a great first impression:

Use Humor Sparingly

There’s no question that a little bit of humor can ease the tension and make the entire interview seem more comfortable.  But if your interviewer shoots you down with a stern look or a reprimand, your attempt at joking around can turn into a total buzz kill.  The best policy is to stick to something lighthearted that won’t offend someone on any level – after all, you probably know nothing about the person sitting across from you, and therefore you have no way of knowing what types of remarks they would consider to be in bad taste.

Wear Deodorant

This one is common sense. It’s important that you don’t sweat or smell in an interview, otherwise the interviewer will probably rush you out the door in order that they can breathe again.  Make sure to wear something that isn’t too stifling and try not to offer up a wet handshake.  And while it’s crucial to ensure that you don’t smell bad, on the flip side, you don’t want to drench yourself in a perfume that the interviewer will choke on.  Use perfumes and bath products sparingly, since, once again, you don’t know if your interviewer is allergic to – or can’t stand – a certain odor.

Don’t Be Too Demanding

It’s important to inform the interviewer of your job needs during the conversation, and this should come up naturally.  However, don’t get too carried away with making demands about your hours, salary, or office environment.  If you start laying down the law about needing a completely silent work area or a desk next to the window, the interviewer may simply move on to the next candidate who is much easier to handle.

Don’t Be Overly Enthusiastic

It’s important to show excitement for the job in an interview, but if you go through the entire conversation with a giant smile plastered on your face, you’ll come across as too intense, insincere, or downright weird.  You’re interviewing for a job, so try to be serious too.

Don’t Go Overboard with Questions

At some point during the interview, you’ll have the chance to ask a few of your own questions.  It’s crucial to have at least one or two of them ready, and these should be intelligent and relevant.  However, keep in mind that if you start barraging the interviewer with queries – especially if you’re simply asking these to prolong face time  – you’ll probably get on the other person’s nerves.  Asking too many questions can hurt you just as much as not asking any.

Knowing how to behave in an interview is a tricky matter – you want to go in and out with a bang, so that you stand out amidst the other candidates; but you don’t want to go so over-the-top that you offend or annoy.  Probably the best thing to keep in mind is that a job interview is about selling yourself to a company in a professional manner, and that the time to express your individuality and let down your guard will come later.

Good luck,

The Doostang Team

How to Show Employers You Are the Perfect Fit!

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Investment Banking Analyst, San Francisco, CA
Retail Market Analyst, New York, NY
Financial Analyst, Los Angeles, CA
Vice President of Sales, Boston, MA
Financial Analyst Intern, New York, NY

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Observing others in the job search process may make it seem as though everyone else has all the luck in making the right contacts and easily landing a coveted position.  Upon closer inspection, you can just as readily identify many small steps that may help you become one of the elite, landing plum positions in a competitive market. Review the steps below to adopt approaches to carry your job search beyond mere chance and show employers you are the perfect fit!

Clearly Communicate Your Strengths.

Paint a picture of your talents for the employer.  How do you fit into the team?  What talents do you bring to critical projects?  Make a clear connection between your previous accomplishments and potential contributions for the prospective employer and they will understand why you are clearly the best candidate.

Be Assertive and Confident.

Approach companies of interest and inquire regarding openings even if none are listed.  Everyone is aware of the “hidden job market” online, however long before the Internet that same market existed in the minds of hiring managers and CEOs. Letting your interest in a company drive your efforts by initiating contact with key personnel will set you apart from the large pool of candidates.

Keep Good Records.

You certainly don’t want to embarrass yourself by following up with the same person more than once.  This organizational strategy also helps you remember important names and keep track of any personnel movement within and across organizations.  In addition to helping with the current job search, think of each of these individuals as part of your network over the long haul.

Outline Your Job Search Plan.

The spreadsheet of contacts, conversations, and resumes submitted will provide one part of the record while new prospects can make up a separate portion of your plan outlining goals.  By listing each aspect of your plan, not only will you create a comprehensive record of your job search, but you will also feel more in control of the endless string of tasks associated with the typical search. Making the search feel more manageable can help you monitor your stress and energy levels throughout the process.

Know Your Limitations.

Seek professional assistance for parts of the job search that are not strengths for you. It may seem that you cannot afford to spend the money right now, but perhaps you cannot afford not to do so.  If the job search has become so daunting or has drained your resources to such a degree that you feel devoid of ideas about the next step, then you definitely need to seek professional help. Feeling depleted of energy and ideas is a clear indication that you need a fresh perspective to help you create momentum for yourself in the search process.

Re-package Your Skills.

Researching industries similar to your experience or those with comparable positions may help you expand your targeted job search in a productive way.  You maintain the efficiency of targeting while identifying additional opportunities for yourself with a little creative thinking.  Certain skills transfer across industries, such as management, marketing, and sales.  Perhaps you have a solid track record in these basic areas or can describe your contributions to an employee morale campaign as part of your personnel management skills.

As you can see, the road to success is often paved with small steps. By building your confidence with clear goals, a strong organizational system, and key support, you can chart your own path to success. The solid image potential employers see will help you land that job!

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!

Five Reasons You’re Not Getting Job Interviews

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC GetInterviews.com

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It’s a tough market out there. Not only is unemployment high, but the regular flux of the market has stilled somewhat as people hang on to jobs and paychecks rather than seeking advancement or relocation. Don’t make your job search any tougher than it needs to be. Evaluate your efforts to see if you’ve made any of the following mistakes.

1 – Your resume and cover letter are not written aggressively. Most people only capture job duties and responsibilities in their resumes. That’s just not enough to gain attention in these tough market conditions. Your resume and cover letter must be written to grab the interest of the employer or recruiter, plus win high rankings in applicant tracking systems and online resume databases. A great resume is powerfully written with strong industry keywords; it details specific accomplishments and brings in measurements of performance wherever possible; and it is focused and relevant to the targeted position. A poorly written resume can be a significant hindrance in winning interviews.

2 – You are limiting your efforts to answering online job advertisements on fewer than ten job sites. Fishermen know when fishing is poor, they have to cast a wider net. The same goes for job search. If you are limiting your efforts to a few online job sites, you miss out on a majority of the market. A strong job search will include not only big job boards, but also networking, targeted communications, and creative career marketing. Don’t ignore job boards but don’t limit yourself to just online ads for your marketing efforts.

3 – You are not targeting specific companies first. Most jobs are never advertised anywhere. They are filled from within, filled from employee referrals, or filled from prospective candidates whose resumes are already in the company’s database. If you are only chasing advertised positions, you are behind in the race right from the beginning. Generate a list of companies for which you would like to work and get your resume and cover letter to all of them. Build a consistent marketing campaign targeting these companies and build a knowledge base on their operations, their missions, challenges they face, and markets in which they operate. Use this information to market yourself to the needs of the company. In your communication, always speak to how you can be valuable to the company and how you can meet their needs.

4 – You ask your network if they know of any job openings. The question “Do you know of any open positions?” is a yes or no question. Once you get a “no” from your network contacts, you have exhausted your efforts, right? If you feel like you have a limited reach in your network, it is because you are asking the wrong question. You should be asking your network contacts for information about specific companies.  As you work your network, you will build a significant knowledge base that will eventually lead to specific contacts within companies and give you insight that will be valuable in your marketing efforts. Asking for information instead of asking about open jobs also makes networking easier! You don’t put your network contacts in the uncomfortable position of not being able to help. If you have ten different companies you are researching, more than likely your contact will be able to give you some kind of information on at least one of those companies. You actually make it easier for your network contacts to help you!

5 – You are not following up on your efforts. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. You must be a squeaky wheel. When employers get hundreds of applicants for a single opening, the five percent who take the trouble to follow up and keep following up will stand out in the crowd. You want to be in that five percent who rise above the masses. Sure, it’s an extra step and it sometimes feels superfluous, but it is not wasted effort. You are not being a pest or bothersome. You are demonstrating you have an interest in the company and an ongoing interest in being considered for employment. Make some noise and be sure to follow up on your resume submissions.

Job search takes a lot of effort. With unemployment near double-digits, there are a lot of candidates in the market. The ones who get results are the ones who put forth the extra effort to conduct a smart, complete job search.

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!