In today’s global economy, you must be prepared for periodic shifts in your career and a repeated need to retrain. Are your training, experience, resume, and interview skills good enough to reel in the job you seek? Within a few seconds of an interview, a Human Resource professional knows whether they are interested in a job applicant.
Career changes are usually challenging. Even if you are fortunate enough to be shifting jobs or even careers willingly, you will need to invest considerable time and energy. Launch the process by researching all aspects of the job you are seeking. Next, ask yourself, "Do my skills and experience match my industry's standards? Determine how your profile compares to those of competitors...and to the expectations of potential employers. Obviously, you cannot ignore gaps you find in your knowledge and experience, so consider individual study or even short-term institutional retraining to overcome your deficiencies.
Research likely employers. Examine leading firms in your industry as well as those large enough to have a department that relies on your skill set. Also access your social networking data bases, your address book, and email contact lists for anyone who might be able to help you expand your list of possible employers. Remember that you will need to alert contacts if you have not informed your employer of your desire for a career change. This begs another question--Are there opportunities you should consider within your current employer's organization?
Don't forget to research yourself. Run a Web search on yourself--including social media and your credit rating. Where possible, correct errors you find and change or eliminate social networking sites that contain inappropriate information or images that a diligent Human Resources specialist might find. Be prepared to answer any questions that might arise about your public persona that could be raised in an interview.
As you review your research, determine whether your skills, personality and work style are in harmony with the needs and goals of the employers you are considering approaching. And, since it can take a long time to find a job by yourself, you may decide that it may be cost-effective to hire a headhunter.
Knowing you must satisfy Human Resource [HR] specialists prior to getting a job interview, ensure you follow all procedural requirements for submitting your resumé, curriculum vitae [CV] and/or job applications.
Create a summary of skills, work history, education, training, awards, and your community involvement. Create a master list of life experience in reverse-chronology layout. This can be updated periodically to help generate personalized submission materials as distinctive job opportunities arise.
Prepare a one or two-page reverse chronology resumé for each employer. Since a cover letter or application form will allow you to state your goals, open your resumé with a list of the skills and unique knowledge you possess that parallel those required for the position you seek. You can use sentence fragments, but avoid abbreviations, acronyms, and jargon unfamiliar to a generalist in the HR department.
Write clear cover letters when possible for both hardcopy and electronic resume submissions. Express knowledgeable interest in the employer. Conclude by saying you will call to verify receipt of your materials and to learn if further information is required.
Prepare samples of your work. When being interviewed, be prepared to tangibly demonstrate your skills. Show the difference between you and the next applicant with a presentation of your creative and technical abilities. Even "dummy" examples will show your ability with letters, forms, reports and promo pieces.
Proofread and Review. Run software spell-check repeatedly; determine whether industry-specific jargon can be replaced with generic terms HR staff will understand easily. Have colleagues plus non-specialists review all of your submission materials.
Quality control is most important in this phase of your job search! Print everything on quality printers or copiers, for hardcopy mailings or personal delivery. Off-white paper is acceptable, if it has high reflectivity. Use plain linen paper without artwork (unless you have a personal logo) or a screened background that can prevent easy reading. For electronic delivery, a PDF file [Portable Document Format] is usually acceptable, but many government agencies and large companies insist job applications be executed through website forms, or they may require a plain text layout in ASCII [American Standard Code for Information Interchange].
Despite an employer’s stated needs or evident corporate style, present yourself professionally. You can remove a tie or jacket to demonstrate compatibility with a casual work environment, but you have only one chance to make a first and best impression! If the firm is noted for staff dressing in aloha wear, or even T-shirts, you could put a jacket over a casual shirt or blouse that is artistic and might include their corporate colors. [See Wearing Your Brand and also Empowering Bios for further career-enhancing information.
~ Eat a nourishing, light meal before interviews and drink enough water to ensure alertness, without a need for awkward trips to a restroom. Have fresh breath and clean hands.
~ Carry copies of the job listing, your cover letter and resumé or CV, plus two pens and a pencil, and examples of your creative and technical abilities. Be prepared to leave copies of sample materials, if you are not concerned about copyright issues.
~ Be focused, confident and respectful; follow directions. Use good posture. Shake hands firmly, but not hard. Smile. Make easy eye contact. Listen. Speak in a well-modulated voice; rephrase difficult questions. Show active interest with opening remarks demonstrating research of the firm. Ask a few questions—NOT about salary or benefits. Interviewers will specify aspects of employment, like pay and benefits.
~ DEMONSTRATING INTEREST IN A FIRM IS MORE THAN DEMONSTRATING GOOD MANNERS! It is useful to make significant contacts. Sending post-interview thank-yous affirms your interest in a firm, which can help you in future hiring opportunities...and even referrals to other firms. Even if you do not get the job you seek, each contact expands knowledge of your industry and introduces potential colleagues. So, go beyond the polite handshake and take the time and effort to write a sincere thank you card. Finally, if you are young, or shifting fields, a sequencing of lesser jobs can help you reach your goal for the one that will compensate you fully for the varied skills and talents you possess.
INTERVIEWS ARE STRESSFUL...
Practice interviewing with a full-length mirror...or a friend!
Then, apply for a job that you don't want...simply for the experience...
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