If you are entering the workforce this year, you picked a good year to graduate. Studies show that this year’s crop of college graduates will have more jobs to choose from and a lower risk of post-college unemployment than their peers did last year, or the year before that.
But just because there are jobs to be had doesn’t ensure you will get the job you want most or the salary you are counting on. To swing that, you need to make sure you stand out from the pack in a big way.
These nine interviewing tips can make the difference between simply being employed and being offered the creme de la creme of new hire job opportunities.
Get your contact information in order.
If you were a recruiter instead of an applicant, you would likely be shocked at some of the unprofessional things recruiters see and hear during pre-employment screenings.
To make sure you come across as taking the job opportunity seriously, here is what to do:
– Make sure your cell phone rings through to a professional voice mail message.
– Ensure your email address is simple and professional-sounding.
– Scrutinize your resume for contact information typos!
– Spend a day reviewing your social media feeds and deleting (or preparing an explanation for) anything potentially embarrassing or incriminating.
– Then change all your social feed settings to “private.”
– Post a professional profile photo for your gravatar and all social feeds.
Consider creating a short applicant video.
There are two main reasons this could work to your favor with recruiters:
– First, you get to sell yourself in a format that is as close to meeting you in person as social media permits. The recruiter won’t just be reading a resume or reviewing your history online. They will meet YOU, look in your eyes, see you smile, hear you explain in your own words why they should interview you.
– Second, the ability to create a short, compelling, high quality video clip to sell yourself as an applicant speaks well of your abilities and skill set as a potential new hire. Social media skills are highly prized in today’s global e-marketplace and your video clip will show clearly that you have these skills.
Spice up your resume.
If you decide to go this route, you will also need to maintain another resume version that is plain text and suitable for transmitting via email or into cut-and-paste online application forms.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have another unique resume to wow recruiters with. For example, you could create a resume reformatting your prior internship, committee, volunteer and/or job experience into case studies. Here, your goal would be to study the requirements of the position you are applying for, and show how skills you have acquired in other roles can translate into success in the new role.
If you decide to combine tip 2 and 3 here to create a video resume, be sure to:
– Keep it short and sweet.
– Make sure it is something you want friends and family to see as well.
– Take a creative approach (i.e. no just reading your resume on video).
– Look professional and well groomed.
Format your look for the position you want.
If you are seeking a career as a movie makeup artist or tattoo designer, it pretty much goes without saying that you can get as creative with your personal look as you want to do.
But if you want to land a cushy accounting or finance job that could eventually lead to a corner office, it is important to keep office culture in mind. This may mean cultivating a look that will work well in the industry you want to work in.
It can be a difficult transition to go from the freewheeling days of young adulthood and college to a workplace where people of all different ages and career stages come together. But keep in mind that if your goals include working in a field where purple hair or neck tattoos might be distracting or off-putting to recruiters, bosses, clients or others, you either need to change your career goals or change your look.
Don’t underestimate the power of a smile.
Your personality will either be a fit with the company you are applying for or it won’t be. But not every recruiter will be plugged in enough to corporate culture differences within each department to tell the difference. So all you need to do to get your foot in the door is to convince the recruiter you fit in.
You can do this by smiling. By the age of just five weeks, babies learn how powerful a smile is and begin to use it.
In a recruiting situation, smiling more sends the message that you will be fun to work with, amiable, flexible, socially adept, creative, confident and a possible candidate for leadership. These are all qualities recruitment agencies train their employees to look for, and you can help your own case by making it easy for a recruiter to see them in you!
Ask good questions.
There is a misconception in some circles that job applicants should be so well-versed on the company they want to work for that they could recite details of the firm’s last annual report from memory.
But this is not what you are shooting for in this tip. It is absolutely a good idea to know enough to discern whether the company you are interviewing with seems financially viable. But you also don’t want to come across as a show-off, a know-it-all or (worst of all) a bore. Also, there is a very good chance the recruiter won’t be able to match you fact for fact, which will put them on the defensive and make for a poor first impression.
Rather, just ask the questions that make you genuinely curious, and trust these will lead to additional questions that will impress the recruiter as well.
Make a fabulous first in-person impression.
Here, imagine your mother is coming along to your interview. What would you do? You would probably make an effort to be early, not just on time. You would shower, groom yourself neatly, apply deodorant and dress in your best outfit (complete with matching socks).
You would have all of your materials (resume, references, et al) on hand. You would open with a smile, direct eye contact and a firm, friendly handshake. These are all non-optional musts for making good first impressions in interviews and in life.
Practice ahead of time if you need to.
Interviewing can be tough – so tough that even normally confident CEOs can get rattled. (Need proof? Just watch the Presidential debate re-runs!)
So if you need to do a test run or two, go for it. Practice until you can speak slowly and clearly with relaxed eyes and a smiling mouth.
Always thank the recruiter in person and after the fact.
Being a recruiter might seem like a great job when you are an applicant, but as with any job, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes that goes unnoticed and unsung.
So sing it by saying “thank you!” Thank your recruiter in person, offer a genuine personalized compliment and then send another thank you message by email or mail after the fact. You might be amazed at how few candidates bother to do this and how much it can mean to a recruiter under the gun to select which candidates to call back for second interviews.