Want that job?
Sometimes the best way to make a point is through humor, which is why Randy Wyrick’s recent column offering advice to future college graduates resonated with me.Even while being facetious, his rhetorical question, “At the interview, when you’re asked if you have any questions, have some. And make your inquiries something a little more insightful than, ‘Dude, how close will my desk be to a sports bar?'” was great advice for job-seekers. Since the graduation season is upon us and many young people will soon embark upon their post-graduation careers, I thought it appropriate to write on the topic, albeit with a more serious bent. So here a few helpful hints to getting that dream job you’re interviewing for.To begin with, under most circumstances, a resume will precede the actual job interview, so here’s a tip-make sure yours paints a flattering portrait. As someone who’s interviewed hundreds of job candidates during my commercial insurance career, I’ve learned that the length of a resume is not a measure of its effectiveness. Quite often the opposite is true.A one-page resume is usually best, depending of course on the individual’s background, the job he or she is applying for, the requisite qualifications for the position, etc. That said, a one-pager would hardly be appropriate if the person were applying for chief aerospace engineer at NASA. Nevertheless, the by words are clarity and brevity.Be sure to use good design, impeccable spelling and grammar, precise organization and the right choice of words. Using a hypothetical point system, if a positive presentation in each of those categories counts as one point, a single misspelling, misusage of grammar or ostentatious design is a minus 5. You do the math.Next, be sure to use lively words when describing yourself or your skills. Find action words and phrases that convey energy or movement (I work “real fast” doesn’t qualify; “clear communicator” or “strong interpersonal skills” does), and you’ll be surprised how your resume will take on an added dimension.But onto the interview itself. It’s critical to find out as clearly as possible what a prospective employer is looking for BEFORE you begin telling him or her all about qualifications. The best way to do that is to ask questions. Here are five that will not only help you find out what you need to know, but may also impress your prospective employer: 1) What are the most important functions that the job will require? 2) What special skills are necessary in the performance of these functions? 3) What are the biggest challenges the job will present? 4) What accomplishments will be expected in the first six months? And 5) what would a typical day on the job look like? From this point forward there can be no preset pattern of questioning or personal skills presentation. That will depend upon the dialogue attendant to the aforementioned questions. In addition, depending upon the ensuing discussions, you may even find out that the job isn’t for you.But suppose the interviewer’s answers piqued your interest and you really want this job. Then what? Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. But when you do, do it judiciously. Men are usually more inclined to talk about their accomplishments than women, who tend to focus on past responsibilities versus past achievements. But as a prospective employer, I wanted to know in detail what the person sitting across the desk from me has accomplished, even if it was taking second place in the school’s debate contest. Remember, actions speak louder than words, and past accomplishments can be good indicators of your potential.Interviewees must also remember they are selling a product, and that product is themselves. Sometimes the best way to sell yourself is by focusing your questions and answers on how you can benefit your prospective employer or how you benefited your previous one. One of the biggest issues I had with prospective employees was their lack of focus, which leads to the “I’ll take anything, just give me a job” approach – a definite turn-off to someone expending his or her valuable time and energy to fill a position. The interview process is fraught with perils on both sides of the desk. The job-seeker is frequently anxious, sometimes unclear about what they want and may need to begin earning money quickly and therefore willing to accept a position he or she is not adequately suited for. At the same time, there’s risk involved for the prospective employer. What if the candidate doesn’t work out, and the interviewer has to go through the entire process of interviewing, hiring and training all over again?I’ll close this piece by touching on the topic of what to do when there are several candidates competing for the same job. When the available talent pool is awash with qualified candidates (however rare), the choice almost always comes down to the applicant who projects the best attitude. So be sure to keep all professional conversations positive and proactive, because the candidate with the best outlook and most optimistic personality, including a passion for the position, is far more likely to win out over the others. Good luck!Butch Mazzuca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Vail, Colorado
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