Congratulations! You've finally landed that job interview you've been waiting for. Now the real work begins! Remember, resumes don't get jobs; they merely get you in the door. Here's how to make your resume come alive and make a good impression.
Tell Your Story in 60 Seconds or Less. Believe it or not, one of the biggest stumbling blocks for job candidates is what to say when an interviewer opens with: tell me something about yourself. This is not the time to share where you were born, your love of cats, or how much you hate your last boss! It???s your golden opportunity to make your resume come alive. Your story needs to highlight your top three selling points that are most pertinent to the job for which you are applying. Support your points with short examples (see below). You may have more selling points, and if the interviewer is interested he or she will ask. Practice telling your story out loud until it???s smooth and concise.
Give Specific Examples. For every selling point you???ve listed on your resume, you need at least one strong, specific example to support it. Great at customer service? Wow them with the story of your best customer turnaround. Marketing whiz? Dazzle them with your best campaign. Brilliant computer programmer? Give an example of how you saved someone time, money, or solved a problem.
Do Your Research. There???s no excuse for walking in the door unprepared. Check the company website, read magazine and newspaper stories; talk to friends or current employees. Ask the receptionist for old company newsletters, scour local business journals. The more you know, the more confidently you can match your skills to the company???s needs.
Think Benefits. No, I???m not talking health and dental here! I mean, why should the company hire you? What???s in it for them? Most people sit down and start outlining all their needs: salary, hours, driving distance, blah, blah, blah. Fatal mistake. Companies are not in the business of handing out something for nothing. So what can you offer that nobody else can?
Don???t Be Afraid to Ask Questions. A person who is afraid to ask questions in an interview is one who won???t ask questions on the job. That leads to costly mistakes. You need to ask just as many questions as they do. Start the moment your interview is scheduled. Who will be interviewing you? Find out names and titles. Is there anything special you should prepare? How much time should you expect? During the interview, ask questions that will help you determine if this is a good match. What would a typical day be like? What personality qualities does the company most value? DO NOT ask about money! Once you???re offered the job, then it???s time to negotiate.
Be Consistent. First impressions begin long before meeting face-to-face. Starting with your resume, proofread! A resume with typos broadcasts carelessness. Once you???ve sent your resume, be prepared for a call. Answer your phone professionally and be aware of your voicemail or answering machine message. What does it say about you? Be nice to the receptionist. That person???s opinion can make or break you.
Send a Handwritten Thank You Note. A classy move that few people make. Ask for a business card to get the correct spelling and follow up immediately.
Susan Fee is a licensed counselor, communications expert, and author of Positive First Impressions: 83 Ways to Establish Confidence, Competence, and Trust. She can be reached through her Web site at http://www.susanfee.com