There is an old saying, “hum a few bars and fake it.” There are times, and interviews are often the case, where this is the best course of action. While you never want to come off as entitled or as though you are superior, faking confidence can often be the difference between an outstanding interview and one that is a dismal failure. A great resume will get you an interview. A great interview will get you the job.
Who needs to fake confidence?
At times, just about everyone needs a boost. If you are unemployed and have been for a while, it can be depressing and sap your confidence. People who are shy or introverted can also use a bit of help in this area. It’s not hard to do, and if you do it enough you will become quite good at it. There are only three essential steps:
- Smile – This will immediately signal your brain to make you happier and more confident
- Prepare – Know as much as possible about the position and company before you go in for the interview. This preparation will help ease your anxiety
- Believe – Believe that you are going to do well in the interview; the interviewer will like you and select you as the candidate to hire.
Just fake it. If all else fails, pretend that you have the confidence you need. The interviewer will not know the difference. Studies show that you will perform better in the interview and you will ultimately feel more relaxed by wearing a mask of confidence.
The job search process can be long, boring, and more than anything, disappointing. You may spend hours searching the internet and newspapers, and will come up with almost nothing that sounds like the job you’re looking for. Which brings up another problem-do you even know what it is you are looking for? This aimless searching leads to wasted time, energy and disappointment.
Fortunately, you can make the job search easier on yourself if you take some time and decide what it is you want to search for. If you have an idea of what kind of job you want to do and a job that you would enjoy, then your search will be more fruitful and you will waste less time aimlessly searching.
First, you need to decide what it is you want to do. Think about what you enjoy, what you know how to do, what you have been educated in, and where you want to be in your career. If you take the time to think through what it is you want, then you will be one step closer to getting a job and a career that you can enjoy.
Next, as you begin your search, keep focused. You have decided what it is you want to do, so don’t stray from that path. If you do, you will only be wasting valuable time that could be spent on a targeted search. Use job search sites that have filter so you can search for specifics such as: full time, part time, education needed, distance from where you live, and the type of work.
If you know what you want to search for before you even begin the path to a new career, not only will you spend less time searching for a job, but the time you do spend searching will be more fruitful and you will be more likely to find a job you will love.
This is probably one of the most common questions job seekers face when creating a new resume. The traditional chronological resume can be daunting when there is a gap in employment. Knowing that you will have to explain the gap during an interview can be even more daunting. No worries! There are several ways to deal with this problem, and any expert resume writer can easily communicate your value regardless of whether or not you’ve been unemployed for a period of time.
Employers understand that there are numerous, legitimate reasons job candidates have gaps in their employment records. You might have taken time away from work to pursue an advanced degree, care for a sick family member, or even raise a family. No matter the reason, it’s best to use a resume format that will highlight your skills and downplay these gaps. Remember that just because you were not officially working, it doesn’t mean that you were idle and learning nothing. You want to play up these points as much as possible without focusing on the periods when you were not employed.
A closely related issue is where someone has had many jobs in a short period of time. This can make a candidate look unreliable when printed on a resume. Again, a resume that highlights skills over chronological employment is normally the best fit. It’s not uncommon for freelancers, technical support personnel, and other contract workers to have been contracted by several employers during a short period of time. What is important is making sure that your resume shows the expertise and skills you learned, as well as what accomplishments you’ve achieved in each job.
The best resume writers will focus the reader on a candidate’s skills and expertise, to the point that gaps and/or short contract jobs become a non-issue. If you are writing your own resume, you need to do the same. If you are having your resume professionally created, discuss the matter thoroughly with the writer and make sure that the best possible version of YOU shines through in the final product.
Writing an objective or career summary can be one of the hardest sections to write in a resume. Why? It is often the shortest part of your resume, so it shouldn’t be hard, right? Unfortunately, it can be very difficult for people because you have to briefly summarize why an employer should hire you. When it gets to the point that it is too difficult to write a tailored, specific summary, some people will give up and just write a vague or generalized one. While this is certainly an option for people, there are problems with it. Some of these include:
- Confusing or Unclear: If your career summary is vague or generalized, it can become unclear to your potential employers what your focus actually is. You don’t want to make it harder for your potential employers to see what your goal is. They are looking through dozens (or hundreds!) of resumes, and if it is too hard for them to understand what you are saying, they probably won’t take the time to go through the rest of your resume.
- Looks Lazy: Besides being unclear, a vague summary can look just plain lazy. It can look like you didn’t take time to research the position, and that can cause employers to feel like you don’t care about the role, or their time.
Now that you know some of the problems with having a vague objective, here are some ways that you can fix it so you have a specific, tailored objective that will impress employers.
- Maintain a clear focus: Be very clear about what it is you want to do. Briefly add some tangible experiences that pertain to this role. Show your expertise and brand!
- Research: Do some research on the position so you know what you are talking about. Add similar qualities that you possess to the summary as it will help you stand out more.
That is it. You just need to be willing to take the time and do the work and you will end up with an impressive focus and summary that will help keep potential employers reading and interested in your resume, and you.
While you may have a “Skills” section in your resume, you may not have a “Professional Skills” section. What is the difference? Why is it important to have a “Professional Skills” section?
People have lots of skills. Some people can play instruments. Some people can juggle. Some people can stand on their head. Some people can curl their tongue into a clover shape. While these skills make great party tricks and are fun hobbies and enjoyments, they are not useful in a professional setting. You may think that people would not place playing instruments or juggling in the “Skills” section of their resume, but it does actually happen. People may add some of these skills in order to show some personality or change up their resume. Unfortunately, that personality can also make you look unprofessional and even incompetent. So if you want to make your resume unique, there are better ways to do it.
- Get Rid of Personal Skills and Hobbies: As fun as they are, your personal skills are not applicable to a professional setting. Even though they should not be listed on your resume, if you are specifically asked for some of those fun skills during an interview, then you can feel free to speak about them.
- List Your Professional Skills: List your professional skills from most applicable to the job to least applicable. If you can’t figure out which skills will be most applicable to the job, start with your strongest skills first, then move down the list.
- Title The Section: Instead of titling the section “Skills,” title it “Professional Skills” or “Areas of Expertise”. You could even consider pulling qualifications right from the job description and incorporating those skills (if they are applicable to your skillset) into your list on your resume.
Keep the “personal” out of your resume. Employers want to read about your professional expertise and the value you offer, not about your hobbies and personal interests.
Many people want to keep their “work lives” and their “personal lives” separate. However, with social media it has become more and more difficult to keep the two worlds from colliding. Today’s employers will look through social profiles in order to help them decide who would be a good candidate for a job position. The amount of information your publish on social media sites makes it easy for potential employers to have access to your personal life, which could turn out to be bad for you if they happen to spot some things that will turn them off, and ruin your opportunity to get the job.
- Vulgarity and Obscenity: People generally speak on the internet the way they speak in real life. Or at least that’s the way employers think. If you use vulgar language in your profiles, then employers will assume you lead a lifestyle where you speak publicly the same way, and they will not want to hire someone who they cannot trust to communicate in a professional manner.
- Negativity: Employers want to hire people who will keep a positive atmosphere in their company. If you are a negative person, don’t show it. Don’t post negative comments or qoutes on your online profiles, and when you are at work try, your hardest to be positive and upbeat. People have actually been terminated because of posting negative comments and/or making negative or derogatory remarks in the workplace.
- Gossip: If you gossip at work or gossip about co-workers or supervisors outside of the office, you can jeopardize your current job, your chance at a promotion, and your potential for new jobs. It may be hard, but try to avoid gossiping on the internet and everywhere else. Things you say on the internet travel fast and they stay there forever, even if you think you have gotten rid of them, once your post has been seen by someone else, the damage is already done.
- Overly Outspoken: If you have an extremely outspoken personality, it can cause problems. Now you don’t have to ignore your beliefs or not express them, but try to avoid “screaming” your beliefs over the internet or getting into arguments about them at work. While employers shouldn’t decide who to hire based on a candidate’s beliefs, they may have a negative feeling towards you if you are loud and obnoxious about those beliefs.
- Hygiene and Appearance: Once again, employers cannot keep a job from you simply for how you look, but it can affect how they think about you. If you look unprofessional or you don’t appear to be clean in pictures that you have posted online, potential employers will not want to hire you because you may show up to work looking unprofessional and unclean.
Be smart with your social networking and think twice before posting controversial or negative information on your personal sites-don’t hurt your chances of getting a great new job before the employer even has a chance to speak to you in person.
In order to have a successful job search you need to be outgoing, resilient, and be able to put yourself out there. You can’t afford to be passive. If you are passive, you may lose out on opportunities, or come off as incompetent in an interview. So the other choices are to be aggressive or assertive. There is a fine line between being aggressive and being assertive, so you need to be aware of the differences between the two and the differences in results from being assertive or aggressive.
- Aggressive: People that are aggressive will push their ideas and thoughts onto others. They will not take no for an answer. They will use almost any means necessary to get what they want. They are pushy and can become obnoxious, annoying, and rude. If you are aggressive in a job search or an interview, potential employers will become upset with you and your attitude. They will not want to hire you because you are not the type of person they want to work with or be around. Avoid being aggressive; it can cause you problems.
- Assertive: Many people have a hard time deciphering the difference between being aggressive and assertive. While aggressive people are pushy with their ideas, assertive people express their ideas without pushing their ideas on others. Be confident, but be willing to back down if you become pushy or obnoxious. This will show potential employers that you believe strongly in your ideas and yourself, but that you are also willing to listen to others. Being assertive is a trait you want to make sure you develop and show at interviews and in your job search.
Now that you know what being aggressive and what being assertive look like, you can avoid being aggressive and you can work towards being assertive in order to have a successful job search and an even more successful interview.
One of the most important aspects of mock interviewing programs is often overlooked. That aspect, making the interviewer link you to the position you are applying for as the best candidate, needs to be honed. It’s not difficult and a couple of simple questions are usually enough to do the trick. What is important is that in answering them the interviewer is already imagining you as the person filling the position.
This is most simply done by asking a single straightforward question. When the interviewer asks you if you have any questions, you will ask the one question that has not been specifically answered.
What current projects do you need my help in completing?
That simple question, tweaked to fit your specific industry, is normally enough to get the interviewer going on the latest project/team issue that needs to be addressed. You already know that there is something that needs your help or the company wouldn’t be hiring in the first place. The interviewer is likely to start talking about current projects that you would be a part of, what your role would be and what the company needs you to do.
If the interviewer doesn’t mention what your specific role would be, that is the second question. Not only does this get the interviewer into a mental position where they see you actively participating in the job, but it also shows your ambition and initiative. This is also your cue to start brainstorming. The interviewer will probably start talking about key aspects of the project and you can start offering ideas and solutions. This will make you stand head and shoulders above the other applicants that simply sat there and listened, shook hands and waited to hear back from the company. The interviewer will remember you and, most importantly, remember you as someone with ideas and ready to get started immediately.
You have a killer resume and you feel like you aced the interview. If you want to maximize the positive impression that you leave following an interview, be sure to send a thank you note to the interviewer.
Keep the interviewer thinking about you
With so many people applying for every job, you need to set yourself apart from the crowd even after the interview is finished. This is often even more important than the initial impression because the interviewer is looking to actually hire or do second interviews at this point. You need them to think about you in positive terms for this to happen, and when they receive your thank you letter after the interview, you are showing them that you were grateful for the opportunity to talk with them, as well as are serious about the job.
Exhibit class and ambition
Face it, the competition is steep, but as every company is now finding out, it’s not all about the skills. Many people with matching skills are going to apply for the same jobs. Just because they have the skills to do the actual job doesn’t necessarily make them a good fit for working well with a team in a corporate setting. A simple thank you note for the interviewer’s time and consideration shows that you are not only ambitious, but that you also have the class to recognize social protocols. This attribute can be invaluable in a business setting and is not something that even the best resume communicates.
Courtesy is very often lacking in the workplace. Always remember that while you are applying for a job in a company, the person doing the hiring is is also human. Showing them courtesy is a great way to generate a positive attitude on the part of that person. More importantly, if you flubbed part of the interview, it also gives the interviewer a reason to overlook the mistake and give you a chance. If you are courteous before being hired, then chances are you will be a pleasant person to work with. Remember…being polite never hurt anyone!
Failure is inevitable in a job search. The likelihood that you will find the perfect job and that you will get that job in your first search is next to none. This means that you will have to search again and again. You will fail. You will fail at finding a job. You will fail at landing a job. But that is not a bad thing. Failure is your greatest tool and I am going to help you understand why.
- Rethinking: Failure will cause you to rethink the way you go about your search. Obviously something is not working so you will have to rethink how you are going about your search and do something new. That is a great thing. Rethinking and finding a new way to do something is one of the best things you can do for your search.
- Focusing: Failure will also cause you to focus your search. Focusing you search will make it more successful and if you fail repeatedly, then you will take the time to focus your search.
- Motivating: Failing again and again can be disappointing, but more than that it can be incredibly motivating. If you really want to land the job then you won’t let the disappointment keep you from searching. Instead you will let the disappointment motivate you until you find the job that is perfect for you.
Failure really is your best tool. Use it. Let your failure lead you to rethink your search process, help you focus your search, and most importantly, let your failure motivate you to keep going until you finally find the job that you have been waiting for.