Don’t freak out! Even if you haven’t interviewed for a job in years, there are plenty of things you can do to show a potential employer that you are THE best candidate for the job. While the application/hiring process has grown into a more technical event, the way employers interview executive-level candidates has not. Here are a few tips to help you nail the interview and get to the next step – being offered the job!
Get Your Ducks in a Row…
The HR Manager scheduled the interview, so you know the timeframe you’re working with to be fully prepared to knock their socks off at the interview. Keyword: prepared.
What are Your Ducks…
Map out your trip to the company and know how long it will take you to get there. If it should take you 20 minutes, allow yourself at least 30. Don’t forget about construction, trains, etc.-if you show up late, the interview will be over before it even started.
Spend some time researching the company. Know its product, customers, culture, mission, and financials. Being able to speak the company’s language is key in letting the hiring manager know that you really want to be their newest team member. Check out their social media presence as well. If they found you on LinkedIn, then they probably have a company profile set up on the site as well. View it, know it.
Plan your attire before the day of the interview. Do you need a suit? Or will a tie and dress pants suffice? Leave the dangely jewelry and smelly perfume/cologne at home. You don’t want to set of an asthma attack in the interview room, or even worse make them to have to fumigate the place when you leave-that just would not sit well.
Practice makes perfect….or at least may help! Review your resume and be able to speak in detail when talking about your career history. Research some common interview questions and be prepared to answer THE big question, “Why should we hire you for this position?” Be prepared to share concrete examples of business you’ve won, sales goals achieved, obstacles that have challenged you, and even things you’ve failed at and how you overcame those failures (just not too many of these…). Do you even know what your selling points are? Bottom line – know your strengths and weaknesses and be able to speak candidly about both during the interview.
Have your own list of questions for the interview committee, because you know you will be asked if you have any. Try to stick with questions related directly to job/company information and steer clear of asking about salary levels or benefits…save those for after they give you the job offer.
Supporting Documentation to Have on Hand…
Your Resume: Have enough copies of your resume ready to pass out to the people interviewing you. It is very common to have 4-5+ people interviewing you at the same time for a high-level position.
References/Recommendations: Have copies of your reference page and any letters of recommendations you have received. You may not be asked for them, but if you are-you will be ready.
Presentations: In today’s tech-savvy world, it would not be unheard of to have candidates using some type of media presentation to market their skills and expertise. At your level, financial achievements may speak louder than words, so including charts, graphs, etc. would paint a clear picture of the impact you’ve made during your career.
The Big Day is Finally Here…
Arrive for your interview 10-15 minutes early. Give yourself a quick pep talk in the car, check your teeth for spare remnants of your last meal, dry the sweat from your palms (baby powder works), and head into your interview. As an executive, you are expected to be calm, cool, and collected in any situation.
Greet the receptionist with a smile and be personable. First impressions are still important.
Smile when you are introduced to each person on the interview committee and remember, a firm handshake shows confidence.
Keep your hands on your lap or folded on a table to avoid tapping or appearing jittery. Make eye contact with the person asking you each question and try to look at the entire interview committee a little as you are answering a person’s question.
Preparing for your interview, bringing the right supporting documentation, and showing that you are confident in your abilities while speaking to individual members of the interview committee will help you to show them that they have picked the most qualified and deserving candidate for the job – YOU.
With the recent global pandemic crisis, many of our nation’s businesses, education institutions, and entertainment venues have either lowered or ceased operations completely.
However, if you are in an active job search mode, there are plenty of ways you can still focus on your job search within the safety of your own home. Meaning…don’t use a global crisis or “social distancing” as excuses to stop your job search (March Madness is out-so do you really have anything else to do?).
Here are some tips for staying on top of your job search and getting closer to landing your dream job, even if you have to do so from home.
Fine-tune Your Resume:
Even if you are working remotely from home, you can still find time to dust of your old resume and get it ready for your job search. Focus on updating your achievements, skills, professional development activities, and of course any employment/promotion changes since your last update. Be sure your format and writing quality align with today’s standards, and last but not least, proofread the entire document to ensure it does not have any typos or other errors. If you need help, don’t hesitate to hire a professional resume writing service.
Beef Up Your LinkedIn Profile:
Be honest―when was the last time you actually updated your LinkedIn profile? As this is the biggest professional networking/job search site in the world, you need to use it– and use it daily! Like your resume, your profile needs to contain content that is current and well-written. Are the skills you have on your profile relevant to the skills/qualifications listed in the postings you’re applying to? When was the last time you changed your profile picture? When you created your profile in 2014? Use this site for everything it has to offer―join groups, check out job postings, add to your network, reach out for recommendations, update your settings so recruiters can contact you, etc. With so many people working remotely, you know they are going to be online and not at the water cooler.
Reach out to colleagues and other industry-specific clients who may know of openings in their own workplaces. Email, text, or pick up the phone and call these individuals and let them know you’re looking to make a change in your career. If you’re interested in certain companies, go to their websites and learn more about what they do and if they’re hiring. If so, reach out to the “contact” person listed on the site. Get your name out there!
Plus, during a time of crisis is when people band together in unity. This is a great time to deepen your network even more. Reach out, offer free advice (relating to what you do if applicable), join discussions, and help where you can.
Prepare For Your Interview:
If you’re really ready for a new job, then you really need to be ready to nail the interview. Do you have an interview strategy or style? In today’s professional world, many companies start out with a phone interview, prior to bringing you on-site. How do you sound over the phone? Confident or shaky? Practice answering potential questions and with a voice that is upbeat, full of confidence, and markets you and your credentials. If you’re interview is done via video conferencing, Skype, or FaceTime, then you’re probably also going to need to work on how you will look as you’re answering questions. Practice in the mirror so you can see your facial expressions (my face gives everything away, unfortunately… does yours?).
Do your homework! Know who your audience is (this can be done when talking with the person(s) scheduling the interview with you), as well as the culture of the company so that you have an idea of what to wear to your interview. Gather all of your supporting documentation (resume, references, certifications, etc.), and lastly, look at the travel logistics from your home to the location of the interview, if you do actually have to meet in-person at the company or another remote site.
As with any crisis, there are always things to do to stay positive and keep moving forward in your job search and in life. You may not be able to meet with a hiring manager or recruiter in person for the next few weeks, but you can get yourself prepared to do so in the very near future. While we are all trying to deal with our own version of “Social Distancing”, it certainly does not have to stop job seekers from pursuing their dream jobs. This includes you!
I mean REALLY get to know it (more on that journey later).
What I’ve discovered—and what gets me—are the stories and storytellers.
I am amazed at the consistent content and relevant messaging these people put out.
Posts rich in real-life experiences, expertise, and valuable information about everything from job search to recruitment to resume writing and LinkedIn in today’s workforce.
There are some amazing thought leaders that consistently offer great content, tips, hacks, examples, on these topics. I’ll list my favorites—most are career-related, others are just plain interesting. If you have time, check out their profiles and see what they have to say:
Get your reader interested in you with an impactful, unique career summary.
The days of your resume starting out with “Objective: Experienced Executive Sales Manager seeking to ….” are long gone! If you are still using a line like that to open up your executive resume, you may as well realize that your chance of getting selected for an interview is probably long gone as well. Lose the “Objective” and replace that one-liner with a dynamic career summary that pulls the reader in and shows that you have the experience, skills, and credentials to get the job.
A career summary is a brief statement/paragraph at the top of your summary that immediately communicates your qualifications for the job. In just a few sentences, you need to be able to articulate the value you can offer, what you have that makes you more uniquely qualified than others, and why the hiring manager should call you, and only you, in for the interview. A few tips to get you on your way…
Clearly define your goals: think about this- if you were already in the interview, what would be the top 3-4 things you would tell the hiring manager about yourself to show you are the one to hire? Now, put those 3-4 things in writing on your career summary.
Highlight your applicable experience, strengths and skills: incorporate keywords and keyword phrases that are relevant to the position you’re applying for/industry throughout your summary. If the resume is being screened by an ATS program, using the appropriate keywords will help to ensure that your resume will get selected from the pile. If you have space, you can even share an achievement that shows how you’ve increased sales or revenue, improved productivity, implemented a new program―how you’ve created value for others during your career. You can also include the job title or a little bit about your personal brand in your summary to make an even stronger connection.
Reel em’ in…
Build them up and leave them wanting to know more: you’ve made your point, now conclude your summary with a catchy phrase that shows the impact you have made in your career for your past employers.
Here are examples of what we found at the top of two resumes submitted by candidates applying for the same position with an association:
Objective: Experienced candidate seeking to work as an executive for a large company where I can grow my skills and expertise in the field.
Executive Summary: Entrepreneurial leader accomplished in designing game-changing strategies to propel growth and membership within sales associations. Valued for providing insight, evaluating current practices, identifying market trends, and achieving unprecedented results. Expertise in developing strong and sustainable solutions to maximize partner retention and affinity relations, facilitate expansion, and generate revenue growth. Capable of building strong relationships with business partners and influencing at all levels to generate results.
Which candidate would you call in for an interview?
There is nothing more satisfying than watching someone progress in their career, and a strategically-written resume is a great place to start. Recruiters and hiring managers want to be sold on you as a candidate in the first few seconds they spend on your resume―you have to be able to show your ROI with high-value information to keep the reader interested in learning more about you.
Go a step further and use your summary on your resume as the basis for your summary on your LinkedIn profile. Nobody wants to see “I am seeking a job as a Sales Executive” in the “About” section on your profile. You have 2,000 characters to sell yourself in the “About” section. Include a brief summary, some bulleted achievements, and your most relevant strengths and expertise to show all you offer in just a few quick seconds. Make it personal and creative―let the reader see who you are, how you operate, and how you can impact their organization if they hire you.
So, to answer the question in the title of this article, you need to lose the “Objective” you’re still showing on your resume and replace it with a dynamic career summary that markets you as the best fit for the employer’s needs. When written and presented the right way, a strong career summary statement at the beginning of your resume will not just introduce you to the reader, but more importantly will effectively convey that YOU are the ideal candidate for the job, right from the get-go.
Glassdoor recently came out with their list of the 25 Best Jobs in America for 2015. Their criteria for the Glassdoor Job Score is based on three factors — earning potential (average annual base salary), career opportunities rating, and number of job openings. It’s a pretty nice list, from the sales engineer at #25 to the #1 physician’s assistant. It covers a lot of career fields and your own “best job” just may be on the list.
Then again, it might not.
Filter Job Options Wisely
Picking a career based solely on how much money you will make is not a good idea because there are a lot of other factors involved. The career opportunities and probability of employment (number of job openings) are two more factors, and for a list that covers everybody in America, Glassdoor does a good job. But narrowing down the options to the best strategies for your particular career path means you need to filter out what won’t work for you.
One place to start would be in taking a good look at your current resume to see what you are qualified to do. If you don’t want to do what you are qualified for, you have a great place to start deciding what needs to change. Look at why you don’t want to do what you are qualified for, what you may be interested in, and research how to explore that potential.
Other filters to use are location, current debt load, and family obligations. Every factor you can think of should come into your planning. Your dream job might be a nightmare if you don’t consider all the factors in your own life first.
Get Sound Advice
Choosing a career mentor who is willing to help you figure out your options is one of the best things you can do with your career plans. This is a long-term networking strategy that should be mutually beneficial. Getting a lot of advice from many sources will give a big perspective, but getting advice from someone who knows you is going to help you avoid some stumbling blocks in the path of your career.
Ask The Experts: Cover Letter and Resume Transformation
Recently, I was honored to be among industry experts discussing current trends in resumes and cover letters on a Mashable Biz Chat. Tracy Edouard, Marketing and Communication at Mashable, gives us the highlights of Mashable’s #BizChats Twitter chat on how to transform your resume and cover letter for the better and you can see different professional perspectives on these questions:
Is it important to have both a cover letter and resume when submitting job applications? Why or why not?
How can someone truly make their resume stand out from the competition?
What features are important to showcase on someone’s resume? (GPA, school, skills, etc.)
What are employers and recruiters looking for in resumes and cover letters?
What are the biggest cover-letter mistakes professionals are making?
How important is design when it comes to creating a resume and cover letter?
What are the top resources available for resume and cover letter support?
What final tips do you have about creating great resumes and cover letters?
These are all good questions. And the input from the various professionals involved is valuable without a doubt. But do you know what the most striking thing about this Twitter chat is?
There Isn’t An Excuse For An Ineffective Resume & Cover Letter
We have the ability to pull experts from all over the place for a chance to pick their brains. Every expert tweeting is linked to a site with a wealth of information, and there is no reason a job seeker with access to an expert can’t get expert advice. Much of that advice is free, too!
The overwhelming consensus is that you can have an effective resume and cover letter by putting the right effort into it. Sometimes that effort involves doing the research on current trends and revamping it yourself, sometimes it takes a resume critique from a professional to help you see what needs to be done, and sometimes your best investment is in a professional resume service.
The help you need to have a powerful resume and cover letter is out there and you can find it easily, along with a wealth of career advice from experts in your field.
If your resume is not getting the results you’d expect based on your skills and experience, maybe it needs to be evaluated. All the information could be perfect; perfectly bland. Here’s a fast way to evaluate your resume, and it’s based on the way it will be evaluated when it reaches that VIP looking for someone to fill a position: Pick up your resume and scan it for 30 seconds, then cover it and write down what you remember.
Actually, thirty seconds might be longer than most HR people look at it, but they have developed serious speed reading skills. What do you remember about your resume? What stands out?
Now consider that your resume is something you are familiar with — and it was probably hard to remember what you said about yourself. Imagine what it’s like to read through hundreds of resumes in an attempt to find the best candidates to call in for interviews! These people don’t know you, and they do know what they need in the position.
Be Memorable and Consistent
The keywords that need to be there are the words used in the job ad, because that’s what they are looking for. But you are offering a unique spin on that because of your individuality. Build on that uniqueness by presenting yourself with synonyms of those keywords where it’s appropriate and keep a consistency throughout your resume by answering the question in their mind: Why should I hire you?
Another way to say the same thing is, “who are you and what do you bring to this position?” If the answer to the question in their mind isn’t obvious, then you need to work on your resume until it can answer that question with fast and clear.
There are some areas of life where perfection is not what you want. Friendships don’t need perfection to be good, right? In fact, the people who pretend to be perfect rarely have a lot of friends because perfectionists keep others at arm’s length so the world doesn’t find out they aren’t perfect, after all.
Relationships are stable because we give each other room to fail and correct our mistakes. We don’t need to be perfect in order to be loved or liked. We do need to be able to admit when we are wrong and be willing to fix it.
Some Things Must Be Perfect
As endearing as a mistake can be in a friend, there are times you don’t get a do-over.
Resumes are a perfect example of this, because there isn’t a relationship established yet. Spelling errors aren’t going to get you much more than a ribbing from your grammar-Nazi friend, but that same error will get your resume cast aside by the HR person assigned to fill the position. The HR person is going on a quick first impression based on your resume, but your friend is looking at your mistakes in context of your friendship.
Make Sure Your Resume Meets Professional Standards
If your resume isn’t resulting in job interviews, ask that grammar-Nazi friend to help by giving you a resume critique. People who have professional standards for writing got there by making lots of mistakes and correcting them, over and over again. The problem isn’t that your resume is imperfect. It’s that you haven’t dealt with the imperfections yet.
Resumes need to meet professional standards that cover more than spelling. Polishing your resume so it shines with perfection is a perfect way to prove you are worth considering for a position. Once you are at your new job, you can share some imperfections with your new friends.