The other day I was having lunch with my good friend of over 10 years and her daughter whom is ready to enter her final semester of college and is already starting to go out on job interviews. Obviously it’s been some time since we went through that experience and a lot has changed but there is also a lot that is still the same. Despite the fact that some of the formality has gone out of the workplace as you ECO may come to work in a hoodie, but etiquette will always be etiquette and you can never go wrong by presenting yourself as professional and then perhaps toning it down if the job calls for but you can never ‘dial it up’ if you come off as to informal as the chance to make an impactful first impression has passed you by. When thing is for sure, that regardless of what your field is, competition will be high and setting yourself up to stand out from your competition is a professional priority. Also, your choice of interview attire will be viewed as an indicator of how serious you are about getting the job, so we wanted to take you though the entire process from the resume to the interview and guideline that will give you the confidence as well as a competitive advantage.
- Before you begin the writing process, start by outlining all the details of your work history. For each position you have held, list the qualifications you have and the accomplishments you have achieved on the work-front. This will form the base summary of your work experience, and help you articulate it in a clear, yet engaging manner.
- Be bold, tell them what you want. This means communicating objective clearly and effectively. Hiring managers have hundreds of resumes that they receive for each job opening, and in general only spend about 30 seconds reviewing each one. With a clear objective up front – that is specific to the job opening – you have a better chance of standing out. And always tailor the objective to the position.
- Speaking of content, it is still king (or queen, if you prefer). This means that every resume you submit needs to be tailored to each position. Most resumes are submitted electronically and hiring managers search by keywords. Every job posting mentions these keywords. Mirror them in your resume, if they apply, so that your resume comes up during database searches. It should also be written in a language that the hiring manager understands. Do not use acronyms unless you are 100 percent sure that the person reading your resume understands what you are stating. The best bet – spell everything out as clearly as possible. And if you have worked with well-known companies and brands, make sure they are clearly visible and up-front.
- In this case, simplicity is best. Sometimes we assume that we need to be elaborate and show our personal style. But in this case, representations of our qualifications are better suited in a simple format. Elaborate formats can be distracting.
- Short and sweet will do the job. Although there is no general consensus of how long a resume should be – for instance, college grads will have a shorter resume than someone who has been in the work force longer; remember that hiring managers only have a few seconds with each resume. We suggest keeping it to no more than two pages maximum – less if you can. Key elements should include your heading with your contact information, overall objective, skills and abilities, work experience, professional associations or memberships, education and references.
- As with every part of the job search process, always be professional. This means check for grammar and spelling errors before you submit your resume. With electronic transmission, we tend to work at a faster pace and this means errors can occur. Stop, pause and review your resume before you submit. It can mean the difference between landing an interview or not.
They may seem obvious but here are some things NOT to ask on an interview:
“What does your company do, exactly?”
One of the most important things you need to arrive armed with is knowledge of the company you’re applying to intern or work for. Employers assume that you know important information about them, like their mission statement and the head of their company. Asking this question indicates that you didn’t take the time to research those things, which sends a message to the employer that you don’t care.
“How much does this position pay?”
You should never, ever, ever ask this question in your first interview. This just signifies to employers that you are more interested in reaping the benefits from the position that you’re applying for than in actually doing your job. It’s best not to discuss compensation. If you nail the interview, you’ll find out your salary eventually. Until then, it is best not to discuss compensation.
“When can I take time off for vacation?”
You aren’t even in the office yet, and this question makes it seem like you’re already trying to figure out how you can get out of it. Asking about getting time off before you even get a job offer just implies that you aren’t going to be fully committed to your position, and makes you a less desirable candidate.
“How many hours a week will I be expected to work each week? Will I need to work weekends?”
When you ask questions about hours and extra work, it sounds to the employer like you are hoping to work as little as possible. If you really want an answer to this question so that you can gauge how hectic your life will be if your score the job, ask something like ‘What is a typical workday like within this position?’ instead.
“How long would it be before I could get promoted?”
This makes it sound as though you are only applying for this position so that you can climb the company ladder. It implies that you aren’t interested in the position that you’re applying for, and you’re waiting to move on to something better. While it’s good to appear ambitious, this question makes you sound power-hungry, which is an unappealing trait to potential employers.
Now that you’ve landed the interview, it’s time to dress for success and show them that you mean business.
Job Interview Attire Basics
- A dark, two-piece, gray, navy or black suit is your best option when interviewing with a conservative company. Compliment it with a light colored blouse or cotton shirt. Steer clear from strapless, spaghetti straps and well-worn tees under the jacket. Women can wear a black suit easier than men because they can lighten the look with a soft colored blouse and accessories.
- Pantsuit vs. skirt suit. A pantsuit is generally an acceptable choice for a job interview, although, there are still some exceptions depending on the company. When in doubt, ask the recruiter or Career Service counselor at your university for their suggestions and advice.
- Tech companies and other casual industries. If the company or industry is known for its casual work environment, such as a laid back tech company, you may choose to tailor down your look without looking unkempt. Slacks and a dressy blouse, or a tailored skirt and blouse worn with a cardigan or light weight sweater are appropriate options. The key is to think in terms of “three pieces”. It’s always better to arrive slightly overdressed than underdressed.
- A white or light colored, tailored shirt is an interview staple. Dress up your look with a necklace or other piece of conservative jewelry.
- Hosiery may or may not be optional. Many companies have relaxed their view on panty hose, especially in extremely hot weather. A job interview, however, is not the time to take any chances. If you know someone currently employed with the company, ask them about their dress policy. You may also make an effort to drive by the company during a time when employees are entering or exiting the building. If the women are wearing conservative suits and hosiery, it would be in your best interest to do the same. As a side note, panty hose are much more comfortable and fashionable than in years past. Select a sheer or nude color that is close to your own skin tone.
- Shoes. A mid heel, closed-toe pump is a safe choice. Regardless of the current shoe trends, your shoe selection for a job interview should be professional and understated. The exception would apply to a creative position, or a position in the fashion industry where your choice of clothing should reflect the current fashion trends.
- Details that Matter
-Leather purse or briefcase; carry one or the other, not both
-Manicured nails with a neutral polish
-Make up; even minimal makeup is an indicator that you value your professional image
-Neatly groomed hair, worn away from the face
-Clean and polished shoes (Pay special attention to heels and soles)
-Conservative watch with a link or leather band
-Black or neutral colored trench coat (Inclement weather)
- Don’ts for Women
-Short skirt or extreme form fitting garments
-Textured, patterned or bright colored hosiery
-Strong perfume or heavily scented body products
-Distracting or noisy jewelry
-Visible body piercings and tattoos (Cover tattoos with a band aid or flesh colored tape)
-Jeans, t-shirts, sneakers, canvas slip-ons
-Sunglasses worn as a headband
-Exposed technology; turn off cell phone and keep out of sight
-Carrying a book bag rather than briefcase