The success factors for scoring your dream job are broken down into four elements: 1. Winning Resume and Cover Letter, 2. The Follow-up phone call, 3. The Interview, 4. The Thank you letter.
Hardly any job search experts focus on writing solid cover letters, focusing instead on resumes. It’s true that a resume can certainly make an impact, but if the reader has to go through dozens of resumes, he or she will see a lot of similar experiences, skills and accomplishments on your competitors’ resumes. So what sets you apart from the rest? A good cover letter.
Be sure your cover letter is custom-tailored to the position at hand, your accomplishments, objectives and skills, and give a strong case as to why you believe you are a great fit for this position. Do your homework on the company, and be prepared to mention how you will be able to help them achieve their goals, issues and concerns.
You can get some of this information from their corporate Web site and typing industry keywords into online search engines. You might get lucky and find out some common concerns, issues, and problems in your potential employers’ industry. The more research you do, the better you will be able to state these items in your cover letter. Some attention-getting items include education, accomplishments, career highlights, and company terminology that apply to the prospective company.
Following Up With a Phone Call
Call the prospective employer after you send out your resume. The phone should be just as effective a tool for you as it is for companies that use it for interviewing. Remember to keep a record of all the positions you applied for, who you talked to, and what the next step in that process is. These notes should be reiterated in your follow-up cover letter correspondence. It will show your initiative and commitment to your job search.
Always answer your phone in a polite and courteous manner. Never answer your phone while eating, or while dogs or children are making noise in the background. Likewise, your answering machine or voicemail is a direct reflection of you. Keep your greeting short and to the point in order to project a professional image when a prospective employer calls you.
A greeting with loud music or a lot of people talking at the same time is not going to score you any points with the caller. If someone else is answering your phone, instruct them to give only specific information that you want to share with the caller. They should know you are job hunting and need them to act in a professional manner as well.
You’ve made it through the first two steps in the job search process. Congratulations! But don’t get too excited, you still have a long way to go.
Here’s a to-do list to help you ace the interview:
- Unless you have a closet full of suits, jackets, shirts, and skirts (for women) or ties (for men), you need to go shopping. First impressions will go a long way.
- Make sure your shoes are clean and polished. Same goes for women’s shoes.
- Your clothes must be pressed or dry cleaned if necessary. Clothes that appear wrinkled, dirty, or smelly will have a negative effect on the interviewer.
- Make sure you are well groomed. Pay particular attention to your hair and face.
- Do not use any perfume or cologne. You never know if the interviewer is allergic to certain scents. Deodorant is necessary.
Now that you have the grooming part down, you need a strategy for what you will say and how you will say it.
A good start is a firm handshake, and then you might start off with small talk.
Example: I have heard great things about your company, I understand that ABC Company has 46% market share of widgets being made in North America.
Another Example: I read the article you wrote in healthcare weekly magazine about ways to minimize emergency room wait times and personal care to patients at your hospital. It was very enlightening.
If you plan on small talk, choose a topic suited to the prospective employer’s industry to show the interviewer that you keep up with industry trends and news. All it takes is a visit to the Web to learn about the company and the interviewer. Remember, always maintain eye contact.
In your face-to-face interview, don’t come off too cocky or overconfident by giving an impression that you’re too good for the job or that the interviewer should feel privileged that you came in to interview with them. This sends a negative message to the interview.
During the interview, pay close attention and have your list of researched questions ready to ask at the appropriate time. Just remember that as you are being interviewed, you are also interviewing the company to make sure it will be a good fit for you.
Writing a Thank you Letter
Once the interview is over, the next step in the process is to write a thank-you letter. Choose your words wisely. Be sure to mention a few key interests, your experience, and the value you will bring to the company. Finish the letter by thanking the interviewer for his or her time, and express interest in the company and position. Write and send the thank-you letter as soon as you get home from the first interview.
A hand-written letter shows a personalized touch. If you don’t have good handwriting, a typed letter will do. You can mail or hand-deliver your thank-you letter to the interviewer’s office to his/her assistant. It is also becoming increasingly acceptable to send the letter via e-mail.
If the interviewer’s hiring decision came down to you and another candidate with identical backgrounds and experience, and you were the one that sent a thank-you letter, I would bet money you would get the job.
You are your own advertising billboard, so go out there and advertise your skills and abilities.
~ Tom Dushaj