Now assume that you are interested in interviewing for one of these jobs and will fax or mail a resume as requested. Can you write a good resume? Assume that the ad you answer brings responses from more than a hundred applicants. Will your resume receive favorable attention? If it will stand out from the others, what will make it special? Will it land in the wastebasket, or bring you an invitation for a special interview?
Learn to write a good resume. Get help if you need it from former teachers, knowledgeable friends, former bosses, and from samples in recent books. The result will be worth the extra effort. Study illustrations. Can you improve upon them to suit your purpose? Although it's best to avoid a very distinctive stationery, consider using a cream or ecru-colored paper. Refrain from blue, green, red, orange, pink, and purple. Of course, there's nothing wrong with plain old white, especially if you use paper with a sturdy composition, such as a rag content of 25 percent or higher. Never use onion-skin typing paper. You may want to fold the stationery so that the resume opens out like a folder. The style you use should be appropriate to the kind of job you want.
Use the following suggestions in preparing your resume.
- A resume should always be typed and, of course, absolutely free of errors, strike overs, and noticeable corrections. Do not mail carbon copies. Use originals; printer copies or photocopies are acceptable. An otherwise good resume can be ruined by a sloppy appearance. Ideally, you should use a computer or word processor to prepare your resume. If you have access to a computer, select a font such as Times New Roman or Arial, with a point size of at least 11. Don't use a dot matrix printer for your final copy. If you don't own an ink jet or laser printer, you should be able to bring a diskette with an electronic copy of the resume file to a photocopy center and have them print it for you for a fee of about one dollar per page.
- A cover letter no longer than one page should accompany your resume. The letter should introduce you (name, type of job you want) and state that the attached resume or personal data sheet describes your experience, education, special attributes, and expertise.
- Personal data should be kept to a minimum. Do not include age, weight, marital status, and/or dependents. You should only touch on physical challenges, if you have any, if appropriate. Do mention whether you will be able to travel or relocate as opportunities arise.
- The resume should not describe education. Rather, it should simply list institutions and degrees and certificates, if appropriate, starting with the most recent. If you have any college experience, do not include your high school. It will be assumed that you graduated. Do indicate any night schools, correspondence schools, company-sponsored courses, trade apprenticeships, and military experience. List grade point average only if high enough to qualify for cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude
- Try to put your best foot forward when describing your experience, but do not exaggerate. Start with the job most recently held, including the name of the company, city and state in which it is located, and job title. Give the month as well as the year in the date. It may help if you give a short, snappy list of job responsibilities and duties. Use action verbs ("buzz words"), such as "created," "organized," "generated," "directed," that tell what you did.
- You don't need to indicate why you left a job unless it comes up in an interview. That's where you'll need to be particularly tactful. You can always indicate that you left a job to seek a position with greater responsibilities and potential for growth, or that you've acquired new skills that you are ready to put to use. Never say you were fired, but you can indicate that you were "laid off' due to downsizing. In many cases, the new firm is agreeable to acquiring new talent this way.
- Use plenty of bullet points to spotlight special items in your resume or data sheet.
- You might wish to include a Remarks section for such items as extracurricular activities (and offices held, if any), languages spoken, membership(s) in professional organizations (and offices held, if any), travel experience, when available for an interview, and any other information you think might help you and the interviewer. You should feel free to note your best qualities, describing yourself as "team player," etc.
- You need not include personal references in your resume, but you will be expected to provide references if a prospective employer should request them.
- Do not include a photo of yourself. Similarly, you should not be expected to answer any questions regarding your personal life; age; marital status; national, ethnic, or religious background; health; or sexual orientation. Most of these areas are illegal for your potential employer to delve into and should be reported to the Equal Opportunity Commission if brought up during an interview.
If you get that sought-after interview, go to it prepared to give them the facts they want. Give them a good, relaxed, friendly view of yourself. Remember, you are enjoying your job-hunting experience, confident that the perfect job for you exists somewhere.
To some extent, an interview is a moment of truth. Getting the job will probably depend on it. Unfortunately, your success may hinge on whether the interviewer likes you, and on what kind of a first impression you make. So, instead of dreading the interview and thinking of it as an ordeal, treat it as the very important opportunity it is. Plan for it; think about items you want to clarify or emphasize; take copies of your resume and samples of your work; rest so that you look well; be alert; be aware of how much a good attitude and appearance may help you during an interview. This interview may be one of the most important events of your life.
Usually an interviewer, through job descriptions and specifications, has a pretty good idea of what the company is seeking. Here are a few things to think about as you prepare for an interview:
- The first glimpse the interviewer has of you is important. If it is unfavorable, it may be hard to counteract.
- Before you leave for an interview, take a good look at yourself in a full-length mirror. Would you hire what you see?
- When interviewing, be conservative. Let the right "you" shine through. If you appear too outlandish, you will distract the interviewer, so avoid extremes of dress and scent. It is worth the effort. After all, you want the job, or you would not be there. After you get the job and your co-workers get to know you, you can let up a little and be less conservative. But remember, good appearance reflects your personality and tells the interviewer you would be a dependable, quality employee.
- When talking, look the interviewer in the eyes and, if seated, sit up.
- Check your attitude as you prepare for an interview. Are you ready to meet the interviewer more than halfway, or are you going to use the opportunity to display the chip you may be carrying on your shoulder?
- Even when you find you do not want the job for which you are interviewing, try to leave a good impression; make a friend. You cannot tell when you may meet or need that friend again. Make a real effort to be pleasant and friendly.
- Each interview is an experience and an opportunity. Learn from it so that your next interview is that much better as a result.
- Speak up. Take the initiative in talking if the interview seems to lag, but do not chatter too much. Try to recognize signals that the interview is ending, for example, when the interviewer stands up. Try not to overstay your welcome.
- Beforehand, think through a few questions you may want to ask. For example: "What would my most important responsibilities be?" "Does the company have an educational program?" or "I'm eager to have a real business career. Do you think this position can be a stepping-stone for me if I do well?"
- Learn as much as you can about the company beforehand. It will help you ask meaningful questions. Interviewers are trained to invite candidates to ask questions. Questions a candidate asks can be a revealing source of information, especially about poise, verbal ability, attitudes, and qualifications.
- If you feel unsure about your ability to ask questions during an interview or to take the initiative should the interview lag, practice on your family or friends. You might also practice before a mirror. Look directly at the other person, not at a spot overhead. Try out your smile, a few hand gestures, and different tones of voice. Be sure to speak up and enunciate so that you can be heard and understood.
- Remember that you are being watched and evaluated during an interview. Therefore, if an unexpected question is asked, answer briefly and in a natural and friendly manner. Try not to ramble or get off the subject.
- When the interview is over, leave in a cheerful, friendly way. Ask when you may expect to hear the result. Thank the interviewer as you leave, even if you do not think you will get the job. When you get home, it is a good idea to write the interviewer a formal letter of thanks.
- What kind of handshake do you have? Is it limp and life-less? Practice a firm, cordial grip. Use it, especially when you leave an interview, even if you think it did not go well. This applies for females as well as males. The days when women did not offer to shake hands with men are long gone.
- Don't let yourself become upset during an interview. The interviewer may be testing your self-control. If a question or comment really annoys you, turn it aside with a smile, a humorous remark, or a direct friendly answer. You have everything to lose if you lose your cool; the interviewer has nothing to lose.