In today’s economically unsure times, it is often harder than ever to get a job interview. Below, I have outlined some suggestions of how to get yourself better primed for the job hunt. These tips include ways to get your name out there and also to make sure you don’t miss openings for positions.
Getting the Interview:
- Network. Good, old fashioned networking, in person, with people who are part of your social or career circle is an excellent place to start. Beyond that, in our digital age, LinkedIn is a great networking resource for anyone looking for a job – or even currently employed. The applications available can let you know about job openings that are relevant to your skills and expertise.
- Small touches. Don’t send out the same resume and cover letter to each company. Instead, think about the unique aspects of the company and tailor your resume to each employer. This takes time and effort, but in the end will allow you to stand out from the multitudes of other people applying for the same job.
- Search for speaking opportunities. Regardless of what jobs you have held in the past, you definitely have expertise. That expertise could be related to cooking, computer skills, coaching, or even knitting. Look for opportunities to speak in order to showcase those skills. This will not only allow you to build your resume, but will also grow your network of associates.
- Create a website. With your downtime while job searching, consider creating your own website. With new digital tools, making your own website can be relatively easy. This new website, in turn, can lend you credibility and give your potential employers something to look into once you have applied for the position.
Preparing for the Interview:
Ok, so now that you have the interview, how can you prepare to knock those employers’ socks off?
First, know where you are going. Find out where your interview will be held and figure out how you are going to get there on the day of the interview. Allot the amount of time you will need in order to get there about 10 minutes early. This might seem like silly advice, but if you are late, you can mess up your job interview before you even say hello.
Next, do your homework about the company and job for which you are interviewing. Read whatever you can about the company and, if possible, speak to people who currently work for that company or in a similar position somewhere else. In addition, find out as much as you can about the position you are applying for. You can’t know whether you are perfect for the job unless you know exactly what the job is.
Then, look the part. Your clothing should be neat, ironed, and professional looking. Because it is not always possible to know the dress code of an office before you go on the interview, err on the conservative side. Even if you end up being overdressed for the interview, it will keep you looking professional. Of course, don’t be afraid to inject a little of your personality into your look with a special piece of jewelry or a drop of color in your tie.
Always, rehearse beforehand. There are some common questions that most interviewers ask, such as “What are your strengths and weaknesses? Or why do you want to work here?” Consider asking a friend to help you with a mock interview. This way, you will be able to hear the missteps in your answers. Also, if you prepare for the expected, you will be more prepared for the unexpected.
Watch your weakness. Interviewers are often wary of people who answer, “What is your weakness?” with “I am a perfectionist” or “I work too hard.” Those answers seem disingenuous and often make the interviewee appear insincere. Instead, really think about what flaw you have. Then, think about what you can do to improve that flaw. Then, when your interviewer asks you what your flaw is, you can answer with both the problem and the solution.
Pick your passion. Think about what you love and why. Then, consider all the different projects or activities you have done because of that passion. This way, when you are interviewing for the job, you will be able to individualize yourself and show your unique personality through your passion. Of course, ensure that that passion matches the demands of the job in some way.
Don’t forget to sell yourself. The interview is not the time to be humble – rather it is your time to shine! Develop a short (less than one minute) “pitch” that explains why you are wonderful. In business, this is called an “elevator speech” – something you could quickly say to someone if you bump into him or her in an elevator. This should include your strengths, your abilities, and what sets you apart from other applicants.
After your interview, follow up. Write a thank you note or friendly email expressing your appreciation for the time the interviewer spent with you. Don’t forget to include a personal touch, mentioning a specific highlight of the interview. This way, your interviewer will remember you as a unique individual. In addition, restate your interest in the position. Everyone wants to know that you are still invested.
Remember that every job interview, regardless of the outcome, is a learning experience. Even if you do not get the job, you will be better prepared for the next interview. So, relish the experience and learn from both your successes and your failures!
About the Author: An acclaimed educator and social skills specialist, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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