03 November 2009

3 Things NOT to Do When Preparing for Your Job Interview

I've had a few interesting experiences lately in the office that have inspired me to think that I need to write a blog post for all of you readers who are looking for jobs. Being in a Career Services department and in a job directly related to recruiting and interviewing, I'd like to offer you some advice by learning from people who are making mistakes in front of my very own eyes.

Tip #1 - Entry Level with Bachelors = 1 page resume*

If you are just getting out of college, with little employment experience, and only a Bachelor's degree, I would recommend trying to keep your resume down to one page. Sure, it's okay if you run over a bit, but most interviewers want a short, concise summary of the things you've done. So DO NOT create a resume "packet." DO NOT include in your resume packet the article that was written for The New Era by your mom about your young women's achievement award or four letters of recommendation. Feel free to cite those great achievements or recommends on your resume if they directly apply in a professional way to the job for which you are applying. If the recruiter really wants to read those documents, he/she will ask you to provide them.

*Some industries or international countries may require a longer curriculum vitae (CV), and if you have more education and/or authored publications to site, these rules may not apply to you.

Tip #2 - Apply for jobs that fit your skill set, and customize your resume for each application

More and more articles have been written lately citing that today's graduates will have to work harder for their job. Please DO NOT interpret this statement to mean that in your job search attempts you should be obnoxious. DO NOT apply for any and all jobs that breathe. You look desperate! If you are not accepted to interview for a position, don't physically show up for the interviews asking if there are any open slots. And PLEASE, take the advice that recruiters give to you and DO it! If they say you need to apply through their site, and a phone call to the CEO wont help your case, you SHOULD listen and apply through their site.

It is true that graduates will have to put in a little more effort to get their jobs than graduates of the past (depending on your alma mater). Good tactics for jobs searching include: networking professionally, customizing every resume you submit based on the job description especially for online applications so your resume will be discovered by the database searches, researching the company before interviewing, attending company information sessions, and sending thank you cards after interviews. These are professional business techniques that will help the recruiter remember who you are, understand that you "know your stuff", and feel that you would be a great fit for their company.

Tip #3 - Watch your attitude

This tip could go to either extreme of the spectrum. I'd like to first address the most annoying of the attitude extremes - arrogance. When you approach a company for a job, I would not recommend going into the interview thinking that you are God's gift to creation. Heavenly Father loves you and thinks you're amazing, - Yes! But an interview is a time when you are contemplating how you will like the job/company you're applying for, and more importantly the company is contemplating if they would enjoy working with you and could benefit from your skills. No one likes working with an ego. Be humble, also known as teachable. Ask good questions and learn from what the interviewer has to say about your experience. Try not to act so much like this, even if your interview is as awkward and frustrating.

I have also heard plenty of recruiters commenting about the shy bunch of wallflowers that come in for interviewers. If you're LDS you may have the tendancy to be too humble when applying for jobs. Unless you are interviewing in Japan, DON'T be afraid to toot your own horn a little bit. Tell the company why you would uniquely be qualified for the position and ask them at the end of the interview what your next step should be if you're really interested in wearing that EMPLOYEE name badge. Be confident in who you are and where you've taken yourself. If you're not confident, take the time to think about what you want to change and do it, so you can smile and tell your next recruiter that you are a good fit because you've researched it out.

You probably can tell that I'm passionate about the subject. I've seen the failures, People, and I've seen how recruiters deal with them. If you want the job, try not to follow in these aforementioned footsteps.

Need more tips? Set up an appointment with a career advisor at your local university. Chances are they'll see you even if you aren't a current student or alumni. They can tell you if you're making these mistakes and/or others. In the meantime I'll be on the look out for more blunders at BYU to pass on to my friends.