Job Search and Interview Strategies
Whether you’re an experienced professional seeking a new career path or a recent college graduate starting out in your field these tips will help ensure your job search and subsequent interviews are a success.
Job Search Strategy
Your chances for long term success are much greater if you apply a thoughtful and focused strategy to your search.
- Start by developing a job description that matches your ideal job – i.e., type of daily responsibilities, direct reports, visibility to leadership, etc.
- Document your salary requirements and expectations, both minimum and maximum, while including your non-cash benefits such as vacation days, 401k matching, etc.
- Be sure to conduct research on compensation requirements to be realistic and fairly estimate your earnings as they vary by company, industry and geographic location.
- Casting a wide net is not a recommended approach.
- Remember to be realistic based on your current qualifications, knowing you can always advance your career in the future, but aim for positions that incorporate items from your ideal scenario.
When applying for jobs, even online, but sure to include a one-page cover letter. Keep it simple, and relate the new position description to your experience and skills with your current job.
Having multiple versions of your resume, a complete resume and one that can be tailored differently for each position you apply, will allow you to stand-out from the crowd for those jobs that feel like the right fit!
- The tailored resume version should highlight skills needed for the targeted position.
- Keep your resume to two pages or less.
- Resumes are factual statements – try not to use words that embellish or are tied to emotion.
- Use numbers to quantify your accomplishments whenever possible.
- Provide references separately and make available quickly upon request. Don’t forget to give your references a heads-up to speed up the process!
- PDF is the ideal format for all submitted documents.
Interview Research and Attire
Before your interview take time to research the company, industry, and position. Inadequate research is one of the top mistakes candidates make.
When it comes to attired, the rule of thumb is to overdress if there is any doubt. Even in today’s world of more casual work environments, your professional attire upon first appearance in an interview is critical.
Day of the Interview
- Plan to arrive 15 minutes in advance to any potential obstacles that might delay your prompt arrival.
- Turn off your phone upon arrival!
- Be pleasant to everyone you meet – even if your drive to the interview was awful.
- During the interview remember to smile, maintain your professionalism and don’t get too comfortable, even if the interviewer makes you feel especially comfortable.
- When providing answers to questions be honest, concise, and provide great examples as those are the items that are most memorable. Don’t boast, but be confident.
- Be especially ready to discuss a failure and what you learned from it. Everyone has failures, and your interviewer wants to know if you’re able to learn from your mistakes.
- Deflect questions about salary until you receive an offer. Share that you are still very interested in the job and expect the salary to be commensurate with the right candidate’s experience.
- Save your questions until the end but plan to ask great “how” questions that demonstrate your research, analytical, and intellectual capabilities. Make these questions your own, not ones you found on the internet – or ones that can be answered by looking at the company’s website. That would make it seem like you didn’t research the company.
Concluding the Interview and Follow-Up
- Conclude the interview by re-stating your interest in the position.
- Get clarification on next steps and time frame for moving forward.
- Within 24 hours, send a hand-written thank you letter to each person with whom you interviewed. Your competition will email thank-yous. When you send a hand written note, you’ll stand out from the crowd!
Share the best tips you’ve received about job search strategies in the comments below.
For more on this topic, view the Becker Continuing Professional Education course titled, “Job Interview Skills”.