Interview etiquette is drilled into the minds of job seekers years before they even begin searching for employment. Dressing conservatively, nailing the “What’s your greatest weakness?” question and preparing a list of questions for the recruiter or staffing agent are skills taught relentlessly. But what most people skip over are the rules and techniques that make you stand out even before you’re asked to “talk a little bit about yourself.” Follow these interview tips to ace your pre-interview judgment and stand out from your competition:
Step 1: Identify your personal brand
First things first, who are you? Before you can explain your value to an employer, you need to know and hone it yourself. Identify a few of your top skills, followed by your interests, and put it all together to figure out a career path that not only makes sense, but also makes you excited. Next, ask yourself how you are different from others in your field at your level. According to a recent article in Entrepreneur, an interesting personal brand is a main reason why an employer would want to learn more about you.
Step 2: Choose your dream companies
Have you always imagined yourself working at an advertising agency? List three to five of your ideal agencies and be conscious of how your brand fits in with them. You may not be able to work for them when you first start out, but you can find similar companies and start building a clear path to your dream job. When you have companies in mind in the early stages of a job search, it’s easier for a recruiter (and you) to identify exactly how you can add value to their business.
Step 3: Perfect your online presence
While a well-done online presence will impress interviewers, it also serves many other purposes. A solid digital profile also reinforces your personal brand and connects you with like-minded professionals, which Fox News cited as being one of the most important aspects of winning your dream job. Networking and surrounding yourself or even just your LinkedIn account with top talent in your industry is crucial to reaching your ideal profession.
Step 4: Tighten your resume
Your resume is said to be the main factor in landing an interview. Because of this, it’s vital that it directly lists your relevant experience and that your most important information is clearly described. And don’t hesitate to make multiple versions. Depending on your targeted role and industry, you could choose to highlight or tone down certain parts of your experience. But whatever you do, don’t mislead. Lying, or even embellishing, could get you in serious trouble with your boss – or in some cases, even the law.
Step 5: Nail your cover letter
With all of the applications an interviewer is sure to receive, an interesting, relevant cover letter is a major way to make sure you’re a favorite. Be exciting and personable and touch on the main points that you don’t want them to miss. Make sure that you don’t get lazy during this step and just copy over one that you used for another application. The letter must be unique to your desired role. View some more in-depth cover letter writing tips before you start on your own.
Step 6: Follow up
Most applicants skip this step out of fear of being too pushy, and that’s a risk that must be considered. Many times if companies are completely against follow-ups of this nature, they will make a note of it in the job description. Be respectful of these requests if they exist. If it’s not listed anywhere in the application process, all is fair game. Look up the hiring managers on LinkedIn and either call or email them by researching their contact information. Leaving a brief, confident message will reinforce that you’re interested in the position and you’re worth some consideration.
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