A Career? Now?
most people writing a resume and then interviewing for a prospective employer is
about as fun as taking a physics test on a Friday afternoon in July. But
unlike taking a test, selling yourself to an employer can be easier than you
think if youíre prepared and know the steps to take. |
In the following,
youíll learn the steps of searching for and making the most of your job,
and Thank You Letters
the Most of Your Work Experience
The first item you'll need in a job search
is a resume. This is a very important step, because if you donít have a worthy
resume, you wonít be able to get past the first stage. Here are some of the
basic steps involved in this process and remember, it doesnít matter
if your friends think your resume looks cool. If your resume doesn't convince a
prospective employer to grant you an interview, it isn't doing its job.
The first step in creating your resume is making a list of your skills and
achievements. This list should include:
work background, including addresses, and names of former managers
schools youíve attended, including addresses
hobbies at those schools
skills you have, particularly any computer skills
list of people you feel would be good references, meaning they would highly
recommend you to your employer. This obviously canít be your mom or your
brother, so it should be either former bosses, teachers, or other adults you
have worked or dealt with in the past, who know you well. Get at least two of
them to write you a letter of recommendation in which they talk about how
fabulous you are, and mention your outstanding skills as a student/worker/etc.
you've compiled this list, you're half way there! It was probably easier than
you thought too. Now comes the step where you turn this list of information into
an impressive, professional document called a resume.
reference materials and sample resumes.
writing style in resumes can sometimes be a little hard, so you'll need a
thesaurus to find a variety of words to describe your job
Taking the list
youíve already compiled, sit down with some books from the library or career
center on how to write resumes. Try to use books that have clear examples in
them, and are fairly current. Experts
say that the ideal
resume is easy to read, well-organized, professionally presented, concise,
results-oriented, and tailored to the requirements of the job being applied for.
Sloppiness, typos, poor grammar, and misspellings, and wordiness are the major
you can't take the time to carefully proof your own work, they assume you won't
be any more conscientious on the job. To make sure that you don't fall prey to
misspellings and poor grammar, always keep a dictionary and a good grammar guide
handy. Show your resume to at least two other people for proofreading before you
give it out, and don't depend on a computer's spell checking; you may have
spelled the wrong word correctly.
Ask yourself the
following question about each word on your resume: Does it add to the clarity of
my statement or enhance my marketability? If the answer is "no," then
the word should be history. Your resume is just a summary, you'll supply the in-depth details during your interview.
manuals, transfer your information from your worksheet into the resume format of
your choice. Just remember that youíre simply trying to show your skills and
accomplishments through this document, so you want to find the most
straightforward wording for your resume.
go nuts with the thesaurus, but try to put some variety into your writing. Most
resume guides will give you a feel for the way to do this.
you should include on your resume include:
straight-forward and concise work objective
school youíre attending, and your activities and achievements there
extra tips for creating a resume:
sure to keep your resume to one page, and as clear as possible.
use a bunch of different fonts and type sizes. Using two or three at the most
can spice up your resume quite a bit, but any more than that can nauseate your
reader. If you have a computer, it should be especially easy to create a nice
While there is no
one right resume, there are a lot of things that you can do that are definitely
wrong. Interviewers and the people in Human Resource departments have all seen a
million resumes. Over time, they develop some quick checks to help them screen
resumes. Here are some of the big things that they always look for that you
should be sure to avoid:
a Cover Letter
You walk into a bookstore, but instead of all the books divided being
divided into genres, with the authorís names on it, and a book summary, all
you see are titles. How in the
world would you be able to choose a book that interested you? Many employers
come into a dilemma similar to this. They
have piles and piles of resumes. How
are they going to narrow the pile down into the select few.
This is where the cover letter comes in.
A cover letter tells a
prospective employer who you are, what your story is, what you've accomplished,
and why they should talk to you. Cover
Letters can be a great place to showcase your own personality and set yourself
apart from the rest of the crowd. When
done right, a cover letter can encourage a prospective employer to read on to
your resume, and maybe even go on to the next step of picking up the phone to
schedule an interview. While a cover letter alone can't get you a job, it can
open doors for you. That's why it pays to learn the most effective strategies
for writing cover letters. The
cover letter should be a brief two to three paragraph cover for your resume. The
basic structure should include:
introduction - This
is where you introduce yourself briefly and state your objective, or why you are
writing. It should include a heading with your name
and address (like the one at the top of your resume) and an opening paragraph
stating how you found out about the job, and the position for which youíll be
sales pitch - This is the most substantial
part of the cover letter. It's the middle section, where you address your
reader's needs and how you will fill them.
Include a summary of why you feel you would be right for the position. Also, if you have any special skills or experiences you have
that are related to the position, be sure to state them.
reason - This
part lets the reader know that you are truly interested in his or her
organization and are not just randomly writing as part of some mass mailing. You
answer the question of ďwhy them?Ē.
request for further action - This section
is often referred to as the closure, but that's a passive way of looking at it.
Don't just think of it as the time to say "thank you and good-bye,"
but as the chance to request a next step, like an appointment or phone
conversation. The request for action is where you further clarify your objective
and clinch the deal.
Always end with a final sentence thanking the person looking at your resume for
questions to answer before you start work on your cover letter
type of work would you like to do?
are your five greatest strengths/selling points that relate to your job
organizations offer the type of opportunity you are seeking?
do you know about your prospective employers?
to consider listing
- software packages, hardware trouble-shooting, programming, familiarity with
Languages - specify whether you can write, read, speak, interpret, and/or
translate. Also include your level of proficiency.
and Science - statistical analysis, research methodology, laboratory procedures.
- cost accounting, financial analysis, economic forecasting.
- film editing, camera operation, set design, sewing, graphic design.
- typing, switchboard, dictation, stenography.
Tips for Effective Letters
The are thousands of
ways to write a cover letter, and originality is always a positive, but consider
your letters as much as possible to the target reader and the industry as a
more about what you can do for your reader than what she can do for you.
focused career goals.
say anything negative.
be honest, but not necessarily too modest.
lists of bulleted points or sections delineated with bold type or underlined
headings rather than long paragraphs.
ramble, use decisive language.
say anything that you don't back up with evidence.
about problems you've solved in the past for other employers or organizations.
cultural differences if you know the target reader; some cultures are more
formal than others.
your letter visually appealing.
others' opinions of your letter before sending it out.
a notebook of all letters you send out with a log of follow-up efforts.
Finally! You finished the resume, you sent it out in nice matching white
envelopes, and now youíve got an interview.
some people, this is a breeze, but for most itís nerve racking. To start off
here are a few tips to help you with your interview:
to Bring to an Interview
copies of your resume.
portfolio, if applicable.
(name, address, and phone number.)
else that will help you feel more comfortable, including combs, mirrors, etc.
Watch out: many
times interviewers are armed with tough questions.
ended questions- These questions expect more than a simple yes or no out of you.
It gives interviewers a sense of your knowledge in the area.
it!" (Specific questions to show you really have those skills you've
(Do you get rattled easily?)
Remember: Don't get too
Do's and Don'ts
and act naturally.
should look professional, but still be able to breathe.
a positive tone
for the tough questions
companies before you interview
intelligent questions. All that research you did will come in handy here, as you
impress them with your interest in what they do, and your knowledge of how their
on what you have to offer a prospective employer, not what you want
about your rights as an interviewee
up with a note or a phone call
to use an informational interview to land a position
about money in the first interview
for a job!
on your resume
You are interviewing the company you hope to work for as much as they are
interviewing you. You are trying to find the best place to work and learn, and
they are trying to find the right employee. You should be examining your
interviewers and the environment to see if you would feel comfortable working
much should I know about my career field or industry as a whole?
much research do I need to do on the company I am interviewing for?
Since the reason for researching the company is to become familiar with
it and the industry it is in, you should research it until you have enough
information to hold a conversation about it with someone.
You should know your short and long-term career goals and what in your
background has contributed to these goals or prepared you for the position
you're interviewing for. Lastly,
you should be familiar with some current trends or issues related to the field
or industry which have been prominent in the news lately.
to anyone and everyone who knows about your field, position, organization and
current events of interest. Itís a good idea to take down all the information
you learn through reading, talking, and researching on to a interviewing cheat
sheet, that will help you organize your knowledge.
You can use these sheets to prepare for interviews and even bring them
with you for quick reference before or in between interviews.
if the interview comes up suddenly and I have only a day to do my research?
off, you should try to schedule the interview at least a couple of days ahead so
that you have ample time to do your homework, but for some reason you cannot,
you much do the best you can. A
quick trip to the library, a scan of Internet resources, and a brief
conversation with a few key people who know about the organization and/or
industry can help you ace the interview.
Feel positive about yourself even if you donít feel the interview went
well. Each interview you go through is a learning experience, and it will get
easier and easier the more practice you get. You wonít click with every
possible employer, and they many not click with you, but you can still get a
good idea of what type of work is out there, and learn how to give a better
Send a polite follow up letter thanking your interviewer for the opportunity to
speak with them. This can leave a very good impression with that company, and
they may think of you in the future, or even refer you.
the most of your work experience
you get a job you should try to get the most out of your experience. Every
company has something to offer you, but you have to know how to find it. Here
are some of the most important things you can take with you when you leave a
Take any opportunity that you can get to learn a new skill, especially computer
and communication skills.
skills to work on include:
software skills such as a command of Word or Excel
together a proposal, or meeting
be afraid to work hard. If someone you work with knows something that youíd
like to learn, ask them to show you, or at the very least, observe them.
It is very important that you utilize your co-workers to help you solve
problems or make your work better. Get to know the people you work with, because
people almost always work better together than they do alone. Also, your
co-workers might give you good leads on opportunities in your field, or might
even refer you to someone else long after youíve stopped working with them.
Learn that you can accomplish any project you choose to finish. Youíll find
that working makes you see just how much you can do, and how well you
to learn from every project or bit of work that you do, and figure out how you
can do it more effectively the next time. Always take pride in your work.
always keep in mind that resumes and interviewing are both part of a process
that is there to weed out who is disciplined and motivated and who is not in the
work world. Your goal should be to learn this process so that you can find a job
somewhere where you can feel comfortable, respected, important, and most of all,
happy. No matter what the outlook is, or what people might say to you during
your job search, always aim high.