April 28, 2018

Tips on Updating Your Resume, Preparing for an Interview, or Getting Started Networking

Image: Daily Muse, Inc.
The mission of CareerLight, LLC, a company that I co-founded in 2017, is to provide customized career training for international students to help prepare them for a successful career in the U.S. and abroad. I regularly share articles focused on how to effectively find a job on CareerLight's social media pages. This post is about an article published by The Muse, an online career resource, which contains a list of 50 job search tips provided by Muse hiring managers and career experts.

While each recommendation, which are grouped by resume, cover letter, networking, interviews, and follow up, is valuable, below are those I particularly recommend to CareerLight's clients and wish prospective employees of my ventures utilize: 

Your Resume

1. Focus on What You Want, Not Just What You've Done
"Spend some time considering what you really want out of your next job, your career, and your life. Be honest with yourself, and try to get clear and specific. Then rewrite those 'goal' and 'objective' sections (yes, they're OK in some cases) with newfound clarity."—Dr. Suzanne Gelb

6. Use Numbers
"You increased recruiting? Give us the percent increase. You raised money for charity? Tell us how much you raised! This can turn average-looking experiences into impressive head-turners and help distinguish you from other candidates."—Alexandra Cavoulacos

8. Add Non-Work Work
"Volunteer work, particularly if it's long-term or if it gives you the chance to lead a project from beginning to end, can be a great substitute for full-time work. Some organizations give titles or recognition to regular volunteers, so find out if there are any formal credentials that you can use (if not, just use 'Volunteer'). Just like you would for a paid job, list bullets that show your major accomplishments and what you learned during your involvement."—Ashley Faus

Cover Letter

12. Be All About Them
In other words, avoid writing about how working at your target company will create a great boost for your resume and career. Hiring managers are fully aware of that. What they need to know is how you're going to provide a boost for the company."—Mark Slack

15. Rock Your Intro
"Try a high-personality lead in like this: 'Having grown up with the Cincinnati Zoo (literally) in my backyard, I understand firsthand how you've earned your reputation as one of the most family-friendly venues in the State of Ohio. For 20 years, I've been impressed as your customer; now I want to impress visitors in the same way your team has so graciously done for me.'"—Jenny Foss

18. Talk About Results
"Results stand out, and potential hires can really stand out by highlighting what they've done and the results. It's so important to hire talent who can execute, and my focus as an employer is to determine if hires can theorize, strategize, and execute their plan. There are plenty of thinkers and not enough doers. Separate yourself from the masses, and demonstrate what you have done."—Andrew Thomas


21. Get on LinkedIn—All the Time
If you're looking for a job, LinkedIn should be your social media priority. In your profile, include a meaty description of your experience and strengths. Flesh out each job opportunity with your responsibilities and biggest wins. Call people in your network who you've done great work for, and ask them to post a recommendation. Curate and create content around the industry or specialty you're most interested in securing a job in, and share that content with your LinkedIn community."—Alex Honeysett

24. Have a Powerful Elevator Speech
"Spruce up the delivery of your elevator pitch by using language that focuses on strong leadership verbs to send a powerful, forward-focused message. For instance, in order to shift perception of yourself from doer to leader, catch yourself before you say you 'work on' something or that you're 'responsible for' it.

"Be actionable instead. Say you lead it, oversee it, or orchestrate it. You'll convey that you do more than simply fulfill your job description—but that you take pride in your career and aspire to continue along a path of success."—Jo Miller

28. Follow Up With Everyone You Meet
Plan to sit down the next day and send a brief email to everyone you met. Let them know you enjoyed meeting them, follow up on anything you discussed at the event, and then, make it personal. Include an inside joke from the night before, share an article you think they might like, or, if you chatted about your hobbies, mention a new band or movie you think they'd like. This little extra effort can be just what it takes to start a worthwhile relationship."—Susan Blond


29. Do Your Research and 30. Research Competitors, Too
"It's key to have a strong understanding of the position and the performance that would be expected of you. This means not only reading through the job announcement with a fine-toothed comb, but also researching past and current employees on LinkedIn. Often, you will find that they describe their jobs in a way that is not disclosed in the official job description—and this unique understanding can really enrich your ability to converse about the role."—Ashley Stahl

30. Research Competitors, Too
It's really surprising how few applicants have properly researched our competitors. Candidates who really make an impact know all about our brand, as well as how our strengths and weaknesses could relate to the market in general. Researching our products is all well and good, but a grasp of the bigger picture is just as, if not more, important."—Marvin Amberg

31. Research Everyone You'll Be Meeting With
"Do your research about the people who will be interviewing you. Know their professional background, interests, and experiences, and ask them relevant questions that show you did your homework. Ask the interviewer why he or she chose the company you're interviewing at, what attracted him or her to the opportunity, and what the future looks like for the business."—Matt Mickiewicz

32. And Have Questions for Them
"I am often the last stop on the interview schedule. I always ask candidates if they have questions, and I often hear, 'All my questions have already been answered.' It's tough to hire someone who doesn't want to ask the founder even one question. Good candidates come prepared with a lot of tailored questions."—Beth Monaghan

34. Have a Great Handshake
"A Fortune 500 CEO once said that when he had to choose between two candidates with similar qualifications, he gave the position to the candidate with the better handshake. Extreme? Perhaps, but he's actually not alone in his judgment."—Olivia Fox Cabone

44. Remember You're Interviewing the Company
We seek highly strategic thinkers, not people who just want a job. They should be interviewing us, too. The most memorable candidates have reached out to multiple team members ahead of and after an interview to ask questions, and some have asked to hang out for a day to experience the culture. These proactive inquiries show they are taking us seriously and strive to make well-informed decisions."—Emily Holdman

Follow Up

45. Email, Don't Call
"Skip the phone and send an email. It leaves a paper trail, it allows the recruiter time to properly look up your status information, it eliminates those annoying games of phone tag, and it prevents what I call drunk dialing the recruiter. (Nerves replace alcohol, but the result is the same: leaving a lengthy, nonsensical voice mail that hurls any candidacy consideration down the proverbial drain.)"—Yolanda Owens

47. Send a Suggestion
"Sometimes you leave an interview, send a thank-you note, then realize days later that you have a great idea, something else you should've asked, or another example that demonstrates your abilities. When this happens, a follow-up note is the perfect time to show that the company is still on your mind and you're really mulling on how you can help. Lead with asking for an update, as suggested above, and then go into your business question or suggestion."—Rich Jones

50. Don't Give Up
"Do what it takes to prove how much you want the job. Show that you are willing to go out of your way to chase your goals. Prove that you have a strong sense of initiative and are not afraid to veer off the usual path. Make your goals and requests clear with a sense of urgency. And make every person you meet with feel special."—Camilla Cho

Among the 50 tips, are there any that you find particularly valuable? Do you have any tips you would add?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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