Work: Everyone’s favorite word. Meme’s abound with our society’s ‘passion’ for the daily grind, and yet every day we wake up, put in our hours, and take it with a grain of salt that this is what it means to be an adult.
Work just becomes another thing we have to put up with in our busy lives.
Getting a job, keeping a job and advancing on the job can be difficult to navigate. What works at one company might not work for another and what work with one manager might not work with another.
The workplace is a ever evolving and dynamic animal that often requires skills beyond what is mentioned in the job description to stand out and get ahead.
For those of us who are new to the job market, or who are looking to advance their position, the workplace transforms from its mundane self into a daunting new world – with no part more so than the interview process.
Ah yes, the dreaded interview, bane of every and all potential applicants. Well, hold on now. Before you start sweating and wringing your hands, know that there is in fact a way to ace an interview, and fortunately for you, we’ll discuss some of those methods in this article.
Not only is there a way to ace the interview but there are many things you can do before the interview to increase your chances of success.
Today’s job seekers are faced with several obstacles not seen by previous generations that have made landing a job somewhat trickier than before.
Despite the economy steadily rebounding from 2008’s recession, the job market remains increasingly competitive due to several factors.
Among those factors is the trend of the current generation entering the workforce later than its predecessors.
This is in part a result of people from the Baby Boomer generation actively working past 65, and more importantly, because a majority of employers are insisting that applicants have at the minimum a college degree, oftentimes even a post-graduate degree – whether the demands of the job truly necessitate one or not .
Contrary to the initial motive behind the surge in college graduates – that being the idea that having a degree will guarantee a higher ranking job – you now have a situation where there are millions of overqualified college graduates and not enough jobs to accommodate them.
As of 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that only 27% of jobs required post-secondary education. Which, in a nutshell, means that when you create your resume and go for that interview, you had better stand out to the recruiter.
So then let’s begin with the resume, shall we? Your resume is the very first thing any recruiter sees and what defines their preliminary opinion of you.
They only spend a few seconds looking at each one which is why it is so crucial that your resume contains the necessary information and is properly laid out.
Although there are a few different styles, they must all contain several key points. Contact information is paramount. There’s no sense in applying if the recruiter can’t get ahold of you.
You should also highlight your work experience and any skills gained from that experience, whether it be in-depth knowledge of various software and computer programs, or how to lead a team project.
Skills like leadership, problem solving, and effective communication – both written and verbal – are highly desirable in applicants and should be showcased as much and as often as possible.
Any relevant skills gained outside the workplace should also be included, as should your education. When done effectively, recruiters will have a concise summary of your abilities without having to hunt for information or guess about your qualifications.
One small mistake and your resume could end up on the discard pile. No pressure right? All joking aside, that’s why having a flawlessly put together resume is vitally important.
Networking is another way to drastically increase your chances of getting an interview in the first place. With the internet and resources such as LinkedIn and good old email you can network without even leaving your home.
A strategy that has proven effective is to find recruiters and hiring managers on LinkedIn or the company website who work at companies you’re interested in working for and send them a message.
Tell them why you want to work for their company and ask if they are available for a brief phone call about their experience working there so far. At this point you’re not asking for a formal interview or for a job.
You’re just asking for an informational interview to learn more about the company. The purpose of this interview is to show you’re genuine interest to a real person who has decision making power.
This way when you send your resume in it’s not just going into a pile with all the other resumes that eventually end up in the resume graveyard. You’ll have an advocate who knows you, albeit briefly, and can look out for your resume and application when it comes in.
Let’s say you’ve done the above and have been asked to come in for an interview.
Congrats! But here’s where the serious preparation begins.
You need to prove, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that you are the BEST candidate for the job.
How, you might ask?
By exceeding their expectations. Easier said than done, I know, especially given the competition, but the interview is where you put it all together to really impress the recruiter.
Think of it like this: you sold them on your qualifications, hence why your resume was selected, and now you have to sell yourself. Show the recruiter why they absolutely need YOU for their business and no one else.
Try and practice answering their questions beforehand so you’re not blindsided by anything they may ask. Focus on your strengths and do your best to provide examples of where you really excelled or were able to better yourself from an experience.
Let them know that you’re adaptable and willing to continuously learn. You are an asset to their company. Make sure they realize it. And remember, despite commonly asking about your weaknesses, what they really want to see is the capacity for self-reflection so please don’t tell them that you find deskwork boring or frequently lose your temper with customers.
Chances are you might not be hearing back if you do. When ask about weaknesses it best to focus on examples that show you have made mistakes in the past but have overcome them and learned from them.
Everyone has made mistakes before. The key is just to demonstrate whatever you past mistake may have been they will not effect you future work.
The interview process is an exhausting and nerve-wracking one, but it doesn’t have to be if you take the appropriate steps to prepare yourself.
Doing so will help you stand out from the crowd and with luck, land you your dream job – or at least one that pays the bills.
As an added bonus, today’s job seekers have the internet at their fingertips, providing them with limitless access to information on how to rise in the workplace.
If you find yourself with further questions, try looking here for additional material and keep in mind, a little persistence and preparation is all it takes!