Written by Catherine Adenle
Agreed, your CV and cover letter are designed to get you an interview. Securing an interview gives you the opportunity of securing a job and getting a foot in the door of an organization. However if you get either steps of the job application process wrong, then you’ll find yourself back where you started by receiving the ‘Thanks, for applying but no thanks’ rejection letter. In some cases, it’s ‘don’t call us, we will call you!’
If you need a job now, these 8 sure fire ‘Hire Me!’ tips below will help you to strengthen your job application and increase your interview success rate.
1. Focus on the skills required, the needs of the company, and not the role you want
Need a job now? Then, be sure to pore over the job description for the advertised role with a pair of ‘can’t miss anything’ glasses. This is to make sure that you fully understand the requirements that the employer is looking for. Use a fluorescent highlighter to mark the skills required for the role, then tweak or tailor your CV/resume to demonstrate that your skills and experience are exactly what they are looking for. For your information, potential employers will typically spend fewer than 20 seconds scanning your application for the skills, so ensure that you have a strong CV that effectively tells a potential employer, “Pick me, This is who I am, I am the one that you need, these are the skills you need, and this is what I can do for your business.” A word of caution though, do not regurgitate the list of skills – make them meaningful in your list of accomplishments.
2. Mind the gap in your CV
These days, career break is common due to understandable reasons. Be wise; use this experience to highlight the skills and experience gained in your time away from employment. If you’ve been travelling you may have picked up some language skills, or learnt to travel independently in a different culture. Need a job now? Then, it’s important that whatever the reason behind a gap between employments, you must acknowledge it on your CV. Volunteering gaps will provide you with plenty of skills to highlight. If you were simply between jobs, be open about this. You can still highlight skills such as communication, prioritisation and motivating yourself. Include it where it makes logical sense, it should be in the chronology of employment.
This is the best approach for any gap in these steps:
a.) Think about the skills gained and used in that time.
b.)Think about what you achieved from utilising the skills.
c.)Think about how you could apply that skill to the job that you are applying for.
Briefly include this in your cover letter. Handled properly, a resume gap will be a minor blemish on the overall package you have to offer as a candidate. If appropriate, you may consider making your employment lapse into a character-building life experience. The main objective is to be prepared to respond to an employer’s concerns and assure them during the interview.
Don’t waste valuable cover letter space discussing your CV gap, especially if you know that your explanation might raise more questions than answers. Play up your qualifications and skills rather than airing your life story.
3. Prepare, prepare and prepare!
Need a job now? Then, be aware that with interviews the more thorough your preparation, the most likely your chance of being hired. Read the invitation letter carefully, be sure to check the day and time of the interview and the venue; make an electronic entry in your Outlook diary, a manual entry in your diary and do not rely on just your memory. To further prepare, think about the following:
a.) Who is going to interview me?
b.) What kind of interview is it likely to be?
c.) Am I expected to do any tests and, if so, what tests will they be?
d.) Is there a job specification or outline, and do I have it?
If you do not know the answers to these questions, you should telephone the writer of your invitation letter and politely and ask for clarification. There is no harm in doing this; it only shows that you are proactive. Also, if applying to another company, if it is practicable; it is also a good idea to do a practice journey of the interview at the same time of day as your interview day, so that you can have an idea of how long it takes to get there, traffic, transport, nearest car park and the amount to park.
Ensure that you have a strong CV that effectively tells a potential employer, “Pick me, This is who I am, I am the one that you need, these are the skills you need, and this is what I can do for your business.
If you need a job now then you must research the company that you have applied to – if you are called for an interview, you must investigate the company before you go for an interview. This includes, the company’s products and services, details of how the company was formed or developed, the markets, turnover, plans for the future, number of branches, people employed, the company’s values etc. Take steps to obtain as much information as possible. Prepare your questions in advance and practice answers to likely questions that the interviewer(s) will ask you.
4. Prepare questions and practice answers
If you need a job now, then it is a brilliant idea to prepare a list of anticipated questions and suitable answers. Look at ways of turning the answers to further illustrate your skills. Most politicians are particularly adept at this method of getting across their predetermined points, and you should cleverly approach the interview with the same objective. You should practice your answers aloud, either to a friend, a colleague, your manager or to a mirror and record your answers. Thinking about your answer is one thing, but the spoken words is sometimes a different thing altogether. Sometimes, words do not do not always come out as we intend and practice will enable you to sell yourself in a way that is comfortable and natural to you. When questioned about your motives for applying for another job, never bad mouth your previous employer – even if you had the boss from hell. Not only does this make you look unprofessional but, given the close-knit nature of many industry sectors, it is possible that you may be insulting the interviewer’s friend. The interviewer will also assume that you will say the same things about them in the future.
5. An opening statement
Prepare the answers to this popular question: ‘Tell me something about yourself’. This is a very popular opening to an interview. The invitation often comes within seconds of your arrival in the interview room. Do not be caught unawares so that you do not provide a waffling or muffled response. This is a wonderful opportunity to set the scene and fully outline your capabilities and attributes. So, write a two-minute sales pitch that embodies each of your skills. Keep your message to the point and do not include unnecessary information. Practice aloud until it rolls off your tongue!
6. Know Your Industry
This is a ‘must’ if you need a job now. You must know your industry like the back of your hand. Many professionals become too comfortable in their zone and don’t seek to acquire any new skills or predict what may be needed in the future in order to remain on centre stage. You have to be a Subject Matter Expert (SME). What that means is that you should research your industry so that you know the ins and outs. You have to be aware of any emerging technology, trends and have your finger on the pulse of things. Remain current on any issues or developments in your field, read trade journals or professional publications, and subscribe to pertinent RSS feeds online. It is extremely impressive during an interview if you know about the latest merger or takeovers in the industry. What this will do for you is that you will blow all your competitors out of the water because you can offer trending knowledge and competitive skills, which cannot be easily found in anyone else, and, certainly, will wow the potential employer, knock their socks off and get you the job.
7. Use meaningful examples
We can all claim to be good communicators or the most well organised worker. Can you demonstrate the skills? Ensure that you sell yourself as the best candidate for the position by showcasing your past skills with results. Use the ‘STAR’ (Situation, Task, Action and Result) model for this. It shows that you can walk-the-walk as well as talk-the-talk. Highlight the talents and career achievements that are relevant for the position you are being interviewed for. For example, instead of simply telling the employer that you are an experienced teacher, add some meat to the bones and explain how 95% of your students passed your subject during an important exam. As an accountant, demonstrate how you saved your company £.5 million in a year.
8. Leaving statement at the end of the interview…
It is important to prepare the scene for getting off the interview chair. Visualise gathering your belongings, CV, pen, skills folder and rising with a smile, a firm handshake with a friendly but business like parting statement: ‘Thank you for your time. I have enjoyed the interview and feel that it is been very useful. It has increased my interest in the job and confirmed my ability to be of value to your company.’ Remember that you are still creating a lasting impression that will get you noticed and remembered.
Have you any further tips to add in order to get a job?