In another life I taught a class entitled “How to get and keep a job”. It was for the learning disabled. The steps were simple, simple to the point that the administration wondered if it was a waste of time-at first. Within a semester, teenagers who heard of the class were sheepishly coming by inbetween classes wanting to know if they could get out of their class and sit in on mine.
Sometimes the ordinary needs to be reminded of and given a new twist. The curriculum turned out to be a course that even seasoned adults would get something out of in their hunt for employment. Here are some of the steps that were highlighted:
1. Have a resume. Make it one page. Keep it clean, honest and simple. Don’t be cute-employment is a serious subject. Use traditional Times Roman or Sans Serif font. When putting it together, remember and follow the phrase “Just the facts, maam, just the facts”.
2. Cover letter. whether you are faxing, e-mailing, using snail mail or handing your resume in, include one. This is what you use to tailor what you can do to the job you are applying for. Again, keep it short, honest and use it as an addition to your resume.
3. Do your homework! With the internet, this is probably one of the easiest tasks to do. Find out all you can about the business before your appointment.
example: get background on what the company’s about, who runs it, what it does, how long they’ve been doing it, what is their “statement”? What your job will entail, what they do for the community and their employees. What kind of procedures and programs do they use, etc…
4. Never ask about pay and benefits until close to the end of the interview. Always say you are flexible.
5. Make sure to dress appropriately. Rule of thumb, find out what is de rigeour for the office and dress one notch above that.
example: everyone dresses in jeans and tee shirts. Come for the interview in simple pants and a polo shirt. If everyone wears suits, dress in a suit and tie for the men, ladies where a business suit with a skirt. Remember this is for a job, not a date. Tone down hair, make-up, colognes to a very neat natural look.
6. Be honest. Being confident about your abilities and being cocky are two entirely different things. To wax on about how high your talents are and then be hard pressed to prove it on the job would have more than a slight negative effect.
7. Look, listen and answer the questions.
8. Shake hands and look your interviewer straight in the eye when you leave. Thank them for their time and the opportunity. Ask when they expect to make a decision. Ask for their business card.
9. Immediately write and mail a thank you note. Remind them when you were there and highlight some of your better answers-briefly.
10. E-mail a “check in” note after one week, unless otherwise suggested during your talk.
Today’s job market is highly competitive, so sometimes taking these rather self-explanatory steps can really make a difference between getting a second interview/employment or having your resume thrown into the trash can and being totally forgotten.