By Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt
Faculty Member, Transportation and Logistics, American Public University
Start a management degree at American Public University.
But this news about new jobs is not necessarily promising, considering the number of Americans that don’t have a job right now. For some people, reentering the workspace or changing careers is easy, but for others, it’s far more challenging.
The key to an interview is to develop your overall application process. That includes updating and tailoring your resume, working on your interviewing skills and building a strong brand, both physically and via social media. Here are a few suggestions.
Update Your Resume and Tailor It Toward Your Dream Job
Resumes should be updated and tailored to every job you apply for. In addition, it’s very easy to identify when someone is using a canned resume or if they’ve spent time tailoring the resume to suit the job description.
Employers routinely use applicant tracking systems to track candidates. Potential job candidates will also need to make it past this system to be considered for interviews and will need to tailor their resumes as well.
Consider Using an E-Portfolio
E-portfolios are a very popular way to distinguish yourself from other applicants. Developing an e-portfolio enhances your traditional resume by demonstrating your actual accomplishments and the work you’ve performed. E-portfolios can contain papers, presentations, videos, and pictures to highlight your activities and accolades.
Remain Professional and Maintain an Interviewing Mindset
Always keep an interviewing mindset. Many of the connections you make today will have an impact on your future career aspirations, so be sure to demonstrate presence and poise at all times.
One ill-written social media post can have disastrous consequences. One example is when student’s college acceptance letters were rescinded because the applicant was a part of a racist Facebook group. It’s important to be aware of the actions you take now and to network with those in and outside of your career field.
Develop Your Interviewing Skills
The best way to interview is to do just that: interview. Yes, there are blogs, videos and books about interviewing, but the best way to sharpen this skill is to actually do it. Employers are also using Skype for interviews as well.
Apply for a new position on a quarterly basis to keep your interviewing skills sharp and more frequently if you are looking for a new opportunity. This technique helps you develop a question bank of real, relevant questions.
Develop and Manage Your Brand Online
Getting a job is a mix of displaying experience, performance and image. However, your professional image is something you can manage and perfect. Start by using a search engine and analyzing what pops up when someone searches for your name. Are the entries positive? Are there multiple people with your name? How can you enhance your online presence?
Be Willing to Hear the Word ‘No’ When You’re Interviewing
I’ve yet to meet someone who got a job offer the first time for every position in their career. Chances are that you are going to often hear the word “no” or in some cases, you will hear nothing at all.
While rejection isn’t easy, it’s a part of job seeking. So if you have not heard from a company after applying, follow up with an inquiry and be prepared to ask for feedback if you were not selected.
In some cases, you may not get a response from the organization for liability reasons, but you should at least try. My experience is every non-profit and public sector position I’ve had provided feedback. Constructive criticism can be helpful to prepare you for the next interview.
Develop Follow-Up Questions for Your Interview
Many interviewees overlook an opportunity to ask more about the company, its culture and expectations of the person selected for the job. Be sure to develop three or four questions that you can ask near the end of your interview.
For example, if you are new to the office, questions about the organization’s culture are important. If the job description was vague, ask about their expectations for the first year. This is an opportunity to show your desire to invest in the position and the company.
Get a Mentor and Be a Mentor
We are all role models to someone, and your experience can benefit someone who looks up to you. Likewise, mentors can help you navigate the application, interview and negotiation process.
Becoming a mentor or mentee is an opportunity for you to tell your story, develop relationships and set the tone for the people around you. It’s the truest form of giving back by telling your story and allowing others to learn from you. We’ve all made mistakes, and it’s how you react to the mistakes that is empowering.
Remain Hopeful and Persistent
When in doubt, fall on hope and be persistent. Interviewing isn’t easy, but it’s doable. The process may be bumpy and uncomfortable at times, but interviewing should ultimately point you in the direction of progress and a new position.
About the Author
Dr. Kandis Y. Boyd Wyatt, PMP, is a professor at American Public University and has 20 years of experience managing projects that specialize in supply chain management. She holds a B.S. in meteorology and an M.S. in meteorology and water resources from Iowa State University, as well as a D.P.A. in public administration from Nova Southeastern University.
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