by Linda Matias
When the job market is tight, it may be tempting to cut corners on your job search, but for the sake of landing a position, please don't. When it's a buyer's market, you owe it to yourself and your family to put your best foot forward. To stand out, there are three key factors you need to concentrate on--your resume, interview skills, and a follow-up strategy.
While a homespun resume would have garnered interviews in the past, in a tight market you have to step up your game. This isn't a time to rely on a friend's goodwill and use her as your "resume writer."
Search for a professional--a Nationally Certified Resume Writer or someone who works at a One-Stop Center. A professionally written resume can make the difference between getting called in for an interview and getting overlooked.
To ensure the best possible service, ask to look at the writer's resume samples. Don't get caught up in all of the hype regarding certifications and publications. This advice may sound strange coming from a Nationally Certified Resume Writer and published author, but I've been in the career-services industry long enough to know that quality work trumps credentials.
That said, you can and should add weight to the extras, but the bottom line is that you have to be comfortable with the quality of work you will receive.
Admit it. How many interviews have you gone on without preparing? In a job-seeker-friendly market when companies are clamoring for great employees, the "wing it" method works just fine. But to compete in today's market, you have to invest time getting acquainted with common interview questions and sample responses.
To get you started, here are a few.
Many candidates have submitted their resume for consideration. Why should I hire you over other qualified candidates?
Keep in mind that the interviewer is interested in your candidacy. That is the reason you are interviewing for the position. When answering this question, mention the three main reasons you stand out from others. Depending on your position, reasons can include your proficiency in account management, customer service, and/or strategic planning.
What do you know about our company?
There is a difference between wanting a job and taking a sincere interest in working for the hiring organization. There are no shortcuts to answering this question successfully; you have to conduct research.
What areas of your abilities would you like to improve upon?
This is a tricky way of asking, "What is your greatest weakness?". Choose an ability that needs improvement but isn't an integral part of your job.
The interview isn't over when you walk out of the interviewer's office. Chances are, many candidates interviewed for the position before you did and many more will interview for the position after you. To remain competitive, it is essential that you write a follow-up letter.
This is advice most job seekers tend to ignore. And it's a shame because the follow-up letter can seal a job offer. This is because only a small percentage of job seekers write a follow-up letter, so those who do take the time to write one stand out.