Resume, Cover Letter and Interviewing Tips

RESUME




Why should I use a resume along with my application?


A resume can help Human Resource Services staff and the hiring supervisor understand what skills, experience, and education you have that are relevant to a job. A well-done resume makes your application look more professional. You can use a resume to help demonstrate your communication skills.




What should I include in my resume?


Use your resume to help target your job search. Include relevant job history, education, volunteer experience, and memberships/associations. Use your resume to highlight important work experience and skills. Do not include information regarding marital status, parental status, religious affiliation, photos, age, or weight.




Resume Language




  • Use action verbs such as “developed,” “managed,” “coordinated,” and “maintained.”


  • Don’t use “I” to start every sentence.


  • Do use your own words to explain your experience


  • Proofread carefully!


Resume Information





  • Keep your name, phone number and address current.


  • Include dates of employment in a month/year format (example: 05/02 – 08/02).


  • Include references. Use a separate sheet if necessary.


Resume Appearance





  • Use 1” margins on all sides.


  • Use a standard font that is easy to read.


  • Use bold font and italics to highlight information.


  • Make sure to leave some white space in between sections.


  • Don’t label your resume. The title “Resume” is unnecessary.


  • Your resume can be longer than 1 page. A good rule of thumb is 1 page for each 10 years of work history


COVER LETTER


Why should I include a cover letter along with my application?


A cover letter can be a helpful tool to highlight your skills. Use a cover letter to show how your skills are appropriate for the job. A cover letter can also be used as a marketing tool – think of it as your personal sales brochure! You should use a cover letter anytime you use a resume.



Can I use one starndard cove letter on each of my applications?


You will need to submit a separate cover letter with each set of application materials. Since the cover letter is a way to help interest employers in your skills and how they are suited to the particular job, it is a good idea to customize your cover letter for each position that you are applying for



What information do I include in my cover letter?



  • Identify the job for which you are applying.

  • Include the title and vacancy number.

  • Mention where you found out about the job (newspaper ad, web page, etc.).

  • If you were referred by someone, mention that person. Briefly highlight your skills and experience. Don’t include all of the information found on your resume.

  • Tell the hiring supervisor what he/she will gain by hiring you.

  • Close the letter by stating what you would like to happen next.

  • Mention where you can be reached by phone or email.

What format do I use?


Your cover letter should be in standard business letter format.


Should I include a cover letter if I submit my materials through email?


Yes.

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25 things to avoid in an Interview

1. Poor personal appearance


2. Lack of interest and enthusiasm; passive and indifferent


3. Over-emphasis on money


4. Criticism of past employer


5. Poor eye contact with interviewer


6. Late to interview


7. Failure to express appreciation for interviewer’s time


8. Asks no questions about the job


9. Unwillingness to relocate


10. Indefinite answer to question


11. Overbearing, aggressive, conceited with ‘know-it-all’ complex


12. Inability to express self clearly; poor voice, poor diction, poor grammar


13. Lack of planning for career, no purpose or goals


14. Lack of confidence and poise, nervous, ill at ease


15. Failure to participate in activities


16. Expects too much too soon


17. Makes excuses, evasive, hedges on unfavourable factors on record


18. Lack of tact


19. Lack of courtesy, ill-mannered


20. Lack of vitality


21. Lack of maturity


22. Sloppy application form


23. No interest in company or industry


24. Cynical


25. Intolerant, strong prejudices
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Interview During a Meal

It is rare that a first interview will take place during a meal; second interviews sometimes involve lunch or dinner. In any case, if you are having a discussion in an office, which then continues over a meal, remember that you are being “interviewed” in both settings. What you say and do will be under review until you say goodbye.


A few guidelines will help to make the meal less stressful. If you have questions about table manners, brush up with an etiquette book. Order something that is easy to eat—stay away from items such as shish kebab, french onion soup, and spaghetti or linguine. Beware of finger food. You will want to be able to eat small bites of your food without dropping or spilling anything.


Follow the lead of your host(s) regarding which courses and generally which items to order. You may want to ask, “What do you recommend here?” so that you will have an idea of what they are likely to order. Order items within the same price range or lower, and never order the most expensive item on the menu. If others are ordering an appetizer and an entrée, you should do the same. If no one orders dessert, you should refrain.


It is almost always unwise to drink alcohol in an interview setting. If you are at a group dinner or a cocktail reception where wine is served and your hosts are having a glass, you can have a glass to be sociable, but don’t drink all of it. Even a small amount of alcohol can impair your judgment.


Be prepared to ask a few questions during the meal, or you may end up with a full plate of food when others are ready for coffee. A meal may be a good time to ask your interviewer(s) about his or her career path(s).
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The Purpose of an Interview

Goal of Candidate:

Gather information on position and employer.Evaluate position, job-setting, co-workers.Determine if position is suitable – “Do I want to work here?”Communicate information about yourself – convince employer to hire you because you are qualified for the position.


Goal of Interviewer:

Promote organization.Attract the best candidate, gather information, and assess candidate’s qualifications.Determine if the candidate fits the position.

Research the Position

Make sure you understand the details, requirements, and responsibilities of the job you are applying for. This information can be typically found by reviewing interview bulletins, recruiting information, and company literature. Additionally, conducting your own informational interviews can often provide valuable information. Finally, be able to relate your skills and qualifications to the stated job responsibilities.

Research the Organization


  • How long has it existed?

  • What is its mission?

  • What does it produce?

  • Who does it serve?

  • Size?

  • Location?

Visit the organization's website to help you research companies and organizations. In addition, expand your search by conducting informational interviews.


Prepare and Practice


Develop specific examples that highlight your skills. Make sure that you can answer each question honestly and sincerely without sounding like you prepared them. But remember, this is not an exhaustive list of possible interview questions, but rather some general samples to help you begin thinking about what may be asked during an interview.


Anticipate Difficult Questions



  • Can you explain your low grade point average?

  • Why did you change you major three times?

Do not try to avoid these questions, explain the situation honestly and in a positive manner. Try to turn a weakness into a strength, i.e., “Yes, my GPA is low, but this is because I worked thirty hours a week to put myself through school.”


Prepare Questions for Your Interviewer



  • What are the educational opportunities?

  • What training will I receive?

The end of the interview is usually reserved for your questions. Do not just ask generic questions, and do not ask questions that could easily be found in company literature. Ask questions that will help you determine if you are a good match for the position and organization, such as the questions above

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SALARY NEGOTIATION

Do

* Respond to the question positively without stating specific amounts. (Examples: “I’m earning in the low 30s.” “As a student, my jobs to this point have been geared toward gaining experience and making money to cover my educational costs.”)

* Mention your desired salary, either saying that salary is negotiable depending upon the position or giving a $3-5,000 range (if you know the market value for the position and for someone with your skills and background). You may also use terms like “competitive” or “open” if you are responding to this question on an application form.

* Know your salary requirements as well as what you hope to make. You shouldn’t mention these in your response to the salary history question, but you need to give this some thought for when you get to the negotiating stage.

* Be prepared to respond to a request for previous salaries in an interview. It can be handled by responding without stating specific amounts. Avoid specific amounts if at all possible.

* Prepare a list of your positions (in reverse chronological order) for your own reference and just in case an employer in which you are very interested is absolutely adamant. (This will not happen often!) The list should include name of each company or organization, your position title, your compensation, and a brief synopsis of your position.

* Research Salaries in Your Field: Look at recent salary surveys, talk to others working in your field, and contact your trade or professional association to find out what other people are paid for doing the same work.

* Be Flexible: When going through a salary negotiation you aren't likely to get the exact amount of money you want. You will probably have to compromise. The trick is to figure out how much you are willing to compromise and what you will do if your boss doesn't offer you a salary you find acceptable.



Don't...


* Include your salary history on your resume. What you did in a job is much more important than what you were paid.* Lie about your previous pay rate. Employers can often verify your salary history through your reference checks.


* Look at How Much Money Your Friends in Other Fields Are Making: You may be envious of your friends who are earning more money than you are. If they aren't working in the same field you shouldn't make those comparisons.


* Talk About How Much Money You Need: When you are going through salary negotiations, don't tell your boss (or future boss) that you need to make more money because your bills are high, your house was expensive, or your child is starting college.
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Dressing for the Interview


  1. For both men n women


  • All clothes should be neatly pressed.

  • Conservative two-piece business suite (solid dark blue or gray is best)

  • Conservative long-sleeved shirt/blouse (white is best, pastel is next best)

  • Clean, polished, conservative shoes

  • Clean and well-groomed hairstyle

  • Clean, trimmed fingernails

  • Minimal cologne or perfume

  • Empty pockets – no noisy coins

  • No gum, candy or cigarettes

2. For men



  • Necktie should be silk with a conservative pattern

  • Dark shoes (black lace-ups are best);

  • clean and polished Dark socks (black is best)

  • Short hair always fairs best in interviews

  • No beards – mustaches are acceptable (keep neat and trimmed)

  • No earrings

  • No heavy cologne

3. For women



  1. Always wear a suit with a jacket; or a sheath dress with a jacket

  2. Do not wear extremely high-heeled or platform shoes

  3. Do not wear open-toe shoes or mules (they are more casual)

  4. Conservative hosiery at or near skin color (and no runs!)

  5. If you wear nail polish (not required),

  6. use clear or a conservative color One set of earrings only Conservative makeup

  7. No heavy perfume

  8. No heavy cologne


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Preparing for an Interview


1.Know Yourself


  • What are my skills and abilities?

  • What are my strengths?

  • How do my skills and experiences relate to the position and employers’ needs?

  • What contributions will I bring to the employer?

  • Am I willing to relocate?

  • How do my values compare to the philosophy of the organization?

  • What points do I want to be sure to get across during the interview?

  • How does this position fit into my career goals?

  • If interviewing in a country other than your home country, do you understand the cultural expectations?

Prepare Yourself



  • Obtain a copy of the job description.

  • Use the employer information and the employer’s websites to gather information (annual reports, employee handbooks, policy statements, employee newsletters) on the organization.

  • Locate the employer’s home page on the Internet.

  • Conduct informational interviews with persons in similar positions to learn about the career field and how your skills may apply.

  • Develop a list of appropriate questions that reflect your research.

  • Be sure to know the culture of the country where you are interviewing.

  • U.S. employers are expecting you to articulate your future career goals and past accomplishments.

  • They are assessing you according to American values such as self-confidence, initiative, directness, and individualism.

Practice Review



  • attached list of questions most asked during an interview as well as list of questions to prospective employers.

  • Practice answering interview questions (out loud).

  • Schedule a mock interview, through the Office of Career Services, to gain experience and feedback.

  • Be aware of your body language…what is your body language under pressure? Remember to smile and be yourself!

Checklist



  • Confirm date, time and place of interview.

  • Pack several copies of your resume; a list of references, including names, titles, addresses and telephone numbers; writing samples if appropriate; and letters of recommendation.

  • Dress appropriately (conservative business attire).

  • Be punctual. Plan to arrive early.

Research the Occupation:



  • Know the area in which you are interested:

  • Read articles written by people who are in the field.

  • Inform yourself about future trends.

  • Check if your interests and abilities compare to the requirements of the position.

  • Find out the average income earned by people in the occupation.

  • Some methods of finding this information include:


  1. Conduct information interviews.

  2. Reading the information in the Connection Centre (Student Life & Career Services), either through Internet or hard copy publications.

  3. Talking to friends, relatives or others.

Researching the Organization:



  • Before the job interview, you should research the organization. It is easier to convince an employer that you would be of benefit to the organization if you are knowledgeable about it. In addition, information obtained through research can help you decide whether you want to work for a specific organization.

  • General areas to research:

  • How old is the organization, and what is its history of development?

  • Where are the plants, offices, or stores located? What are its products or services?

  • If the organization sells, what are its markets? Retailers? Wholesalers?

  • What are its new products? Is it a public or non-profit organization? What purpose does it serve? How is it funded? Whom does it serve?

  • What functions does it perform?

  • How does this organization rank in the industry?

  • What is the financial status of the company? Last year’s sales? Growth record? Are there any plans for expansion?

  • What is the organizational structure?

  • How does the organization fit into the community?

  • To what degree is it committed to solving community problems?

  • What problems does the organization need to overcome? (By identifying the problems that the organization faces, you can match your abilities to these ends during the interview.)

  • One of the best ways to find company information is on the Internet. You should be able to find plenty of information to get you started by exploring the Web with a good browser and search engine.

  • Just entering the company name in the search engine will usually result in success. Here are five things that most employers want to know about you.

1. They want to know if you are qualified for the position. What are your greatest strengths? Do you have experience in this field? What do you believe you bring to this job? Why should I hire you?


2. They want to know what motivates you. What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort? Where do you see yourself five years from now? What is more important to you, the money or the job? What did you like most about your last job?


3. They want to know about the negatives. Why did you leave your previous job? What did you like least about your last supervisor? What is your greatest weakness? What did you like least about your last job? Why have you been unemployed so long?


4. They want to know if you are a good fit. What kind of people do you find it hard to work with? Tell me about a time when you worked as a member of a team. In what kind of environment are you most comfortable? Do you prefer to work alone or with others?


5. They want to know if you want their job with their company. What are you looking for in a position? Who else are you interviewing with? Why are you interested in this position? What do you know about the company?

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AFTER THE INTERVIEW

Even though the interview is over, your work is far from complete...After each interview mentally review the questions asked by the interviewer and your responses to them. Were you caught “off-guard” by any questions? Could you have answered a question better, in more detail, or in a more focused manner? Quiz yourself after each interview and take notes. This will enhance future interview efforts.




It is advisable to send a thank you letter to the person(s) who interviewed you within twenty-four hours after the interview. It reinforces your interest in the position and can serve as an additional opportunity to separate you from the other candidates by recalling a notable topic or attribute discussed in your interview.





Most employers will tell you when you can expect to hear from them. If you do not hear by that date, it is appropriate for you to call them.



If the employer requests additional materials, such as an application, transcript, or references, send them as soon as possible.




If an employer indicated an interest in pursuing things further with you, but you are no longer interested in the opportunity, inform him/her of that fact as soon as possible.



Here are some things you can do:


Type or handwrite the letter. E-mail is not as personal, therefore it should be used in conjunction with a personal letter. If you absolutely cannot write a letter, an e-mail is better than not following up at all.The letter should be brief and include the following:


1. Thank the interviewer for his/her time.


2. State the position for which you are applying.


3. Mention something from your interview to remind the interviewer who you are.


4. Describe in one or two sentences why you are the best applicant.



  • Address it to the recruiter, by name and title

  • Mention the names of the people you met at the interview.

  • Send a letter to appropriate individuals you interviewed with (always send to the main interviewer).

  • Keep the letter short, less than one page.

  • Mail the letter within 24 hours of the interview.

  • Thank the interviewer for his/her time. Send a thank you letter for every interview you go on.

  • Demonstrate employer knowledge in 2-3 sentences.

  • Restate employment objective. Answer the question – “What can you do for them?” based on something specifically discussed during your contact. Use accomplishment/ results statements that demonstrate your ability to meet those needs. Sample Thank you Letter
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Ten Rules about Interview





1. Keep your answers brief and concise. Unless asked to give more details, limit your answers to two to three minutes per question. Tape yourself and see how long it takes you to fully answer a question.




2. Include concrete, quantifiable data. Interviewees tend to talk in generalities. Unfortunately, generalities often fail to convince interviewers that the applicant has assets. Include measurable information and provide details about specific accomplishments when discussing your strengths.






3. Repeat your key strengths three times. It’s essential that you comfortably and confidently articulate your strengths. Explain how the strengths relate to the company’s or department’s goals and how they might benefit the potential employer. If you repeat your strengths then they will be remembered and—if supported with quantifiable accomplishments—they will more likely be believed.






4. Prepare five or more success stories. In preparing for interviews, make a list of your skills and key assets. Then reflect on past jobs and pick out one or two instances when you used those skills successfully.








5. Put yourself on their team. Ally yourself with the prospective employer by using the employer’s name and products or services. For example, “As a member of __________, I would carefully analyze the __________ and ______.” Show that you are thinking like a member of the team and will fit in with the existing environment. Be careful though not to say anything that would offend or be taken negatively. Your research will help you in this area.






6. Image is often as important as content. What you look like and how you say something are just as important as what you say. Studies have shown that 65 percent of the conveyed message is nonverbal; gestures, physical appearance, and attire are highly influential during job interviews.






7. Ask questions. The types of questions you ask and the way you ask them can make a tremendous impression on the interviewer. Good questions require advance preparation. Just as you plan how you would answer an interviewer’s questions, write out any specific questions you want to ask. Then look for opportunities to ask them during the interview. Don’t ask about benefits or salary. The interview process is a two-way street whereby you and the interviewer assess each other to determine if there is an appropriate match.








8. Maintain a conversational flow. By consciously maintaining a conversational flow—a dialogue instead of a monologue—you will be perceived more positively. Use feedback questions at the end of your answers and use body language and voice intonation to create a conversational interchange between you and the interviewer.










9. Research the company, product lines and competitors. Research will provide information to help you decide whether you’re interested in the company and important data to refer to during the interview.








10. Keep an interview journal. As soon as possible, write a brief summary of what happened. Note any follow-up action you should take and put it in your calendar. Review your presentation. Keep a journal of your attitude and the way you answered the questions. Did you ask questions to get the information you needed? What might you do differently next time? Prepare and send a brief, concise thank you letter. Restate your skills and stress what you can do for the company. Because of its importance, interviewing requires advance preparation. Only you will be able to positively affect the outcome. You must be able to compete successfully with the competition for the job you want. In order to do that, be certain you have considered the kind of job you want, why you want it, and how you qualify for it. You also must face reality: Is the job attainable?
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