“What Sets You Apart From Other Job Candidates?”

"What Sets You Apart From Other Job Candidates?"

You are sitting there in your job interview and things are going well. You are qualified for the job, you’ve developed a rapport with the interviewer, you believe you can be an asset to this company.  The thing is there are ten other candidates interviewing for this position with just about the same qualifications. The interviewer has to determine what sets you apart from the pack. There’s a good chance he or she will come right out and ask – What makes you unique?

 

Don’t underestimate the importance of this question

If you’re not prepared for this question you might be inclined to go with the first thing that pops into your head. Something about your love of Fellini movies or a joke about never actually feeling unique because you are a twin.

 

Go deeper into your qualifications

This is not the time to try and wow the interviewer with unexpected answer or a joke, it’s time to double down with particulars of your qualifications. Get specific with details or anecdotes about your skills, or your experience. Talk about unique experiences you have had and how they will benefit your new employer. Or a situation where your skills made a difference either in a previous job or some other relevant aspect of your life. This is a good time to bring in numbers to back you up. With my X skill I was able to implement a time saving strategy that saved my co-workers Y hours a week.

 

Demonstrate how hiring you will make their lives better

Many people have similar qualifications. What is it about you that will make life in their location more productive/more pleasant/smoother. Are you particularly good at motivating others? Are you particularly adept at problem solving? Again don’t just say “I’m good at motivating others.” Put that statement into some sort of context with details to back it up.

 

The point here isn’t to toot your own horn about how great you are. It’s to talk about things you did that made a difference in previous situations. Let the interviewer conclude for themselves how great you are.

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Resume To Get You Started In The Job Market

Resume To Get You Started In The Job Market

If you’re just getting started on the job hunt, you’re going to need a resume. There’s a lot of information out there about what your resume should and shouldn’t be. But what about the basics? If you’re new to resume writing, this quick resume for beginners guide will give you everything you need to know to create a great one.

Resume Sections for Beginners

Every resume is different. There’s no single way to make your resume look. There are, however, a couple things every resume should have.

What to Include in Your Resume

  1. Contact Information: Have your name, phone number, email and home address at the top. Make your name stand out by using a larger font or using bold type.
  2. Profile: Include a little bit about yourself and why you’re right for the position. This section should be about 3 or 4 sentences.
  3. Skills: This section should be considered optional as you can include skills a little later in your resume. If you do have a skills section, use bullet points and make sure to address the skills required in the job posting.
  4. Past Experience: List your past jobs. In the first line include your position, the company name and the dates you started and finished. If you’re still working there, you can put: Start date to current (ex. March 2013 – Current). Underneath this write a couple of sentences about what you did here. This is the other area you can include specific skills.
  5. Education: Like the Past Experience section, your education section should have a title. This title should include the institution’s name, its city and your graduation date. If you haven’t graduated yet, put the date you expect to graduate. Under this title, add your specific area of study.

Writing for Beginners

Now that you know the different sections of a resume, you’ll want to start writing it. Not everyone finds it easy to talk about themselves in the way a resume requires, but selling your best attributes is a key part of the resume. When talking about yourself, the career website The Ladders suggests to avoid the following words:

  • Highly qualified
  • Results focused
  • Has talent for
  • Energetic
  • Confident
  • Professional
  • Successfully

These are overused terms that tend to lose the employers attention. The hiring manager is only spending a couple moments looking at your resume, so you don’t want them to gloss over anything. Focus instead on terms like:

  • Achieved
  • Resolved
  • Improved
  • Influenced
  • Created
  • Managed

No matter what terms you use on a resume, the best thing you can do is back up the terms with evidence of what you achieved, resolved or managed. Use specific examples if you can, while keeping things brief.

Resume for Beginners: Rumors

You may have heard any number of rumors about what resumes are and aren’t supposed to be. One of the most common rumors is that a resume can’t be longer than a single page. There’s some truth to this rumor, but it’s more like a rule of thumb. Most employers spend as little as two minutes looking at your resume, so having all your information on a single page makes it easier for the employer to look it over.

Another suggestion is that you can have a page for every 10 years of work. Chances are if you’re new to resume writing you’re not there yet. Our advice is to stick to the single page to make sure your resume gets looked at.

Rumor number two is that your resume needs to be creative and cool to get noticed. This really depends on the job and industry you are applying to. If the industry is a creative one, like advertising or design, having a creative looking resume can be a showcase your skills. For other industries, overly creative resumes can distract from what their really trying to see, you!

Choosing The Perfect Words For A Standout Resume

Choosing The Perfect Words For A Standout Resume

 

Passionate. Managed. Team player. You’ve heard these words before, and you’ve probably used them on your resume. They’re not bad words, but there is one problem with them. Everyone uses them. If you want to create a standout resume, you’re going to need to do better than just using the same, uncreative words that everyone else uses. This doesn’t mean you should go reaching for a Thesaurus to find the longest words. You still need your resume to be clear and to sound like you wrote it.

 

The trick then, is finding the right words for your resume. Creative words that clearly explain who you are and what you did in your past work experiences.

Words to Avoid

Words that are generic, common and don’t actually say much of anything are to be avoided at all costs. Words like go-getter, hard worker, proactive don’t say anything interesting about you. Of course you’re a hard worker. No one is writing “average worker” on their resume.

The Right Words

There is no shortage of lists filled with words you can use for your standout resume. You can find some here, here, and here. You don’t need to use words that sound smart, or ones that you’ve never heard before. You do need to find the word that best describes what you did in your role. Rather than writing that you “were responsible for” something, clarify whether you implemented it, formalized it, executed it or pioneered it.

 

Using the right words on your resume, and in your cover letter, will give the hiring manager a clearer idea of what you specifically did in your various roles. This will help them get to know you and your abilities, and put your standout resume at the top of their list.

 

Make Sure You Have A STAR Interview

Make Sure You Have A STAR Interview

Interviews are nerve wracking and even though you may have great experiences or qualifications that would make you an idea candidate, sometimes it’s hard to get that across in the moment. Unless you prepared to answer the questions using the STAR (Situation/Task/Action/Result) technique.

 

By thinking about all your answers within a STAR framework you’ll be able to describe the work Situation or Task, the Actions you took to either finish the task or improve the situation and the fantastic Results of your efforts.

 

Question: What kind of experience do you have working in a team?

 

Situation

Start by describing the situation. The people involved, the challenges, goals the team had to work with/deal with. If were negatives associated with the experience, frame them as challenges that had to be overcome. Be specific. Don’t say I have worked in many teams. Talk about a specific team and the specific goals.

 

Task

Approach task the same way you approached situation. Be specific about what exactly the team needed to accomplish. The skills people brought to the table and what (if anything) was lacking. If you can, describe a task or situation that is pertinent to the job you are applying for.

 

Action

This is the time to highlight your role in the situation. What specific, measurable things did you do to bring about positive results. This is where you want to spend the most time in your answer. Talk about how you came to the action. Steps you took, people you connected with etc.

 

Result

You’ve already talked about the actions you took, now you get to highlight the benefits of those actions. Give concrete examples of the result. The team was able to achieve 30% more efficiency, sales were increased by 15%, work flow was improved in XYZ ways.

 

During an interview people might remember to talk about actions taken then forget to discuss the result of those actions. Results are the icing on the cake!

 

 

Check out the answers to these questions using the STAR technique from Zety.com

Never Written A Cover Letter Before?

Never Written A Cover Letter Before?

When you first start looking for a job, one of the top things on your To Do list should be to write a cover letter. Some job seekers might think the cover letter is a formality that you add to your resume. They couldn’t be more wrong. Cover letters are the personal introduction to your resume’s more formal application. Hiring managers will go through the cover letter first before even looking at your resume. Here is our guide to the cover letter for beginners.

First Things First

Before we get going, there are a couple quick tips to keep in mind. Slate.com says: “Keep it short. I started putting word limits on cover letters because I couldn’t stand, nor did I have the time to read, the especially long letters I’d receive.”

Another thing to keep in mind is writing in a personable tone. The cover letter is a chance for you to bring out a little bit of your personality. Keep things professional, but don’t be afraid to let some of you shine through.

Addressing the Letter

Beginners often start their cover letters with “To Whom It May Concern’. Always try your hardest to find the name of the person in charge of hiring. If a job is posted on LinkedIn you will be able to see the name of the person who posted the job. If a job posting doesn’t give you a name, call the company, mention that you’re applying for the job and ask if there is someone you can address your cover letter to.

Starting your cover letter off with “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager” isn’t going to get your cover letter thrown out, but having the right person’s name there gets you off on the right foot.

First Paragraph

Introduce yourself, note the position you’re applying for and give a reason or two why you want this specific job. Note something specific about the company, the way they do business or someone you know working there. Demonstrate that you’ve researched the company and the position you want.

Second Paragraph

This is the meat and potatoes of your cover letter. In this paragraph you want to talk about you, what you’ve done and what you can bring to the company. Focus on what the job posting mentioned as key responsibilities and qualifications needed for the position. Mention successes you were a part of in your last job. You want the person reading your cover letter to come away thinking, “this person is perfect for the job”.

Final Paragraph

This is where you wrap it all up. Reiterate the fact that the skills you have are a perfect match for the awesome company you’re applying to.

Finally make sure you let the hiring manager know what the next step is. A lot of job postings say that they will contact you. In this case, make sure you include something along the lines of “I look forward to hearing from you.”

If it is not expressly stated that you will receive a call, we suggest something like “I will follow up with you in a week’s time.” This lets the hiring manager know exactly what to expect.

The Cover Letter for Beginners

You’ve now got a great cover letter to go along with your resume. Writing from scratch can be tough though. Experience.com offers a great example of a cover letter.

Avoid These Interview Pitfalls

Avoid These Interview Pitfalls

After all your hard work perfecting your resume and writing an on the mark cover letter the last thing you want to do is bungle the interview.  Here are ten common interview pitfalls. Be aware of them and you won’t fall in!

Not Dressing the part

Remember you are making a strong impression on your interviewer before a single word comes out of your mouth. Even if the job or workplace is on the casual side that doesn’t mean you come into the interview wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.  Come in looking like a professional. Whether the interview is formal or casual, here are a few tips from the balance careers

 

Coming late

Plan your route the day before your interview and check expected traffic conditions the morning of so you can plan to arrive fifteen minutes early.  That way if there are any unforeseen problems you’ve given yourself some buffer time. If something does come up that makes it impossible for you to arrive on time get in touch with someone at the location and let them know.

 

Forgetting your phone is the enemy

As soon as you arrive at the interview turn your phone off. If it rings, if you play with it, if you are distracted by it, you are letting the interviewer know exactly where your priorities lie.

 

Ignoring your homework

Prior to the interview you should have researched the company in detail, read their website, perused all their social media sites. Have a fact or statistic about the company in your pocket to bring out when the opportunity arises.

 

Being dishonest

Ignore the impulse to embellish your skills and experiences. First off, honesty is always the best policy. Second if you are not caught in the lie during the interview (a few probing questions is all it will take) it will come back to haunt you should you get the job.

 

Failing to listen

No matter how nervous or distracted you may feel, it imperative you give the interviewer your full attention. You do not want them to have to repeat what they’re saying.

 

Jumping ahead

There is a time to talk about benefits and salary, but that is not at the beginning or  middle of the interview

 

Not tooting your own horn

You don’t want to sound overly confident in an interview (or appear overly nervous) but you do want to convey your strong attributes. Be able to explain how your experiences and strengths will benefit the company. Make sure they understand you believe yourself the best person for this job and why before you leave the interview.

 

An inability to answer standard interview questions

Tell me about yourself. Where do you see yourself in five years? What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses? There are standard questions you will hear at every interview. Be prepared to answer them. Here’s a list of the 27 most common interview questions and answers from Inc.

 

Not asking for the job

Of course you want the job, you came to the interview dressed for success and prepared with all the right answers but the last thing you need to do is ask for it. That doesn’t mean ending with, Will you please give me this job? Rather summarize your discussion, ask if there’s anything else they need, and express your interest in the position again. Here are ten examples from US News

Your Interview Starts With The First Phone Call

Your Interview Starts With The First Phone Call

Just a heads up, if you think you only need to impress the hiring manager to get a job, think again. It’s very important to also make a good impression with the recruiter who is calling you back to potentially schedule you in for an interview. However, candidates sometimes overlook the importance of this and as a result, lose a great opportunity.

 

Think of it like a football game. In order to get to the quarterback (hiring manager), you have to past the defensive linemen (recruiters) first. If you can’t get past the defense, you can’t get to the quarterback and end up giving the other team an opportunity to make a touchdown. In other words, you risk someone else getting the job over you. Here are five things to do/say to convince the hiring manager that you’re deserving of a job.

 

Update your resume

Right here at The Job Window, we’ve had a number of occasions where the recruiter is going over the resume with a candidate over the phone and that’s when the candidate realizes their resume is out of date. For example, the word “present” is written beside a job the candidate no longer has. At that point, a million things go through the recruiter’s mind: “Is this candidate blindly sending out resumes to every job post they see?” “They don’t pay attention to detail,” or worse “They don’t care”. These are all impressions that can hurt you as a job seeker. Again, first impressions are key and not updating your resume makes a bad first impression.

 

Be conversational

In other words, don’t give one-word answers – it shows disinterest in the job. Even if you’re not a very conversational person, pretend you are and be interpersonal. Speak to the recruiter as if they’re you’re friend. Try to elaborate on your answers as much as possible and make them like you. Without knowing it, you may be developing a personal, but professional relationship with them – which will work to your advantage.

 

Make it seem like you really want the job

Recruiters hate it when they call a candidate and ask, “Hi, is this a good time to talk?” and the candidate says, “No, can you call me back later?” with no explanation. Right off the bat, the recruiter will perceive the person as rude and disinterested. If you really want the job, then call the recruiter back. They’re not going to chase after you when they’ve got hundreds of other candidates who’d gladly take your place. Instead, say: “I’m driving right now, can I please call you back when I pull over?” Recruiters understand that they might be catching you at a bad time. So if you tell them that you’ll call them back, they’ll appreciate it.

 

Speak to recruiters in a quiet area

Do you ever find it annoying when you can’t hear someone on the other line? Or when you’re trying to speak to them and they’re distracted by something? Well, recruiters feel the same way. Just like in the previous situation, explain to them that you will call them back once you find a quieter place. That way, you can express your interest and reiterate your skills clearly, on the way to the recruiter scheduling you in for an interview.

 

Be prepared for the call

After applying for a position, give everyone in your household a heads up that you may be expecting a call from an employer. Recruiters find it unprofessional when you or someone else answers the phone in a improper manner such as “yo, sup” or “hello” in an annoyed tone of voice. It’s all about first impressions, so perk up and expect every call to be the employer or recruiter.

 

Final tips

– Be polite

– Sound enthusiastic and interpersonal

– Keep your resume updated and honest

 

Remember, first impressions are everything. And just because the recruiter doesn’t have the power to hire you, they still have the ability to give the hiring manager that first impression about you, whether it’s good or bad.